An estimated 5 million Americans gather every week in places like coffee shops, bookstores and online venues to discuss the latest provocative or popular books. The people in these clubs vary widely in age, education, employment, wealth and location. They live in small towns and big cities and everywhere in between. One thing they have in common, though, is their love for a good story.
Why are book clubs so popular? Former talk-and-lifestyle host Oprah Winfrey receives much of the credit. For 15 years, Oprah hosted the equivalent of a nationwide book club on her TV show. Before her show and its book club segment ended in 2011, she featured 70 titles and became a driving force in the publishing industry.
Today, other celebrities are picking up the baton and reinvigorating the virtual book club through social media.
One such celebrity is actress Reese Witherspoon, who shares her favorite titles with 400,000-member Instagram community. Her fans debate Reese’s picks, and she test-drives the book’s potential for commercial success in a TV or film adaptation.
Another actress, Emma Roberts, frequently shares titles and exclusive author interviews with her nearly 200,000 social media followers.
Reading usually is a solitary experience. But these new book clubs, and others like them, let readers share the joy they experience in reading a good book.
Here are my Top Ten Reasons to Join a Book Club:
- Obviously, to read more books
- The opportunity to discuss in real time what’s going on in the book you are reading. Kind of like gossiping at the office water cooler
- A chance to analyze the plot and characters without having to write a paper that will be graded by a stuffy, pretentious teacher
- Finding a tribe of readers who you like to hang out with
- A good excuse to have people over
- Enabling the love of reading
- Name dropping the title you are reading to impress others
- To support authors, from the obscure to the famous
- To gossip in a dedicated way
- You have something in common with Oprah Winfrey
Even if you don’t have a local community to join, there are still great ways to connect. For example:
- ZolaBooks bills itself as a “social eBook retailer” that connects readers.
- Goodreads claims to have 25 million members who have the opportunity to read a book together, install books they’ve read on their “shelves” or find “friends” with whom to share.
- And yes, you can still be a part of Oprah’s Book Club. She started 2.0 in 2012 and you can connect through social media platforms. http://www.oprah.com/app/books.html and https://earlybirdbooks.com/the-complete-oprahs-book-club-list
Given the pace of modern life, we hunger for more connection. In the end, book groups are about community and the longing to share.
Marisa Dillon’s new release, The Golden Rose of Scotland, is book II in the Ladies of Lore Series from Soul Mate Publishing. You can connect with Marisa through these channels: