I confess: I’m a book club dropout. I’ve never had an opportunity to join a face to face book club, but I was in an online book club several years ago. The part I liked about being in a book club was sharing the experience of reading and discussing a book with friends. The parts I didn’t like were the books that felt like a chore to finish and discussions that went horribly wrong. My ‘bad book club experience’ involved a club member who seemed to want to ‘teach’ the book to the rest of us. My last day in the club came when she told me that my opinion of a book was wrong. Sorry, I’m not a book club person.

I’ve also become not much of a reading challenge person either. In my first couple of years of blogging I was a reading challenge fanatic. After over-scheduling my reading one too many times, I changed the name of this blog to Whimpulsive and vowed to keep spontaneous reading choices part of my routine.

Between the bloggers I read via my Google Reader subscriptions and those I chat with routinely on Twitter, I’m inundated with book recommendations and opportunities for reading and discussing specific books. I love the idea of readalongs which are a group of bloggers reading the same book and having some discussions. For me it’s the best balance of reading challenge and book club. Like challenges, the books are chosen for a particular reason (even if the reason is that a bunch of us have it on our TBR list but haven’t read it yet), but it’s one book and not a commitment for a list or for months. Like book clubs, readalongs provide an opportunity for sharing the experience of a particular book, but without the structure of the same group of people or a book every month or any other specific time frame. It’s kind of a drop in book club and therefore perfect for me.

I can’t possibly join in all the group reads and discussions that come along, but I will be joining two of them next month.

Pam at Bookalicio.us is hosting a readalong and discussion of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. I read this book ages ago and a random twitter conversation turned into an opportunity for me to re-read it. For more information or to join in the discussion, check out Margaret May at Bookalicio.us.

The second group read also grew out of a twitter conversation.

 I mentioned that my sister-in-law had loaned me a copy of Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt and was wondering what my bookish friends thought of it. Next thing I knew The Little Reader had taken the ball and run with it. The Little Readalong will kick off in May with a readalong and discussion of Angela’s Ashes. If you’re like me and haven’t read it, join us. If you want to re-read it, now is a great time. For more information check out The Little Readalong at The Little Reader.

I’ve been incredibly selective about signing up for reading challenges in the past year or so and don’t like to over-plan or be over-committed when it comes to what books I read and when, but this kind of spontaneous ‘Hey, let’s read this together’ kind of stuff can be fun and certainly fits right in with my whimpulsive ways. I have to pace myself with these just as much as I have to pace myself with reading challenges, though. It’s easy to want to join way too many readalongs and get overwhelmed, so I’m a little worried about having both of these on my plate in May, but it’s two books I definitely want to read so I’m in.

I’ll probably lay off the readalongs for a while after that, but I know My Friend Amy is making noises about The Lonesome Dove and October . . .