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Why is it So Hard to Start a Book Club?
Or, Why Won’t Anyone Start a Book Club With Me?
I’ve always dreamed of starting a book club but never wanted to join one. Sounds strange? Not to me. I think it’s because I’ve always viewed myself as a leader rather than a follower, the idea of joining a book club just never appealed to me. Though, I don’t see that as the main reason why I can’t seem to start one myself.
I watch so many other people on social media (Twitter, YouTube, Discord, etc.) who openly say, “let’s start a book club” and quicker than they can say “bob’s your uncle,” a book club is born. Why can’t I do that? I guess it could be my lack of followers and subscribers to the many social media places I happen to be a member of? Or my obvious lack of follow-through in the many things I start but never seem to quite finish? Whatever the reason(s) the book club is the one thing I have never managed to get going.
Now, why do I want to start a book club you may be wondering? I’ll tell you why. Especially now in the current pandemic, we seem to be existing in (with no real end in sight) I find myself with less and less time devoted to reading. Before this living and working from home became a permanent part of my everyday life, I would spend my morning and evening commute reading. That was my time and I could breeze through a book in maybe three to four days worth of commuting back and forth to work. It was great. But now I have to actively carve out time in my day to sit down and crack open a book. It’s not as simple as it might sound. Sure, it might come easily for those who are book bloggers and spend a majority of their time reading and likely from home anyway. But for the rest of us, it’s not so easy.
In my mind, I surmise that if I had a book club it would be just the motivation and push I need to get me to read more often than I do now. I could just look at my schedule and put in “reading time” and be done with it. But I would love to have open discussions about what I’m reading with other people who’ve not only read the same book but who also happen to be a writer like me. We would be viewing the material with a similar lens. It’s how the other young kids are doing it these days.
I wonder how much of my inability to start a book club I can blame on social media? I do less and less actual verbal communication with people I consider “friends” because most of them these days I’ve met via social media and not the way it used to be, which was face-to-face. Nearly all the people I would consider more than an acquaintance but not a “best” friend (in that I’ve only known them for less than five years) have I only ever had one-sided verbal conversations with. Meaning, they’ll be streaming (Twitch or YouTube) and I’ll be chatting with them. Or it’ll be strictly via texts on Discord or Twitter DMs. And that is considered normal now. My only phone conversations are with my family and they happen only a handful number of times a year! That is mind-boggling to me.
I realize because of this social media time we are living with, which in and of itself is a form of social distancing, the concept of a group of people meeting at someone’s home, each bringing their own copy of the book they are all reading, partaking of tea and light refreshments, then settling down to discuss the weeks chapters, is obsolete. Then again, whenever that scene is depicted on television it’s never with anyone quite around my age. They always seem to be in their graying years. Which I guess I should be happy to know I’m not there yet. But still. That kind of book club vibe is what I’m looking for.
Another thing I realize is that many of the book clubs with people my age starting up all have a “theme” to the types of books they are going to read and they don’t deviate from that. It’s very niche. Which is helpful. Otherwise, if you’re all voting on a book to read and you leave yourself open to anything, it can make narrowing down very difficult. That has always been a problem for me because I love mostly all genres and I’m always curious about what makes a bestseller “best” and so every now and again I find myself reading one or two from the list (when finances permit).
This makes me realize that if I want to start a bookclub in a time when I feel it can be harder to get people on board, willing to spend money (if they don’t already own the book), time, and are genuinely interested, I need to get the ball rolling, even if it’s a “Party of One” for a while. Put me out there and hope that those who are truly interested in being a part of my book club will find value in it and join me.
This brings me to my bookclub pitch:
A Short Story Bookclub
It’s a book club where we’ll read anthologies, collections, and the occasional digital publication submissions. As I begin to appreciate more and more the art of short storytelling and take part in submitting my own to both contests and publications, I want to lean into what makes then an art form that is clearly making a comeback in the mainstream.
With the ability to check books out digitally through sources like Libby I think it would be easier than ever to find short story anthologies or collections to check out. And as for publications such as Tor(dot)com, we’d read the stories that appear on the website and would therefore be available for everyone to read for free. These would be from notable sites and stories that would possibly be up for awards in the future. I’d even love to incorporate LeVar Burton Reads Podcast as a source for where to find the similar kind of short stories my book club would be drawn to. Not just speculative fiction but that would be a great place to start.
If you’d be interested in joining me, I’m going to share a post soon about the first collection I’ll be reading next week. Make sure to subscribe (if you aren’t already) to find out more details. There won’t be a set place where we can meet to discuss besides maybe via comments on the post? But I think that’ll be as good a place to start as any, especially while it’ll likely just be me for a while.
Are you in a book club? What kinds of books do you read in it? Is it a “virtual” book club? How do you like it? How often do you meet? Tell me everything! Just leave it in the comments below.
Looking for a great read this holiday season? Look no further…
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