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The unexpected benefits of joining a book club

CS Lewis is often quoted as saying: “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

If you love reading but never seem to have enough time to do it, joining a book club could just be the answer. That may sound counter-intuitive, as doing so would presumably take up more time, but formalising the experience could help you create dedicated space for an activity you love and connect with others. Here are some of the core benefits:

  1. You have a deadline. Reading is an activity we often see as a luxury, so we tend to put it off until everything else is done. By joining a book club you will have a set time by which you will need to have read the book, so there can be no excuses!
  2. You will read a broader range of books. Many people only read one genre or type of book, but reading as a group will mean having to open your mind to books you might not ordinarily choose yourself. They say that a change is as good as a rest…
  3. You will think more critically about what you are reading. By ‘critically’ we don’t mean ‘negatively’, but ‘constructively’. You will be answering questions you might not otherwise have considered and gaining insights from people you know and admire.
  4. You have a new social occasion in the diary. Meeting once a month or more will give you a chance to hang out with friends as you talk about your beloved books. If you enjoying hosting you could have it at your place and use it as an opportunity to serve others.
  5. You may be less stressed. Reading is believed to be a champion stress-buster, so making it a regular habit could help to reduce your stress levels and improve your overall well-being without having to head to the gym!
  6. You can introduce great snacks. We’re sure CS Lewis would have agreed that tea and a good book discussion would be an even better experience with a good biscuit or slice of cake. You could get your bake on for book club nights or ask a member of the group to bring a different snack each week so you get a bit of diversity and avoid overburdening anyone.
  7. You’ll get to meet new people. There may be a few book lovers who live nearby, but perhaps not enough to make up a viable book club. Ask each friend to bring along another friend and your friendship circle will instantly double!
  8. You could bolster your faith. If you’re picking out Christian books you may just find that you are challenged and encouraged in your faith through a reading group. Alternatively, you could stick to secular books but discuss them from a Christian perspective. This could be an evangelistic opportunity, but focus on getting some good discussions going rather than looking for instant conversions.
  9. You will feel more confident. Some people feel a bit shy about speaking in front of a group, but your book club should offer a safe, intimate environment within which to share your thoughts. Focusing on a book rather than yourself could help you articulate your thoughts and feelings more easily, and having a supportive group can increase confidence levels while also giving you insight into other people’s lives.
  10. You can enjoy a rewarding hobby for little or no cost. This is a great opportunity to join your local library if you’re not already a member. If that’s not an option, you may be able to get the books you need at a second-hand shop or online store, or by borrowing from a friend. E-books are often cheaper than print copies, and some retailers may offer discounts if you buy multiple copies of the same book. Whichever option you take, reading is an affordable and fun hobby that may widen your scope, help you relax and bring new friends across your path. What’s not to like?