In the world of book lovers, there is one universal truth: a book is best read alone. Maybe under the covers, maybe out in the balcony on a rainy day, maybe in the hurried break between classes (like me). Wherever it is, most of us tend to associate reading with solitude. Silence. But have we thought going beyond simply reading the book and enjoying it? Here’s how we can open our reading experience to other people: book clubs! Books or literature clubs in schools, colleges, housing societies is one of the many ways we can really appreciate the magic of a book. Think of your favourite book. Your favourite characters, in your favourite universe. Couples you ship and headcannons you wish on a star for. Think of the joy this book brings to you; and now, think of discussing everything you love about it with a group of like-minded people! Many people argue that the essence of a book is lost when it is discussed at length but hear me out: reading a book once will never be enough.
A good book will always have something to offer that the reader can’t grasp in one reading. Something he misses out on. Something he never thought of. Something someone else will think of. Discussing a book is an amazing way of sharing ideas about a common piece of text and learning new things about it. If anything, it elevates the essence of a book. Enormous fandoms like that of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Game of Thrones, etc have found a home in humongous fanbases online. The love for these books has manifested into fan-fictions, fan-art, online forums, comic conventions – the list goes on. A single book can bring people from all around the world together. Then why not start with our own, small community?
Here’s why you, today, should start a book club:
Read, read, read
If you’re in a reading block or are unable to finish books, this is a great way to get back in the game. Having a deadline to finish a book and discuss it is a great, exciting incentive. It will also help you discover new books and authors, help you pick up your pace and fall in love with reading again.
Open your mind
When we read a book, we often form an opinion, keep it to ourselves and move on. Discussions in a book club will enable you to share that opinion. It will give you a chance to listen to other opinions and interpretations and open you mind to ideas you’d never thought of before. Even after having completed the book, you’ll find yourself discovering more and more facets of the book.
Very often, we tend to stick to the genres we like. I go the extent of rereading the same books of my favourite genre, but I won’t explore new genres. Being a part of a book club changes that. You come to a consensus on the book you you’ll read next: this can be any book, any genre. Read, explore, discuss – for all you know, you’ve now found a new favourite genre.
Learn: A discussion often focuses on context
Most of the time, we read a book and toss it aside. But a book club will urge to find out why the author write this book, why it was important in his or her own time, how the book impacted the society in its time. Context allows you to learn not only about the book, but also about how literature, in general, has been changing the world, one book at a time.
Do you see a future book club leader in yourself? Here’s a quick 101 on book clubs!
1. Select a venue and day
Select a cozy, quiet spot. This can be your home, the library in your school, a classroom in your college. Decide on meeting on a comfortable day weekly – and if that’s not possible, at least once in two weeks. Stick to the day and meet regularly!
2. Set a method of selecting book
Come to a consensus on a method of selecting a book. Whether it’s a member recommending a book every time or exploring new books together, make sure the ground rules are established at the very beginning.
Will we you go in a circle, with everyone talking about the boko one by one? Will you open the floor for random discussion? Will you set topics? Make sure everyone decides on how the discussions will be conducted to avoid confusion!
Not always mandatory, but some sessions can end in a fun activity or game based on the book discussed that week!
5. Have fun
Most importantly, you should have fun! There are no hard and fast rules and this is the best part of a book club: it’s a safe space for book lovers to let loose and have fun!
Break the rules, make your own new ones – whatever it takes, open a book club today and spread the love!