November 25, 2022

These next-gen book clubs offer coffee, select memberships and a touch of celebrity – Orange County Register

When Literati made an announcement on my Facebook feed a few months ago, I was flattered. “Join an exclusive book club with writers, leaders, visionaries – and you,” the ad promised. All I had to do was become a member, and the exclusivity would be mine. I would be gifted with “good reads from people you can trust”.

Joining, I found out, meant opening my wallet. What? How exclusive was this club? Other than the purchase price, why would I pay to read a book? My first experiences with a book club were with a group of like-minded women who met once a month over coffee – or wine – to share their thoughts on the book we had chosen to write. read.

Until Literati’s announcement, I had no idea of ​​the vastness of the offerings online, all based on subscription models. Clubs exist for readers of all tastes: mystery, thriller, adventure, romance, art, history. The list is endless. Outlets like the famous Oprah’s Book Club or Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine trade celebrity status to attract members and offer products to further connect their readers to their programs. There are also clubs that focus specifically on literary genres, such as Black Lit Box or My Thrill Club.

Want something to start your morning off right? My Coffee and Book Club promises 12 ounces of gourmet coffee, two new hardcover books in the genre you picked, and a selection of eBooks. Interested in recycling? Monthly Used Books sends five lightly used books right to your door.

Everyone’s grandfather, Book of the Month Club, pioneered the idea 95 years ago. Today, it promises that you’ll “read more, search less, and save money with shopping discounts.” Why subscribe? “Early versions, quality tested and, oh, we’re a lot cheaper. “

Several offers are free: Now Read This, a partnership between The New York Times and PBS Newshour, announces a monthly selection of books that “help us make sense of the world we live in – fiction, history, memory and more.” . Membership includes online discussion groups, a private Facebook group, and author notes.

The Perks of Being a Book Addict is a Goodreads group offering reading challenges, author promotional threads, giveaways, and blogging. There’s even a Silent Book Club, which invites introverts to bring a book, a drink, and settle in for two and a half hours of silent reading.

Literati recently added new clubs including Wild Reads by Cheryl Strayed, Private Collection by Susan Orlean, Audacious Book Club by Roxane Gay and Fearless by Malala Yousafzai. A two-tier membership gives readers flexibility in monthly fees and the depth of their involvement.

For those who aren’t interested or need help with curation, the book cover in the Playlist section of the Southern California News Group daily newspapers provides plenty of suggestions – not to mention online resources like Lit Hub. and Alta Journal. A synopsis and / or review can be obtained with a quick Google search. Even Amazon recommends books based on my past Kindle purchases, and sometimes they’re perfect. And always, there are my trusted IRL friends, who provide me with an endless list of must-read titles.

During the Year of COVID-19, online book gatherings have become a key part of my survival arsenal. Free talks and quizzes with writers were sponsored by bookstores and other groups. My favorites were those hosted by the nonprofit literary association Writing by Writers, not to mention Bookish by SCNG (formerly OC Register Book Club), which hosts community discussions about the books, authors, and literary life of SoCal. (And, no, I’m not saying that just because I’m writing this for SCNG – I swear!) His Zoom author interviews introduced local writers to a wider audience and gave locals access to famous authors. (There’s even a Facebook group for online conversations.) Fortunately, they continued – and they’re free!

I still don’t know if I think the cost of a club is justified or justified. After researching book clubs online, my inbox is now flooded with notices promising that I can quit a club anytime or take a break for months without being charged. I guess I’m wary of anything that charges me money.

I admit a curiosity for the writers whom I admire by choosing books for me, according to their tastes. And the idea of ​​being seen as part of a group of “visionaries” flatters the ego. But right now my “need to read” stacks exceed the hours I can devote to the page.

Rather than a remote entity, it’s my local bookstore that I prefer to support. I need their doors to stay open for me and my community. They contain whole worlds of publishing, not one genre or one opinion on what I should read. I need to wander the aisles. I need to talk shop and new releases with the owner and the staff. And often, I need to be guided by whim to discover a new author, a new topic or a mouth-watering book cover to take home and cherish.