A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
I’m always super excited when I get to pick the next book I’m going to read. When choosing one for your book club, there are a couple of things to consider.
Most importantly, you should make sure that everyone is okay with the book in question. After all, we don’t want to duplicate the “I-have-to-read-this-book-for-school” situation. Do you remember how many of your classmates actually read the entire book? Not that many probably. There are various ways to find a suitable book. In our book club, we opted for a google document, where we first made a list of books and then all indicated our preferences. In the end, we settled for Stoker’s Dracula.
Another thing you should consider is the type of book you want to read. We decided early on that we wanted to read classics, so we only put that on our list. Our idea was, that there’s a lot to interpret with classics and that you can find a lot of secondary sources, should you want to look something up (e.g. discussion questions). Also, you get a lot more out of a classic if you actually talk about it, because there are so many details you could overlook. By the way, the same goes for poetry!
Of course, reading classics is not everyone’s cup of tea. For example, we decided not to read any plays, as they just don’t have the nice reading flow we’re looking for. Also, you should think about the language. In some classics, the language is quite old and complicated – would that bother you? On that note, you could also consider starting a foreign language book club! You could all practice your e.g. Spanish by picking a book in that language.
If your list of prospective books is very long (we’ve all been there), it helps to narrow it down by genre. Is there one topic all of you particularly like or dislike? Also, have you considered discussing non-fiction (or is that too close to studying)?
You can also ask yourself how long your ideal book should be. Are all of you fast and dedicated readers, or do you find it hard to finish a book? On the one hand, a book club can help you tackle longer books. On the other hand, it can be hard to finish if you end up not liking the book. In our book club, we decided on medium-length novels (approx. 500 pages), which worked out splendidly so far. There’s more than enough to talk about, but also an end in sight. Honestly, right now I not mentally prepared to tackle a colossus like Anna Karenina.
Lastly, try to keep an open mind. Even though Dracula was not particularly high on my personal reading list, I am super happy to have read it. Book clubs are an amazing opportunity to read stuff that you normally wouldn’t gravitate to. If that’s something you’d like to experience, how about taking turns in picking a book?
In the end, all of this is entirely up to you. Is there a book you’d like to read, but you’re wondering whether it’s too long? Just go for it! As long as you have fun, the book club will work out excellently!
What is your book club reading right now? Inspire us in the comments!