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?