Until recently, I’d never belonged to a regular book club. When I lived in Iowa, I did belong to one sponsored by the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, but the members were all writers who were interested in discussing technique, so I thought they probably weren’t typical.
When I moved to Illinois, though, the building complex I live in turned out to have two book clubs, and I was invited to join both. I read all the time, so I don’t need the spur of a book club to encourage me. But I was between drafts of my own book and was looking for new friends. So I said yes to both.
So far, belonging to them has done two things for me. It’s expanded what I read and showed me how social reading, or really the aftermath of reading, is.
Belonging to a Book Club Expanded My Reading
Left to myself, I read novels almost exclusively. Granted, I read widely across genres, including fantasy, YA, mysteries, and literary fiction. But I don’t read much non-fiction, biography, or memoir. My new book clubs have pushed me to change that situation.
One of them recently read Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, which is a history of homo sapiens. I never would have picked up that big fat non-fiction book on my own, and I was thoroughly fascinated by it. Did you know that that there were competing versions of the species homo? I didn’t.
The other club is just read A Dream Too Big, a memoir by Caylin Moore, who grew up in Compton and fought his way to education and a Rhodes Scholarship. The next book on their list is Nancy Horan’s Loving Frank, a novel about a woman who had a love affair with Frank Lloyd Wright. I didn’t know about either of these books until someone in the book club suggested we read them.
Book Clubs Meet Our Desire to Talk about What Excites Us
As a former writer of Tolkien fanfiction, I should already have known that when readers love a book, they long to share that love with others. As Josh Guilar says in a post at Coffeelicious:
While the physical act of reading is solitary the conversation which ensues can teach and entertain as much as the book did. One only has to search Bookstagram on Instagram to find a whole community of people discussing books from young adult fiction through to the classics, poetry and business books….As social creatures when we find something that excites us or enrages us, we want to share that. We want others to know how something made us feel: and we want to know if anyone else can relate.
And people react when we tell about a book we love. The most common reason people pick up a book is that they previously enjoyed a book by that writer. The second most common reason is word of mouth. Someone they trust tells them a book is good.
I’ll have to see if I can keep up with two book clubs once I get deep into drafting my own next book, but for the moment, I’m enjoying myself.
Until April 29, the ebook of my middle-grade fantasy, Finders Keepers, is on sale for $.99.
Earthquakes? Fires? Plague? Twelve-year-old Cade tries to ignore how they’re increasing as the new year approaches while he and his sixteen-year-old brother search for their missing mother. But there comes a moment when he has to choose who or what he’s going to save.
A quote from recent Amazon reviewer Brython7: “excitement and strong characters, male and female, of all ages, especially the teenage protagonists”