Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Book Clubs: Even in the 1700s, Book Clubs Were Really About Drinking and Socializing

Our Mystery Book Group has been meeting every Tuesday night, September-June, for over 40 years. We read and discuss a book a week. As one can imagine, we have become family. Our discussions can be tempestuous, but always fun, and they are always complemented by good food and drink. So I was particularly taken by Sarah Laskow's article about the history of Book Clubs on Atlas Obscura last week.

Even in the 1700s, Book Clubs Were Really About Drinking and Socializing

In theory, book clubs are supposed to be about reading and discussing books. In practice, they are often more about hanging out with a group of people, drinking, gossiping, and generally having a nice evening. Depending on the percentage of the group that has actually read the book, it may be discussed, or it may not. The book is the excuse, not necessarily the point.
It turns out it’s always been this way.

Ever since the advent of book clubs in 18th-century England, when books were scarce and expensive, these organizations have been about more than reading. Book clubs were organized to help members gain access to reading material and to provide a forum for discussion of books the club held. But they were also about gossip and drinking. As the University of St. Andrews’ David Allan writes in A Nation of Readers, “In most cases, food and alcohol in copious quantities, accompanied we may suspect by a considerable element of boisterous good humour, played an important part in the life of the book clubs.”

1 comment:

vallerose said...

I am a member of three book groups. However I am a literalist. To me a book group is both a social occasion and a discussion. If I didn't like the people in the group I wouldn't attend but for me it is very important that a portion, and by that I mean more than 10 minutes, of the evening be taken up with the discussion of the book. If I spend the time reading it, then I want to discuss it. If I only want to socialize than I will join a group for for that or get together with friends on a more informal basis.