This is a guest post by Jane Smith. Jane Smith is a freelance writer and blogger. She writes about free background checks for Backgroundcheck.org. Questions and comments can be sent to: janesmth161 @ gmail.com
If you’re reading this, you’d likely agree that nothing delivers the same intellectual delight as reading a compelling work of fiction. Generations of writers and casual readers alike have sought shelter in the sheer joy of reading as a means of escape or as a landscape by which to navigate and explore their imagination. The long line of omnivorous consumers of books from Gutenberg to you, dear reader, stands as a testament to the universal allure of the bound volume.
But for all the draw to reading, there’s an complicit solitude involved; while reading engrosses us, it simultaneously isolates us from sharing the experience with others by virtue of being a solitary activity. This truth is particularly difficult to bear when we read a work that blows our minds or takes our breath away; there’s an irresistible urge to share how this sentence shook us or how that stanza made us rethink the fundamental ideas of time and space. And all too often when we do approach someone about fiction, we do so out of context and come off as a babbling and solipsistic bookworm gushing about our latest read. But reading doesn’t and needn’t be a solitary activity. No, there’s deep and meaningful enjoyment to be derived from a group of people gathering for the sole purpose of discussing a work of fiction together.
Unfortunately, the term “book club” has acquired a stigma thanks to the popularity of celebrity book clubs whose only goal seems to be to determine the summer book list of the nation’s uninformed readership. The popularized celebrity book clubs don’t bring people together through fiction as much as they serve as an excuse to socialize. What’s more, these book clubs do little to encourage readers to bring their own favorite works to discuss; a work is simply “chosen” ostensibly for its literary merit and participants generally agree about its greatness.
Real book clubs should foster intense discussion about a work of fiction: the reactions drawn from every reader, analyses as to how and why everyone reacted the way they did, sharing in the agonies and ecstasies of the actual text. People shouldn’t feel anxious about sharing their passions for fiction, nor should they hesitate to discuss how they feel certain works impact their lives. True works of fiction connect people attuned to those works on a very deep and personal level. It’s a linkage worth cultivating if you have the time and the resource.
If you have an urge to discuss your latest literary obsession, be proactive and found a local reading group. If you’re in a major metropolitan city, you’d be surprised at how many like-minded readers cast about for partners-in-reading. As for the specifics, start simply and with reasonable expectations. You can easily design a flier to advertising your club, filled with enough information to entice the passing reader. Disclose the first book/short story/poem/author in the flier, as well as a tentative location for the event (probably in a public place for starters) as well as an email where interested parties can contact you. I’d recommend posting the fliers in local coffee shops and book stores that would likely attract avid readers. And draw readers you will, because as intoxicating as it is to revel in a great book on your own, it’s infinitely more enjoyable to share the experience with someone else who can appreciate and understand your enthusiasm.
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/auntie/
Subscribe to my amazing, hilarious YouTube channel. Just click the button below.
Consider sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Think of it as a way to tell a friend “I’m thinking of you.”
About Caleb J. Ross
Caleb began writing his sophomore year of undergrad study when, tired of the formal art education then being taught, he abandoned the pursuit in the middle of a compositional drawing class. Major-less and fearful of losing his financial aid, he signed up to seek a degree in English Literature for no other reason than his lengthy history with the language. Coincidentally, this decision not only introduced him to writing but to reading as well. Prior this transition he had read three books. One of which he understood.