Why Join a Book Group?

For the past few years, book groups have played a large role in my life, and I’m glad that I’ve been a part of them. Right now, I’m involved in one at our local library, and at our last book group meeting, we ladies got into a discussion about the merits of being in a book group. I learned that we all came to group for different reasons. I thought I’d share with you some of our reasons for being in a book group, and maybe they’ll motivate you to join one (or start one) as well.

  1. You are introduced to new authors/styles of writing/different topics

Although groups go about this differently, book groups often include a selection of different books. Some groups assign different months to different members, who each choose a book to share for their month. Others vote on a list of books. And some follow a pre-selected list assigned by a group leader.

I’ve been a part of all of these types of groups, and in them all, you’re introduced to new writing that you might not otherwise explore.

It’s easy to get in a reading rut, going through the same authors and types of books. My book groups have challenged me to go outside my comfort zone, and in the process, I’ve found authors that I really enjoy and genres that I never would have considered before.

  1. You learn about reading preferences that aren’t your own

I’ll often share a book that I love with a friend who will not like it that much. I admit, it’s a bit of a downer, since I think I have pretty good taste in books. But I’ve come to realize that people have different reading preferences for a lot of different reasons. Some people prefer a slower pace, while others get too bored by slow books and need fast paced thrillers. Some people like historical fiction, while others prefer historical nonfiction.

Being in a group with people who have all kinds of preferences has helped me realize that my own likes and dislikes aren’t universal, and there’s a lot of room out there for different types of books. It’s a humbling kind of experience, to realize that your reading tastes aren’t shared with everyone.

  1. You pick up on new perspectives on books you’re reading

Grad school taught me that 30 people can read the same book, and come up with more than 30 takes on that book. We’d all read the same thing in class and came back with wildly different interpretations of the material. And that was a good thing.

I love going to book group thinking one thing about a book and getting challenged to think of it in a completely new way. I learn a lot, and I also gain a new appreciation for the book than ever before.

  1. You use your brain

Being a new mommy, I’m finally understanding “mommy brain,” that fuzzy headedness that comes from lack of sleep and lack of interaction with adults. Book groups get you out of the mommy rut and into using your brain in challenging ways, while interacting with people who read books that don’t have pictures in them.

I also know some great retired folks who use book groups as one way to keep themselves sharp.  There’s nothing like reading a challenging book, then discussing it, to keep your brain humming!

  1. You hang out with different people

Of course, this depends on the type of book group you have, but often, book groups pull together people from all walks of life. My library book group has lots of ladies of different ages, careers, religious orientations, and ethnicities. I love that we all share the common love of books but come from such different places. I can’t think of many other ways for such a diverse group of people to assemble and talk together. I can get stuck hanging out with the same group of friends, who have the same belief system as I do, and who also have a similar background. And while I love my friends, I also love my book group friends, who challenge me and help me to dwell and think outside my comfort zone at times.

Have you ever been in a book group? What did you like or dislike about the experience?

Published in: on April 15, 2011 at 4:33 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Aside from class assigned reading, I have never been involved in a formal book discussion group. I’d love to find one that fits my schedule. Do you find you particular degree to be intimidating to your group? I wonder if my being a librarian would cause people to shut down.

    Al: Sometimes, I think people have been a little intimidated at first, but once they realize that I’m not so smart afterall, it gets better. =) Being an English instructor carries with it a lot of baggage, and it’s often not very fun to tell people my field because I typically hear “Oh, I’ll be careful what I say around you.” I want to know what kind of grammar nazis these people had for teachers?

  2. I like your list and want to elaborate on the idea learning of reading perspectives different than my own. Besides books, I very much enjoy learning about ideas and ways of thinking regarding religion, life experience and current events. Listening to people with thoughts different than our own grows our personal faith or opens us to seeing things in a new way. This can happen in a book group like no where else I know.

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