Everyone has a vague idea of what a book club looks like: a bunch of suburban moms wearing white jeans, drinking white wine spritzers, and discussing The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Right? Well, if book club stereotypes have been keeping you away, then you should know that most book clubs aren't like that at all. (And if your book club is like that, then you keep doing you because there's nothing wrong with white wine spritzers.) Book clubs can be as fun, or serious, or quirky as you want them to be. I mean, book clubs are really just a place to gather with other book nerds and talk about books. While eating snacks. What's not to love about that premise?
You know that feeling: you finish a book, and you just have to talk about it with someone. You could hide out by the water cooler, waiting to ambush your co-workers and ask them what they thought about Americanah. Or you could keep leaving copies of Life of Pi around your friend's house, hoping they'll read it and share your opinion on what the tiger represents. Or you could just join a book club and get your monthly dose of literary discussion and wine with a bunch of other cool people:
1. You Get a Chance to Talk About Books
Well, yes, this point might be a little obvious. But think about all those times you wanted to talk about a book, and no one else had read it! Think about all of those killer literary references you wanted to make, but you couldn't because no one else cared about Margaret Atwood! Just imagine how beautiful it would be to sit down with other people who actually want to hear your opinion on Sense and Sensibility! Never again will you have to make literary rants to your confused cat, because book clubs are all about talking about books.
2. You Read Books You Would NEVER Read Otherwise
We all have our favorite genres... and our not so favorite genres. Maybe you love the classics, but you're not so into robots and aliens. Or you love sci-fi, but you can't make it through Dickens without nodding off. That's why we need book clubs: to make us read those books that we never would have picked up on our own. You might discover that you really love The Sun Also Rises, even though it lacks space ships. Or you might be totally into Ringworld, even though one of the characters is a giant talking cat. Don't judge a book by its genre!
3. There Are Reading Deadlines
What do you miss the most from high school? Probably the reading deadlines, right? It may sounds like a pain, but deadlines are actually a huge help for any book lover. Because when your to-do list starts piling up, it starts to eat away at your precious reading time. But when you have to finish a book in time for your next book club meeting, you have a great excuse to ignore all other obligations, lock yourself in your room, and actually finish a book.
4. There's Food and Books
The only thing better than books is food and books. Book clubs are about the reading and the talking, sure, but we all know that snacks play a vital role in any successful book club. You can have your tea cakes and scones for classic English lit, apple pie and ice cream for Great American Novels, kale chips and chia pudding for trendy new books — snacks can only make the book discussion experience even better.
5. There's Wine and Books
And, of course, what's a book club without a glass or three of wine? Everyone knows that the best proven way to analyze a complex text is in a comfy chair with a glass of chardonnay and a plate of assorted cheeses. Or, if you're not so much a chardonnay person, why not try a literary-inspired cocktail? No book club is truly complete until they've come up with their own recipe for Harry Potter's Butterbeer or The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy's Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster.
6. You'll Find Emotional Support
We love books. We absolutely love books. But we acknowledge that books can mess you up. George R. R. Martin has taken years off my life. Every book lover has dealt with the utter despair of losing a favorite character or witnessing a beloved fictional couple split up even though they could have made it work. Books can make us all emotional wrecks sometimes, and that's when you need to turn to a book club for emotional support. Sometimes, you just need to talk (or hug) it out with some other brave souls who've been through the same fictional tragedy that you have. And then you all open another bottle of wine.
7. You Will Meet New Book Lovers
You can never have enough literary-minded friends. Look, we all love our friends, even the ones who occasionally like the movie more than the book and borrow your copy of Bossypants but then never return it. But there's something special about being able to bond over reading with a new person. They might not even be from your usual crowd, but you can talk to them about the socio-economic breakdown of the Wizarding World for hours on end, and isn't that what really matters in a friendship?
8. You Can Participate In Literary debates
There's nothing wrong with having a spirited literary debate once in a while. As long as no one draws blood. Really, though, you might even find that you're interested in someone else's opinion, even if it's completely different from yours. These aren't high school debates, where a teacher steps in to remind you that Jay Gatsby represents the failure of the American dream. These are friendly debates, where you get to learn what other people got out of the book, and maybe even walk out with a different perspective.
9. Take a Break from Reading Books by Dead White Men
I don't hate books by dead white men. Lots of my favorite books are written by dead white men! But everyone talks a lot about books by dead white men. Maybe it's time we gave someone else a chance to be the center of attention? The great thing about a book club, especially for women, is that the members can pick the books. And if you all just want to read Octavia Butler and Toni Morrison all day long, no one's going to stop you. A book club can be a safe space to read what matters to you.
10. Force Other People to Read Your Favorite Books
It can be a struggle to get your friends to read your faves. Because you might be over the moon about a particular book, but your friends just don't seem interested. For some reason, "it's a modernist novel and it's kind of about nothing, and there's no plot, but it's still really long and complicated and hard to understand! You'll love it!" never seems to convince anyone to read Ulysses. But a book club is a great place to introduce other readers to the books that you love — because they might love it, too!
11. It's Fun!
Reading is fun. Talking about reading is fun. Talking about reading while snacking and drinking is fun. All dressing up as characters from a book to talk about that book is fun (OK, so you don't HAVE to do that one to have a fun book club, but you totally should). But more importantly, a book club is the ideal excuse to schedule some time in your life when you can just focus on books and friends and things you enjoy. People are busy, and it's nice to know that you have a guaranteed chunk of time every couple of weeks to hang with literary folks and geek out over good books.
Images: Cora Foxx for Bustle, Giphy (12)