At this point in my life, I’m not sure where I would be without a book club. Both social and fun, book clubs are the perfect way to take my favorite thing to do and add friends to it. Oh, and wine. (Lots of wine!) But we do read the books, I promise. And we also have thoughtful, interesting conversations about what we’re reading. So whether you love Twilight or The Iliad (or both!), book clubs can connect readers and friends on a whole different level.
Which is why I’ve been so intrigued by all of the online book clubs I recently started hearing about. First, it was Our Shared Shelf, Emma Watson’s feminist book club, where the actress recommends different feminist-leaning books every month and leads a discussion about them on Goodreads. With over 100,000 users, it’s safe to say her book club is a rousing success. Then I saw that Oprah relaunched her book club as well, Oprah’s Book Club 2.0, with monthly book discussions happening on Twitter, Goodreads, and even a newsletter you can sign up to receive. Even voracious reader Emma Roberts has recently joined in on the fun; she announced on March 22 that she’s planning on launching her own book club along with Belletrist. Roberts will be choosing the books (with Karah Preiss) and Belletrist members will be able to join in the conversation on Instagram.
Between my own love of book clubs and the online craze that they’re inspiring lately, it got me thinking about why we’re so drawn to shared discussions around books. Maybe it’s as simple as what I stated above: it’s an easy way to connect socially around something we mutually love. But I wonder if it goes deeper than that, harkening back to the concept of the French salon and offering a place for readers to discuss their interests on a higher level. And with the rise of the Internet, we’re only creating more and more spaces for that to happen. Now, instead of just discussing your favorite book with your neighbor, you can do it with someone halfway across the world.
It doesn’t even matter what you like to read. Whether it’s that new, serious bestseller, or a steamy, sexy romance, there’s a book club out there for every interest. Here are a few that have caught my eye, tempting me to leave my real-world book clubbing for that specific online experience:
Like Watson’s Our Shared Shelf, Bustle’s new book club is aimed at bridging the gap between the political and the entertaining. This isn’t the first Bustle book club, but it is the first one aimed at reading books about equality, human rights and diversity. As the website states, “reading broadly is one small step in mending the divides of our nation.” Members can join the discussion on their Goodreads page, or, if they happen to live in New York City, can meet in person once a month at the Strand Book Store.
If you love classic novels and more serious discussions, then BookTalk.com might be a great fit. Not only do they have tons of forums where different members can meet to discuss their interests, they also have a monthly book club featuring hard-hitting classic novels that tend to inspire some pretty intense discourse. This month, their choices are Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, by Daniel Dennett, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne.
Last year, Witherspoon joined the ranks of celebrity book clubs, launching her own on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. The idea seemed to grow naturally out of Witherspoon’s genuine love of reading and her tendency to post about those books on her Instagram. Now, it’s a full on hashtag (#RWBookClub) and discussion group, inspired by the books that Witherspoon herself loves. Expect lots of new novels, especially ones written by or about women.
For all of you romance fans out there, this is the perfect club to join. And, as it offers free downloads of a different romance novel each month, it’s also the most affordable. These are definitely books you want to own – members read novels by romance powerhouses like Kristen Ashley, Jamie McGuire, Katy Evans and more. Every free book is available for one month, and the members are encouraged to check out more work by the featured author.
It’s not just female celebrities who are leading the charge with reading. Andrew Luck, a quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, started his own book club last year. Dubbed by The Wall Street Journal as the “NFL’s unofficial librarian,” Luck recommends two books each month — a children’s book for the “Rookies,” and an adult novel for the “Veterans.” Discussions mostly happen on social media, with occasional Q&As hosted by Luck himself. The picks vary, but mostly include heartfelt contemporary novels like The Martian, and classic children’s books like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Here at BookTrib, we’re obsessed with books (obviously), and many of us are part of book clubs both online and in real life. But we want to know your take on it. Are you a part of any book clubs? Do you meet regularly with friends, talking books and sipping wine? Or do you prefer the online format, where you can connect with readers all over the world? Let us know in the comments!