Why I Like Reading with a Group

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?

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