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Everything has become strange and paradoxical, also this week before Sant Jordi. The book industry and culture seem more fragile than ever, but books are now central to the lives of thousands of confined people who alleviate tedium and anguish with them. "In these weeks joint readings are organized through social networks: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp ... They are like a kind of online reading clubs . I have already participated in several of them ... A group is created , for example on Twitter, where all the readers are and I also join as the author, and they comment and ask each other and me questions as they move forward with the story. And, in the end, when everyone has read the book, we stayed one day onlinefor, for a couple of hours, comment everything they want, already with spoilers . It is a variant of the traditional reading club. "
Raquel de la Morena, journalist and novelist, explains how the book club network survives in these weeks of confinement. No one can count how many such societies operate in Spain, how many people they move, but there is certainty that the book club, an old promotional invention that seems to have come out of the Mad Men era , is booming and, at the same time, in transformation.
"I started the club when I worked in a bookstore as a way to build customer loyalty. The bookstore closed and I kept the club," explains Pepa Muñoz, founder and organizer of the Locura de Libros club. Their regulars (between 15 and 20, depending on the day, and no more because if not, "privacy is lost") they meet (they met) every Friday at the Café de Oriente in Madrid, more or less connected to the commercial agenda from publishers: an author who is in the window at that time comes to the talk, gets 20 readers who may recommend his book and, in addition, Pepa makes sure that the quote is relevant on social networks. Its literary club is, among other things, an agreement in which its organizers and publishers agree to an exchange of services. What do participants in these clubs receive to get hooked on the method? "For the reader this is the same as for the music fan who just doesn't have to put on a record, they need to go to the concert. The reader has a passion and has to satisfy it."
That is the starting point: the usual book club, the almost formal one. The interesting thing is that there are also other models of book clubs. "The club was formed between my neighbor Sara and me," explains journalist Paloma Abad. "Each took three friends (we were, and still are, all girls). We started eight and now we are like 11. Our initial plan was to read only literature written by women but we decided to eliminate that rule because there was too much text on relationships between mothers and daughters, we needed to air ourselves The first book [ The Liars Club , by Mary Karr] was voted online , each one proposed one and we all voted which one to read We stayed at my house Half we did not know each other, but we got along. She has chosen the book, she tells what reasons have led her to choose it and the conversation starts. We do not need much more roadmap ... We can spend a couple of hours talking about the book, jumping to Tinder, with a stopover in our work and a snack bar in the last red lipstick that we have tried. In each appointment we decide by lottery who will have to choose (and receive at home) the following month, until completing the cycle. Thus, each cycle we all select a book and receive Once at home or wherever we can . There are people who have been falling and others have been arriving. Nor do we all go to all the sessions, someone always falls. I would like to say that the key to keeping the book club always alive is the pristine selection of volumes we read. But it's not like that".
Another example: "Our club is called Tinta Fina because we mix literature with a selection of wines," says journalist Carmen Melgar. "We usually meet once a month at one of our houses. Each work is selected by a participant chosen at random, as is the selection of wines (it is also random). The person who leads the debate is the same person who has selected the work. We have no rules for the selection of the work: for now we have read novel and some essay. For a club to work well I think it is important that attention is not diverted from the topic of debate, that the Participation of others and to innovate from time to time. We have organized walks and picnics in Madrid parks, dinners, we have invited authors to select a work (the next step is for some to participate), etc. For the last reading club, which we could not carry out (it was Friday March 13), we had a table reserved for eating a stew at the Cruz Blanca de Vallecas to discuss Tristana and Benito Pérez Galdós. "
And what weighs more? The desire to expand the relationship with books or to make social relationships through literature? "Our first interest was to be able to enjoy the texts through many eyes . We like the atmosphere that the debate generates. We touch on all topics: from the type of text to the plot, passing through the characters, etc. And we are hardly ever These disagreements seem to me most healthy. So, the relationship with other people (after two years of club, already friends) who share an interest in reading also helps us to expand and strengthen our relationship with our own texts". In these days of confinement, Abad explains, the agenda is canceled but the dialogue is still alive.
Basically, the resistance of reading clubs speaks of the desire to turn reading, which in principle is one of the most intimate experiences of our lives, into a social activity , very much in keeping with the spirit of this time and, probably , with the time that awaits us when we return to the street. "I think it is important to maintain the two relationships, the intimate and the social. Shared reading is always preceded by intimate, because the first approach to the work is done by yourself. And you alone face the feelings that it generates . Afterwards, sharing your impressions is very good to generate debate, see other angles, expose your ideas and cross critical and analytical thoughts. The important thing is that the passion for reading does not die. "
"For me, reading had always been an activity that I did especially alone. Until a couple of years ago I only used to discuss the books I read with my partner, but now I also do it with friends, especially those with whom I I am in contact through social networks. And from the mutual recommendations we make, very interesting readings come out, "explains Raquel de la Morena, who has the other side of the experience, that of the author who has gone to reading clubs in count your books . "Sometimes readers surprise you with facets of yours that you were completely unaware of. One of the things that surprised me the most is that some have been scared with certain scenes that I wrote for my novel Who the hell are you? Because I am not exactly Stephen King I didn't think I would be able to write something that was scary, it's something that, if the readers hadn't told me directly, I wouldn't have believed it. "
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