Of course, at Libro Maniacs we think that book clubs are worth it. We’re all about helping our readers find and discuss their next great read. And we have many book club discussion guides and book lists to support that intent.
But maybe the benefits of a book club aren’t so obvious to you. Sure, the primary benefit is the opportunity to read a book and discuss it. But there are a lot of ancillary benefits that take the experience way beyond a homework assignment.
So, whether you are thinking of joining a book club, or are questioning whether your current group is right for you, consider the following book club benefits and get insight into which are right for you.
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10 Benefits of a Book Club
1. Book Clubs Get You Outside of Your Genre Rut
According to a Penguin Random House survey of avid readers and book clubbers, 57% said they would not otherwise have read “some” of the books selected by their book club.
And this makes sense because most book clubs have a fairly democratic book selection process. And not only is that a fair way to make sure the group members have their say, but it also gets the club reading a range of books, forcing you outside of your comfort zone.
I could spend a great deal of my reading time on dystopic fiction and books about magical schools. But I don’t, because members of my book club have been interested in topics that have ranged from the first female doctors in the US (The Doctor’s Blackwell), packhorse librarians with blue skin (The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek) and Trevor Noah’s unconventional upbringing (Born a Crime).
None were books that I would have plucked at random from the shelves, nor where they in a genre I would normally read. But my reading life is richer for it.
2. Being Accountable for Regular Reading
The average American reads just a handful of books per year, and even factoring in avid readers, the average only climbs to about 12 books per year. Work, family, bingeable streaming services and laundry all eat into reading time. But committing to a book club means committing to reading books…which, as obvious as it sounds…is one of the most compelling book club benefits.
Sure, you may not always finish the book and occasionally you may not even start it. But a commitment to a reading group forces you to make that decision deliberately. You’ll read more…and more thoughtfully when you commit to a book club.
3. Reading More Thoughtfully
And speaking of reading thoughtfully, a book club will help you with that too. Unless your book club is all about the wine and cheese (more on that below), you’ll be expected to discuss the book. You’ll find that rather than skipping, skimming or dozing, you’ll pay more attention to the book’s nuances.
You’ll be actively looking for interesting themes, favorite (or hated) characters, and you’ll develop criticisms of the author’s writing style or intent. And then you’ll bring those opinions to your book club where you’ll each throw down the gauntlet and see where the conversation goes.
For the record, my club had a hearty disagreement on whether or not Where the Crawdads Sing was even remotely plausible (I’m team implausible), but we generally agreed that The House in the Cerulean Sea is a big warm hug.
4. Talking About Books Will Make You Love Them More
The thoughts and opinions shared by your reading group will naturally give you a broader insight into the craft of writing. This in turn, will improve your own craft of reading, ultimately giving you deeper and more meaningful reading experiences.
And (hopefully) you’ll love more of your book club books than you’ll hate. This will further nurture the bookish home-fires in your heart.
If you are keen to explore more on the art of reading, check out our article featuring 20 books about reading.
5. Promotes Social Engagement: Have a Nosh While You Talk
I used to belong what what we affectionally called “The Loser Book Club”, because it was a lot about getting together, having some wine, eating snacks and catching up on life. Dissecting the books? Not so much.
We only felt slightly guilty about it because, while we were readers and we (usually) read the book, the group was also about social engagement and keeping our friendships fresh.
You need an excuse to put on hard pants and get out of the house, or you’ll stay too tethered to work and home. And mixing book club with some good eats and fine drinks will give you a double reason to go.
6. A Book Club Forces You to Have an Opinion
Another reason why book clubs are important is that it will force you to have (and express) an opinion. Some folks are not naturally comfortable doing that. But your book group actually wants your opinion, and you may have a take on things that the others haven’t considered.
A well-run club provides the opportunity for all members, even the shy ones, to share their experience of the book.
7. Reading Promotes Lifelong Learning
Book clubs are important for helping to foster curiosity and a habit of learning.
Well, this benefit isn’t specific to book clubs, it does apply to all reading. But since book clubs keep you accountable for reading more books than you might otherwise, the carry-on effect of learning is more likely to happen.
You can learn about how the Oxford English Dictionary came together (in The Dictionary of Lost Words) or how a woman escaped abuse and designed her own fate (in Educated) or what it means to pass as White (in The Personal Librarian).
You’ll learn more about people and cultures, while also greatly expanding your vocabulary and exposure to new ideas.
8. Book Clubs Trigger More Diverse Reading Habits
Unless a book club deliberately has a very narrow focus, you will definitely read more diversely in a club than if you’re choosing books on your own. In fact, some book clubs very deliberately seek out books that are controversial or challenging.
By “diverse”, I do mean race, class, gender and political diversity. But I’m also talking about reading books that are from outside of your culture, like those set in Colombia or Sri Lanka. Or reading books in translation. Or reading books normally targeted for a different age group. Or those that are otherwise way outside of your lived experience.
Reading diversely is sort of like travel, about which Mark Twain famously said “…is fatal to prejudice”. In short one benefit of a book club is that it will crack open your worldview.
9. Books Clubs Lead to Making Friends
Strong friendships are known to help build healthy, longer lives. But, as an adult, it can be hard to make new friends…at least outside of work and playdates. But, by joining a new or existing club, you are bound to meet new people.
This friend bonus certainly exists within book club. But it can also create a delightful slippery slope where monthly book club becomes the occasional dinner/drinks/coffee date, which leads to casual hanging out, which leads to a Christmas party where you don’t even talk about books, but you eat cookies instead.
And while there are no definitive studies showing that Christmas parties and cookies lead to better health and lifestyle outcomes, it’s pretty obvious, right?
10. Book Clubs Offer a Guilt-Free Venue for Escapism
“No, I can’t possibly unload the dishwasher right now because I need to finish my book club book”, I say as I snuggle under a cozy blanket in front of an even cozier fire.
But really, book club isn’t until next week. I just wanted to snuggle into the book because I’m entranced by the world-building, or the plot has just taken a corkscrew twist, or secrets are about to be revealed and I don’t want the dishes to get in the way.
Go ahead, use your book club deadline as an excuse to avoid all of that adulting stuff. It’s one of the most guilt-free benefits of book clubs.
More Book Club Resources
If you are keen to start, join or improve a book club, be sure to check out our other resources.
- Get 101 generic book club questions which will work for all books.
- Get dozens of book club ideas (updated monthly).
- Check out our compendium of book club guides for fiction and non-fiction.
- Develop strategies for finding and choosing awesome book club books.
Here are our latest book club guides:
- Babel Book Club Questions and Discussion Guide
- Cloud Cuckoo Land Book Club Questions and Discussion Guide
- Carrie Soto is Back Book Club Questions and Discussion Guide
- The Lost Apothecary Book Club Questions and Discussion Guide
- The Measure Book Club Questions and Discussion Guide
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