I was an avid reader long, long before I ever thought of becoming a writer. Actually, I’m not sure I ever thought about being a writer before I was one, but that’s another story!
I remember the first time I met up with the young girl who is now my closest friend of nearly twenty years–we rode our bikes to the library! It was a friendship bound to last, obviously. Other than my friend, Gabbi, I can’t say that I have ever had much of a “reading community” in my life.
Since becoming an author, though, I’ve been acutely aware of how social reading can be for such a solitary activity! I thought it would be fun to talk about some of the different ways reading community can be found!
My absolute favorite way to talk about books is still one-on-one. Usually, it is still with Gabbi. She now prefers historical romances–though, she makes an exception to read my books! We grew up sharing a love of fantasy books, standing in line for midnight releases of popular young adult books.
She’s still the friend I love to visit the bookstore with, and not just because she always says “Yes, you should definitely buy it!” Anything she recommends, I automatically buy or borrow! As an author, I know that a personal recommendation to a friend is still the absolute best way a reader can support an author they love. I also talk books with my mother (who prefers romance and suspense) or my author friends.
Of course, it would be impossible to talk about reading community without talking about good, old-fashioned book clubs! Surprisingly, I’ve never actually taken part in a book club, though I love the idea. I think my biggest obstacle has been finding a book club interested in reading Christian romance instead of Oprah’s book club or other best-sellers, which I tend to find worldly and unedifying. But, I love the idea of sitting around with snacks and tea chatting about a recent book! Maybe I just need to start one?
The other kind of reading community I’ve discovered since becoming an author is the online book circles. I’d heard of “Bookstagram”, but until I created an Instagram account, I didn’t really understand what it was — people who focus their entire Instagram account around books! Recommending books, beautiful pictures of books, sharing new releases and what they’re reading… and my favorite part — #christianbookstagram… where it narrows even further to sharing Christian books! I’ve had a ton of fun meeting the authors and readers who hang out in that little corner of Instagram.
Online book community exists everywhere from Facebook groups (like the InspyRomance group “Christian Romance Reader Gathering” or my own reader community “The Faith, Hope and Happily Ever After Book Club”), blogs, Goodreads, Instagram, and even TikTok (though I haven’t ventured over there yet and don’t really plan too…)
No matter what platform you prefer — the reading community is alive and well. Every time I start to believe that people simply don’t read books like they used to, I am able to find an entire little online place where people are as excited about books as I am. And anytime you want to chat books over a cup of coffee in the Ozarks — I’m your girl.
What about you? Who do you talk about books with? Have you ever been in a traditional book club? Do you prefer online or in-person reader community?
Jeannette Harbottle says
I have always thought I might enjoy a book club, but like you, I would like it to be a Christian book club and in my little village that would be me and one other, and we already talk about the books we are reading.
I am blessed that my daughter-in-laws both enjoy my kind of books and we share resources, groups and bargain deals.
I love talking about books, too! A few of my friends love to read as much as I do and we like a lot of the same books. I love it when they buy a book based on my recommendation! I’ve never been in a book club and I’m not sure I’d like the structure of that.
Hi Tara! As a high school English teacher, I read and discussed books with my students, their parents and my colleagues. Before ebooks as a teen and pastor’s wife, I often lent my books to friends which we discussed. I read a variety of genre and topics. When I retired a decade ago, I took my granddaughter to the library’s story time and made a new friend Wendy. We discussed children’s books and joined the library’s book club. Our favorite was the Book Club for Foodies sponsored by the library and a local cooking school. Now we attend Lake Bluff Book Club sponsored by another library. As a retiree I attend local book clubs to push me out of my comfort zone – to read a variety of genre. I have also been part of Facebook Author fan pages. Enjoy your weekend. April Fool’s joke this morning in SW Michigan – SNOW! Happy Reading!
Lelia (Lucy) Reynolds says
I talk books with my sisters on the phone about books. I don’t have personal contact with anyone local that loves to read. Blessings
My husband and I are both avid readers….in fact, it was one of the things that first drew me to him. The love of a good story is definitely a way to bond closer to the one I spend my life with. While he likes Tom Clancy or Clive Cussler military/political type thrillers & I’m more of the must-contain romance fan (all genres), we still share the love of printed word. Some of our most treasured conversations revolve around what we read or learned from a book. So I’d say, he’d be the first one to talk about books with.
Funny thing, my best friend since High School (30-plus years ago), was never a reader! She always has said that reading puts her to sleep…lol! Thankfully, that was never a factor in us being BFF’s :-) Thank goodness, right?
I’ve never been in a book club, in real life or online. Like you, I’ve not found one interested in Christian fiction or if they are, I’m not real interested in the book they are reading. Also, I read pretty fast so only reading a few chapters for discussion would be way too slow for me…lol! I’d like to read what I want and when I want.
I prefer real person reading communities, though since I don’t know too many people who are readers around me (or not the kind of books I read), I have more online reader friends. Either I have met them through blogs or Facebook, I value them as true real-life friends. We talk books a lot and if we’ve read the same ones, the pros & cons of each one. Often discussing characters, settings and love interests of the hero & heroine. I attend a small church with a small congregation (maybe 25 members, give or take) and I don’t know that any of them read Christian fiction. I wish I did have a real life reader avid reader friend that I could commiserate with! Unfortunately, my BFF lives over 2,000 miles away & NOT a reader.
I’ve never gotten into the Instagram band wagon, I tried it once, but found it was of no use to me so I deleted my account. I could never figure it out! And TikTok, forget about it! Too much nonsense if you ask me :-)
Great discussion today, I could talk books all day long, lol!
Priscila Perales says
I’m part of a FB Historical Romance group that has its own book club, but I’ve only participated a handful of times. Their host is great and always makes it fun, but I just can’t keep up with all the new releases, so I participate in the ones I’ve been an ARC reader. Having said all that, I’d definitely be down for a Christian Book Club. :) This post just made me realize I don’t really have someone IRL with whom to talk books, so #bookstagram, FB groups, and GR are my reading community.
I haven’t found a book club I’d want to be a part of. The only ones I know of are the ones you mentioned, and I do NOT want to read secular novels! I have been asked about starting one, and I don’t want to. I don’t want to HAVE to read a book and then talk about it. That’s too much like my British Lit and American Lit classes in high school where we dissected the books. I hated that! lol!! I’m sure the Bronte sisters never thought their books would be dissected that way! So, no book club for me! I have friends who will ask me for recommendations, and that’s enough!
Lori Smanski says
I have a friend Mary-we both read cozy mysteries and share books
Mom and I used to share books and talk about them over lunch and tea
A friend Nancy a and I tried to start a book club. Didn’t work out, so we shared books and talked about them.
Jessica B. says
I have never been part of a book club, and honestly, I don’t really have any interest in joining one. I like to read what I want when I want.
Mary Preston says
My children are great readers. I talk about books with them most of all.
talk with family
Debra Pruss says
HI Tara. I am in an online book club with a secular author. Out of the twelve books a year that she picks to read, there are maybe one or two that I do not read. She has other options available if we do not want to read the book that month. I talk books on Facebook. I am on a few ARC teams for Christian authors. I have read and fostered excitement for Christian living, romantic suspense, and rom com. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.
Amy Perrault says
I do both reading groups just depends on the types of books
I have never been in a reading community! It would have to be one focused on Christian and clean books because when I was in school I had two friends who read a lot but especially secular romantic and erotic novels so I didn’t read with them.
Natalya Lakhno says
Family and friends 😊