Member of the Club
Confession: I don’t belong to a book club. I’ve never belonged to one. Book clubs have become a popular way for readers to connect, to come together around a shared interest for a mutual purpose—book discussion. Club members spend time talking, learning, and socializing. Book clubs are everywhere—libraries, churches, bookstores, private homes, online. They form around specific genres, specific authors, specific age groups. Although the basic idea is the same—read and discuss a book—each group is as unique as its members. In some groups, members vote on what to read next, in others, members take turns choosing. In some, the topic is chosen by the group’s host or the place, such as a library or a bookstore, sponsoring the club. Some chose books based on the season, such as those focused on the church calendar. Some groups are fluid; members come and go. Some groups have a fixed membership roster and long-term members who attend book club as faithfully as my parents’ generation attended bridge club. Some groups, like cookbook-themed clubs, offer recipes for members to prepare beforehand and sample at the meetings. Some groups ask authors questions before the meetings and make the answers part of the discussion. Some groups invite authors to speak. Some publishers, like mine, Henery Press, offer discussion questions for their books. Some books include discussion questions in an appendix. Book clubs even appear in books, movies, and TV shows. There are several book club-themed cozies. One of my favorite episodes of “Midsomer Murders” centers around a murder at a book club. So why don’t I join one? Because, to me, reading has always been a private affair. Unsociable by nature (extremely introverted INTJ), I’ve never been a joiner. Books have always provided an important source of solitude, an escape from the world around me. I can spend hours alone at a bookstore or library, wandering the aisles, searching for a volume in which to lose myself. Book in hand, I retreat to a cozy seat, preferably in a favorite café or pub with something delicious to eat and drink, and disappear into the world on the page. I don’t want to talk about books, I want to inhabit them, experience their stories, then savor those experiences internally. How about you? Book club member or solitary reader? If you’re in a club (or two or four), what genres or authors do they focus on? What types of questions or issues does your group discuss? What foods pair well with book club? Comment on the blog or join the discussion over on Facebook.