Sharing Ideas and the Modern Book Club

Kristen Twardowski

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Though we often talk about reading as a solitary act, meeting and discussing books has long been a way to exchange ideas. In the 17th and 18th centuries, these literary gatherings were high class affairs. People named them after the rooms in which they were held, which is why they were often called “cabinets” and “salons”. Aristocrats would even hold these forums in their bedrooms, and people would lounge while discussing the artistic and intellectual movements of the day. Of course less wealthy individuals also read together. People studied their religious texts in groups, and they often spent evenings reading items aloud from newspapers or the latest novels.

Modern day book clubs function a bit differently. According to a survey by Bookbrowse, typical book club attendees are educated women over forty-five years old. The book clubs may exist solely in electronic form, may have a base in someone’s house, or may meet in…

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