4 Reasons Why Men Need to Join Book Clubs

Book clubs are predominantly populated by women, there’s no arguing that fact. Rarely are men found in a book club that isn’t in college, and created solely to help them improve their grades by reading course-related material. After that, even if men love reading, they hardly form clubs to discuss it. While plenty of people argue that men are just not as social about their reading habits as women are, there are a number of reasons why men should try to start or join book clubs.

Diversity 

If men joined book clubs that are mostly women, they’re going to increase the diversity within that group. The conversations will change, the book selections will change, and the women will learn from the men (and vice versa). The books will be a more well-rounded reflection of people, instead of just chick lit that makes everybody cry. Book clubs need diversity!

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Social Interaction  

Men, despite all their efforts to declare otherwise, are social creatures too. If men started a book club for men, or joined a book club, their intentions to interact go through the roof. Men may find that they have more to say on a topic, and enjoy the process of discussion and sharing of intellectual (or fictional) ideas. Just because men are taught that they can’t talk much doesn’t mean that they should. They can help themselves share their opinions while also opening others up to the idea that both genders are equal.

Education 

If your book club reads fiction, poetry, non-fiction, horror, whatever – there is something to be learned from every book. Men are missing out on this, even if they read a ton on their own. They are not discussing the ideas, the patterns, the themes, the facts, etc. that they absorb from reading a book on their own, and may be missing out on a perspective they hadn’t considered. There’s so much to learn from your peers when you interact with them in a book club setting.

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Attraction  

Why not start a couples book club? Depending on how open you are with your friends, make it a “dirty” book club, or a marriage self-help reading book club, or a humor book club. Whatever you want it to be, do it as a couple. Maybe you can find something that sparks romance between you and your partner, and brings you closer together because you’re sharing this. Plus you read great stuff, so it’s a win win!

Self Care  

Often, men don’t give themselves enough productive time to recharge their batteries. You know what I mean – plopping down in front of the couch with a beer after a really stressful day and still not feeling better. Why not start a book club (or join one) that helps you recharge your batteries on an intellectual and social level? You’ll be surprised at how energized you feel after great conversation and great reading. Give a try, you won’t be sorry!

Five Ideas to Help You Start a Book Club in Your Area

Do you love reading, but hate having no one to share great books with? Why not start a book club? You may be thinking, “That sounds like a lot of work!,” but really it isn’t. Here are five ideas to help you get started with minimal effort.

  1. Ask your friends. 

It’s easiest to start with the people who are most like you, right? So ask all your best friends and see if they’d be interested in a book club meeting once a month. You can talk about the details, but maybe suggest one book that you know everyone will be interested in to start, and then vote on the next book after that first meeting. Maybe people will want to do it more frequently, depending on your reading speeds.

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  1. Ask your neighbors.

Since you live so close, it’s easy to set up a time and place every 2 weeks or every month to get together for a book club. Just knock on your neighbor’s doors (hopefully you’ve met them before) and ask if they’d like to start a book club. The best part about this idea is that you all come from somewhat different backgrounds and have different tastes, so you can expand your horizons.

  1. Start one at work.

For some of us, we’re at work more than we’re at home. Why not combine business and pleasure (during appropriate break time)? You can ask your closest coworkers if they’d be interested in meeting during lunch break or just after work at a close restaurant to have a book club. Encourage people to read books during their breaks, and you can discuss much more in between sessions since you see each other every work day! You may get more enjoy out of job this way, and you’ll definitely see an improvement in your interactions with your coworkers.

  1. Church or other organizations. 

Do you go to church, or are you a PTA member? If you’re part of a community like this, you can always introduce the idea of a book club. The best part about this idea is that people are already like-minded, and love community interaction. This could be a great way to expand your circle of friends, and build a stronger support system around yourself. You’d be surprised how many people sign up just because they want to meet more people.

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  1. Ask your library. 

Sometimes, all you have to do is ask. Your local library may have been considering starting a book club, but they don’t have enough people showing interest. So ask them. Even if they weren’t considering it, ask if you could start a book club (that they could advertise for). You can pick the first book, see who shows up, and then vote on the next book. This will gain traction over time, as more people sign up through the library. Odds are the library will run it, so you don’t have to.

Non-Traditional Book Clubs

For some of us, traditional book clubs just don’t fit our needs or lifestyle. Maybe you can’t meet up once a month, or maybe you don’t like the books that book clubs pick. Or maybe you just don’t like the people who are in book clubs. But if you still find yourself drawn to the idea of discussing a book with your peers, here are a few ideas for non-traditional book clubs that can help you get over the hump.

Different Books 

Instead of all reading the same book and purchasing ridiculous amounts of the book you’re only going to read once (or fighting for a copy at the local library), why not all read a different book? This way, you can bring your copy, your rundown of the plot, and your review of the story. Maybe someone in your book club will like what you’ve read, and ask to borrow your copy. Next time, you get your book back and you might borrow a book from someone else. This is also a great way to let people pick their own books so they keep coming back.

Book Trade  

Have a ton of books you’ve already read? Bring a box to a book trade or book swap. Enjoy food and refreshments while you peruse other people’s selections, and take home a few new books. Then you can get together next month and do it all over again! This is a great way to share books you love without having to pick one and discuss it even if you hated it!

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Blind Date With a Book 

Have your friends and book club members wrap up a favorite book of their own in paper. On the paper, write or draw a little riddle about what the book is about, or just the general genre. Don’t be too specific because you don’t want to give away the book title! Have your fellow members choose a book based on their wrappings, and let them take them home before opening them. They have no idea what they’re going to get, but make sure they really do read them. Then, next month (or whenever you’re scheduled), have them return the books and discuss. You can do the blind date swap again, or just do it every other time. What a fun way to get someone to read a book they normally wouldn’t.

Online Book Clubs  

There are tons of online book clubs, and while these may not be as personal or fun as in person book clubs, they get the job done. It’s especially nice because you can pick from more book clubs that have tastes similar to your own, so you’re not stuck reading the same chick lit over and over and over. Sites like Goodreads have tons of groups and monthly clubs you can join, as well as ways to review and share your books with other people. You can also find a ton more books that you would have overlooked at the book store or library!

A Brief History of Book Clubs

The printing press went into mass effect in 1455, and with it came a literary revolution. While most people still couldn’t afford books (or even learn to read), the higher aristocracies in areas managed to “hoard” most of the books published across the world. About 200 years later, books became a bit more accessible, especially is multiple copies. As books were produced more, more people could purchase them, and thus began open discussion about published works.

The first real book clubs were believed to have begun in France between the 1600’s and 1700’s in “parlor meetings,” where women would gather to discuss books (a rather scandalous behavior at the time). A lot of cafes and public spaces were discussion forums for various books, and men especially could discuss their new reading materials in pretty much any setting. Many “book club historians” (if there were such a thing) believe that this sparked the idea that people could get together to specifically discuss a new publication.

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Because of the expense of books until the beginning of the 20th century, some people simply “pitched” on books together, and passed them around between their friends and family. After everyone had read it, they would discuss an idea. In fact, this is how libraries started – first in New York and then in Boston. Groups of people would buy books together, and then lend out their copies for free to others who had no chance of affording it.

Towards the end of the 19th century, more and more women began noticing their need for intellectual and personal rights. Instead of gathering for sewing, knitting, or childcare functions, they began coming together to read, increase their knowledge, and discuss revolutionary ideas. This is also considered one of the reasons that book clubs are still mostly female today – because of the roots in the suffrage movement.

In the early 1900’s, book publishers began releasing books en masse, and programs like “A Book a Month” began popping up at affordable rates. This is when home book buying began to be commonplace, and made it possible for people to own books that everyone else owned as well. Towards the 1940’s and 1950’s, suburbs began popping up and reading (being the only affordable entertainment, as TV was still very expensive) became a central conversation piece, especially for housewives.

Of course, as TV became more popular in the late 1900’s, fewer people read unless it was related to school. Then Oprah came along, and made book clubs cool again. Everyone wanted to read what the queen of daytime television was reading, and suddenly book clubs began popping up all over the place. Today, it’s estimated that there are about 100,000 operating official book clubs in the US (between libraries and churches that file official book club chapters). However, a quick Google search turns up over 14.5 million results, indicating that there are plenty more out there that are just not “official.” That’s a lot of book clubs!