In 2015, I resolved to read more novels. It’s going to be tricky, but I know that the best way to motivate myself to read more is to have an accountability partner. I also thought it would be cool if we were reading the same thing, and, I don’t know, after several chapters, we could talk about what happened. It was quickly pointed out to me that this is not a new thing I created, but rather Oprah has been doing it for quite some time now and it is actually something called a “book club.”
After starting my own club, I wrote down some helpful advice to share in case you’re also trying to read more this year:
Choose an easy book to read
By “easy” I don’t mean a children’s novel, but a book that has a SparkNotes section. Like, a book that you had to read for AP English in high school. Not only does it mean that the novel you chose will be rich in discussion topics, but you can use SparkNotes to bring up symbolism and metaphors that you wouldn’t have thought of on your own, you dummy. You will also impress the other members of your book club with your psuedo-intelligence.
Be careful not to pick a book that’s too good. Once you finish it, the following books will only be a disappointment. We messed up with The Kite Runner because now every book pales in comparison.
Pick your book club members wisely
I thought this part of creating a book club would be the easiest; it was no question that I’d choose my best friend to go on this literary journey with me. But it turns out that one of us is untrustworthy. I do not recommend starting a book club with a shady person who has zero regard for the rules. Like, if you both agree that you’ll read until chapter 15, you shouldn’t have to worry that he’ll read half of the book in one night because, “it was just so good, Arra! I couldn’t put it down!” You shouldn’t have to deal with the possibility that he might reveal parts of the book you haven’t read yet. Even if he’s considerate, he’ll probably let it slip that Baba dies and, not to be dramatic, but the entire book sucks after that.
Have the perfect number of people in your book club
My best friend and I have strong personalities, so when we disagreed about something, it became a fight about who was right rather than a conversation about the book. We argued about the best character instead of having a polite discussion about the ways in which our favorite characters were indicative of the kind of people we wanted to be. We also talked over each other because we thought that what we had to say was more important than what the other person was saying. There wasn’t a third person to mediate between us.
A two-person book club doesn’t work, but don’t invite your entire friend group to join either. Retain some exclusivity or else anyone will think they can get in. Have you ever tried to have a conversation with more than five people? It’s impossible. No one listens and it’s hectic and infuriating. The more the merrier? No! Not at all! It isn’t cool unless it’s exclusive, guys.
Live in the same city as your members
Because my book club partner and I live six hours apart, we were restricted to FaceTime and text messages which just isn’t the same as having a conversation in person. It’s easier to focus when the person you’re talking to is tangible. Plus I look at my own face for the entire duration of a FaceTime call.
Living near each other is also convenient if the novel you choose has been adapted into a film. You could watch the movie together and have further discussions on the differences between the book and the movie.
Don’t feel like you have to keep reading a terrible book. It still counts! You don’t have to punish yourself! If, by December, your book club has read half of 24 books, you could say that you read 12 books in one year! It isn’t lying if you tried. Most people don’t read that much at all that sometimes I think it’s an accomplishment even getting through a 900 word think piece. If you want to quit in the middle of the book, that’s all right because nothing matters in the end and you can do whatever you want with your life and New Year’s resolutions are dumb anyway.
Don’t get tattoos from the book
This probably won’t be a problem for you because you’re most likely emotionally stable but for those of us who are a little off-kilter, it might seem like a fun idea to get a kite tattoo with your best friend! Do not do this. You’d have to explain your kite tattoos to people and they’d have to pretend like your story is remotely interesting and it’s just painful for everyone involved. And what if you re-read the book in a few years and you find out it actually wasn’t as great as you thought it was? And what if you find out that you and your book club partner have conflicting personality types and weren’t meant to be friends at all? You can forget you were ever in a three-week book club, but tattoos are forever.
It’s important to remember that you’re doing this because reading is beneficial and entertaining and expands your world. Loosen up. Enjoy it. Live, laugh, love.
Hahahaha just kidding. This is a serious book club. For nerds. No fun allowed.
Let me know if you use these tips to start a book club!!! I’m looking to join a new one. The one I’m currently in has some personnel issues.