Sunday Salon: Introducing…Reading Buddies! (Join Me?)

Reading Buddies ButtonLast Sunday I asked if anyone wanted to be my reading buddy. Turns out lots of people do, which makes me extraordinarily happy! I got offers to co-read a huge variety of books, and I hope to take as many people up on those offers as possible. Some books had one or two interested readers, while others had four or even five. As a result, the project, which I have officially dubbed Reading Buddies, will have two sorts of opportunities for interested readers to join me.

My goal here is to read books with other people. I love discussing books, and I love connecting with other people about books. And we might as well knock a few books off our TBR lists in the process, right?

Opportunity #1: Play It By Ear

One way to participate in Reading Buddies is to read a book together whenever we both have time. Maybe it’s a book we’ve had on our TBRs forever and need an extra push to read; maybe it’s a scary tome we’d like to read with someone else; maybe one of us is reading a book that looks really intriguing to the other one. You email me, or I’ll email you, and we’ll set something really informal up. Or, you can always see my TBR lists (reading goals and classics project) and suggest titles through a Google Form I set up just for that purpose.

If you’re only interested in this option, feel free to skip down to What Now? as the rest of this post deals primarily with the second option, which is…

Opportunity #2: Follow a Preset Schedule

Based on the most frequently requested titles, I’ve put together a loose schedule for my own reading through July. I’ve chosen two of those books per month, with the hopes that anyone interested will join me in reading them. These are NOT formal readalongs! There will be no scheduled check-ins, no official discussion questions, and no button for each book. (If you want a button, feel free to use the one at the top of this post!) There will also be no guilt associated with not joining for a book or starting it and not finishing! Pick and choose which books interest you and fit into your schedule, and read along if you’d like.

You’ll notice I’m trying very hard to stress that there’s not much official about these monthly reads of mine. I don’t want anyone to shy away from participating because they don’t want to take on a big commitment or add a lot of structure to their reading. There’s no commitment! Really! Beyond sort of coordinating the time at which we read the book, there’s only as much structure as you yourself want to impose. If you’re still not convinced, read on, and I’ll keep trying to win you over.

Logistics

In an effort not to exclude anyone from Reading Buddies reads, you don’t have to have a blog to participate. I am very happy to discuss via email if you prefer! If you do have a blog, you can post about any Reading Buddies book as often or as seldom as you’d like. You don’t have to write a starting post or weekly check-ins, unless you want to. You don’t even have to visit other participants, though the discussion will be more interesting if you do. You can read books or ebooks or listen to audiobooks. You can read in any language you desire.

As for creating a way for everyone reading a particular book to stay connected, I’ll take responsibility for that. Read on to hear about my ideas.

Staying Connected

In an effort to keep everyone connected, I’ll be imposing a posting schedule on myself so that you guys don’t have to worry about it. Each Friday (or the last four Fridays of a month, if there are five), I’ll put up a Reading Buddies post. I’ll alternate books, like so:

  • Week 1: Book 1 midway post
  • Week 2: Book 2 midway post
  • Week 3: Book 1 wrap-up post
  • Week 4: Book 2 wrap-up post

I’ll explain the two types of posts under Linking Up, below. I also think it’ll become clear as we actually start this project what I have in mind, if I’m not doing a very good job of explaining it now.

I’ll also be adding the button above to my sidebar and linking it to a page devoted to Reading Buddies. That page will list the schedule and contain links to any posts I’ve done related to the project. I’m hoping having everything in one place will help keep Reading Buddies fun, organized, and low stress.

Linking Up

I’m happy to assume the main responsibility of keeping everyone connected. As described above, I’ll do a weekly post as a reference point for everyone else. The two types of posts, in greater detail:

  • Midway post: I’ll share my thoughts on the book so far, even if I’m not very far in. I’ll also welcome links from participants to their own posts on the books in the comments, so that (a) other participants can find them, and (b) I can link up to them in the wrap-up post. Participants can stop by any time and check in with the discussion or leave a link to a post they’ve written.
  • Wrap-up post: This post will include a Mr Linky where participants can link to their final reviews of the book. I’ll also include links (in my post, not in the Mr Linky) to any participant posts I’ve read or been notified of. Spoilers will be welcome in the comments of this final post, the assumption being that by this point, everyone will be finished (or nearly finished) with the book. I’m not sure yet if this post will include my final review or if that will be a separate post.

These are a starting point; we’ll tweak as necessary!

Spoilers

There’s been some concern regarding spoilers. It’s no fun to read a post full of spoilers about the whole book when you’ve only read the first half. Since participants will, presumably, be reading and posting at different speeds, I think this issue needs to be addressed if we are to ensure everyone’s comfortable reading and discussing together.

My feeling is that spoilers are fine. It’s tough to have an in-depth discussion of a book without them. However–and I think we all do this anyway–please do warn people first if your post includes spoilers!

The Schedule

The current schedule goes from February to August. Here’s what we have lined up so far (titles link to GoodReads):

February: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

March: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and The Appointment by Herta Muller

April: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen and The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

May: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett and Animal Farm by George Orwell

June: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer and Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

July: Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann and Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

August: Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

What Now?

If you’re interested in any of the books above and/or would like to be kept apprised of what’s going on with regards to them, leave me a comment and let me know so I can add you to my list. (Being on the list is in no way a commitment to read along!)

If you missed the sign-ups the first time around and would like to pick some books to read together that aren’t listed above, just fill out the form.

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

I’m really excited about this project and hope lots of other people are, too. I look forward to reading with you!

Join the Conversation

37 Comments

  1. Wonderful idea and wonderful plan, Erin! I have read ‘Animal Farm’, ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’, ‘Gone with the Wind’ and ‘Little Women’ from your proposed list. They are all wonderful books! I would like to read ‘The Poisonwood Bible’ and ‘Cutting for Stone’ from your list. I don’t know whether I can join you in reading ‘The Poisonwood Bible’, but I will try to join you in reading ‘Cutting for stone’.

    Happy Reading!

    1. I’m glad to hear the books from the list you’ve read are good! Gone with the Wind and Little Women I read so long ago I don’t remember a thing about them, and the other two I’ve never read. I’m looking forward to them all! It would be wonderful to have you along for any books you care to join. You’re also very welcome to join in the discussions for books you’ve already read!

  2. I’m in! I own an unread copy of 8 of those books up there, so things are working out just peachy on my end. πŸ™‚

    And may I say that you are just so super organized. Impressive.

    1. Hooray! I’d love to have you along for any of the books you’d like. I’m so excited to have all this help getting my TBR pile down! If I’m not super organized, I’m super UNorganized…and I figured the former would be best when other people are involved πŸ™‚

  3. A Walk in the Woods is currently sitting on my shelf glaring at me so I think I’ll attempt to join you! Little Women and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close have been on my vague mental TBR for a while so if I can find copies at the appropriate time I’ll definitely join you for those too! Fun. πŸ˜€

    1. It would be great to have you reading too, Lisa! I’ve just started listening to A Walk in the Woods, and it’s very enjoyable. I’m looking forward to hearing what people think!

  4. I love the little button you made! I am looking forward to reading Cutting for Stone, Let the Great World Spin and Sea of Poppies (which I hear is the first in a series with the 2nd coming out later this year). I may listen to A Walk in the Woods – Bryson on audio is a favorite of mine and people tell me this is one of his best books.

    Great job on getting this all organized!

    1. Thanks, Colleen! I’m glad to have you reading some of these books! I’m listening to A Walk in the Woods now, and it’s really fun. Bryson does work well on audio, doesn’t he? Sea of Poppies does have a sequel coming out, in September, supposedly, which is why Sea of Poppies ended up getting scheduled for over the summer.

  5. Wow, you are organized! Looking forward to reading with you, Erin! I read the first 30 pages of The Poisonwood Bible last night, and I think it will make for an interesting discussion.

    I also wanted to extend my own invitation to you. You mentioned that you have Food, Inc and Fast Food Nation on your shelves in a recent post of mine. I have to finish Food, Inc by Feb. 14 and Fast Food Nation by March 23. No pressure, of course. Just thought I’d throw the option out there.

    1. Thanks — looking forward to reading with you too! I haven’t started Poisonwood Bible yet, but I’m hoping it’ll be interesting to discuss.

      I would love to read one of the food books with you! Honestly, I won’t be able to get Food, Inc done by mid February. However, there’s a good chance I could do Fast Food Nation for March. I think my husband even has a copy — I’ll go look! Would you like to just read them informally?

      1. Hmm…I haven’t thought about how to go about it. We could do it informally (i.e. via email, blog comments) and/or I could write up a check-in post so others can participate. The book is divided into two parts — The American Way with four chapters (110 pgs) and Meat and Potatoes with six chapters (115 pgs).

        1. Over what span of time are you thinking you’ll read it? If it’s going to be something short, I’d say informal is probably better. But, if you want to draw the reading out to two weeks or more, we could at least do a kind of check-in after each of the two parts. It’s also up to you whether you want to coordinate a full-out readalong or just stick to a casual email/blog discussion πŸ™‚ I’m good either way!

          1. My goal is to have the first half read by March 16 and the second half done by March 23. That time period is pretty compact so I think it would be best if we stuck to something informal. Does discussing around those dates (both are Wednesdays) work for you?

          2. Sorry I disappeared there for a few days. I’ll try really hard to stick to that schedule! I have a couple other books scheduled for March, but I’ll try to start early so I can keep up with you. I post classics project posts on Wednesdays, but I could do Tuesdays or Thursdays, if we want to coordinate. Would that work?

  6. I’m very excited about your reading buddies plan, Erin. Thank you so much for taking the initiative and putting this together. Similar to Trish, I have 8 of the books listed here waiting for me to read them so I will be joining you quite a bit! I like your posting schedule….I guess if we joined in the reading we can post as well as reply to your post, is this how it works?

    I’d like to know if anything changes or comes up &/or if you need help with anything.

    Again thank you for all your hard work & scheduling/planning.
    ~ Amy

    1. I’m glad you’re excited, Amy — I am, too! Isn’t it funny how so many of us share a whole bunch of TBR titles? As for posting, you’re welcome to post as often or seldom on your blog as you’d like. When I find a Reading Buddies post, I’ll note the link and include it in the final wrap-up, in case participants miss one another’s posts and want to catch up. I hope people will read each other’s blogs and discuss on other participants’ posts; my posts are just supposed to be a centralized place for people to find one another and discuss as desired.

      Thanks for your offer of help — I’ll keep it in mind! Since it’s such a new project, I really don’t know yet where it will lead or what all it will entail. πŸ™‚

  7. Love this idea! You have quite a few books on your schedule that I also have in my TBR pile, so I may very well wind up reading some in tandem with you. I never schedule my reading, or at least do so minimally, because I love to be driven by whims more than anything else, but I do feel like I could be up for reading The Appointment in March. I will let you know as the time draws near!

    1. Thanks! I totally understand not scheduling reading — I don’t usually, either, so hopefully I’ll end up enjoying this setup! — and you are totally welcome to join on the spur of the moment whenever the mood strikes you. Just let me know (not even in advance…during is fine, too) so I can link you up!

  8. I love the idea of this, Erin! One of my favorite things lately is reading with others (true, through the more formal readalongs, but I’ve done buddy reads in the past and enjoyed them). I’m going to have to hold any committments (I know you said there are none) until the second half of the year. I see you’ve gotten Cutting for Stone on your list, I might join y’all for that one as I have it and would love to read it!

    1. Thanks, Trish! I don’t think I have the time to lead a formal readalong well, so I figured I’d leave those to the people who do them so well (like you!). I thought this project would just be informal buddy reads, but so many people chose the same books that I thought I’d try a light schedule. You’re welcome to read along whenever and whatever works for you. I’d love to have you along πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks, Jillian! I’m hoping it’ll be fun. I think at some point in my distant past I read both of those books, but it’s been so long that I don’t remember a thing. I’m really looking forward to revisiting them!

  9. I would love to do Let The Great World spin with you in July! I am going to have to remember this, or better yet, sign up on the google form! I might forget this, so don’t be afraid to shoot me an email to let me know that it’s coming up.

    1. Fantastic! I’ve got you down for Let the Great World Spin and will try very hard to remind you when the time comes πŸ™‚

  10. I’m in for Gone With The Wind! Other books on both of our lists:
    David Copperfield
    The Count of Monte Cristo
    Rebecca
    Tess of the D’Urbervilles
    Grapes of Wrath

    1. Great, Peggy! I’ve got you down for Gone with the Wind. A few of the others you picked (the last three, actually) have already been picked by one other person, so maybe they’ll even be group reads! Either way, I’ll definitely let you know when they’re coming up in my reading. Looking forward to reading together!

    1. Thanks, Jenners! Ooh…I’ve been printed…I guess it’s official! I’m really looking forward to reading with everyone, and I’m glad so many people are excited!

    1. Me too, Carrie! I’m so glad you’re reading along with so many of the books! This is about as much organization as my reading life will tolerate…so hopefully it works out πŸ™‚

  11. I love the casual read-along style best. I’ll participate in your comments on a couple of them, and perhaps I’ll get together a post about Animal Farm when you’re reading it since my son and I are planning to read it this spring!

    1. Sounds good! It would be fun to hear your son’s thoughts on Animal Farm as well. I’ll keep an eye on your reading schedule and let you know if we’re reading anything around the same time.

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