After unsuccessfully searching for an offline book club in my area that was comprised of writers, I decided to create the space online. This is entirely experimental, but I’ve tried to think things through and hopefully, this will be a useful tool for writers who are readers.
The main point of difference between a book club of readers and a book club of writers, is that reading is not only a hobby, but an intentional learning tool. How we read, what we read, and with what intent we read, influences how we write. The voices that captivate us are often the voices we wish to develop. The turns of phrase, the construction of a characters, the shape of our story arcs are all influenced by the writing we love.
It would be impossible to set this up without having my own philosophy and approach influence the book choices and the reader guidelines. I am a writer. I write blog posts, essays, short stories, and I have a novel in various stages of disarray, a dis-novel, if you will. I believe in reading anything that catches my interest, even some things that don’t. There are no limits to genre, gender, nationality, form, or content. If the writing is strong, if the subject is unknown, if there is anything I can learn, I will read it.
That being said, it is sometimes a challenge to read outside one’s experience and genre. I know people who read only science fiction or only nonfiction or only fantasy romance novels. As writers, I feel it is incumbent upon us to read beyond our natural boundaries. This means that we must challenge ourselves or else our skills as writers do not grow. We begin to write in a circular world with the same techniques, phrases, and character types. To read widely is to give ourselves every possible advantage as writers.
My intention is to create an environment where we look at books with a writer’s eye. We’re interested in the mechanics of the writing, not just the content. We look for patterns and motifs and themes. Symbolism does not go unnoticed. Rhythm and pacing matter.
The site is also intended to be a writer’s haven – what challenges us and can we apply some of the techniques we read about? What speaks to us, what do we admire or dislike? It won’t be a place for book reviews. We live in a world that thumbs or stars everything. The only question we need to ask is what can we learn from the work?
It is reminiscent of lit classes without the tuition, unwieldy schedule, and you can do it in your jammies while drinking large vats of wine or coffee. If you’ve already read the selected title or are going through a busy season or would rather stab yourself in the eye with a pen than read a particular selection, just skip the month. Best of all, there’s no signup sheet for treats, everybody else isn’t already besties, and the talker (there’s always one) doesn’t get to dominate with stories of their ingrown toenail surgery.
If you are interested, there is a link on the sidebar, which will take you to the site. Enjoy!