Reading can be a solitary adventure; sometimes, you want to savor time alone with a good book. Other times you want to enjoy it with someone, which can pose a problem for some readers. If you are lucky enough to have a friend, relative, spouse, or someone else in your life that shares your reading tastes, that is to be treasured. Some readers do not have this person in their life and don’t know how to find someone to share their love of books with. It is so much fun to discuss the books we’ve read with others.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a reader. There were times in my life that I read more than others. Sometimes life circumstances made it easy to read and, at other times, nearly impossible. Until I moved to Texas in 2010, I never belonged to a book club, nor did it even occur to me that I needed to belong to one. After settling into my new life, I wanted to join a book club, but I had no idea how or where to find a book club. So, what did I do? I googled it (like I do for most everything) and found only a couple of items that looked like a book club, but it was on a platform that I’d never heard of; I’ll get to that in a few minutes.
This is the first post in the new “Book Clubs” series. I share tips on finding a book club to join, what to look out for when looking for a book club, knowing what is best for your own temperament and reading style, and talking about great book club books. Let’s dive right in.
There are two different types of book clubs, in-person and online. Since the pandemic began last year, most in-person book clubs paused or went online to Zoom or a similar platform. When I say an online book club, that is not what I’m referring to. For this purpose, an online book club only meets online, and all activities are hosted online.
In-Person Book Clubs
There are several places to find an “in-person book club,” but before you start looking for one, take some time to reflect on what type of book club you want to participate in and what you expect to get out of it. Each book club meets the needs of its members, and if your needs are not what everyone else’s needs are, you will be disappointed.
Where to find in-person book clubs:
Your local library - Not only does your library have books, it most likely has one or more book clubs. What I find so enjoyable about my library’s book clubs is that they discuss books and usually only books. I’ll talk more about this later when I tell you about a big book club fail for me. My library has really interesting book clubs such as the “Brown Bag” book club, which meets for lunch monthly. If you like to cook, the “Cook the Book” book club is where each person makes a recipe related to the book and then meets for a potluck to eat and discuss the book. Another one I have enjoyed is the “What are You Reading” book club, where everyone tells the group about a book they’ve read recently that they’ve enjoyed. My library also has teen book clubs and children’s read-aloud groups. If you live in a larger area with neighboring city libraries, check those out too. You usually don’t have to live in the city to participate in the library’s activities, including book clubs.
Your local book store - Don’t just look at the national chain bookstores; check your local indie bookstore too. My local indie book store moved their in-person book clubs online during the pandemic but now has recently started having in-person monthly book club meetings again. Before the pandemic, Barnes & Noble used to have a monthly book club get-together; I’ve gone to several in the past and enjoyed the book discussion. It looks like all those events are now happening online, but in-person events will be back in the months to come.
School, church, and other groups of like-minded people - Participating in groups with other people connected by school, children, church, politics, or any other commonalities can often lead to an existing book club with the group or several participants of the group forming their own book club. Because of the shared interests of the people in the groups, having a book club of friends can be very successful and fulfilling.
Silent Book Clubs - This intrigues me; I haven’t joined one yet, but I may when my local one starts meeting in person again. The Silent Book Club is a nationwide book club with local chapters that bills itself as the “introverts happy hour,” and boy, does that have my name on it. There is no assigned reading, no pressure to finish a book, just meet at a predetermined place like a coffee shop or book store with others and read silently for a while. Then at the end, most chapters reserve a few minutes to discuss the book you are reading or maybe read a passage from the book. There is no pressure to speak, but you are with readers like yourself if you choose to.
Meetup - This is an online community to find groups of people in your area to do things with for just about anything, including reading and book clubs. I googled “local book club,” and something called “Meetup” popped up. I had never heard of it before, but I clicked through and joined and began my quest looking for book clubs. I found several, RSVP’d for a few meetups, and promptly showed up at the appointed place and time, and it went downhill from there. Either there were a couple dozen people attending (this introvert thinks that’s about 18 people too many), or the group did a lot of eating and drinking and not much talking about the book. I was fortunate to be part of a six-person book club sub-group of a larger group, and I enjoyed that so much. We met for dinner, each of us committed to reading the book before the meeting, and we thoroughly enjoyed discussing the book. After a couple of years, the group’s leader moved, and sadly, the group ended. I treasured this group and these people and still miss both to this day.
Online Book Clubs
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of online book clubs; I only know of a few, and those are the ones I’ll tell you about below. Like in-person book clubs, you need to make sure you know what you want from an online book club, as you will most likely try several of them out before you find the right fit. I enjoy this format, and I enjoy the feeling of community with the other members because of how many opportunities all the members can interact online. However, unlike in-person book clubs, many online communities charge a fee to be a member or are hosted on a fee-based platform. I belong to a few, and if money were no object, I’d belong to many more.
Where to find online book clubs:
Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club - I have mentioned this online book club several times before, and I’m sure I will continue to talk about it. I’m not an affiliate, nor do I earn any money for talking about it. I am just a reader, book lover, a devoted fan of all things Anne Bogel, and a proud book club member since the beginning. We have monthly books to read in the book club, monthly book and or author talks, other classes such as learning how to get the most out of our libraries, Instagram, journaling, and my favorite, Book School. A robust community forum and discussion topics on books, authors, reading dilemmas, and all things bookish keep me participating and coming back for more again and again. This is a membership community, and you can learn more here.
Book clubs hosted on Patreon - Patreon is an online site that hosts paid membership communities related to just about anything. I only participate in bookish-related creators, and one of those has created a book club for like-minded readers. Novel Pairings is a book club focused on reading the classics. Chelsey and Sara lead zoom events on book themes, literary theory, and many bonus episodes about book pairings, book previews, and other bookish goodies. They also have a free podcast of the same name that I listen to as often as possible. Anne Bogel has a community for What Should I Read Next followers that I belong to, along with a few others which are not necessarily “book clubs.” Several podcasts also have online book clubs on Patreon, such as The Stacks and Reading Women.
Celebrity book clubs - Celebrity book clubs seem to be all the rage right now. From Oprah to Reese to Jenna and so many others, people follow these for various reasons. I’m not sure that I really have an opinion about them one way or the other. I follow them to know the monthly book selections, but I don’t know that I pay much attention to them otherwise. I think Oprah has been the leader on this since 1996, and in the fifteen years while her show was on the air, she introduced her audience to seventy books. Since then, she’s read/promoted another couple dozen books. Reeses’s Book Club is prominent on Instagram, as is Read with Jenna and Jenna’s presence extends to TV at the Today Show website. Others such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Emma Roberts, and Florence + The Machine have an online presence on Instagram. Since I only follow a few to know the book choices, I don’t know much else about them. If the online communities are robust, there are probably great discussions about the books read.
Other online bookish sites worth mentioning - At the beginning of the pandemic, a group of five authors that all had books releasing in the coming months got together and created Friends & Fiction. While it is not a “book club” where the participants read and discuss a specific book, the five authors host a live FB event weekly on Wednesday night with other authors as guests. Some of those authors have been Emily Henry, Kristin Hannah, Delia Owens, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Sonali Dev, and many, many others, way too many to list here. A couple of Friends and Fiction fans started a Friends & Fiction Official Book Club where they read a book a month. If the monthly book is one of the five authors’ books, the author usually meets with the group live in FB. I tune in occasionally if I’ve read the monthly book. Between the Chapters Book Club is a FB group sponsored by Kensington Publishing Group that has monthly book club reads and live author events. I’ve listened to some really great author interviews and added many books to my TBR from this group.
Books clubs are as unique as the people that participate in them. Finding a great book club isn’t easy, but if you find one that makes your bookish self smile, then every failure you had looking for one all becomes worth it. There is nothing better than sharing with others your love of books.
Coming up next in the Book Club Series is learning what types of books make great book club reads. Learn what kinds of books lead to the best discussions and why some great books can flop and leave little to discuss. Happy book clubbing.
I started this adventure three months ago after thinking about it for way too long. Almost thirty newsletters later, I’m having more fun than I ever dreamed that I would. I don’t know where this is going in the future, but for now, I enjoy creating content about all kinds of bookish topics. If you enjoy this bookish goodness, I’d love it if you would share it with your bookish friends so they can enjoy it too. After all, one can never have too many books to read. Happy reading this week!