My first “real life” bookclub experience

My first real life bookclub experience.png

I’ve been interested in joining a real-life book club for a while, but trouble finding one and my own nervousness has gotten in my way.

For 2019, I decided to bite the bullet and took the plunge. I thought I’d share my experience for anyone else considering it, or for anyone who experiences social anxiety (or is just really shy) and wants a little information about what to expect. Obviously, where you live and luck is going to play an enormous part in this so YMMV.


Finding a Book Club.


I moved house about 11 months ago. In my old town, I’d never heard of a local bookclub. The library was really run-down and lacking, so it was never something I seriously looked into. I just watched other people jealously from the internet sidelines.

The LingeringIn November, I looked around for clubs to join in my new town. I was actually planning to join one at my local Waterstones — they had posters for both a SSF group and a Crime one — but when I looked into it a bit more the SSF group seems not to have taken off, and the January Crime book really didn’t appeal to me. I think I could easily have read a SFF book of someone else’s choosing every month, but I’m not so sure about crime.

Luckily, my new local library is really awesome! It’s got a great YA section (with a decent selection of marginalised authors too) and seems to really try and connect with the local community. I emailed in (no phone calls – yay!) to ask about the group. A librarian gave me the meeting details and set a copy of the month’s book aside for me to collect. I was completely willing to buy a bookclub book each month, but getting them through the library is a nice bonus.


How the Books Are Picked.


Two librarians run the group and select them. They seem to have a rough plan for the months ahead, with a variety of genres (but leaning more to literary, women’s and crime). While we were discussing books in general, they seemed really willing to see if they could source anything we, as a group, were specifically interested in. I’m okay with all of this since part of the reason for joining was to expand my reading.

The January book was The Lingering, which I was pretty ambivalent about, but the February book was The Language of Flowers which I would never have picked for myself and really enjoyed.


How My First Meeting Went.


I turned up about 10 minutes ahead of the start time. I didn’t want to hang around awkwardly early but also didn’t want to be the last one there and catch everyones’ attention.

The Language of FlowersThe group consisted of about ten of us (plus two librarians) but there were a few people who hadn’t turned up that evening. It was a mix of ages from mid-twenties to sixties but leaned towards the forty-and-up range. Apart from one dude, it was all women. I think one of the no-shows is a guy too. Including myself, there were three newbies (the benefit of joining in January, I guess). We did go around the circle to introduce ourselves, but it wasn’t that awful “Tell us something interesting about yourself” thing. We just shared our favourite genres.

Chatting about the book was fairly relaxed. We discussed whether we enjoyed it, a little about the characters and mostly about the plot. We went off on a bit of a tangent to discuss some of the issues raised in the book — asylums and mental health care — then finished by talking about whether any of us had read anything similar lately — historical, creepy mystery — and what, if anything, else we were reading for the month. The discussion was interesting but nowhere near the level of analysis I see in the book reviews bloggers usually post. Nothing about pacing, characterisation, writing style or handling problematic themes.

I’m not saying this was a bad thing, but if you’re at all worried about bookclubs being high-brow, or not knowing enough to contribute, I definitely wouldn’t worry about that. If you’re part of the book community at all, you’ll be well-equipped to take part.

My group costs me £2 a month. That includes borrowing the book for the month and coffee or tea at the meeting. I had a really good time, although I was really nervous, and I think as I go to a few more, it’ll be something I really enjoy.


If you’re thinking about joining a local bookclub, or if you have any worries/ questions, feel free to comment or send me a message and I’ll answer anything I’ve missed.

22 thoughts on “My first “real life” bookclub experience”

    1. I’d love a YA group too, but I don’t think that’ll ever happen where I live. Plus, if there ever was one, I’d rather they ran in for YAs and I’m well past that age lol

      Liked by 1 person

  1. oh thats really fun! i just joined 2 🙂 one w some local bloggers and the other w my local waterstones, cause i know the grops theres no pressure to read the books so i got to attend and listen to them talk and add in my own reflections based on what they said!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like a lot of fun, I would love to join a book club but there isn’t one close by that I could easily get too.

    Hopefully, you get the chance to read lots of fab books.

    I’ve had the language of flowers on my TBR pile for ages! must get round to it now 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This sounds so fun! I wish I had more real life book friends so I could start a book club with them. I should definitely check out my library and see if they have one, though! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve never heard of book clubs near me, although I admit I haven’t specifically looked into it. I’m glad you had a good time at the first one 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I’ve been considering joining a book club the last year or two, but my anxiety has always gotten in the way. I enjoy talking about books a lot, but I’m not very good at deeply analyzing them. It’s great to hear that your book club isn’t like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you that if its something you choose to look into, you find one you like!
      Nerves/ anxiety are hard to overcome, but for the analysis part I’d consider maybe just dropping a quick email to the organiser to see what to expect. But honestly, I think if you write reviews you can definitely hold your own.


  6. That sounds fun. We have the book group at work, which is a nice way to get to know people from other departments, and the Society of Young Publishers does a book group as well in London. I’ve only gone to one event of each, because I just haven’t had the time, but I want to do more.

    I’m so happy that your book group introduced you to The Language of Flowers – as I mentioned to you before, this is really one of my favourite books. Did you know that J. K. Rowling uses it in the Philosopher’s Stone?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think a workplace boookgroup would be great, especially if you were new. It’s a good way to get to know people without having to get really personal too quickly.
      I had no idea! Whereabouts, do you remember?

      Liked by 1 person

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