It’s no surprise that books clubs are all the rage right now. In recent years, it's become clear that Oprah is not the only celebrity with a taste for reading. Emma Watson, Reese Witherspoon and Rachel Syme have all started book clubs that you can participate in digitally, right now, from your bed. Seriously, it's that easy.
Reading promotes empathy and understanding, and book clubs are great places to find community and get exposed to authors and books you might not have picked up on your own. It’s great for readers who get nervous when talking to people they might not know very well, because you can always just talk about the book. Besides that, most books clubs are accompanied by food and drinks. It's really just a win-win situation.
While there are book clubs out there that fall into the "wine and moms" situation (nothing wrong with that!), other books clubs use literature and a love of reading as a tool for social and political activism. Many book clubs have now decided to pair reading with philanthropic work. A community of readers has the potential to impact many others, and these groups are using the mighty power of book-lovers in innovative, amazing ways.
1Free Minds Book Club
Created in 2002 by Kelli Taylor and Tara Libert, Free Minds Book Club introduces at-risk teens to the powers of reading and writing. The book club now hosts a twice-weekly Book Club Program, a Continuing Support Program which provides new books and written correspondence to members after transfer to federal prison, and a Reentry Support Program, which connects released members to people, programs and services in the community that can help them achieve their new educational and career goals. Through creative expression, job readiness training, and violence prevention outreach, these young readers have become powerful voices for change in the community.
2#GetItGirl Book Club
This book club is for the business woman (or aspiring business woman) at heart. In addition to an online book club, #GetItGirl hosts networking opportunities for those looking to expand their professional spheres. The community is a wonderful place to get advice on increasing productivity, finding inspiration, and overcoming boundaries faced by female entrepreneurs.
3Action Book Club
You may have seen Little Free Libraries around your neighborhood, and maybe you even have one in your yard. Action Book Club takes it a step further, and invites participates to read books on timely topics, take part in meaningful discussions, and engage in service projects to benefit their communities.
The Action Book Club’s current theme is Good Neighbors, which celebrates the power of community, kindness, and taking action where you live.
4Book Clubs 4 Change
This site focuses on bringing book clubs — and individual readers — together to make a change in their community. Any group can register to participate in book drives, fundraisers, and other events throughout the year to empower folks across the United States and across the world. While Book Clubs 4 Change focuses on education and healthcare, they donate to a wide range of foundations.
5CURE Book Club
CURE is an organization focused on protecting and restoring rural landscapes by empowering local citizens. They believe that successful communities can only be sustained through healthy ecosystems, and they focus on developing community engagement in an effort restore natural environments. The CURE Book Club channels these incentives into community reading and education. Both in-person discussions and online platforms provide a space for community members to learn about the environment around them, and then they can learn how to give back.
Books@Work organize workplace book clubs, but they also provide community events for readers as well. By engaging individuals in exploring the human condition, through professor-led discussions of high quality narratives, they invite participants to challenge assumptions, share their stories, experience mutual recognition, and practice critical dialogue. The focus is to learn about others, co-workers and community members, and engage with people in an environment that may not have been available in the past.
7Bustle's American Woman Book Club
Bustle's American Woman Book Club asks participants to expand their comfort zone and read books by American women from all types of racial, cultural, social, and economic backgrounds. You can join the book club on Goodreads or at monthly in-person events at Strand Book Store in New York City. The book club doesn't have built-in community events, but you can use it as a tool to start your own readers and activism groups in your own cities.