When writing is your job, it can be easy to put off reading books regularly because you spend so much time writing (maybe in an online group even!). However, a great way to improve your writing is actually by reading.
As Stephen King opines in his classic On Writing, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”
If you aren’t reading regularly, you need to be. So how do you choose your books and who do you discuss them with?
It is time to explore the growing community of online book clubs.
Online book clubs have existed for years, but they emerged in greater force during the early stages of the pandemic when people were encouraged to stay home. They exist to connect readers with new books and people. Online book clubs are a perfect place to explore if you are trying to start a new reading hobby or expand on what you already have.
Here are some reasons you should join as well as a number of specific places to look.
6 Reasons to Join Online Book Clubs
1. Online book clubs give you a chance to connect with a new community
One of the benefits of our modern age is there are so many ways to connect with people all over the world. As a writer, you need to consider your audience you are writing for. When you regularly engage with people in different communities and of different backgrounds it helps you practice your empathy and ability to connect with new people.
Online book clubs that make it easy to engage with people from diverse backgrounds and worldviews,
The Rebel Book Club started as an in-person book club but moved online during the pandemic. They strive to create a community of life-long readers with passionate, curious minds. The Rebel Book club hosts meet-ups, events, discussion groups, and more with their active community.
The Poppy Loves Book Club is a paid membership-based book club that connects people first over their shared love of literature. From there they host live book discussions, cook-a-alongs, and other lifestyle events to further help members be involved in their community.
2. Online book clubs give greater visibility to a variety of voices
Discover new authors from diverse points of view by joining book clubs committed to amplifying underrepresented voices.
The Read Women book club features books by women’s authors following a different genre each month. Featuring women from a variety of backgrounds, this group only features women authors but is open to all readers.
Well Read Black Girl is a book club on a mission to introduce diverse authors to future generations. In addition to monthly book picks, they host both in person events and an in-person book festival to connect their ever-growing community.
3. Online book clubs can help you get through more classic literature
As a freelance writer, you may not be regularly writing in the style you see in classic literature, but reading these books regularly can help improve your writing skills and reading comprehension. If you want to read more classic literature but don’t always have the willpower to get through these lengthy classics on your own, there are book clubs for that!
The Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club is an active book community that features guest lectures, opportunities to connect with other members, and a focus on exploring classic and vibrant literature. This book club has a minimal membership fee, but it can be broken up month by month for those looking to try out the club before committing to a full year.
Never too late to read the classics is another great group of readers diving through the classics together. You can read and learn from important literature no matter how old you are.
The Big Read, led by TWL Managing Editor Jeremy Anderberg, goes through Leo Tolstoy’s epic War and Peace over the course of a year, reading just one chapter per day. The group is gearing up for another round of W&P in 2022.
4. Online book clubs can help you dive deeper into your favorite genres
If you are a freelance writer that mostly writes non-fiction articles, you may be interested in giving your analytical mind a break and read more fiction. Online book clubs are a great place to discover new authors and connect with people who love similar genres as you.
With thousands of groups available, you are sure to find a group that will be the right fit for you.
The Reddit Book Club is a great book club to join if you are looking to connect with a huge community of readers from all over (it currently has over 120K members) and then find more niche groups of interests within the thousands of Reddit book club subgroups. Or just peruse through the multiple book suggestions for each month and connect with the people that are interested in the same novels as you.
5. Connect with influential figures by joining a celebrity book club
Are you inspired in your own freelancing work by celebrities that have achieved success? Take a look to see if they have an online book club or give book suggestions. More and more celebrities either recommend books regularly or have their own organized book clubs for fans. These are a couple fan-favorite book clubs led by celebrities:
Hello Sunshine Book Club, Reese Witherspoon’s book club has grown in both popularity and influence. Several of the books featured in the Hello Sunshine book club have gone onto the big screen with Reese Witherspoon’s production company producing the films. Reese focuses on books that amplify women’s stories and voices in powerful ways.
Between Two Books, a book club started by fans of the band Florence and the Machine, now features recommendations from Florence Welch herself. This book club is a great way to connect with fans, the band, and guest musicians and artists.
Andrew Luck Book Club was started by NFL player Andrew Luck as a way to inspire people to read more. Andrew posts two book recommendations per month, one for younger readers (rookie) and one for older readers (veteran) people to read along and discuss. Andrew Luck records podcasts with authors, and other helpful information for free, no paid membership required.
6. Online book clubs might inspire you to write more for yourself
Are you freelance writing now but interested in writing a book yourself someday? Join a book club that gets you exposed to other new authors and creatives in the industry.
The Rumpus Book Club gives you early access to books that haven’t been released yet with its paid membership. In addition to these unreleased copies of the book, you have access to an exclusive monthly online member discussion with the author of the book for the month.
Connecting Readers and Writers is an example of a book club that seeks to connect readers to new and independent authors. If you are considering writing a book at some point, this group and other groups similar to this are great places to start getting involved in that community of readers and writers.
Don’t overthink it, just find a book club that sounds fun
As a freelance writer, your time is valuable. So while there are a lot of groups to choose from, try not to overthink it or make yourself commit to a group you aren’t excited about. Just find a group that looks engaging with books you actually want to read.
And remember while you could just read the occasional book from the library or stop in a bookstore and pick up a random book, there is so much more to be gained by following the monthly book selections and getting involved in virtual discussions that come from an online book group.
Connect with a community of readers, read new books from emerging authors, hear from diverse voices, and expand your horizons with the help of a good book and a book-loving community.