This Sunday was National Read a Book Day, and while we at Bookstacked are happy to provide recommendations, we know it’s not always that simple. I don’t know about you, but my motivation for most things this year has been astonishingly low and I have found myself struggling to get through even the most engaging titles in my TBR pile.
I needed something that would get me excited about reading again. Something that would push me through the apathy and provide an enjoyable reward when I actually finished a book. So my friends and I started a book club.
There is nothing better than finishing a book that someone else has read, knowing you will get to discuss and debate. On the flip side, there is nothing worse then recommending a new favorite and having to wait forever for someone else to finish it. You want to put the book down, pick up the phone and immediately have a conversation.
This is why book clubs are perfect! Not only do they encourage you to actually read a book, but the minute you finish, you get to share that instant gratification with your friends.
Sounds great, right? So what’s stopping you?
Well for me, when I first thought of book clubs, my brain conjured an image of a room full of people reading and academically dissecting a carefully selected, “important” novel. But the truth is that it doesn’t take a lot to put together a simple and rewarding book club.
To help you out, here are the steps my friends and I followed.
Step 1: Find some friends
You don’t need a huge group, even just a few friends will do nicely. In fact, it’s almost better to keep it small, makes picking a book and scheduling a meeting time simpler. Plus video chats are just easier when there are only three or four people on the call.
I have also used this as a way to maintain the long distance friendships I have been re-cultivating this year. Now that location isn’t as big a factor, I have gotten back in touch with people who I genuinely love talking to. But at this point, I have completely run out of interesting life updates (or funny Quiplash answers), so reading together is a great way to ensure that we don’t fall back out of touch.
Step 2: Pick a book
This can feel like the tricky part. No matter how similar you are, everyone has a slightly different taste in books. You never want to make someone read something they won’t enjoy, but you don’t want to feel judged for your literary preferences either. The solution my friends and I came up with was to compile a list and then vote.
Everyone gets to submit their picks and then, as a group, we narrow it down. This has been a nice way to ensure that everyone is excited for the next book. Plus, when you see your friends’ recommendations, you might just find a new favorite you would have totally missed otherwise.
It’s important to be honest, especially as you read more together. If you have read a bunch of tragedies, there is nothing wrong with suggesting that a comedy might be a nice change of pace. Or if you have only been reading novels, maybe throw in a nonfiction title. Remember, this isn’t school, you can read whatever you want.
Step 3: Get the book
Might seem like an obvious step, but you do have a couple of options here. My friends and I, for example, decided that we were going to get our book club picks from local book stores. If you prefer eBooks or audio-books, you can find those through local and independent booksellers as well.
If you are on a budget (or like me, live in a tiny apartment where you already have to send books back to your childhood bedroom in order to make room for more), now is a great time to figure out how your local library is handling social distancing. You might not be able to browse, but you can probably put books on hold and pick them up when they are ready.
Step 4: Read the book
Remember, no one is judging you, so ask for as much time as you need to finish. This is suppose to be, above all else, fun! And no, pulling an all-nighter to read a book is not fun (okay, if the book is *really* good and you are free tomorrow anyway …).
Go with whoever suggests the longest time frame. If someone is a faster reader, then they can just plan to start the book later. Pick a date and time, and then stick to it. The deadline will motivate you to finish, as well as cement your book club as a normal (and hopefully highly anticipated) part of your schedule.
Step 5: Actual book club
The main event! You get to make this part whatever you want it to be. You all just read the same book. Enjoy that, in whatever way you’d like.
It can be an easy afternoon conversation, where you check in with each other’s lives and then just casually chat about what you read. Or, you can go big. You could coordinate snacks, or even cook a themed dinner that goes along with what you read. You could pull good quotes and play “Guess Who Said It?” or you could draw out scenes and try to guess, like book-themed Pictionary.
You can plan questions or topics, but I have found it’s usually more interesting to just see where the conversation takes you. Not every book is going to be my favorite, but I have learned so much from just listening to my friends. Whether I enjoyed it or not, I almost always walk away with a new perspective, feeling like I was able to get so much more out of what I read by sharing it.
So the next time you find yourself staring into your computer, trying to come up with a topic you haven’t exhausted yet, why not try throwing in a book? You never know, might be exactly what you need to keep the conversation going.