Why Joining a Book Club Will Make You a Better Writer

    book club - kids reading

    There are many rules of good writing, but the best way to find them is to be a good reader.
    Stephen Ambrose

    Recently, I stumbled upon an online book club of fellow food bloggers and jumped at the chance to join them.

    We’ve all heard accomplished authors say that the best thing for writers to improve their craft is to read widely.

    When deadlines loom and life gets hectic, reading can be one of the first things to fall off the radar. Especially reading for pleasure.

    And the thing is, I’m finding there are so many more benefits than I had originally hoped for.

    If you’re find you aren’t reading as much as you’d like, here are 7 reasons to get out there and find yourself a book club virtual or otherwise.

    1. Read more.
    Most of us need a push to get motivated and joining a book club provides clear deadlines on a regular basis. I’m finding that making the time to read for my book club has also opened windows in my day for other reading as well. It’s a bit like the more I read, the more I remember how much I love reading. And the more I read.

    2. Read things you wouldn’t normally read.
    We all know that it is more beneficial to read a wide variety of styles and genres to help your writing grow, but it can be difficult to push yourself to pickup books outside your comfort zone. Book clubs are a great way to expose yourself to variety. We writers can learn from both the good and the bad.

    3. Meet new people
    While making friends is always good for the soul, a book club gives you a chance to meet people from different walks of life. This has the added benefit of opportunities to observe new people – great fodder for your writers observational brain.

    4. Experience books in a whole new way.
    Reading alone is wonderful. Sharing a book with others who have followed a similar solitary journey brings a whole new perspective on the experience. It can open you up to different explanations and insights you may have missed.

    5. Gives you insights into the minds of other readers.
    As a writer, having a glimpse into how readers react to different topics, styles and techniques can be very enlightening. Seeing what works and what doesn’t is invaluable for learning what invokes strong reactions both positive and negative.

    6. Learn new techniques and approaches.
    Having the opportunity to analyze writing with fellow authors can only help you gain a greater understanding of the writing process. Likewise, explaining your own observations to others will cement the lessons more firmly in your own mind.

    7. It’s fun.
    Taking the time to enjoy yourself and have some fun with books and other people is reward in itself. Don’t forget that it also helps inspire and recharge your creative juices and that alone wil

    If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.
    Stephen King

    About the author

      Jules Clancy

      Follow Jules at Stone Soup

    • I agree that book clubs are a great way to get juices flowing as a writer in the many ways listed here. Personally, I’ve never been a part of online book clubs, but I have been a part of groups that meet in person. I found some pleasant surprises, as well as some very interesting insights into the mind of other readers.

      I’m wondering if anyone has any experience on both, and could talk about the comparative pros and cons on them.

      • Alex, I am been in both an online book club and an in-person one. I loved them both. The in-person club was a regular fiction group where the members took turns choosing books. The online club is the same one Jules belongs to, the Kitchen Reader. It’s a group that reads food-related books and the members are mostly food bloggers.

        A lot of the points Jules mentioned above apply to both my clubs. I guess the benefit of the online group is that it is very focused and I imagined that trying to find a club like ours in person would be quite hard, perhaps even in a big city. But since we are online we can gather members who love food writing from all over the world. It’s a great group to belong to if you’re an aspiring or practising food writer. On the other hand, my in-person book club meets in a wine bar and part of the fun is all the casual chatting…. that doesn’t really translate online. 🙂 But you get the benefits of discussion about the books with both my clubs.

    • Prof KRG says:

      An excellent post. I love to read and be exposed to new texts, but I don’t have much open time in my schedule. I love #MyBookClub chat on Twitter. It meets one night a month to discuss a recently read book, usually with the author. I’ve found that I get a ton out of the chat, even when I haven’t fully read the book. It’s a great way to have the best of both worlds.

    • Rose says:

      I am part of a book club and I absolutely enjoy it; I’ve been exposed to many different books I wouldn’t otherwise have read on my own. Book clubs are awesome; everyone who loves to read should join one!

      Great post!

    • Jean says:

      Admittedly, the only books that I have been reading for the past few years have been books for college. Before that when I was in high school, I did not do any reading, only the few books that were assigned in class for the reading courses that we were required to take. Outside of those books I did not read any. I am not sure as to why I was not able to read books like I used to in the past. When I was a kid I used to read alot of books, I can fondly remember some of those books too. I guess part of the reason why that my elementary school provided an incentive for us students through Pizza hut. They would give us a free pan pizza whenever we read a certain amount of books. I guess maybe we need some sort of motivation too as an adult right?

      I graduated earlier this year, and I have noticed that my grammatical skills aren’t what they should be. I discovered this when I had to take an exam in order to gain entry into the MBA school of my choice. The GMAT, has two essay questions, along with a verbal section. I guess my motivation now as an adult, is to get myself into the graduate school of my choice. Actually, remembering back now, one of my professors, was quite passionate about the book club he was in, and the man was brilliant! It took me a long time to realize just how good book clubs can be. I am in the process of joining one in new york city, so that be should be alot of fun! I do agree with your points here, and I firmly believe that this book club that I am joining will give me the extra motivation that I need to read, and plus meeting and socializing is always a good thing!

      Sorry for my long book of a comment, hehehe. Hopefully it gives a different perspective to others out there.


      • Jean says:

        Just wanted to give a followup on my first day experience. First day for me was on Monday, I showed up a little bit late but wasn’t the last one to show up late. But looked like the group had not done too much at that point. Our group met up at night. The experience was alot of tun! Met so many diverse people. One person was from Luxemburg, France! And another one was from Brazil, and had been in the USA for one year. To my surprise the women outnumbered the men by quite a significant number. All in all it was a great experience, and I would recommend to anyone now to join a book club, I am going back again next Monday!


    • alansm says:

      Wow, you provides a lot of good tips. I will be meet more and talk with more people to get ideas for writing. I will bookmarked it. Thanks

    • Jael says:

      Yes to all these! I definitely have read things for book club I wouldn’t have thought to pick up otherwise.

      Here’s another: it reminds you that taste is subjective. One reader will love a scene or a character or an entire book that another reader hates. It’s a good thing to remember when you’re sending queries to agents, and then again when your book is on submission to editors… and certainly again when your book is out there in the world. Because readers will ultimately accept or reject (or somewhere in between) every book for themselves.

      Added bonus: when my book came out in April my book club insisted on reading it as a club selection! I was a little nervous but it went really well, and helped me get warmed up for visiting other people’s book clubs as an author.

    • Alison Law says:

      Jules, thanks for this guest post. These two sentences resonated with me:
      “Reading alone is wonderful. Sharing a book with others who have followed a similar solitary journey brings a whole new perspective on the experience.”
      Reading and writing are both solitary experiences. Belonging to a writers’ group or book group is essential to lending perspective to both.

      • jules says:

        Yes Alison!
        That’s one of the things I’m looking forward to the most

    • Karen says:

      Interesting points. I”m such a book junkie I don’t need any encouragement to read more, but I like number 5 in particular. Discussing books with other readers gives you great insights into what might and might not work in your own writing. Useful for a struggling first time novelist like myself.

    • This post is just packed with truth. Whenever I’m stuck on a piece–no matter what kind of piece it is–reading always helps me get over that mental block. It’s like activating one part of my brain gives another part of my brain a rest and I’m refreshed and ready to write again.

      I’m not sure I have time to commit to a reading club, but the idea certainly does appeal to me!

      • jules says:

        Another benefit – helping get unstuck… thank for pointing that out

    • This morning as I had to coax myself to stop reading my book and get out bed, I thought that, yes reading really is good for everyone and now I’m glad to stumble upon something that suggests joining a book club helps your writing. Of course it does and if you write at all you can’t help but read critically. I was going to say when the time comes but really there’s always to time to find to read. I am dead keen to join a focussed Book Club particularly since I’m running out of things to read in my flat, would like the focus and develop my writing.

    • STRONGside says:

      Reading has provided the basis for my passion for writing. I am a member of a book club and I can confidently say that is has helped my writing a lot. When you read a book you call on the perspectives and images that your own brain generates. In a book club, when you talk about the book, you often get an entirely new segment of views and interpretations. These various perspectives will help you to see what other people consider good writing, and thus allow you to improve your writing by making it appeal to a broader audience. great article!

      • jules says:

        thanks for sharing your experience Strongside

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