A while back I started researching book clubs, interesting ones both historical and current, and I’ll probably come back to that later…but for now wanted to start a more general discussion about book clubs — what they mean to you, and ideas for how we can experiment with them so they feel more fun and useful.
In an earlier discussion on history / evolution of reading practices (Reading throughout the ages) @morgane mentioned wondering about how book clubs came to be. A couple things come to mind as impressions of a stereotypical book club: either a sort of old-fashioned intellectual salon, or a monthly gathering of old friends chatting about the latest book pick over dinner/drinks (with one extra-organized friend as the leader.) But I realize there are lots of possible ways to run a book club, and it’s something I think we can be more imaginative about.
Talking with @HotTake recently one thing we hit on, for example, was that it feels hard to regularly participate in a book club where the circle stays the same and everyone all reads the same book. Tough both to keep up the schedule, and all agree on the same book / participate equally. But one thing that could be interesting to explore is ways of bringing together people who are either already reading the same book, or have it in their queue and could use some incentive to get through it.
I’ve had good success with @jinjin reading super long books together, a two-person micro reading club. Also recently talked with @Maura about how we both have a copy of Metamagical Themas and it’d be fun to have someone to read at the same time / chat about it with. So one model would be reading groups that are loose, emergent, fluid, possibly very tiny…could be just enough to have even one or two other people to chat with about a book you’re into.
On another end of the spectrum I’d be interested in doing a reading retreat at some point — a whole weekend with a small group dedicated to reading…a lot of reading in a short period of time, with some kind of structured discussion / digestion sprinkled in. Great examples of that here and here.
And I’d love to see this space (the Antilibraries Athenaeum!) play host to any sort of experimental online book club, reading circle, whatever you want to call it. Thoughts? Suggestions? What kind of participatory / collective reading would you like to see / engage in??