Too many books? No such thing. It’s called not enough bookshelves. It’s not hoarding if it’s books, right?
I trace the trend of “my eyes are bigger than my stomach” back to childhood. If something looked really good for dinner, I might take a huge scoopful (usually dessert.) Yet, when I couldn’t finish, my parents always echoed the phrase “Once again, your eyes are bigger than your stomach.” Voiced in the tone of a scolding, it still didn’t stop me.
“She told herself she would stop buying books.
Then she laughed out loud.”
Today the same is with books. I see so many books that look interesting, my to-be-read physical pile of books numbers over thirty, and I have seven audio books on hold at the library. Those with a bunch of downloaded Kindle books don’t have the same visual but it counts.
I track my books on GoodReads as Read, Want to read, and Currently reading. My Want to read list numbers over one hundred. In all fairness, I add every single book someone tells me they like to this list. Being past a certain age, I can’t remember a single thing if it isn’t written down.
Authors and businesspeople need to prioritize their outreach to book clubs.
- What are the main thing authors most? Readers.
- What do entrepreneurs and business folks need? To continue learning from the best.
- And how do you grow as a writer? Read.
People read more during COVID!
In 2021 readers bought nearly 827 million books, an increase of roughly 10 percent over 2020.
(With some shameless self-promotion) I hope if you are reading this blog, you have already read my book Henry, A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America. Seriously, it makes a great choice for book clubs and will generate discussion. Invite me to yours! Check out my book club resources here.
In Spring 2018 I started a book club. It was something I always wanted to do but was never invited to join one. For years, I did not have much time for books between raising kids, working, and finishing a book project. Thankfully, life is cyclical, and I was ready. My goals were simple: I wanted more girlfriends, and I wanted to share a common interest. Two years later, when COVID and quarantine began, my book club kept me sane and connected to friends, albeit through Zoom.
Lessons from my book club.
- It helps if members have somewhat similar tastes in books, genres, or a specific focus. Ours vary between non-fiction and a range of fiction, and we always pick a fun book around the holidays. I keep a list of every book we have read. We are now up to 51 books read, or as one member jokes – 45 since she doesn’t have time to read every book. We are a tolerant group.
- I read books I would never have chosen or heard of, and mostly I like them. Even when we don’t like a book (which shall remain nameless) it’s really about whether that book is a match for us. Still, the discussions are so interesting, because we come from a diverse range of backgrounds. We are about twelve people including two physicians, an ICU nurse, retired book geeks, an author, a university librarian, top corporate management, nutritionist, and more.
- Keep it light, and mindful of the dual purpose of fun and friends. If someone runs out of time to read the month’s book, it’s OK. Come anyway and join the discussion. Life happens, and so do weddings, vacations, and overtime at work. It makes book club an even more important social connection.
- Look to other book clubs for ideas. We vote on new books every six months. I keep a list of all the suggestions and send them out. Just because we don’t read them as a group – we might like to read them on our own.
- Once we sample an author, we don’t choose books by the same author. We can choose to read more books by the same author on our own. Book club is like a discovery buffet – sample whatever you want, and then go back for seconds for the entrees you liked most. There are several authors I have gone on to read their other books.
- Reach out to the author of the month’s selection. Now that Zoom is so common, many authors say yes, adding a whole new level of interesting discussion. I love to visit book clubs that are reading my book. I’ve attended book clubs around the country via Zoom, and in-person when it is geographically possible.
I look up celebrity book clubs for ideas but would never have the time to follow them all. I also take note of the same book on multiple lists. The beauty is that geography has no relevance, so no matter where you are you can find a match for your interests. To save you multiple searches on Google, here are some helpful websites for readers and authors.
C-SPAN Book TV. “Television for Serious Readers.”
Goodreads. “Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. Our mission is to help people find and share books they love. Goodreads launched in January 2007.” Goodreads is a great online community that has accumulated 90 million users worldwide. I joined Goodreads in 2012 and love it for so many things, including book giveaways, discovering books, and checking reviews on books I consider reading.
The Storygraph. “A fully-featured Amazon-free alternative to Goodreads.” Amazon owns Goodreads, and many people don’t like the Big Brother sense of Amazon when it comes to what books you like. It’s primarily for tracking the books you read and discovering new ones. It’s new and growing with over a million subscribers.
Bookclubs.com. If you prefer a digital way to organize your book club, here is an option. “Our mission is to inspire meaningful connections through reading and discussion. We believe in the power of book clubs to enhance the reading experience, support lifelong learning, and build community.” It also sponsors the Bookclub: Book Club Organizer app for iPhones and iPads.
“I’m not addicted to Reading.
I can quit as soon as I finish one more chapter.”
Jewish Book Council. “Jewish Book Council, founded in 1944, is the longest-running organization devoted exclusively to the support and celebration of Jewish literature…. JBC Book Clubs provides resources and support to book clubs reading books of Jewish interest.”
Books & Boba. “Books & Boba is a book club and podcast dedicated to spotlighting books written by authors of Asian descent.”
No Name Book Club. “Each month, we uplift two books written by Black, indigenous, and other people of color...Since our founding in 2019, we have created 12 book club chapters across occupied United States. In April 2021, we refocused our efforts on expanding our prison chapters and now send books to hundreds of incarcerated comrades.”
Read with Entrepreneurs. Per their website: “We connect entrepreneurs with books and community to help them make better decisions for their organizations.”
Read with Marketers. “The Read With Marketers Book Club is a Slack Community for people who love nonfiction marketing books, networking, and author Q&As… We are a community for thoughtful discussion and meaningful connections about marketing.”
The World Economic Forum’s Book Club. “Readers worldwide are invited to join and discuss a variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction. It is a private Facebook group dedicated to discussing one book every month…The group features the direct involvement of the authors, giving you – our global audience with members all around the globe – a chance to directly connect with some of the most influential thinkers and experts in the world.”
For more business-oriented book clubs, visit “Top 10 Online Book Clubs for Entrepreneurial Inspiration” at the website Entrepreneur.
Online Book Clubs*
Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club. “Each month, Reese, our founder (and book-lover-in-chief) chooses a [fiction] book with a woman at the center of the story…A truer, newer narrative for women…celebrating all the ways we are women.” Reese has grown the club in many areas. She sponsors a YA reading club, and LitUp by Reese’s Book Club. LitUp is a mentoring program for unpublished indie authors. You can download an app for this reading club.
#ReadWithJenna. Jenna Bush Hager of the Today Show launched her book club in March 2019. She focuses on “well-written contemporary novels with propulsive plots….No matter what, you have to have a great, compulsively readable plot. Something where you cannot wait to figure out what’s going to happen. And, obviously, I was an English major, so it has to be beautifully well-written.”
Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club. “Since 1996 the club has selected books that engender conversation, spark enlightenment, help launch emerging authors, and reacquaint us with the already prominent. The goal? To connect readers around a community of fellow bibliophiles.
*There are many more options in each category. I have listed key examples to demonstrate there is something for everyone. Additionally, most libraries and book stores sponsor book clubs, so scan their book lists for ideas. These become community gatherings of like-minded people.
July 30 is Paperback book Day!
If this blog is longer than usual, it’s a sign of my love of books and wanting to offer you ideas. I will never read all the books on my wish list, but at least my list is long enough, I have plenty of options when I’m looking for a book to read that matches my mood at the time.
Wishing you fun vacation reads and a literary escape from this crazy world we live in!