This blog was featured on 07/16/2019
Why You Should Join a Book Club

Do you like to read? I remember how much I enjoyed reading when I was in high school and college.  Then life happens and we find that we don’t read as much because we say we don’t have time.  A few years ago I decided that I wanted to read more and realized that I did read more than I thought but that I read only non-fiction.  To foster an expansion of reading to books I would not choose I decided to join a local book club sponsored by the independent book store in my town.

There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book. ~Marcel Proust

Reading is an Adventure

What an adventure I began when I saw that my local book store was going to have a discussion the following month on Marie Benedict’s The Other Einstein.  I had just finished watching Genius on National Geographic and loved the how they were portraying Mileva Marić, Einstein’s first wife who was a physicist in her own right. This book was about Mileva and I was enthralled with this strong woman’s story.  I bought the book and ravenously read it.  I was so excited to attend the book club and discuss her life as Benedict writes it.

Since that first book club gathering in November of 2017 I have attended every month.  I even joined a second book club sponsored by the store that would read very different books than the first one.  I went from reading about seven books in 2017, to twenty-seven in 2018, and so far this year I have read forty.  This is all because joining book club reminded me how much I love to read.  Here are five reasons why you should join your local book club.

It moves you outside your comfort zone.

Read a book about a character who doesn’t look like you or live like you, about a topic you don’t know much about, or in a format you don’t normally read such as a graphic novel or a book in verse. ~ Gene Luen Yang

Depending on the book club, the selections that are picked may not be ones you would have ever chosen to read on your own.  For example, I tend to read inspirational books and found out through book club selections that I love historical fiction.  Who knew?  I love the fact that I can learn about a time period I may not be familiar with; in what manner they dressed, how they spoke, what they ate, and so forth. 

You can also find out what you don’t like to read.  Because we are all different some of the choices the book club reads are not ones that I like.  Dark stories that don’t have a satisfying ending, one that flips back and forth through time without informing you of the time change, or novels that you cannot find a character that you like, are ones that I have a hard time reading.  But, because I want to see my book club friends, I read it so that I can discuss with them why I didn’t like the book.

A new community where you all love reading.

Nobody quits the book club. Once you’re in the club, you’re in it forever. ~ R.L. Naquin

Being around other readers encourages you to read, even if you don’t think you will like this month’s book club pick.  The title seems off putting or the cover design doesn’t appeal to you.  Someone in the group will explain why it is perfect for the story.  These people love to read and someone will always find redeeming qualities about the book selection. 

This new book club community you have entered is quite excepting of anyone who loves to read.  They want to get to know a little bit about you but are not intrusive.  These people want to know what you like to read and can talk for hours about a really good book. They really listen to what you have to say and actually comment and discuss your argument. Fellow readers become supportive when you aren’t present for the book club conversation because they enjoy hearing your unique perspective on the topic.  Love my reading ladies!

You’re a part of intellectual thought-provoking conversation.

No two persons ever read the same book. ~ Edmund Wilson

Wow can opinions fly at book club!  Those who truly hated the story or the writing style and those who adored the book … all the same night!  The conversations can make you see things from a different perspective that you had not realized.  This is definitely true when you have a diverse group of women.  There are young ladies starting life with new homes and younger children to more mature ladies with kids leaving for college and those lucky ladies who are retired and can share their wisdom.

You also never know how the conversation will go at book club.  When you think there will be a huge discussion about sexuality because this month’s book was about how a woman viewed and used her sexuality to her advantage until she realized she was hurting her gay lover and then that topic never comes up.  Or when you didn’t think much of the Appalachian scene described in the book but it became a major discussion point because a few of the ladies know that area in North Carolina very well.  You can never presume what will be discussed at book club. 

Reading stimulates your brain.

Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood. ~John Green

Any type of reading has shown to improve your mind and your thinking. It has also shown to increase memory and recall.  All from reading a novel or a romance for this month’s book club selection!  Of course, you realize that your vocabulary will also be amplified due to your reading habit.  It also increases your ability to concentrate as it helps calm the mind and allows it to focus.  Reading is peace inducing unless of course the story is infuriating but as any good book does- it draws you in.  Your imagination is stimulated as you read the story of Mata Hari ‘s rise and demise. 

Reading your book club selection each month enhances your empathy towards others.  As you read about people unlike yourself or with different life circumstances you realize that we are all connected.  We are all trying to be our authentic selves as we make our way through life.  Our understanding and compassion for humanity rises within us and we give people and humanity a second chance. 

Book Club is transformational. 

Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled “This could change your life.” ~Helen Exley

Yes, transformational- as all books that are read become a part of you.  Some of the characters in each of the books you read from book club you will identify with as they are similar to you.  That persona exhibits behaviors that you didn’t like but you realize you react the some way she does so you decide to make a change.  As you read, you reflect on the story, the characters and it can be transformational. 

During a book club discussion your perspective on a given topic is significantly challenged by several other’s viewpoints and due to the intellectual conversation you begin to see that maybe your  perception needs to be altered based on new information, or at least investigated further.  Changes and growth in one’s life are always self-induced but sometimes we get lazy, book club is a great way to challenge oneself and still have fun by reading a good book.

Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light. ~Vera Nazarian

So, I now challenge you to join a local book club or start your own.  They are everywhere, even online.  In my community they are at the county libraries, one of the bars, and our local book store.  Finding one is not hard, committing to one is a conscious choice to improve oneself as part of a self-care plan or as part of your conscious growth and development.  Make the choice- choose to read. 

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