I can’t really remember why my friends and I decided to create a book club. I think it was a combination of wanting to stay in touch whilst at university and the fact that none of us had read Pride and Prejudice before. And, just like that, our book club was formed.
For me, being a fresher was fairly stressful. Once the chaos of Welcome Week was over, I found myself very busy with lectures, seminars, and assignments, and it felt like I would never have any spare time ever again. Being a member of my very own book club, even if we did only meet once a month, made all the difference.
Being an avid book-lover, one of my first worries about joining university was this: how am I going to have time to read my books? For those of you who may be sharing these thoughts, I am here to tell you that a book club is exactly what you need. Being a part of one, no matter how unofficial or informal, relieved me of so much stress in my first year. I found that it would take my mind off all the assignments, deadlines, and projects I’d have to complete, and it made me fall back in love with a hobby I never want to give up. For those of you who may not be fully convinced, I have compiled a short list of reasons why joining a book club will make you a better reader and why it is such a good idea to join one whilst at university.
1. They help you keep on top of reading
When I moved into my first-year accommodation and started filling up my bookshelf, one thought dominated my mind: I’m not even going to touch any of these. And, unfortunately, that thought did come true. After an entire summer of reading, I was extremely disappointed at how little I was reading at university. Joining my very own book club completely solved this problem for me. Having a goal to reach at the end of every month encouraged me to not only ready my ‘assigned’ book, but all the other books on my shelf too. I have read more books this year than any other year of my life! I didn’t know how much motivation this club would give me.
2. They force you out of your comfort zone
Before our book club was created, I very much stuck to the same genres: mystery, dystopian, and fantasy. I would read and re-read the Harry Potter and Game of Thrones books repeatedly, not realising how much I was missing out on. I would never have even thought of reading Italo Calvino’s experimental book, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller, or Jane Austen’s classic, Pride and Prejudice, until they were suggested at my book club. My mind has been opened to a variety of genres that I wouldn’t have even thought of reading before, and I am grateful that my book club has exposed me to this and expanded my horizons.
When so much is going on around you, picking up a book and talking about it with other people is one of the best forms of therapy you’ll find
3. They make you pay more attention to the book you’re reading
Before the book club, I never really looked at books as deeply as I do now. Knowing that I will have to share my thoughts and opinions at the end of the month has definitely made me more attentive to what I’m reading. Having to rank them according to certain categories has forced me to become more critical and aware of how they are written. Not only that, but I have also become more confident in sharing my opinions and discussing and debating them with a group of people, a skill that I hope will continue to improve.
4. They are a good way to catch up with friends
This last reason is possibly the most important, especially if you’re a first year. After being accepted into our universities, all spread across the country, my friends and I worried that arranging to meet up would become quite a difficult task, especially in-person. Creating our book club was the best thing we could have possibly thought up of. Not only is it a safe space to discuss our passion for reading, but it is also an easy and simple way to catch up with one another. Though our calls do end up being about three hours long, having a book club has not only made me appreciate books more, but it has also made me appreciate my friends and their love for books more too.
So, whether you’ve just joined university, just graduated, or just started a new job and the stress and pressure is starting to get to you, a book club would most definitely be my recommendation. Whether it’s just with your closest friend or a big group of people, it counts. It doesn’t have to be official; it doesn’t have to be serious or formal; it just has to be fun. When so much is going on around you, picking up a book and talking about it with other people is one of the best forms of therapy you’ll find.