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Monday, March 31, 2014

The Book Club Boom

Once upon a time, encounters with friends on the street would be followed by questions about family, health or work. Not any more.  The first question you're likely to hear nowadays is, "What's your book club reading?" Am I right?  Book Clubs are everywhere.  According to a New York Times article estimate, some five million people nationwide gather every few weeks in a living room or in a bar or bookstore or local library to discuss someone's book.  Though some groups distinguish between the host and the facilitator, a recent trend includes having the book's author present or skyped in to facilitate the discussion.  Though such a presence might quash some feedback, what better insight than from the source? And take note authors; a new source of income is now available.
There are virtual book clubs as well - ZolaBooks connects readers while Goodreads gives members the opportunity to read a book together.  Book Clubs also form along the lines of particular constituencies, be they gender, age, fans of a single author, or genre.
In the end, says James Atlas*, book groups are about community.  "The success of the One City, One Book initiatives in Chicago, Seattle and smaller towns...reflects the longing to share.  So does Oprah; her book club binds together a nation disparate in its customs, classes, religions and ethnicities by putting it in front of the TV and telling it what to read."
Reading is a solitary activity, but talking about reading? That's the connectivity of a Book Club.

*"Really? You're Not in a Book Club?" by James Atlas, NY Times, March 23, 2014

Submitted by Andrea Perry

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