A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
When we first got to know each other in the introduction week, my friends and I had a big list of things we wanted to do during our time at university. Throughout the last two and a half years, we were able to do many things from that list – and it was a lot of fun! Nevertheless, there was a lot we still wanted to do in our last semester, which has now been cancelled due to the Corona-pandemic.
When we had to go back to our home countries, we were devastated by the thought that our time together had come to an untimely end. After all, we were supposed to have a couple more months together and all really looked forward to that. But as attractive as wallowing in misery looks sometimes, it rarely gets you anywhere. So, we made a plan. We dug out our list and checked for things we could do together (without having to be in the same country) and voila: “Join a book club”, item 23.
As a professed bookworm, I’ll jump on any opportunity to read more. Whether it’s on holiday, at home or on the train (just not in the car, those people are scary): if I’m holding a book I’m happy. Especially in times of social isolation, a book can be an invaluable friend – you get to know many interesting characters and follow them on their adventures. If you’re not allowed to leave the house or see people, that’s a true heaven-sent. So much for why reading in quarantine is a great thing to do, but for that you don’t need a book club… Right?
I don’t want to say you’re missing out if you’re not part of a book club (reading is awesome), but it’s a great experience. In short, there are four reasons:
1. It’s fun.
2. You make more time for reading.
3. It helps you tackle difficult books.
4. It’s fun.
First, the fun part: Reading, talking about books and socializing are the main ingredients of a book club. Add some tea, snacks and friends to the mix (and in times of corona also a good internet connection) and you have everything you need for a great afternoon.
One thing that really bothers me during quarantine is that very little seems to happen. So when our group of friends meets for a Skype call, we don’t have a lot to report (especially if you don’t want to talk about corona – again). With the book club, that’s no shortage of discussion points. You easily chat away for hours and then end up with completely book-unrelated themes.
It helps you make time for reading: You might wonder why that should even be an issue during quarantine, but it’s a real thing. Even though life nowadays has significantly fewer things on our to-do list, it can be difficult to prioritize your novel. If you agreed to read five chapters until Monday however, you have ample reason to pick up that book.
It helps you tackle more difficult books: I enjoy reading classics, but it can be an effort. Reading them with your friends helps a lot. You won’t lack the motivation to start a classic, and you’ll get a lot more out of the book if you talk about it periodically. Each of you will pick up on different details, which can change your whole perspective on the plot mid-novel. Also, it’s a lot of fun to share your frustration if you didn’t like a passage (we all need to vent sometime, right?)!
Again, it’s fun: The best thing about a book club with friends is that it’s supposed to be fun. Sure, the “peer pressure” can help you with motivation (and we all need a little of that during quarantine) but there’s no harm in not making a deadline (if there is, maybe re-examine your friendships).
If you like books and/or you’d like to read more, I wholeheartedly recommend joining a book club. You want to start one yourself? Stay posted for the next blog post on how to form your own book club!
What are your favourite quarantine reads? Let us know in the comments!!