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A novel idea: why you should start your own book club

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FEBRUARY 27, 2015

Flashback to the summer before college: In between deciding if you really need to purchase a color printer and whether it’s socially acceptable to sneak Mr. Cuddles into your dorm, you find yourself sorting through your favorite literary reads to bring to college. Should your 2-by-1-foot shelf be graced with “Harry Potter” 1 through 7, the whole John Green collection — or both? A semester later, the fast awareness that college is not, in fact, the period in our lives during which we spend 16 hours a day reading often leaves our “to read” lists longer than the lunch lines outside Chipotle. There just don’t seem to be enough days in a week or make-up quizzes offered by GSIs to allow us to indulge in limitless nonacademic reading. To all the wandering bibliophiles in withdrawal, we commission the following remedial therapy: Start your very own book club, to get all booked up during college!

To begin with, your group discussion will probably not focus on the book, the whole book and nothing but the book. Joining a book club means more than just debating apostrophe placement and literary themes. You get the added fun of icebreakers to get the party going, meandering off-topic without feeling guilty and making friends who share the same level of book nerdiness. It’s great way to meet like-minded individuals in a relaxed, easygoing setting (reminiscent of speed dating, but actually not at all). Though you may differ in age, major and favorite genre, it is easy to find common ground with someone who views the book as fundamentally sacred.

Equally important, naming a book club is like naming a child: It ranks almost as highly as securing a savings account or, say, health care. Whether you’re calling yourselves Literary Ladies Who Lunch (alliteration is your friend) or Read Between the Wines (some groups just like to have fun!), coining a unique name lets you express an appreciation for the things your club finds collectively valuable.

You also have the chance to read something not published by Copy Central for once, in an entirely chilled setting. Even if “Calvin and Hobbes” comic strips are your cup of chai, there is no standard syllabus for what a book club should or should not read. Book clubbin’ allows you to be the captain of your fate and master of your soul by spicing up the rules a little. In this way, reading for pleasure no longer has to be an event of the past, particularly because you choose how you want to define the dynamics of the group. Feeling that James Joyce is the only man for you? Ludicrous, but whatever. Fancy more wine and less talking? Pop the cork, drop the book — this is ‘Merica. To quote a certain Zac Efron, there’s not a book in heaven that you can’t read when you join a book club!

Contact Mariam El Magrissy at 


FEBRUARY 27, 2015