This is a post by Novel Publicity President, Melissa Storm
Are you lonely? In a mental slump? Looking for a good debate, a reason to get out of the house? Are you deathly afraid of public speaking? Looking for fun on a tight budget?
Well, guess what? You can address all of these problems by joining a book club. It’s true. Book groups aren’t just about reading great books. Sure, that’s part of it, but the benefits of joining a club are vast and may even surprise you.
Here are 7 reasons to join a book club. Which will be the one that sends you running to the library?
1. To read more often
I know how it goes. You love to read, but something else is always more important or at least more urgent. The kids need to be driven here or there, a bill needs to be paid, a boss needs to be pleased. By the time you are finally able to unwind in the evening and grab a few minutes for yourself, you’re so completely and utterly exhausted that you don’t have the mental energy to read. On goes the boob tube; the book remains in your night stand for another day. Joining a book club will magically turn reading into a higher priority for you. That’s the power of deadlines. If you know you have a month to read the upcoming selection, you may set a goal to read for 20 minutes each day or to read a chapter every other day. Going to book club and getting those moments with your friends to discuss a shared experience will spice up your literary life.
2. To read books you wouldn’t normally select for yourself
Are Harlequin romances your guilty pleasure? Unless you have a book group devoted to them, you’re probably going to be reading something just a bit different than what you are used to. If you’re in a classic group, maybe you’ll discover that Lady Chatterley’s Lover is the best book ever written. In a YA group, you just might identify with the Twilight Saga. Both of these novels bring so much more to the discussion circle than their romantic themes. Lady Chatterley will teach you about the English countryside, a different era, and Marxism. Twilight will encourage you to think fantastically and maybe lead to a discussion on whether Bella Swan is a good role model for young girls. Even if you stick exclusively to romance in your club, you’ll still be introduced to new books when it’s somebody else’s turn to appoint the selection.
3. To meet new people
If you’re a mid-twenty-something like me, you’ve recently realized how difficult it is to meet new people when you’re done with college but don’t yet have any children of your own. Making new friends with similar interests is difficult at any age really, but it’s especially hard in this in-between semi-young adult phase of life. I’ve met so many wonderful friends through book club, including my bestie. And other book clubbers won’t just share your interests, they’ll share many of your same personality traits – like introversion, pensiveness, intellectualism, and more.
4. To contemplate deeper issues
How often are we really pushed to think outside of our comfort zones? This is another thing that changes once you finish college; you have less of an opportunity to think critically about life and to debate its finer points. Yes, a book club is like a college English class in many ways: you get assigned reading, are put into a group and encouraged to hold a riveting discussion. Book groups are fantastic for recovering teacher’s pets, those of us who like-love-to learn! One of the best lessons you can learn is something that teaches you more about yourself. Nabokov’s Lolita, for example, is a great selection for this purpose. You may find yourself sympathizing with Humbert Humbert, an admitted pedophile. When reading a synopsis of the novel, you’re likely to hate him, but as you get into the story you may start to identify with him. You’ll have to stop and wonder how can I excuse this man’s behavior? The answer will teach you a lot about who you are. Each new book is a chance for you to learn more about yourself and society at large. Bringing these reflections into a group discussion can help bring them even more into focus. Two heads are better than one, so how great must ten be?
5. To overcome shyness
Are you one of those people for whom putting your foot in your mouth is a routine occurrence? Do you say things in discussion that you later regret? Nerves! It’s hard to be an introvert in an extrovert’s world. As a matter of fact, I almost missed out on book clubs altogether due to my once crippling shyness. I even read the selection and thought of several points to discuss, but on the big day, I needed a pep talk from my husband to make myself show up (more about that here). Even now that I’m the leader of a club with over 350 members, I still get nervous- but nobody knows that but me. I’m what you might call a forced extrovert. Book clubs have helped me so much. My mouth is now foot-free for the better part of the day, and I can even get up in front of crowds and deliver speeches without having a panic attack. I have book club to thank for that.
6. To sharpen your communication skills
In a point related to the last, book club will help strengthen your ability to communicate with others. For starters, the act of reading itself will do wonders for your vocab and the fluidity of your speech. Interacting with others in the group will help you to interpret nonverbal cues. If you don’t already, you’ll begin to see what somebody does when they want a turn to talk. You may also notice how others react to what somebody else has said based on body language. You’ll learn from both positive and negative example. Emulate the most well-spoken member and avoid the same mistakes that are made by the over-bearing member who continually interrupts others. Of course, the best way to improve your speaking skills is by practice, practice, practice. And book club will give you that opportunity!
7. To save money
How many hours does it take you to read a 300-page book? At least five, maybe a whole lot more. How much does your average run-of-the-mill book cost? That’s right, you can get ‘em for free at the local library or by borrowing from a friend. What else can entertain you for such a long period of time on so little cost? Even if you pay the cover price for every book you read, it’s still a relatively inexpensive hobby as compared to almost anything else you could be doing. Reading is also good for you, so read on!
[jbox]This post originally appeared on Terri Giuliano Long's blog, The Art & Craft of Writing Creatively[/jbox]
About this post's author: Melissa Storm was born with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). Novel Publicity’s mascot is a sun conure, thanks to her obsession with birds–and she gets to decide anyway since she is the company’s founder and president. Her first novel, Farsighted, won the prestigious Writer’s Digest Self-Published Novel of the Year award in 2012 for the YA category. She now writes most of her fiction under her real name, Melissa Storm. Learn more or connect with her her author website: www.melstorm.com or via Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.