A group of women sit in chairs with books open on their laps, and glasses of red wine in hand.Book clubs seem like the most wonderful idea: a reason to gather some like-minded friends to discuss literature over delectable tidbits and beverages? Yes, please! Add to that social component that they’re a great way to meet new people and exercise your brain and you’ve got the proverbial keep aging at bay win-win. Here are some reasons why you might want to start your own book club or join one that’s already functioning. 

The Benefits of Book Clubs

You’ll Read More, and More Carefully

Typically, if you’re reading a book for pleasure you’re not really tapping into any deep analysis of the text. But if you are reading with the awareness that later on you’ll need to present an opinion on a certain aspect, you’ll probably pay more attention to the details.

It’s a Social Opportunity

No matter how strict the book club may be, joining one offers a social opportunity. By engaging in a club you can strengthen already existing relationships, or even make new friends. This might not be the primary objective of a book club, but having a supportive social circle is crucial as you get older.

Broaden Your Horizons

A group of people are gathered in a cafe with books and laptops out on a table in front of them. Book clubs can introduce you to new perspectives as well. The beauty of discussing literature is that people interpret everything differently based on their own personal experiences and preferences. If you were to discuss a book with your best friend, the odds are that you’ll probably agree on most points. Discuss it with someone who has a wildly different background than you, and you might experience a revelation. 

On a more logistical note, book clubs can also be great for expanding your reading genres, and they make it easier to explore and appreciate different literary styles as well. You might not be drawn to non-fiction, for example, but joining in led discussions will help you feel more engaged with topics you might not have sought out on your own. 

Build Community

All of these benefits work together to add up to a larger goal: building a better community for everyone to live in. The success of a community is dependent on how well people live and learn together. Conversations produced from a book club can improve how we value each other. We’ve discussed recently how reading is good for you; reading and then talking about it is even better.

How to Join a Book Club

A laptop is open with people's faces on the screen, like a zoom call. Someone has a book open in front of the lap topYou can join countless book clubs online (to name a few: The Girlfriend, GoodReads Choice Awards, and of course, Oprah’s Book Club) but there are definite advantages to joining one you can attend in person: there is more accountability, the social aspect, and you can participate in lively discussion without interjections from possible “trolls.” Your local library, community center, or independent bookstores are the best places to look for clubs to join. There is also a website that can help you search for both online and in person book clubs near you, called Bookclubs.com.

Alternatively, you could always start your own book club, which can give you a little more control but requires more work. If you’d like to pursue this route, you need to nail down a few things before you start sending out invites:

  • What kind of book club will it be? Are you hoping for more of a social aspect, or will it be strictly academic in nature? As the group leader it will be up to you to set the tone, but who you invite will have an impact as well. 
  • Who do you want to invite? The size of the group makes a big difference: large groups offer more perspectives, but it can be difficult to conduct conversations. Small groups are more intimate, but you might struggle with low attendance or participation. A great way to grow your group is to start with a nucleus of friends, but have each person try to invite one or two friends of theirs that you don’t have in common. You can always use social media to spread the word about your group as well.
  • Two women are sitting together on a couch and laughing while holding books open in their lapsLogistics: Where will you meet — online, or in person, or both? Are you picking a neutral location like your local library or coffee shop, or will you try to have a revolving host? How often will you meet? What are the preferred communication methods? 
  • Book Choice: How will you choose books? Will you have a theme, or will it be anything goes?
  • Resources for Discussions: You can come up with your own discussion questions, or put it to the group to help. Or, you could let someone else do that work for you, and use already-generated reading guides. Some great places to look for guides include LitLovers, Reading Group Guides, and GoodReads, but author websites are also a helpful resource.

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