Buddy system: reading hard books

imagesI am not a book club gal. I feel bad for admitting that….I’ve tried it, but it just wasn’t for me. I get that the lure of a book club is the social part. But let’s face it, I am an introvert, and I am looking for ways to avoid socializing.

As much as I think of reading as a solitary act (usually me in my PJ’s with some coffee in my comfy chair), I have come across some situations where it would be helpful to read in a group setting, or at least with a buddy. It’s what I am calling hard books – like those books on your book bucket list that you think, yeah I really should get to that someday, but not necessarily today.

On my book bucket list was to read Infinite Jest. I had looked at it, pondered buying it (wasn’t sure how I was going to carry that kind of book around on the subway), actually watched people read it on the subway. But I could never pull the trigger. My husband and I decided to try reading it together (not literally together, that would be weird). We figured it would give us a better chance to finish it, or at least to talk each other through the (more than) 1,000 pages and endless footnotes.

You know what, it worked. Here is why:

Accountability: there is a less than 0% chance that I would have finished Infinite Jest if I had read it alone. Actually, I would have pulled the plug by page 50. Knowing that we were both in it together kept me moving forward. I didn’t want it to become a ‘thing’ – that time that YOU didn’t finish reading Infinite Jest.

Talking about it: we chose to blog about it. I think that if you choose to discuss it, or email someone about it, it helps you to think more about what you are reading, and what you are going to say. It makes you pay more attention and actually to try and get something out of what you are reading (even if it gives you the howling fantods).

Moral support: I had a very difficult time getting through the book. Having someone to vent to, and who understood why it was difficult to read helped a lot. Even though we took breaks during the project, we always came back to it. I think that if it was up to me, I would have definitely just let it be.

Something in common: this gave us something to talk about. It was definitely a conversation starter. Also, it was something that we did together, which was pretty cool.

It doesn’t have to be a difficult book, but I would highly recommend having a book buddy to read with. However, if there is something on your TBR list that seems daunting, finding a kindred spirit that you can do a read-along with, will definitely help you get through it.

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