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(Book) clubbing

image of people reading togetherSomehow, despite being an avid reader for most of my life, I’ve never belonged to a book club.

I used to read “book club fiction” and literary fiction, mainly because I thought I was supposed to, not necessarily because I enjoyed it (though there were a few gems). Looking back, I think some of those books would have been a lot more interesting if I’d had people to talk them over with when I was done.

When we moved to the Boston area this summer, I figured joining my local military spouses’ book club would be a good way to meet other readers and force myself to sample outside of my usual literary fare. Turns out, it offers that and more.

Aside from the shared experience of having read the same book, I love getting other people’s perspectives. When they talk about what they did or didn’t like—or how they felt about a particular aspect of the book—I pick up things I didn’t notice during my own reading.

As a writer, I’m better able to articulate what bothers me—or works for me—than I was before I started writing. It also means I notice things that I didn’t before. Hopefully, this perspective lets me add something valuable to the conversation (though I haven’t yet “outed” myself as a writer).

Reading for a group discussion changes how I read. I generally devour a book, often in only a day or two. But when I’m reading for book club, I slow down a bit, take notes on things that might be interesting to talk about with the group, and think a little more deeply about the book’s effect on me.

Normally if I start a title and can’t get into it, I’ll quit reading. But for the club, I try to finish every book. Sometimes I’m glad I did. Other times, not so much.

I like that the group discussion solidifies the story or topic in my mind and takes me deeper. This is especially nice when the book contained a world, subject matter, or set of characters that I enjoyed, but it can also give me a new take on a book I didn’t connect with.

It’s kind of like looking at reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, and then following up with questions or discussion points for the reviewer. But in a friendly way, with appetizers on hand. 😉

Someday I’d love to be part of a romance book club so I can discuss the books I love most with others who feel the same way. But I’m having fun meeting new people and stretching my reading boundaries beyond romance and research.

Have you ever been part of a book club? What did you like/dislike about it?