Beyond the Book Club

Book clubs are a modern phenomenon that have helped to change how people enjoy literature. The solitary pursuit of reading has turned social for many who use books clubs as a key way to mingle as they engage with literature. But, what about those who do not enjoy book clubs or cannot find a group to join? Granted, there are many online book clubs, but for those bibliophiles who just don’t think book clubs are their thing, there are many other ways to express a love of literature?and not all of them require a group of people.

Start a Little Free Library
Little Free Libraries began in 2009 when Todd Bol, of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one-room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former schoolteacher who loved reading, and filled it with books. The idea blossomed into what is now known as Little Free Libraries. The idea is to build a miniature library, mount it in your neighbourhood, and fill it with books that anyone can take free of charge. The library perpetuates through the return of the borrowed books or through replacement by newly donated books. It isn’t just about the books; it’s also about getting to know your neighbours and helping to build up your community. There are now more than 30,000 LFLs across the globe and the movement shows no signs of slowing. For more information, see http://www.littlefreelibrary.org

BookCrossing
BookCrossing is defined as “the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise.” Basically, you register a book on http://www.bookcrossing.com, leave it in a conspicuous place for others who will pick up the book, post online where it has travelled to, then re-release it back into the wild. The goal of BookCrossing is to make the world a free online book club.

Geek Crafts on Pinterest and Etsy
If you adore Jane Austen, can rattle off every single Harry Potter spell from memory, or just want to generally proclaim your love of books, there are so many ways to show your arty?and crafty?side. You can purchase all manner of ready-made products through Etsy or, if you wanted to make something yourself, Pinterest can provide ideas for everything from cross-stitch patterns to wall-art and bookmarks made from repurposed books. They should keep you busy for a while.

Host a literary-themed party
If you feel social, why not make it a book-themed gathering? There are so many possibilities, such as a Canterbury Tales medieval feast complete with storytelling, an Anne of Green Gables garden party (raspberry cordial is a must), or a Narnia-themed Christmas party. Costumes are optional!

Adult Colouring Books
In case you haven’t heard, the trend of colouring has exploded. Colouring books for grownups are topping the book charts and are even outstripping novels in sales. Colouring has proven to be a stress reliever and a great way for people to make some art without having to draw. And, it’s not just for females?blokes can get on it to with colouring books of pulp fiction covers, steampunk designs, and architecture. If you don’t wish to purchase books right away, there are lots of free printables available on the Internet.

Write to a Writer
Sending writers some fan mail can mean a lot to them. If you think reading can be solitary, think about this: writers spend a lot of time on their own in front of their computer screen or pad of paper creating the words you like to read. Once their book is published, they often don’t get to hear if?or how?their writing has connected with their audience. Contacting a writer, whether through social media, by attending a reading or book signing, or even finding their mailing address to send them a handwritten note, is a tangible way to support the Arts. This is especially true for local and new writers who might need that extra boost.

Become an Audio Book
If you want to make a difference to those who are no longer able to enjoy reading, why not see whether you can read in person to them or record yourself reading a book? Check with your local hospital, seniors’ home, public library, or an organization that works with visually impaired persons to offer your talents.

Literary Tourism
Travelling to regions where your favourite authors lived, or visiting the settings for your favourite books, is the priciest way to express your love of literature but can be the most memorable. Britain is an obvious destination, but even closer to home can yield some fantastic places to visit.

Book Clubs aren’t going to go away anytime soon, but perhaps these ideas will also be a fun and creative way to interact with the books and writers you love.

Carla Knipe is an AU English Major who lives and writes in Calgary, Alberta.

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