By Guest Blogger Michelle Barson

If you’re still looking to make a New Year’s resolution, or maybe you want to just try something new, then I have the perfect idea. Join a book club! I recently joined a group that I thoroughly enjoy – so much so that I came up with a list of 10 reasons why you should join one as well! Finding a book club is not difficult either. Many groups are formed in neighborhoods, in churches, or among groups of friends. And if you cannot find one, then you can always start one. Just gather a group of friends, pick a book, and assign a date and location to discuss. Of course, adding fun beverages and yummy treats to your club gathering always makes for a great event as well.

In no particular order, here are my top 10 reasons to join a book club….

1 – Make new friends
A friend of mine encouraged me to join a book club that she attended.  She had been in it for a few years and when I joined, but I knew no one else. I was a little nervous because everyone else knew one another and in fact had been teachers together. I was not a teacher (nor had I ever been) and had no ties to anyone else in the group. It felt mildly intimidating for the first 30 minutes, but once we started to talk about the book it was like I had something in common with complete strangers.  It was easy to form friendships from there – clearly, we all enjoyed reading and quickly discovered other commonalities.

2 – Connect in a new way with existing friends
Just exactly that. Sharing in a book together and talking about it gives another connection point with an existing friend. This can strengthen an existing relationship and gives new, fun things to talk about and share in together.

3 – Forces you to read a book
Because even the biggest reader can stop reading when life keeps piling up on you. Having a group that has “assigned” a book, and thoughtfully chooses one, provides just enough guilt and or intrigue to pick it up.

4 – Obligates you to complete a book
Yup – sure does! Because there’s a time frame. Book club is on X date and therefore you must be complete or near complete with the book. Even if the book is completely horribly, I finish it so I can join in the conversation.

5 – Introduces you to new books and genres
I used to read a lot of history and political books, but those are heavy and sometimes that’s just not what I wanted but I had no idea how to pick out another type of book – until book club! Now, I ask people all the time about what they have read and enjoyed, or I look up different top lists for popular books. Imagine that type of hunt for new books being compounded by an entire group. That means, I will still get to be introduced to a book that I may not have found or heard of but will enjoy.

6 – Receive consistent adult time
Being away from the children is important. It helps you miss them and to re-set. For me, going to a book club makes me feel a little less guilty than a more traditional night out. Most book clubs are week nights too so you’re not going to stay out until 1 am.  It’s just enough time (two to three hours) to get out of the house and socialize.

7- Be current
I’m always so surprised by how many other people have read the same book as me. It’s a great way to feel up-to-date on the world and culture in one small way. As a parent, it can be hard to keep up with world news, pop culture and current events in general.

8 – Quality conversation
My husband teases me about my book club and the “seriousness” of it. That said, in all seriousness, we do almost always all complete the book and we do discuss it at every meeting. Talking about the book though can lead us down so many different avenues of personal experiences and that leads to many other interesting conversations and off-subject topics. It’s also such a great way to see how the same book, read by multiple people can be received so differently. It’s almost a mini-lesson in empathy. An opportunity to really learn how through each of our own lenses we felt a different way about a section of the book or a character; or, how differently we interpreted an action or statement.

9 – Playing the hostess
Not everyone enjoys throwing a party or having a large group (or even smaller group) of people into their home. Rotating who hosts book club at their home each month forces the issue  I personally love hosting anything so it’s just another time I get to brush up on it. For those that may be less comfortable hosting this should feel like a very safe, structured event where hosting skills aren’t overly necessary but still provides an opportunity to enhance them.

10 – They’re fun!
Seriously. I love my book club. Some of us are friends outside of book club and some of us aren’t. Not because we don’t like one another, but because we are in different stages of our lives or don’t live near one another, but I like each one of them so much and consider them all friends because they all bring value to my life. It’s fun to catch up with all of them on a regular basis (we meet monthly) and hear about their lives and what’s going on in their worlds that I might not otherwise get to be exposed to.

Make sure to visit TMoM on Wed, Jan. 11 to see a list of 20 books you should read in 2020!

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