Thursday, June 12, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: Clubbing

A combo of two suggestions by: Heidi and by litlove:

Have you ever been a member of a book club? How did your group choose (or, if you haven’t been, what do you think is the best way to choose) the next book and who would lead discussion?

Do you feel more or less likely to appreciate books if you are obliged to read them for book groups rather than choosing them of your own free will? Does knowing they are going to be read as part of a group affect the reading experience?

Over the years, I have belonged to a handful of online book clubs that host book discussions of selected books. In each case, members of the group are asked to nominate books they would like to see read by the group. Some groups have set monthly themes, and the nominations must fit within that certain theme. Other groups have a more open process, where readers can nominate any book they choose. Sometimes there are restrictions such as only being able to nominate a book that is easy to find and those which are in paperback so as to save those who buy a little money. Once all the nominations are gathered, a poll is set up, and readers vote for which book they would like to read as a group. The book with the most votes wins.

In a couple of the groups, the moderators takes turns leading the book discussions; while in others, the person nominating the winning book takes charge. In some instances, the discussion is left open without prompts--it's a free for all. Regardless of how it is done, a book club discussion is only as good as the participants make it.

I have read a few books that I might not have read otherwise thanks to these book clubs and, as a result, have been introduced to new-to-me-authors. If anything, reading a book with a group adds to my appreciation of a book. Being able to talk about the book, what we liked and did not like, and exploring different aspects of the book in ways we would not have thought to do if we had been reading by ourselves made the experience all the more richer.

I have not been able to join a face to face book club but have taken full advantage of the various online book clubs out there. One advantage to an online group is being able to participate in a discussion at any time of day or night. If I can't get to the group one day, I can catch up later in the week. This type of discussion works best for me.

These days, I tend to prefer the open dialog a few online book clubs offer. Some have monthly book selections where reading the chosen book and participating in the discussion is optional. I can participate in a group discussion if I want to, but there's no obligation to do so nor is there any guilt for being unable to join in.

I would love to be a part of a face to face book group someday. Perhaps one day, it will be feasible.


  1. I haven't tried the online book club thing yet, but maybe I'll check it out. I do tend to express my thoughts on a book better in writing :-).

  2. I've never been in any bookclub before, be it online or a physical one but I'd love to try the online bookclub someday. :) Like Florinda, I think I express my thoughts better in writing than discussing them verbally, hehe.

  3. After my fiasco with a face to faceone, I was completely put off. However, yesterday I joined an online one. Let me see how I fare in it.

    As you say, I am going to read short stories stories online, which otherwise I would not have read.

  4. I've tried the face to face book club but none of us had hardly any of the same taste in books. I don't think any of the ladies would now popular fiction if it bit them so I stopped going.

  5. Oops! I meant know*. I do enjoy my online book groups though, I even own one even though it's still in the starting stage.

  6. I have never been in a book club before as it sounds a bit too responsible and so on. The closest I got to an organized reading are these book challenges. I think there will be a time to enter these clubs later on, when I have a bit more time in my future adultlife.

  7. I used to belong to several online book clubs but just haven't had the time. Blogging seems to take up all my online time now. I did belong to a couple of f2f groups when we lived in England and that was fun. They all, online or not, got me to read things I probably wouldn't have otherwise.

  8. I've only ever belonged to online book clubs too. The people that I would want to be in a face to face book club with don't live near me.

  9. Great post and you mentioned something that is an obvious benefit to an online group. Being able to participate at any time of the day. Choosing a certain date and time would be a real problem in a face-to-face club.

  10. I would love to join an online
    bookclub, where to you find one?
    And also interested in a book
    club of two people.

  11. I have my first meeting with a potential book club on Monday (with work people). I'm a little nervous and excited at the same time--but I miss the comraderie I had in grad school and the discussions about the books. I didn't quite get that with the online book clubs, but perhaps I wasn't in the right ones.

  12. Florinda - I'm the same way. At least in writing, you have the chance to review your thoughts before submitting them--make sure you make sense.

    Melody - If you have the time, I hope you will try an online group someday.

    Gautami - Bad experiences can be a big turn off, unfortunately. Hopefully you will enjoy the short story group you just joined.

    John - They are very convenient. :-)

    Jen - That is a problem. I think it probably works better if you are well matched with others in the group--share similar tastes and be willing to step outside of the comfort zone now and then. You can't always be the one having to sacrifice after all.

    Harry - I think one of the reasons I prefer online groups with optional group reads is so that I don't feel obligated to read something I may not have time to read--or don't want to read. I think that challenges are sort of like book clubs in their own way. Just with a bit more free choice. :-)

    Chris - Yes, they are!

    Nat - They can be time consuming. My participation in groups has gone down since I started blogging.

    Trisha - I could probably say the same. :-) Otherwise, we could start book clubs up ourselves.

    Jaimie - I really do like the flexibility of online groups when it comes to timing. It can make a big difference.

    Cynthia - Yahoo has quite a number of book groups. If you do a search through their group directory, typing in keywords such as book club or perhaps a favorite author or two, you may find something you like. Some of the groups are open to the public and others are private, requiring you to fill out a little box stating why you want to join the group. It's relatively simple. There are also a number of MSN groups out there as well. And Reading group bulletin boards.

    In some of these groups, sometimes there are people willing to do buddy reads (two or more people reading the same book). I'm not sure about any book clubs that are specifically designed for two people otherwise.

    Trish - Good luck with the book group! I hope it goes well. As much as I like online book groups, I imagine there is something missing in terms of the direct camaraderie that you are more likely to find in a face to face group. Having never been in one though, that's just a guess.

  13. Hi Wendy, I've not tried any form of book clubs but I'd love to join an online one...

  14. Hi, Alice! I wanted to send you a private e-mail but I can't find your address. :-(


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