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07 Dec 2021

Back to basics as book clubs make a big comeback in Limerick

Back to basics as book clubs make a big comeback in Limerick

Roisín Cremin, German and Music student at Mary Immaculate College, with three books which have been book club picks for the Rosie bookclub

ONE may think that book clubs are an old - fashioned thing of the past, but the reality of it is that book clubs have seen a rise in popularity over the last 12 months - albeit in a virtual manner.

There has been a steady increase in both ‘bookstagram’ accounts as well as online book clubs, which many have stated helped their mental health throughout lockdown.

A bookstagram account is an account solely dedicated to books on the social media app Instagram.

The development of online book clubs is an innovative utilisation of social media platforms such as Facebook groups, Instagram group chats, and even Facebook Messenger.

The Rosie Book Club is one of these wonderful clubs and was set up by Cork native, Róisin Cremin in October 2020.

Limerick is a home away from home for Róisin, a German and Music student at Mary Immaculate College.

Róisin, a bookstagrammer in her own right, commends both bookstagram, and the book club in creating a sense of community when we needed it the most.

Comparing it to a real life book club scenario, some advantages of having a book club online Róisin feels is the instant gratification that it provides, which many people crave these days.

“Maybe it’s the world we live in, and we do crave that instant gratification,” Róisin points out.

“But that is what you get in a virtual book club - there’s always someone to talk to.

“And it’s easier to keep the communication with people because it’s instant,” she adds.

Looking back on her experience with sharing books on the popular social media site, Róisin notes how she used her Instagram account as a means to share her blog posts before turning to posting about books.

The inspiration for creating a book account came when she connected with a couple of book bloggers based in the United Kingdom and realised there weren't many Irish-based accounts.

“It was very UK-based, which was fine; it’s close enough so you still get the benefits of following these accounts,” said Róisin.

After sharing on Instagram stories what she was currently reading, Róisin decided to bite the bullet, and share her top five reads as a more in-depth ‘feed post’ and hasn’t looked back.

“I was a little hesitant [at first] but the response has been great,” Róisin says.

“I realised I liked doing this, and that I could use my Instagram account to be more than just posting random things.”

Though Róisin is the founder and organiser of The Rosie Book Club she is keen to stress that it’s a welcoming and inviting space for all.

“It belongs to everyone,” she asserts.

This is obvious when it comes down to choosing the monthly book reads, a collaborative choice which is aided by influences from Róisin’s bookshelf, as well as any ideas members may have.

The choice boils down to a quick Instagram poll, so it’s a very inclusive process for members.

These types of book clubs create a real sense of community, and friendships are built.

Generally, there’ll be a specific day at the end of the month when a Zoom call is hosted to discuss the book of the month.

“Your basis is that you all love books, but then you realise you’ve other interests as well, which is really lovely,” Róisin commented.

Some book clubs even do movie screenings, if a book has a movie to go with it.

Denise Murphy, a mother-of-three became a member of Limerick blogger Reece Creed’s book club at the start of the year, and also had nothing but positive feedback when speaking about the book club.

“I definitely think being part of a book club has aided me personally; it’s given me a bit of structure, and keeps me away from the phone and TV, which I needed,” comments Deirdre.

Many of the books chosen for Reece Creed’s book club have been positive self- help books such as ‘Good Life, Good Vibes,’ by Vex King, and Fearne Cotton’s ‘Calm.’

“I loved Good Life, Good Vibes… I felt that I needed to read it when it was picked as I wasn’t coping very well with being off work and the whole lockdown situation,” remarks Denise.

Similarly, to Róisin’s experiences, a big positive of the book club for Denise is the friendships that are built, particularly in a time where people are turning to social media as a main source of human interaction.

“I’ve met and made friends with some lovely people.

“Everyone in Reece’s club were very likeminded, and if someone was having an off day the group helped build that person up again,” says Denise.

The beauty of these virtual book clubs is that geographical location is never an issue.

There is a growing Limerick community of members in various virtual clubs.

Laura Monaghan is based in the suburbs of Limerick city, and also is a member of Reece Creed’s book club.

Joining the book club was a way to incorporate a self-care task for Laura.

“The book club helped me to dedicate a specific time for a self- care task,” comments Laura. “It kept my mind busy, gave me a task to focus on and provided me with an entire group of new people to communicate with.”

Reading can be quite an isolating hobby to take up, and particularly with the extra time that the lockdowns have given people to read, it is nice to know that it doesn’t have to be isolating.

There are an array of virtual book clubs readily available on social media platforms, and all are relatively easy to join.

One thing to consider when entering the realm of book Instagram is to enjoy yourself, and don’t compare.

Many book bloggers are avid readers and read many books on a weekly monthly basis, which can sometimes be a little intimidating for some.

This shouldn’t be the way and reading at your own pace is very important to ensure you get the ultimate enjoyment out of reading.

To join it’s as simple as messaging the person running the club; for example, message Róisin on Instagram.

Fellow Limerick blogger Louise Cooney also runs a popular book club and the beauty of book club is you can join from all over the country, or even internationally.

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