Guest Post: In Praise of Book Clubs, Volume 1

This week I asked several Book Bloggers to respond to a question for a post I had in mind about why people love their book clubs.  Initially I thought this would become one post with several bloggers talking about their reading groups.  But bloggers (being bloggers) love to write, and the responses I got back were so great (and lengthy) that they each deserve their own post.  This will become a regular feature at Books on the Brain.

This first essay is from Kristen at the very popular Book Club Classics.  

I have been lucky to participate in a couple of different book clubs and have enjoyed each one.  My current book club has evolved and morphed so much through the years that it almost feels like multiple book clubs at this point!  But all of my book clubs have had a few things in common that have made each a rewarding experience.

Since reading is usually a solitary experience, I love how book clubs allow us to make what could be an isolating activity, communal.  We’ve all had the experience of finishing a truly terrific or upsetting or baffling book and desperately wanting to check our reactions against others’ experience of the same book.  Beyond book clubs, this is one of the major reasons I love reading book blogs – finding out what others are reading, what they thought about it, what they are reading next, etc. always brightens my day.

Another reason I enjoy book clubs is being motivated and held accountable to read genres outside my usual milieu.  This seems to be especially true when we have male members choosing, but my current book club has a member who loves politically aware nonfiction, a scientific member who actually chose a book on physics one month, and a mystery lover.  Thanks to these three women, I have now read at least one selection from each of these genres.  It is easy for me to want to broaden my horizons, but I like how my book club actually holds me accountable for doing it! 

The one challenge I have had with all of my book clubs is the difficulty we readers have distinguishing between the objective value of a work and our subjective opinions of it.  I’m overly sensitive to this since I taught literature for fifteen years, and one of my primary goals was to move my students beyond equating taste with quality.  In other words, learning to appreciate the strengths and qualities of a work we didn’t happen to enjoy.  Reading has such a way of engaging our hearts, as well as our minds, so separating the two can be nearly impossible at times!  Attempting to do so sure results in great discussions, though!

Blogger Bio: Kristen has taken a year off from teaching to start her blog, hoping that book clubs might be encouraged to read the classics with a little help from her (she designs kits that include discussion questions, context, etc.)  She can also customize a kit to any title; in fact, her most popular kit is for A Thousand Splendid Suns!  Her blog is jammed to bursting with book reviews and all the latest info. on what’s happening in the book world.  Kristen has been married to Eric for 2 years.  They live in the Twin Cities with their pit bull/border collie mix, Juno, and half-Arab, Mariah.  Book Club Classics was started last October.  

Would you like to share about your book club here at Books on the Brain?  If so, leave a comment and I will get in touch with you about a guest post!

For more info on starting your own book club, click HERE

For fun ways to make your book club better, click HERE

For previous volumes of In Praise of Book Clubs, click HERE

To win a copy of Matrimony by Joshua Henkin, click HERE by May 15th.  Josh would be happy to do an author chat with your book club!

To win a copy of The Next Thing on My List by Jill Smolinski, click HERE and comment by May 15th.  Jill also does author chats with book clubs!

8 Responses

  1. I love the feature and it made me miss the book club I had in Durham SO MUCH!!! I look forward to the other posts and who knows, maybe I will find an in-person book club in Seattle and be able to contribute a post of my own 🙂

  2. Thanks for the guest post.
    It was well written.

  3. Great feature for you blog and I’m glad you’re going to make it a regular installment. Of course, I smiled to myself when I read Kristin teaches literature ~ I’m always intimidated discusiing books with the experts 😉

  4. Thanks for the kind words, Terri!

    And my husband frequently reminds me… “You’re not the Teacher of the World” — I’m working on it… 🙂

    Probably best I’m taking a break from the classroom…!

  5. […] To read Guest Post: In Praise of Book Clubs, Volume 1 with Kristen from, click HERE […]

  6. […] To read Guest Post: In Praise of Book Clubs, Volume 1 with Kristen from, click HERE […]

  7. […] In Praise of Book Clubs, Vol. 1 with Kristen from is HERE […]

  8. My name is Neil Mulligan and I have written a book LOST LETTER. I believe it would be an excellent selection for your book club. It has received some great reviews from Kirkus and Romantic Times. Please let me know if you would like to review as I have some promotional copies. I hope you like what you preview. Merry Christmas!

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