May 25, 2022

Back to basics as book clubs make a big comeback in Limerick

ONE may think that book clubs are an old-fashioned thing of the past, but the reality is that book clubs have seen their popularity increase over the past 12 months – albeit virtually.

There has been a steady increase in ‘bookstagram’ accounts as well as online book clubs, many of which have said they have helped their sanity throughout the lockdown.

A bookstagram account is an account only dedicated to books on the Instagram social network application.

The development of online book clubs is an innovative use of social media platforms such as Facebook groups, Instagram group chats and even Facebook Messenger.

The Rosie Book Club is one of those wonderful clubs and was started by Róisin Cremin from Cork in October 2020.

Limerick is a home away from home for Róisin, a German and music student at Mary Immaculate College.

Róisin, a full-fledged bookseller, commends both the bookseller and the book club for creating a sense of community when we needed it most.

Comparing it to an actual book club scenario, some of the benefits of having an online book club, according to Róisin, are the instant gratification it provides, which many people are looking for nowadays.

“This may be the world we live in, and we yearn for that instant gratification,” Róisin emphasizes.

“But that’s what you get in a virtual book club – there’s always someone to talk to.

“And it’s easier to keep communication with people because it’s instantaneous,” she adds.

Looking back on her experience sharing books on the popular social media site, Róisin notes how she used her Instagram account as a medium to share her blog posts before turning to book posts.

The inspiration for setting up a book account came when she connected with a few UK-based book bloggers and realized that there weren’t a lot of Ireland-based accounts.

“It was very UK based which was good; it’s close enough that you can still enjoy the benefits of following those accounts, ”Róisin said.

After sharing on Instagram stories what she is currently reading, Róisin decided to bite the bullet and share her top five reads as a more in-depth ‘feed post’ and didn’t look back.

“I was a little hesitant [at first] but the response was excellent, ”says Róisin.

“I realized I loved doing this and that I could use my Instagram account to do more than just post random stuff.”

Although Róisin is the founder and organizer of the Rosie Book Club, she would like to stress that it is a welcoming and inviting space for all.

“It belongs to everyone,” she says.

This is evident when it comes to choosing monthly book readings, a collaborative choice that is aided by influences from Róisin’s library, as well as any ideas members may have.

The choice comes down to a quick Instagram poll, so it’s a very inclusive process for members.

These types of book clubs create a real sense of community and friendships are formed.

Usually there will be a specific day at the end of the month that a Zoom call is made to discuss the book of the month.

“Your base is that you love all the books, but then you realize you have other interests as well, which is really lovely,” Róisin commented.

Some book clubs even organize film screenings, if a book is accompanied by a film.

Denise Murphy, a mother of three, joined Limerick blogger Reece Creed’s Book Club earlier this year, and has also had nothing but positive comments about the book club.

“I really think being in a book club has helped me personally; it structures me a bit and takes me away from the phone and television that I needed, ”comments Deirdre.

Many of the books chosen for the Reece Creed Book Club are positive self-help books such as “Good Life, Good Vibes” by Vex King and “Calm” by Fearne Cotton.

“I loved Good Life, Good Vibes… I felt I needed to read it when it was chosen because I was not coping very well with my stoppage of work and the whole lockdown situation,” remarks Denise .

Likewise, for Róisin’s experiences, a big book club bright spot for Denise is the friendships that are forged, especially at a time when people are turning to social media as their primary source of human interaction.

“I have met and befriended some lovely people.

“Everyone in Reece’s club had the same ideas, and if anyone had a day off, the group would help rebuild that person,” says Denise.

The beauty of these virtual book clubs is that location is never an issue.

There is a growing community of members in Limerick in various virtual clubs.

Laura Monaghan is based in the suburb of Limerick and is also a member of the Reece Creed Book Club.

Joining the book club was one way to incorporate a self-care task for Laura.

“The book club has helped me devote specific time to a self-care task,” Laura comments. “It occupied my mind, gave me a task to focus on, and provided me with a whole bunch of new people to connect with. “

Reading can be a pretty isolating hobby, and especially with the extra time blockages have given people to read, it’s good to know that it doesn’t have to be isolating.

There is an array of virtual book clubs readily available on social media platforms, and all of them are relatively easy to join.

One thing to consider when entering the Instagram book business is to have fun and not to compare.

Many book bloggers are avid readers and read a lot of books every week, which can be a bit intimidating for some at times.

This shouldn’t be the way to go and reading at your own pace is very important to ensure that you get the most out of reading.

To join, it’s as easy as sending a message to the person who runs the club; for example, send Róisin a message on Instagram.

Limerick blogger Louise Cooney also runs a popular book club, and the beauty of the book club is that you can join all over the country and even abroad.