People have been getting together to discuss texts in newspapers, books, and letters since the invention of the printing press. Dennis Adams over at the Beaufort County Library website wrote a brief article on the history of book clubs, mentioning “literary salons of Paris,” which were social gatherings of the higher class (writers, politicians, artists) that were done regularly in a private place of residence. In some of these gatherings, the hostesses were authors themselves. Coffee house settings were also popular, although slightly less formal, and more common among the men. Keep reading to see how Book Clubs have shaped our literary society:
In the 18th Century, people began banding together to purchase books in groups because they couldn’t afford them on their own. During this time, the New York Society Library was formed by six members of the New York Society in order to give books to the public. The Boston Library Society was also formed during this time–some of its early subscribers including Paul Revere and William Tudor.
The book clubs that we think of today were most likely started in the late 1800’s in the town of Mattoon, IL. The club still meets, along with Beaufort, South Carolina’s Clover Club. Thirty members of the Clover Club founded a library in 1902, and in 1911 donated over 2000 books.
Not only did the early book clubs contribute to the foundings of libraries that continue to help educate and inform citizens, they also contributed to the betterment of girls and young women. Kate Clifford Larsen, on the subject of Boston’s Saturday Evening Girl’s Club, wrote:
“While most clubs for girls generally centered on sewing, cooking, and other domestic duties, some clubs began to emerge that addressed the intellectual needs of girls and young women,” in this case “poor, young Jewish and Italian working women and girls living in the North End of Boston.”
The availability of books in the home is a proven indication of better test scores in children, and the availability of quality reading material through libraries and on the Internet create easily accessible forums for the discussion of ideas.
Oprah’s book club lists the mission as such:
“My mission is to make this the biggest book club in the world and get people reading again. Not just reading, but reading great books!”
Speaking of reading great books, Honors Grad U has decided to start a book club! Our first pick was made by Brittany, who chose “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” She insists it’s going to be an awesome mix of classic and contemporary, since zombies “are so in right now.” On Goodreads was the following review of the book:
I tried to resist. When everyone starting losing their [minds] over this book and pre-ordering it, I told myself that this was a literary bandwagon I wouldn’t jump on. I read the reviews posted here, and saw that for the most part the consensus was that this book was grossly overrated. All the parts that Grahame-Smith wrote (and there aren’t many) weren’t very well done, the zombie device got old quickly, and the whole thing could have been much better. It was with all this evidence in mind that I went into a bookstore a week ago and bought a copy.
All of the previously mentioned criticisms are true. But you know what I decided? Criticism be damned, go ahead and revoke my Intelligent Reader membership card, I don’t care. Because this book…rocked, and was the most fun I’ve had reading a book in a long time…
I don’t really know what else to say about this that hasn’t been said already in the 1,000+ reviews already posted on this site. If you enjoy zombie movies, either genuinely or ironically, you will like this book. If you’re a Jane Austen fan, you’ll either think this book is brilliant or are already setting fire to Seth Grahame-Smith’s lawn.
Excited is an understatement.
This is how it’ll work: every month, a book will be chosen by Ashley, Jared, or Brittany. We will get a month to read the book. They will all be easily available at a local bookstore/library. At the end of the pre-determined time, we will gather and discuss the book, but we want you to participate! We want you to read the book, then send in your reviews on Facebook (here), Twitter (using #HGbookclub), or as a video response to the above video! It will be awesome. August 30th is our deadline for this book, with our review being posted on September 2nd.
Do it. You know you want to read this awesome book.
Featured Image: Raluy Schneider