Have you ever joined a book club?
Traditionally, book clubs were known as reading groups and they are typically a group of readers who gathered together on a regular basis to read and discuss what they read. During the 18th and 19th centuries they served as an outlet for discussion and debate.
Lately, book clubs have evolved to be something entirely different. The not only foster discussion and debate, but some of them make books available to their membership. What they both have in common, however, is that they serve as a means to expose their membership to all kinds of books.
I tried out the book club at the last (military) duty station that we were assigned to and I applauded them for trying to do what the traditional book clubs did. It was run by the public library and overseen by the head librarian herself. They usually tried to have copies of the current book on hand for those who couldn’t afford to buy. However, they didn’t have the kind of turnout and support that they ultimately wanted. I suppose a lot of that has to do with the fact that most people just don’t have the time anymore to hand over to book clubs and the like.
Nowadays, online book clubs take the meaning of book clubs somewhere completely different. There are no meeting times, and discussions are happening while you read. You can discuss as you read, or wait until after you’re done. Oprah’s Book Club is the perfect example of what book clubs have become. It literally is simply a way to expose readers to new material, old classics and works outside what they may choose ordinarily. Another example of a book club would be GoodReads.com or Shelfari.com because those websites allow you to “friend” people who have similar tastes and from there you can browse what they are reading for ideas and suggestions of what to read next.
I remember when I had exhausted as many Stephen King novels as I could find and wasn’t sure where to turn to next. A book club might have been handy at that time to expose me to new authors and works had they been around for me. I relied on a network of informal book clubs by simply asking my friends for ideas.
Today’s book clubs serve much the same purpose – when you’re done reading all you have on your list and aren’t sure where next to turn, your book club (online or otherwise) is the perfect source of ideas and suggestions.
Are you a member of a book club?
What value do you think they may or may not add to your reading experience?