Why book clubs are boom­ing and the GP pre­scrib­ing books as ther­apy

The in­ter­net rules but the pop­u­lar­ity of book clubs is proof we still love a good book

Northern Rivers Style - - CONTENTS -

SO­CIAL me­dia and binge-watch­ing stream­ing ser­vices my be tak­ing up more of our leisure time but Aus­tralians still rate read­ing as one of their favourite ways to re­lax.

A 2017 sur­vey by the Aus­tralia Coun­cil for the Arts and Mac­quarie Univer­sity found that 95 per cent of Aus­tralians en­joy read­ing for plea­sure or in­ter­est, with re­lax­ation or stress re­lease the most com­mon rea­son we read.

Not only do we love read­ing books, we also want to dis­cuss them. Book clubs are more pop­u­lar than ever and celebri­ties like Reese With­er­spoon and Emma Wat­son run their own book clubs with hun­dreds of thou­sands of fol­low­ers.

While it’s dif­fi­cult to get ex­act num­bers, there are at least 100 book clubs across the North­ern Rivers, ac­cord­ing to Rich­mond Tweed Re­gional Li­brary as­sis­tant Michael Lewis.

“We have seen in­ter­est in book clubs in­creas­ing and more peo­ple are ask­ing where they can go to find one,” he said.

The li­brary has four in­ter­nal book clubs but also helps fa­cil­i­tate pri­vate groups by li­ais­ing with book club co-or­di­na­tors and lend­ing out book sets. More than 20 clubs use this ser­vice, which was in­tro­duced two years ago to make it easy for all book club mem­bers to read the same book with­out hav­ing to buy it.

Mr Lewis said the so­cial as­pect of a book club was a big draw card.

“We see a lot of peo­ple mov­ing to the area and say­ing ‘I’d like to meet peo­ple’ and they are look­ing for a book club for that rea­son,” he said.

Katja, of Lis­more, has be­longed to a book club for the past seven years. The group reads a new book ev­ery six weeks and then meets to dis­cuss it.

“I love it be­cause you get to know peo­ple beyond the chats at the park as mums,” she said.

“You get to know about peo­ple’s pasts, their work his­to­ries, where they’ve trav­elled – it all comes out in these dis­cus­sions about books.”

Katja says book clubs also force you to to read books you might not other­wise read and hear­ing oth­ers’ per­spec­tives on a book can chal­lenge your views and val­ues.

Mr Lewis says set­ting up your own book club is of­ten the best way to get in­volved. The for­mat can be any­thing from a se­ri­ous dis­cus­sion group to a re­laxed so­cial get-to­gether.

PHOTO: EMIR MEMEDOVSKI

WORDS RULE: There are about 100 book clubs across the North­ern Rivers.

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