Literary Ladies: 10 Reasons to Join (or Start) a Book Club Today

I went to the first meeting of a new book club last night.  The evening held an expectant and eager air, everyone excited to share their bedside table contents and reading wishlists.  There’s something inherently satisfying about being part of a book club, as though the membership itself makes you smarter in some way.  It’s part support group, part social club, part school.  There are so many reasons to join one:

  1. Books, books, and more books: I know I’m not the only one that hid under the covers with a flashlight as a kid so that I could keep reading long after Mom made me turn the light off.  Who doesn’t love the escape that the written word offers?!?
  2. Get out of the house:  For a stay-at-home mom, getting out of the house is synonymous with maintaining sanity.  Your home should be your sanctuary, not your prison.
  3. Stimulate your mind:  If your most complex thinking during the course of the average day is how to maximize your savings at the grocery store (guilty!), it’s time to dive into something that gets you thinking a little more deeply.  When I taught college English, a fellow professor kept a dumbbell on his desk.  When students would ask him why they should bother reading poetry or literature, he would pick it up and start doing curls.  “The mind is a muscle, too,” he’d say, “and it needs exercise.”  Ladies, let’s exercise.
  4. Meet new (interesting) people:  Meeting people and making friends can be a challenge when you spend your days chasing your kids around.  Book clubs are a unique gathering because the common thread that brings you all together isn’t children, and it’s not even that you like reading the same types of books.  It’s that you like to escape.  It’s impossible to expect everyone in the group to like the same material, and that’s okay.  You are going to meet new people and learn more about them and yourself in the process.
  5. Explore different genres:  We all have our favorite genre.  Some people like historical fiction, others like mysteries or spy thrillers.  I am a die-hard fantasy novel reader.  Tamora Pierce, Terry Goodkind, Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin are my go-to authors.  But I realize that I can get stuck in a rut and that there is a lot of amazing reading out there that just isn’t making its way onto my Kindle.  Book clubs are your opportunity to read outside your typical fare.  I read my first mystery novel in years in my last book club and was very surprised by how much I enjoyed it.
  6. Learn something:  Education shouldn’t stop with high school or college.  Learning should be a lifelong pursuit.  From a practical standpoint, it’s been shown to stave off dementia.  From a life perspective–it just makes life so much richer!
  7. You read more closely when you are expected to discuss a book:  Just as a teacher must know the material more thoroughly than a student, a discussion leader is going to read a book more closely than someone simply reading for pleasure.  If you know you’re going to be expected to make observations about a text, you’re going to try to pick out notable points or sections.  You’re going to notice more and you may be able to connect parts of the book to previously read book club texts.  Simply put, you’ll get more out of the book.
  8. Yummy refreshments:  Umm, does this one really need elaboration?  Last night we had such a tasty bounty, I lamented that I should have skipped dinner beforehand.
  9. It’s good to get out of your comfort zone:  You will be asked at some point to read something you have no desire to read.  You may hear something during a discussion that angers, saddens, or shocks you.  This is a good thing.  Complacency isn’t doing you any favors.  Book club is a safe environment to find and explore your own opinions and voice them. 
  10. Adult conversation:  Although I’ve become fairly proficient at “Toddler-ese,” it’s not my favorite language in which to converse.  Talking about something other than Dora, snacks, and freeze tag is such a relief.

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