Readers, have you ever finished a book and thought, “I NEED to talk about this with someone?”
Buddy reading might be the perfect way to add more bookish conversation to your reading life. To start a buddy read, you and a friend pick one book to read and discuss together as you read or after you’ve both finished.
Some buddy reads involve a small group of readers, and some readers prefer to read as a pair. Some readers can’t get enough buddy reads (as Brigid Misselhorn shares on WSIRN Episode 275: How many book clubs is too many book clubs?) but many readers have never tried one!
Experimenting with new methods for sharing and discussing books can enhance your reading life in unexpected ways. There are countless ways to read with your friends, so how do you get started?
We have some avid buddy readers on the Modern Mrs. Darcy team. They’ve tried various formats, apps, and schedules—and set up buddy reads together! I asked them to share their best tips and preferences for buddy reading, and here’s what they said:
1. Set expectations from the start. Do you want to break down so many chapters or pages a day? Are you going to read at your own pace and check in along the way? How are you going to discuss: text, DM, Zoom? I’ve done all of the above but most frequently my friends and I read at our own pace and check in daily via text or DM, sharing how far we got, thoughts about what we’ve read so far (taking care not to spoil anything if we’ve read further than others), and then we do a big rehash at the end of what worked, what didn’t, our takeaways, and so on. —Leigh
2. Decide when to discuss. The main thing I like about a buddy read vs. a book club discussion is that I enjoy having updates during the reading of the book-not just at the end. The key for me has been to set a weekly discussion schedule and I often break the book into four parts with four “discussion dates” to avoid spoilers. I love using the Voxer App for that discussion since it’s easier than typing out my thoughts, and it’s always fun to share bookish enthusiasm by voice. —Donna
3. Think about the right number of people for your buddy read. I’m less inclined to participate in the discussion if there’s more than a few people buddy reading—too overwhelming! But for others, it’s the more the merrier. I have a few friends I do this with regularly, either 1:1 or there’s a group of four of us, and our discussions really bring the book to life. I love getting to go deeper on such a granular level. That, to me, is the whole point of a buddy read. —Leigh
4. Read what you own. It’s very helpful if you can all own the book; it is a bit difficult trying to wait for library holds, etc. and it can throw off your schedule. —Shannan
5. Take advantage of the format to smartly branch out. I have an easier time taking a chance on books I wouldn’t typically gravitate towards when I’m reading with a friend. This is a big way I’ve been able to enjoy a few horror titles, even though I tend to be a scaredy cat in my reading selections. —Anne (I couldn’t resist throwing in my own tip!)
Have you participated in a buddy read? What tips would you add to our list? Tell us about your experience in the comments.
P.P.S. Check out these WSIRN episodes for more buddy reading recommendations Ep. 164: The couple that reads together … needs to find books they’ll both LOVE or Ep. 273: Realism, redemption, and reading across generations.