Reading as a Team Sport
Generally we think of reading as a solitary pleasure, just us and a good book taking us off to far flung places and on emotional adventures. And sure, the physical act of reading is usually a solitary one (unless you're reading aloud to someone), but the enjoyment of a book doesn't have to be. We humans naturally crave connection and community in all things, especially with things that inspire a big emotional response in us as books often do, so we turn reading into a team sport. Seeking community for reading feels timeless, and in the modern world, there are several ways we go about it.
Buddy Reading: Buddy reading is basically picking a friend or two and agreeing to read the same book in the same time frame, and then talking about it either as you go, or when you've all finished. Rikki and I do this by choosing a book for the week, both of us go read it, and then we meet on Wednesday night for wine, dinner, a discussion, and watching the movie! Buddy reading is a good motivator to finish books like classics, because someone else is along for the ride and theres a vague deadline. It gives you instant access to someone to vent to, share beautiful sentences with, and enjoy the book alongside you.
Book Clubs: Of course these have existed for ages, and for good reason. Basically an expanded version of buddy reading, for me book clubs tend to provide more structured conversation, a broader range of ideas and viewpoints (my book club has about 6 people) and the books that get picked aren't of my choosing, so I'm introduced to new titles I may have never picked up on my own. Plus we meet in an adorable local bookstore, support their business, and it's just something I look forward to every month. The other form of book club I really like is of the podcast variety, and in particular Slate's Audio Book Club, which plops you into an hour long discussion of the most intelligent, insightful book club ever. It often sheds light on themes or passages I may not have picked up on my own, which is always wonderful, and I always come away from it feeling like I understand the book so much more deeply. The richness that discussion adds to a book is the primary reason we seek out community in reading, and my book clubs never disappoint.
Online Discussions/Goodreads/Instagram, etc.: Online discussion of books in bookish spaces such as Goodreads or Instagram have become ubiquitous and sometimes, frankly, overwhelming. The problem with the internet, and large websites, is there are just SO MANY people and SO MUCH content you could never hope to read it all, but on the flip side you have a large chorus of voices and opinions, and often find absolute gems of reviews if you're looking. Reading an especially insightful and well crafted comment or review is a thrilling thing, and often gives a clear voice to what you were thinking while a providing that sense of connection and mutual understanding you crave.
Are you a solitary reader or do you engage in a bookish community? Which type is your preference? Let me know in the comments!