Your shelves ache under the weight of your books, and your Kindle is loaded to the brim, yet you don’t seem to find any time to read apart from on your journey to work. Might well be high time to join a book club. But where do you start looking? Here’s 10 pointers for those lacking literary inspiration:
1. Overcome your prejudices. This isn’t old fogie stuff: book clubs are prime hipster territory.
2. Do your homework. Before you join a club, you need to find one. The web is bloomin’ good place to start: Meetup.com and Bookgroup.info have lists, arranged by area or genre. Local libraries also often run their own clubs, or have notice boards with details on groups.
3. Read locally. Brick Lane may sound oh so cool, but if you live in Shepherd’s Bush, you’ll never make it to that second meeting
4. Suit yourself. Whether you’re into sci-fi novels, cookery books or the classics, there will be a group for you out there (eg. the London Divas’ Book Club – no guys allowed).
5. Book-venture. Broaden your bookish horizons a little, why don’t you? Book clubs are good for the indecisive or the serial genre-reader; you may not yet have discovered your passion for Nigerian crime fiction. Club pages on Meetup.com often feature previous reading lists to give you a general idea.
6. Have some spare change. Most clubs charge a one-off admission fee (rarely more than £5) to cover expenses. Meetup.com publishes the date of the next meeting, next book, and contact details. Get in touch with the group leader, or just turn up on the day. Many groups have Facebook pages too
7. Read. Very, very important. Crucial, even. ‘Anna Karenina’ the movie is not ‘Anna Karenina’ the 800 page (brick) novel. Fellow readers can tell if you have just skimmed through the plot on Wikipedia.
8. Discuss. You have a voice – use it. This isn’t a seminar, nobody will mark you down, and if you want to discuss an aspect of the book, this is your chance. It’s a good place to practice your ‘speaking voice’ and maybe even your ‘serious face’.
9. Suggest and swap. Exchange tips, books and keep updated on the latest publications.
10. Keep on reading. Join and commit (group pressure!). Every new book is a new start for the group, thus no previous knowledge is necessary. Alice Thill
Think of it as literary speed dating. Check out some suggestions for London’s best book clubs.