Book clubs

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English language book clubs are springing up all over Spain these days.  The English are still, on the whole, great readers.  They will drive miles, sometimes, as in the case of the Rosilla Book Club in Solano, along windy, narrow mountain roads with spectacular views of the Sierra of Tejeda  and precipitous drops into the valley of the Rio Benamargosa.  They will brave rain and heat waves to join their friends and discuss the merits and demerits of their latest read.  I am fortunate enough to be invited to join some of the local book clubs when they are reviewing one of my books.  It is a most rewarding experience to get feedback directly from your readers and to get the opportunity to discuss the characters and why you made them as they are.

Book clubs are often ‘single-title’, where the whole group reads the same book but the composition and structure of these book clubs can vary according to the tastes and preferences of the members.  Some, for example, are merely excuses to get together and have a pleasant afternoon with friends, chatting about their latest books.  There is usually tea and home made cakes provided by whoever is hosting the event and sometimes, depending on the hour, wine and tapas.  I have a friend who belongs to one book club where they always kick off with a glass of cava.  Some are informal and the conversation meanders from book to book as the participants express their opinions.  Others are more structured.  Sometimes each person is given a category and must elect a book for the group to read from that category: foreign authors, crime fiction, romance, historical novel.  In that way the group covers a wide range of literary genres.  Some are designed to broaden the members’ reading experience and chick-lit and crime novels are banned.  There are groups where the members are not expected to all read the same books, ‘multi-title book clubs’.  Each member can summarise the book they have chosen, giving their opinion and then let those that wish to, buy  or borrow it.  Sometimes the leader of the group will pose specific questions about what they have read, in order to structure the discussion:  Were the characters in the book believable?  What did they each experience from reading it?
Some book clubs even morph into mobile libraries, with the members donating copies of the books they recommend to a central source so that they are available for all to share.  
I know people who have belonged to the same book club for thirty plus years, mums who joined looking for company while their kids were at school and found life-long friends.  Joining a book club is a wonderful way of fitting into a community and meeting like-minded people.

What all these members of book clubs have in common is a love of reading, whether it is on their Kindle, a paperback or hardback book, whether they have bought it on the internet or borrowed it from a friend.  Books are their friends and not one of them would ever be without them.


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Author

Joan Fallon is a writer and novelist living in Spain.

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