Mary Knox Merrill/Staff/File
This 2009 file photo shows A women's book club in Westwood, Mass. According to Hamm, book clubs can be rewarding and useful at little to no cost.

How a book club can save you money

A book club provides value in many different aspects of life while costing next to nothing. If you have any interest in reading, look for a book club in your area. You’ll be glad you did.

On the first or second Tuesday of each month, Sarah gets together with several women for a book club meeting. Each month, they select a book together, read it, then come together the following month to share their thoughts on it.

Over time, the book club has really turned into much more than that. It’s now a social club, at least to a certain extent. They usually have a potluck dinner of some kind and after an hour or so of book discussion, the conversation usually turns to life issues. Often, they’ll stay up rather late, just sitting around and enjoying each other’s company.

From my own experience, I was in a men’s book club for several months (before approximately half the membership had their jobs relocated and the club fell into disarray), as well as a long-time member of a science fiction and fantasy book club when I was in college.

In each case, the story was the same: it was a wonderful way to meet people with common interests for virtually no cost at all.

Most of the time, when a new book for her book club is announced, Sarah will quickly check the local libraries for it and check the book out for a reading, so it’s rare that she actually has to buy the book for her club. In the case of my other book clubs, they generally had arrangements with libraries to have enough copies for everyone to easily check out. So, there’s usually no expense related to the book.

The book itself usually provides quite a few hours of virtually free entertainment as you read it. I’ve found that when I read a book for a book club, I often find myself thinking about the book more, since I’m considering the discussion we’re going to have about it. This just adds to the pleasure of the preparation.

Unless you happen to be hosting the book club meeting, the club meetings are generally free. Very few book clubs charge members to join (unless you’re receiving copies of the books as part of the membership). Often, that also means free refreshments and possibly even a light meal (as has been the case with Sarah’s club and my previous clubs).

The meetings themselves are wonderful, too, as you’re spending time with like-minded people all discussing the same book. There’s really not much need for icebreaking as there’s a very specific topic of conversation right there in front of everyone.

Book clubs can open the door to new interests. I discovered several of my favorite authors via book clubs – Kim Stanley Robinson and China Mieville immediately come to mind, for example. I’ve read books that I would likely have never read otherwise and found that I enjoyed them greatly, too – Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad is one example.

Book clubs can often be the foundation of strong personal relationships. Sarah has strengthened one of her key friendships and began to build several others thanks to her book club. I’m still friends with two or three people I met via book clubs a decade ago.

To put it simply, being in a book club provides value in many different aspects of life while costing next to nothing. If you have any interest in reading, look for a book club in your area. You’ll be glad you did.

This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere.

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