By Gina Valencia | Photo by Alexiz Gomez
The Magic of Words
A wise ‘doctor’ once wrote, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” If you read our magazine, chances are you’re a reader! Gathering with fellow bookworms to discuss noteworthy books is fun, especially if you find the right group.
“I would recommend a book club to anyone who enjoys reading,” said book lover Anne McCambridge, who attends two groups a month and was initially invited by a friend. “I have been a part of different clubs for about 10-11 years. It’s been a great way to meet people who share a love of reading.”
The Places You’ll Go
The first place to check out book club groups is your local library, where most groups might meet. Others may choose to meet at a restaurant, the house of a member, a community center, or even online.
Some online groups start with a silent reading time of whatever book each person is reading then take turns sharing about their book. The concept behind such a group is that you could be anywhere in the world, read any book you’d like, and meet new people and hear about interesting books, all from the comfort of your own couch.
“Because of different book suggestions in a club, I’ve read some amazing stories,” Anne said. “Some clubs are more structured, with thought provoking discussions, and meet once a month on a specific day. [My other group] can be more of a social gathering and meets when it works best around schedules, so it’s flexible.”
The People You’ll Meet
There is a group for everyone and every age: adult, teen, schoolage, tots, even dogs! The BARK program, at some local library branches ‘is an all-volunteer program that encourages children to increase their reading skills and self-confidence by reading aloud to certified therapy dogs.’
Even the littlest among us can get an early start on appreciating the written word at a local story time event, usually led by librarians. One great program to help any young reluctant reader is Reading Buddies, where a teen volunteer is paired with a school-age child for one-on-one reading practice for up to 30 minutes.
For just about any interest, you will most likely find a group at your local library branch. Some library groups even host virtual author talks with interactive Q&A sessions with the authors.
Looking for something a little more specific? Try a quick search on a social media site and you’ll be delighted at what you’ll find! There are groups solely for the more ‘mature reader’ (age 50+), ladies-only groups where book discussions are held while having dinner and a glass of wine, groups for mystery novel lovers, science fiction enthusiasts, or groups wanting to read a little bit of everything.
“That’s the beauty of it,” Anne said. “We have diverse tastes so it can be anything. Mysteries, historical fiction, nonfiction, comedy, romance, magical thinking. Anyone is welcome to suggest, and we all vote. I also have eaten at places I might never have tried because that’s where we’ll meet; that’s been a bonus and a good way to get to know Long Beach restaurants along with supporting local businesses.”
A New Chapter
Most of us have seen the little free libraries perched around our neighborhood; colorful painted wooden boxes or rolling carts on the sidewalk, brimming with used books and magazines. If you’re like me, you can’t help but stop to rummage through. I may find the latest popular paperback or a runaway hit worthy of a second read (who remembers The Bonfire of the Vanities?!) If I’m lucky, I find an old copy of my childhood favorite series, The Baby-Sitters Club, and bring it home for my daughter. Even my local Starbucks has a bookshelf with shareable books and magazines. What better way to enjoy a cup of coffee than to lose yourself in the magic of another world, right here in Long Beach.
Some Places to Start
J.K Rowling is quoted as saying: “When in doubt go to the library.” And to the library we shall go! Check out their site for a ton of information on book clubs, reading challenges for all ages (Discover new stories! Get smarter! Earn prizes!), and other mind-expanding events. www.longbeach.gov/library: Hover over their ‘Visit’ tab for the drop-down menu, under ‘Events’ click on the ‘Book Clubs’ category. Or for a comprehensive monthly menu of events, click on ‘Event Calendar’ for all events including webinars, knitting groups, even classic film series meetings. A few clubs from Instagram are: @silentbookclub_longbeach; @ silentbookclublbc; @lbwomensbookclub
Or even better, start your own! I challenge anyone to carry around a book (or the LB908 magazine) and pull that out instead of your phone. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when strangers become pleasantly surprised that there are people who still read books!