I was all set to write about the books I’ve loved getting my literary teeth into during 2021 but it struck me that the biggest difference in my reading world this year has been book club.
Since January I’ve been running a monthly book club so I’ve been pushed to read titles, genres and authors that wouldn’t usually have been my thing.
I was worried that reading a book because I felt obliged to would kill my buzz for reading like my BA in English Lit did. My degree stopped me reading for fun. I felt guilty if I was reading for pleasure rather than reading something for an essay, seminar or tutorial. I devoured books in sixth form but got through very few in Uni, aside from a couple of stand outs like Ian McEwan’s Atonement.
Back to book club and it hasn’t felt like a chore. I’ve loved meeting new people from all sorts of backgrounds in my area, people who have very different lives from me but who all share a love of reading. We have varied tastes, but I think I’ve made it a safe space for us all to have respect for opposing points of view.
One of the highlights has been a live Q&A session with an author and another with an editor. Huge thanks to the Reading Agency for making those happen. It also felt important to explore the work of local authors, something the group’s particularly keen on.
Being part of a book club has exposed some of the members to concepts and ways of life that they have never encountered, and it’s been quite moving to see how a book opened their eyes and gave them a new understanding of people of different races, sexualities, cultures, or periods in time.
It’s the only clubbing I’ve done all year. 10/10 would recommend. No hangovers, no sore feet and far cheaper than the other clubbing. If I were pushed to choose some personal faves from the books I’ve read in 2021 so far, my top five would be:
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Reid Jenkins
Young Skins by Colin Barrett
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
The Survivors by Jane Harper
Which books have your book club delved into this year? Any titles you’re keen to tackle in 2022? Let me know in the comments.