Before I tried it, I didn’t think I’d like reading with a group. I like managing my own time frame and picking my own books. Enjoyment is key for me, and I never want to feel rushed or obligated to read books that seem unappealing to me. I also get irritated when I’m forced to listen to blowhards sound off about their opinions!
Nonetheless, about 15 years ago I agreed to be in my first bookgroup. I had just re-entered the working world following grad school, and I was longing for the days of exchanging ideas with friends and colleagues. I think I saw that book group as a way of reliving some of the intellectual connection I was missing in my daily grind.
Over time, I have found that I love reading with a group and here are some reasons why:
- The companionship I’ve experienced in my group has been extremely refreshing (no blowhards!). Reading together has given us countless opportunities to discuss things beyond the usual menu of chitchat.
- Through our book-related explorations, I often come away with a deeper understanding of my reading than I would’ve found without my companions. When I devote the hours necessary to plow through a book, it’s great to be able to squeeze as much out of it as possible.
- I have read and thoroughly enjoyed books that I never would’ve chosen for myself, expanding my horizons in the process. In the past year alone, I have appreciated, enjoyed and learned from two novels revolving around a backdrop of genocide: The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian and In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner. If left to my own devices, I am quite certain I would’ve missed out on those two novels–each of which I enjoyed for different reasons but both of which taught me some valuable history lessons.
- As a writer, I need to read as much as possible to continue developing my style and my skills. Truthfully, it can be tough to fit a variety of full-length books into the schedule and reading with a group forces me to increase my productivity.
What are your thoughts on reading with a group?