Are books more enjoyable when read alone or with a group?
By Steve Ramos
At my core, I’m a writer and I strive for my writing to ignite colleagues and clients.
These are key words I share daily when defining my work as a writer and strategist for startups, corporations and agencies.
I’m also an active reader. There’s a row of books, representing my current reading choices, alongside an overflowing bookcase in my home office. I regularly tuck a book inside my messenger bag for lunchtime reading at my workspace.
You can probably guess from this brief description that I’m a solitary reader. Sometimes I’m seeking a meditative break from work. More often, I’m searching for career inspiration from a technologist, successful entrepreneur or business thought leader. In either case, my reading companion is normally a cup of strong coffee.
Sure, I know all about popular book clubs from Oprah to Amazon as well as digital communities like Goodreads. I just feel that book club favorites like The Nightingale or The Book That Matters Most don’t speak to me.
Perhaps, a club and its members will introduce me to books I would ordinarily ignore. That’s why I accepted a colleague’s invite and joined her book club: the promise of literary discoveries alongside tasty snacks.
I’ll admit rereading Thomas Hardy’s Far From The Madding Crowd isn’t something I would have done on my own. The same is true for poetry. Slowly, surely, I’m beginning to understand the appeal of book clubs. They’re creative communities of discovery.
Then, it’s my turn to share. I suggest Garth Risk Hallberg’s City on Fire, a sprawling epic set around a corrupt wealthy family in 1970s New York City. Too long, the club members tell me, after just reading Moby Dick. How about Jonathan Lethem’s The Fortress of Solitude? Another thumbs down. My chances to share my personal, literary discoveries continue to fall flat.
Disappointed, I begin to understand why I avoided book clubs all these years. I’m reluctant to read by committee. So it’s back to my reading club of one. Perhaps I’ll dive into City on Fire a second time. You’re welcome to join me.
What I’m Reading:
Future Sex by Emily Witt
To Pixar and Beyond by Lawrence Levy
Absolutely on Music – Conversations with Seiji Ozawa by Haruki Murakami
Witness to the Revolution by Clara Bingham
What Are You Reading?
My stories have been published in various outlets including QZ/Atlantic Media, Fast Company and NY Mag.