Reading is one of the best things you can do for yourself for a seemingly endless number of reasons. Reading makes your more knowledgeable, open-minded & creative . It expands your vocabulary, increases concentration, and protects your memory . It’s been shown to reduce stress and even to help us live longer . “This all sounds fantastic,” you say, “but how on earth can I find the time to add reading to my already busy life?”
Consider joining or starting a book club. While making time for a monthly get-together might seem difficult, the benefits of a face-to-face book club heaps benefits on top of benefits. Having a standing appointment with fellow readers can be just the incentive you need to start turning pages, especially when you throw in wine, snacks, and the chance to meet new people and learn about cool books you might never have heard of otherwise.
If in-person meetings aren’t in your nature or your schedule, that’s no reason to give up entirely on the idea of a book club. The technological advances of the twenty-first century, far from having left books behind, have brought entirely new dimensions to reading. In the new culture of “social reading” there are fan sites for readers who want to delve deep into a genre, series, or even a single work.
You can follow along with publishers like Penguin USA on their Twitter book clubs. There are online book clubs fueled by celebrity star power such as Oprah and Reese Witherspoon. Goodreads , a social media network built entirely around book lovers, hosts groups with specific focuses like YA, romance, or their excellent annual reading challenge . Or you can take advantage of the intimacy of a private social network like Go2s to form your own group among your literary-minded friends. Go2s offers the ability to set up individual discussion for each title on your list as well as a Library feature for storing images, syllabi, and links to interesting articles. If you are like my friend who started a discussion group dedicated to short non-fiction, those links might be all the content you need to get your group up and running!
If all the individual benefits haven’t convinced you, read this review of the book Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life. And then make the book the first title on your new group’s reading list, because your book club, whether it meets at the local library, coffee shop, or online, just might help save the world.