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