Discussing great literature, meeting new people and indulging in a glass (or two!) of wine – yes, being part of a book club can be an enriching experience, and if you aren’t already a member, there’s now even more reason to join.
New research from the University of Queensland in Australia has shown that social activities such as book clubs or church groups can extend a person’s life by up to 5 years, and is as crucial to wellbeing as a good diet and plenty of exercise.
The study tracked the health of more than 400 over-50s living in England for 6 years after they retired. The findings show that every social group membership lost after retirement resulted in a 10% drop in quality of life rating 6 years later.
The researchers said: “Retirement has an important bearing on health and quality of life because it typically involves relinquishing social group memberships that have been a key focus for people’s self-definition for years or decades.”
Although it is likely that you have a local book club, the easiest way to get involved is to join one of many online book clubs. Here’s our pick of the best:
Woman & Home’s Book Club
You’ll find a friendly bunch of people swapping opinions about a whole host of books in the book club forum. You can add your comments to an existing thread or start a new one about another book. You need to be a forum member
to join in the discussion and share your opinions and reviews with
other like-minded people. It’s free to use and easy to join. Here’s how
to sign up to our free forum.
Our Shared Shelf
Earlier this year, Emma Watson launched the feminist book club Our Shared Shelf on book website Goodreads. Although celebrities have joined the group, everyone is welcome – just register for an account and join on the group’s page. More than 100,000 people have signed up to discuss books such as My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem and The Color Purple by Alice Walker.
Oprah’s Book Club
Although the original Oprah’s Book Club ended in 2011 following a 15-year run on her talk show, the talk show host revived a ‘2.0’ version online that incorporates the use of Facebook, Twitter and e-readers. Previous books that have been discussed include Wild by Cheryl Strayed and Ruby by Cynthia Bond.
Richard & Judy’s Book Club
TV presenters Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan, otherwise known as Richard & Judy, have run a successful book club since 2004, which went online in partnership with WH Smith in 2010.
Similar to Oprah’s Book Club, Richard & Judy’s website announces new books regularly throughout the year and features reviews, recommendations, author interviews and reader comments. Visit whsmith.co.uk/richardandjudy for the latest discussion.
The Guardian Book Club
Hosted by John Mullan, professor of English at University College
London, the Guardian’s Book Club examines a book a month, via a weekly
column in the Guardian Review. Readers spend the first three weeks of the month discussing the book; the final column consists of a selection of the comments
from the Book Club blog.