Book clubs are great because they make you read more and hold you accountable for doing so (no one wants to show up to a book club meeting when they haven't actually read the book up for discussion) and they also give you an excuse to see friends more often (and for something meaningful, too). But if you lead a busy life and don't have time to devote to reading novels all the time, a book club can be a lot to handle on top of all your work and other activities and responsibilities.
One of my goals for this 2017 was to read a new book each month, and guess what? I haven't read a single book yet (I also haven't stuck to my resolution of making sure I drink enough water every day, so the year is off to a great start—I know, I know; I need to get it together!). But while I haven't stopped by the library or finished a book in months, I have read plenty of great work—it's just all been magazines and long-form articles on the web.
So here's a thought: If you don't have the time or the mental energy to dedicate to novel after novel, but you still want to be a part of something that feels thoughtful and meaningful, why not turn a typical book club into something with a lot less pressure?
Keep It Casual: The "No Pressure" Book Club
Rather than put new books on the schedule for every meeting, focus instead on more accessible reading material—think new issues of magazines, short fiction stories, long-form journalism, and even podcasts. Get a group of friends together with similar interests to form a No-Pressure Book Club, then schedule weekly get-togethers where you can discuss what you've read (or listened to, if you go the podcast route!). You'll still get all the perks of a book club, without the stress of having to read an entire book by a certain deadline.
Podcasts are a great option because you can listen to them while you do other things—like as you clean up around your home, or while you're on your commute to work. And if you love novels, short fiction pieces will still give you a little taste of the stories you love, but in a much more easy-to-digest form.
With magazines, you can schedule monthly meetings to discuss one issue, or pick a few magazines so you can discuss a new issue each week—and since most magazines are packed with a lot of smaller content, you'll have plenty to discuss. And focusing on long-form journalistic pieces is also a great way to stay updated on what's going on in the world and in pop culture—the club aspect will hold you accountable for keeping up and staying informed, just on a smaller scale.
The best part? It's also a great way to keep in touch with long-distance friends, because it gives you a way to connect on a regular schedule and something interesting to talk about. You can chat on the phone or video chat while you discuss, but having it as a set part of your routine will make sure neither of you ever feel out of the loop.
This is supposed to be no pressure, so there are only 3 basic rules you have to stick to:
- Whatever you choose to read (or listen to!) should be meaningful or educational—so no gossip magazines.
- Have at least one takeaway from the reading to discuss, but don't feel like you have to analyze every last detail—it's supposed to be fun, not feel like homework.
- If you can't get around to finishing the reading material, it's okay—just don't skip out on the meeting because of it so you can still use your club as an excuse to see your friends. Remember: no pressure!
However you choose to run your new "book" club, remember the key is keeping it low-key. Happy reading (or podcasting, or whatever your no-pressure plan is)!