Are you in a book club? Do you ever participate in group/buddy reads? Does reading a book with others change your overall perception of the work? I recently read the first two books of Nora Roberts’ The Guardian’s Trilogy, Stars of Fortune and Bay of Sighs, with friends and it made me wonder…

Most people would consider reading a solitary activity and with the exception of book clubs or group/buddy reads they’d probably be correct. But should it be? What are the pluses and minuses of reading with a group?

A few weeks ago my friends Desiree, Amber, and I spontaneously decided to read Stars of Fortune together as a buddy read. It wasn’t really planned or thought out, we were just chatting about books on Facebook (as we often do) and realized that we had all recently gotten the same book but had not read yet read it–and so a buddy read was born. We decided on a starting day and set up a Facebook chat for the read since we live in 3 different states and time zones. That was it. We agreed to keep messages vague and to give no spoilers without very large chapter warnings but other than that the chat was a free for all. It was SO MUCH FUN!

We were able to pop online as we were reading and squee, yell, theorize, swoon, and share all those thoughts and emotions that readers usually keep bottled up as they read–and even better our friends could chime in with the same, or different thoughts. I loved the interactive nature of the buddy read and it added a dimension that I often wish I had when reading (especially when Jim looks at me like I’m crazy when I start talking to my Kindle). Book clubs are fun, and I’ve done a few but I always feel that there is something almost school-like “in the read a book then talk about it at the end” format. I guess it just feels like ever grad school seminar I’ve taken, lol! The buddy read format in its informality and real time reaction was reminiscent of when my friend Jennifer and I would read books together on the stoop outside our apartments growing up.

As for the books themselves, Stars of Fortune and Bay of Sighs were enjoyable reads. Are they  the best books ever? No. Are they something I’m really happy I read? Yes. Made even more fun by the fact that this was a buddy read with a few of my online book friends? Absofreakinglutely! I don’t know if this is the best comparison, but my mind automatically thinks of the team in the Guardian’s Trilogy as the Scooby Gang with romantic pairs. The six main characters in the series each bring to their own unique perspective and contribution to the team. You’ve got tough guys and girls, comic relief, sweet and insightful, the mom and dad figures–a little bit of everything to balance out the team. Add in a crazy mix of villains and some very unexpected twists (at least I didn’t see them coming) and you get a very solid and interesting story. I will definitely be reading the rest of the series. Hopefully with Desiree and Amber (let’s set the date now, Ladies).

As for reading with friends, overall the buddy read definitely made me read faster. Probably because I was so excited to chat about the next part or get to the chapter that made one of my friends have such a strong reaction. It also made me rethink my initial impressions about some scenes and characters. When you know right off the bat that a friends sees something differently from you, you may have a tendency to take another look before your impressions are fully formed. I can say for a fact that Amber and Desiree helped me to see a few things through a different lens. That’s not to say we agreed on everything–not at all. It’s just that they were able to offer a different perspective and I hope I was able to do the same for them.

So what about you? Is reading something do alone? Have you ever participated in a book club or group read? What are your thoughts on both? Chat with us below. I’d love to hear what you think!

Rating: 4 stars

Reviewer: Jess

Titles: Stars of Fortune and Bay of Sighs

Author: Nora Roberts

Release Dates: November 2015 and June 2016

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