Book clubs: Are they for socializing or reading? | The Tylt
When it comes to book clubs, there are two schools of thought. For some, a good book club is all about hanging out with friends whose opinions you trust. Maybe you finish the book of the month, maybe you don't, but either way, you're bound to have a good time with the club itself. Others treat book club with a much more serious tone. Books are chosen carefully and discussion can last for hours. The problem is, you never really know which kind of club you're going to get until you're already a book in. What is the true purpose of book club?
Book clubs: Are they for socializing or reading?
Book clubs are for one purpose and one purpose only: hanging out with your friends. As one book club member so aptly put it on Twitter:
So I hate reading, but I’m in book club because my boyfriend is in it and we were supposed to read a book this last month. I didn’t read the book. I didn’t open the book. I didn’t even check out the book from the library. I love book club.
And as Atlas Obscura adds, the "book" part of book club is the excuse—not the point—of the gathering. Sarah Laskow writes:
In practice, they are often more about hanging out with a group of people, drinking, gossiping, and generally having a nice evening. Depending on the percentage of the group that has actually read the book, it may be discussed, or it may not. The book is the excuse, not necessarily the point.
The whole point of book club is to read a book with a group of like-minded readers, is it not? If you collectively fail to actually read the book, then you cease to be a book club. If you feel your own group might be teetering on the edge of socializing trumping book discussion, take a cue from the silent book club trend. NPR's Josh Axelrod sets the stage:
The concept is simple yet revolutionary: Members meet up at a bar, a library, a bookstore or any venue that will host them. Once the bell rings, silent reading time commences. After an hour, the bell rings again.
This kind of book club takes the pressure out of the prose; you can simply talk about whatever it is your reading with the people around you—before or after reading time that is:
Liberated from the orthodoxy of traditional book clubs, participants can bring whatever they'd like to read and chat about anything, before and after the designated reading time.