I love book clubs. I’ve visited four so far that have read my book, The God of Sno Cone Blue. They’ve opened my eyes to what book clubs say or don’t say–about us. This, by the way, is my favorite picture so far, thanks to Linda Kalimanis who had us toasting with sno cones of blue. Are you in a book club? If so, I’ll guess a few of the things it may say about you. See if the following fit:
- You’re a woman… along with the vast majority of book club members. Though I couldn’t find any statistics on this, it seems widely apparent: think Oprah’s Book Club. (If you happen to be a man reading this and in a book club, please tell us about it by replying below–we’d love to hear.)
- You like to read. Now, before you chastise me for pointing out the obvious, I mean something deeper here. Plenty of people read every day: newspapers, magazines, social media, their phones. But not all of them enjoy books. For you, reading is more than information gathering. For you, reading is an experience.
- You’re a social creature. You enjoy interacting and sharing insights, maybe even a bottle of wine and a little debate. This isn’t just a book club–these are your friends! The food and drink are nice, but, in the end, it’s not about that. It’s about the exchange and the time spent together. It’s about turning the solitary pastime of reading into a social event and catching up with great friends.
- You’re curious. You like learning about new worlds and seeing how a character handles challenges. You like learning in general, and you’re pumped when research shows it’s good for your brain and may help stave off dementia later in life. Reading… and a stronger memory. What could be better than that?
- You’re emotional. Its often the best part of a book, right? The tears produced by a good story aren’t really sad or bitter, but cleansing and refreshing, along the lines of chick-flick tears. It’s one of the main reasons we read. Sure, we like to be entertained, who doesn’t? But we also like being moved by the emotional impact of a great story. Stories that change how we think and feel and teach us something are the ones that stay with us.
- You are bonded with a close-knit group. If not, I doubt the book club will last long. Even a single, overbearing personality can spoil a good thing.
My Book Club
I’m happy to say the women in my book club have all the good traits. We’ve been together for years now and never cease to enjoy each other. It’s my third book club over the years. The first was a couples’ club that fell apart after marriage and kids. The second worked for a while, then simply grew too big to stick together, losing the last trait on my list.
Among the book clubs that have read my novel, I’ve seen the traits I listed and more. Some of the women are fairly new friends and some have known each other for decades!
Since book clubs are loosely organized, there is no hard data on membership. One article in The New York Times estimates 5 million Americans are members. The number sounds high, until you consider that the U.S. population is now well over 300 million.
So, what about all the other people–the adults, that is–NOT in book clubs. Many, of course, are men, less likely to join in the first place, but I hesitate to say the women aren’t curious or emotional or social. In some cases, perhaps, though the less social–and the shy–would surely benefit from a book club. Maybe it comes down to the obvious: reading… and time. Certainly those are major factors, since not everybody enjoys reading and not everybody will invest the time.
I will say this: I’m grateful to every book club investing time in my novel. So far, I know of nearly 20. And here’s the marvelous truth, they’ve been a godsend for me, which is why I’m thrilled to make personal visits to book clubs. The paperback version of my book has a page of Questions and Topics for Discussion, which has been helpful to book clubs. And from what I can surmise, many of my reviews on Amazon (30 so far) have come from members of book clubs.
In closing, allow me to pay tribute to all those women, and to the things book clubs say about us. I’m in a far better place because of them.
If you’d like to contact me about a personal visit with your group (or using Skype if you’re far from Portland) just drop me a note on my Contact page. I’d be happy to hear from you.
–As usual, your comments are welcome. Do you have something to add about book clubs? Post your reply below–