Online Book Club on Steroids

a bookworm's pipe dream

Despite the fact that I hated the last Tana French book I read, I couldn’t resist when I saw her latest on my local library’s new release, no-waiting-required shelf, branded with a neon “7-day checkout” sticker.

What’s a girl to do? I took it home with me, and shared my find on the internet:

Tana French Broken Harbor new release

And within minutes, this is what the internet sent me in return:

Online Book club on steroids for nerdy nerds
Wanna synchro-read?

Jessica–who blogs at Quirky Bookworm–is a fellow bookworm (ahem) and kindred spirit, so of course I wanted to synchro-read! We quickly decided to email each other our impressions and theories every four chapters or so.

Well, it mostly worked. I loved being able to trade thoughts with another reader while I was blazing through this pageturner, but I think we both kept turning the pages faster than we were supposed to! It took both of us less than 48 hours to finish Broken Harbor. That did detract somewhat from the synchro-reading experience, but it was still a lot of fun, and I’ll definitely be looking for more synchro-reading companions in the future.

Jessica’s giving Broken Harbor a more traditional review over on her own site today, and she’s including portions of the emails we traded back and forth while reading.

Wanna synchro-read?

Now that I have one synchro-read under my belt, here’s my advice to you (and to my future self):

1. Find a kindred spirit and agree on a book before you’re 31 pages in.

In the words of Anne Shirley, “kindred spirits aren’t as scarce as I used to think.” If you want to find someone to synchro-read with, tell your friends. Throw up a post on your facebook page. Tweet about it. Ask again if you need to. There are a whole lot of book lovers out there. You can find somebody, or a group of somebodies–I’m sure of it!

2. Make your plan.

Jessica and I didn’t have a fancy plan: we just agreed to email each other our thoughts every 4 chapters or so, without specifying a timeline. I was looking forward to trading opinions and impressions, especially for a mystery like Broken Harbor.

3. Stick to your plan.

What can I say? We got a little ahead of ourselves. Tana French books draw you in, and we both felt compelled to see what would happen next…so we lost a little bit of the synchro-read’s benefit because we were both racing to the finish! Agree before you begin not only on how often you’ll check in, but when. And stick to it.

4. Adjust as necessary.ย 

Our first synchro-read was great, but the next one will be better. We’ll both have a better feel for what to expect, how often to check in, and what’s worth sharing. I know from our first attempt that Jessica and I are great reading buddies–we like similar books and we both move at a brisk pace–but some of you may not hit it off with your first synchro-read partner. That’s okay. Learn from your experience, and adjust accordingly.

Now that I’ve told you about what it’s like to synchro-read, go visit Jessica for our joint review of Broken Harbor.

Have you ever done a synchro-read? Would you like to? Share your advice–and your bookworm dreams–in comments!

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  1. Sarah says:

    I do a “synchro-read” every month at The Dark Jane Austen Book Club ( AND we take it one step further and use Google Plus and Google Hangout to discuss the book of the month (this month is Frankenstein). I think online book clubs will gain popularity because we can connect with people who are kindred spirits. Good luck in yours!

  2. The title of this post made me laugh. ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

    Also, this sounds like a great idea! Maybe a plan for Christmas break when I’m not bogged down by reading for school…of which I’ll have tons. However, my best friend and I are going to be in not one but TWO English classes this semester…so I have a feeling we’ll be reading a lot of the same stuff anyway. ๐Ÿ˜€ Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, anyone?

  3. HopefulLeigh says:

    Another variation would be this: after I finished reading The Art of Fielding, I was in wont of discussion. My friend Kristin had been wanting to read it and also wanted someone to discuss Lena and Vaclav with her. So she’s going to read Art of Fielding and I’m going to read L & V and we’ll discuss when we’re done.

    I’m still way down on the library wait list for Broken Harbor. I can’t wait to read it!

    • Anne says:

      That sounds like a good friend ๐Ÿ™‚

      Also, did you notice that Jessica and I were less than enthusiastic about Broken Harbor? Read it quick, because I want to hear what you think!

    • Anne says:

      Jessica, I need a reading partner to keep me accountable so I don’t read too much! We’ll tweak the plan for next time. Live and learn ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Michelle says:

    Genius! I just joined a fiction reading group on Goodreads for the first time…not quite “on steroids,” but there are several books chosen each month and you can join in to discuss however many you are able. I just started my first shared read with the group, so we’ll see how it goes. But I think a one-on-one synchro-read sounds wonderful!

  5. Tim says:

    The Republic of Pemberley does synchro-reads twice a year, but they call them Group Reads. It’s a scheduled and moderated (yet extremely informal and otherwise unplanned) read through and discussion of a Jane Austen novel, juvenalia or set of her letters. They are a blast!

    The last one was in April on Northanger Abbey; here’s the link to the discussion (now closed for adding comments) – The next Group Read is on Sense and Sensibility and will occur this autumn (date to be announced).


  6. Alex says:

    Have you done this again since? A friend and I are planning to take this on for 2015 and are looking for some more inspiration of how to structure ourselves!


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