Top Five Alternatives to Traditional Book Clubs
I know those “what you think X is, what X actually is” memes are played out and dumb so forgive me:
What book clubs want you to think goes on at book club: Ladies, libations, and literary discussion. Basically this guy’s wet dream.
What you think actually goes on at book club: a bunch of 30-something ladies drink wine, eat snacks, and pretend to have read the book for a few minutes before moving on to more important subjects, like, I dunno, shoes or something.
What actually goes on at book club: I have no idea. I’ve never been to one.
I know traditional book clubs are still a thing. Several people I know (some in real life!) love them. But for those of you who are too lazy to clean your house and/or have trouble interacting with people IRL, there are SO MANY other options. In no particular order:
The idea for this post came courtesy of blogger Kristen Finlay, who came up with #YegBookClub. It’s very simple, which is why is works so well: each month, an Edmonton-authored book is chosen and a date and time for the chat is set. Read the book, use the hashtag during the chat, and connect with other readers. You can still drink wine and no one has to know that you’re wearing your stayin’-in leggings.
The inaugural #yegbookclub pick was Todd Babiak’s Come Barbarians. I found out about it too late and hadn’t read the book but had fun participating anyway. This will be a regular event for me from now on. I was inspired to start the book that same night (it’s fantastic so far.)
Oh, and the author participated, AND gave a hint about the next book in the series:
2. The library
It seems like each branch of the Edmonton Public Library has at least one book club going, or three, in the case of my local branch. There’s even a club specifically for CanLit, which I will be attending later this month. The pick is Richard Wagamese’s Indian Horse and yes, I read the book. I will report back but the nice thing about a drop-in club is there’s no pressure. Yes, I will have to put on my goin’-out leggings, and interact with strangers, but I’ll never have to host which means I don’t have to clean. I have my priorities straight.
I’m curious, do other cities have this much book club action going on in their libraries?
For some reason I am much more scared to attend a Meetup book club than a library one. Maybe because libraries feel like a safe space? I don’t know what my issue is, I’m not afraid of internet strangers. I mean, I survived meeting a strange boy off the internet in 1994, when the likelihood of someone who says they were a 14 year old male actually being 14 was probably… not good. There was also that time ten years later that I met another boy off the internet and married him. ANYways, there are a ton of book clubs on meetup.com, and this one in particular, Bibliophile’s Anonymous, that I will attend one day, damn it.
4. Canada Reads
I have a whole other blog post brewing about Canada Reads, but it struck me that it’s less of an award and more of a one-sided book club. Not completely one-sided, as there are lots of chances to interact in live chats and on Twitter. The books are announced way ahead of time and it’s doable to read them before hand. And the debates are just like I imagine my dream book club to be – sometimes serious, sometimes silly, always passionate. This was my first year watching and I was so pleasantly surprised by the tone of the discussion AND by how my Twitter timeline was dominated by #CanadaReads2014. Obviously I am following the right people.
5. Book Blogs
If you think about it, all of our little book blogs are attempts are building a big, long-term, online book club. Readalongs especially, and those are kind of like a longer, drawn out Twitter chat, but the whole concept of a book blog is just an excuse to find people who give a shit about what you’re reading, right? And when I’m blogging I am most definitely wearing my stayin’-in leggings, as a best-case scenario.
Speaking of readalongs, here’s a heads up: I will be hosting a readalong for A Tale of Two Cities starting Easter weekend. Watch for a sign-up post soon. If you are thinking, hey, weren’t you going to focus on diverse authors this year, you can blame my brother-in-law for this pick. He was also responsible for the Moby-Dick readalong last year, so I’m going to trust him on this, despite Dickens being the ultimate Dead White Dude.
Tell me about your book clubs, IRL and otherwise!