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Sunday, December 30, 2012

What It Takes To Be A Book Club

7:36 AM Posted by James Noel No comments
What It Takes To Be A Book Club
by Eliza Richardson
When one thinks of a book club, one is normally faced with images of an assortment of cakes served with tea and a pile of bright, pastel-coloured, soft-backed books on a coffee table. Throw in a handful of housewives and you’re in middle class suburbia.
But we all know that is a terrible stereotype. Much like the out-of-date stereotype that reading is for geeks. We are now in an age where reading is deemed cool, so it’s fair to think – or you’d hope – that as reading is the norm, so are book clubs. But the question that begs to be answered is what does it take to be a book club? In this day and age, where technology has boomed and kids now find it cool to read from the screen, book clubs may not actually feel necessary. Face it – we barely interact in the flesh anymore. Long gone are the days where people actually discuss a book face to face; we have forums, blogs and even Facebook statuses in the form of soapboxes for those kinds of things.
But say you want to set up/join a book club, be it in cyberspace or in the flesh, what does it take? I say it takes passion. A real and genuine passion for books. You have got to want to read and be ready to discuss it. A Creative Writing lecturer of mine used to get so irked if we would merely say a story was “good” or “bad”. Why was it good? Why was it bad? Now don’t be put off. You don’t have to go into a deep Liberal Humanist analysis of why you liked/disliked a book, but I do think you have to at least get your hands dirty with the words. Treat it like a perfectly wrapped present. Unwrap it until it’s there, in front of you and it’s no longer a surprise.
You also need willingness, I think. You have got to be willing to read anything – even if it steps outside your genre comfort zone. It helps to broaden your horizons too. Reading is a form of education, first and foremost, and it is always good to feed our brains.
You have to be able to debate – in a gracious and fair way. So you log onto your forum/meet up in the local library and you are ready to rave about how much you loved the book. It was the best – you cried, you laughed, etc – but Joe Soap didn’t like it. In fact, he hated it. So he goes into a tirade about what a pile of – yeah, you get it. And you feel mortally offended as though you wrote it yourself. What do you do? You argue. But, remember, only to the point where you don’t look like an idiot. Everyone is entitled to an opinion; so if you can’t see his or hers and they can’t see yours, then just agree to disagree.
In conclusion, book clubs stay alive through its members. As long as you have passion, willingness and the spark for a debate, all you need to follow is a well-thumbed book, or a fully charged Kindle. Personally, I prefer the former.
Now, who’s for a slice of cake and a cuppa?
About Eliza Richardson
Eliza and her husband, Bob are founders of the Quality Reads UK Book Club. What started out as a hobby in 1990 has now grown into a network of almost 2000 book lovers. Some members of the book club have only just started to blog and accept ebooks, we welcome them to the blogosphere and look forward to working with them. You can get more info their website

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