Book clubs

First, a reminder for the local folks: My Toastmasters club (Toast of Champaign) is having a Guest Day tomorrow. We meet at noon in room C of the Champaign Public Library. There will be light refreshments.

Anyway, I’m working on a talk about book clubs. From my perspective as a writer, there are a few different benefits–mostly the same as for me as a reader, with maybe one addition.

* Deadlines! It sounds silly, because I like to read and I read every day, but deadlines help me focus on reading and get a particular book read. Otherwise I tend to be distracted by the next shiny book and forget about or put off books that I meant to read. The library effect contributes to this–I only request books if I really want them right away for a reason, so most of the time if I want to read a popular book, I just wait until it appears on the shelf.

* Expanded horizons. I usually stick with fantasy and some SF, but I like to dip outside the genre every now and then. When I went to the library’s book club, we read mainstream books, a few classics, some memoirs–things I would have never thought to pick up otherwise.

* Reader reactions. This is the one that’s different for writer-me. I’ve spent so much time around writers that I’ve forgotten how readers react to books. Or how I used to react. The library book club was interesting because the observations people made were different. I paid a lot more attention to craft than the other members. Plus, I used to not think about the author. Now there’s less “why did the character do x” than “why did the author choose to have the character do x”. (But I still don’t sit there thinking, “how do x, y, and z support the theme” like in high school English class. Gah.)

Lately I’ve been exploring two book clubs on Goodreads, both for fantasy. I’m looking for a nonfiction one, but those seem a lot less common.

Any book club fans among you?


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2 Responses to Book clubs

  1. I thought when I read your tweet that you were talking about the kind of book club that you subscribe to, and then have to buy overpriced bestsellers in special book-club binding, and never manage to get rid of it! But it’s what I’d call a ‘reading circle’, much better.

    I’ve never tried, so I can’t say whether I’m a fan, but it’s splendid when a couple of people in the choir happen to have read the same book (lent it to each other, likely) and we can talk about it. Now if I could only find a handful of people who want to read more or less the same stuff that I do and have time and inclination for the commitment! Even (especially) if it’s outside my usual genre, but NO WAY I’m going to read Dan Brown, or westerns, or straight-up romance, or postapocalyptic anything.

    I think I’d prefer an in-person reading circle to an online one, because I do so much of my social interaction in writing already that it would seem like a chore. Perhaps IRC would be a possibility, because it’s the real-time interaction that I’d miss in an online group where everybody writes their ‘piece’, much like a crit.

  2. Elizabeth

    We read a fair number of books I didn’t like when I was in a book club at the local library. But that was why I’d joined–to read things I wouldn’t normally try.

    In person is nicer but hard to find, in my experience.

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