When you’re a writer or book-blogger, what’s one thing you’re guaranteed to talk about with your online friends? Books, of course! That’s how we bond over beloved reads we share as well as books we’ve been meaning to read for ages. So, when I bought Patrick Rothfuss’s The Wise Man’s Fear after Christmas, fellow writer Rebekah Hendrian said this in her comments:
“I almost feel like we need to do a buddy read for Wise Man’s Fear. I just keep looking at those thousand pages and then putting it aside in dismay.”
At first I was hesitant, since I’d never done a buddy-read before and wasn’t sure how it was done. But once Rebekah and I figured things out, we were able to work The Wise Man’s Fear into the same point in our reading schedules. Now I’m so glad we did it – and today, I’d like to share what made that experience so enjoyable, in hopes that you might try buddy-reading with a friend in the future. So, here are Five Benefits of Buddy-Reading!
Benefit #1: Buddy-reading encourages accountability and friendship.
A buddy-read is fairly simple: You and at least one friend read the same book at the same time, then talk about it between sittings. You can share generalities such as where you left off in the story and how you felt overall about what you just read, or more specific details (which I’ll mention during Benefit #3).
In this way, buddy-reading encourages us to be accountable to our friends and to ourselves. Think of the daily check-ins (or however often you choose to check in with each other) as fun homework assignments. (Yes, there’s such a thing as FUN homework assignments. *winks*) By “reporting” to your reading buddy and proving you’ve read more of the book, you show your commitment to your friend and to finishing the challenge you’ve started together. It’s a bookish trust-building exercise, in other words – and one that can bring the two of you closer.
Benefit #2: It can motivate you to read a book you might otherwise delay (or have already put off) reading on your own.
Who DOESN’T get intimidated when they hold a brick-sized book, no matter how badly they want to read it? The U.S. mass market paperback for The Wise Man’s Fear is 1,000 pages – and it’s as tall as your average hardcover book. No wonder I gawked at it in the bookstore and thought, “This is going to take me an entire MONTH to read.” 😮
Long books make great buddy-reads for this very reason. You might be biting your nails over the page count, but you’ll be more motivated to finish it if you tackle it with a friend. Nothing makes a daunting task seem… well, less daunting than having someone to cheer you on and be a fellow Little Engine That Could. (Remember: “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…”)
By the way, it took me and Rebekah about 3 weeks to finish The Wise Man’s Fear. Close to my original prediction, but not bad either!
Benefit #3: It compels you to read a book more deeply.
Another reason why The Wise Man’s Fear was a great buddy-reading choice? There was so much to talk about! Whenever Rebekah and I checked in with each other, we shared quotes and passages that stood out to us, commented on character relationships and plot twists, and speculated about possible foreshadowing and real-life influences. (Example: The Ademre’s Lethani practice reminded us of Chinese Taoism.) Sometimes one of us would pick up on something that the other had missed, so the check-ins gave us a chance to make sure we hadn’t overlooked anything important.
Sounds like a two-person book club, right? That’s really what a buddy-read is, besides a bookish trust-building activity. It inspires you to study the story more keenly than you most likely would have on your own, and gives you a deeper appreciation for the author’s work. And, it helps you check off Benefits #1 and #2, too.
Benefit #4: It gives you the perfect excuse to. Geek. OUT.
Rebekah and I had both loved the first Kingkiller book, The Name of the Wind. So whenever we checked in with each other during the Wise Man’s Fear buddy-read, we weren’t afraid to show our fangirliness. We cracked up at the same lines. We freaked out or got emotional over others. We gushed over the lyrical nature of Patrick Rothfuss’s writing. And, we now have an inside joke inspired by a frequently appearing quote from the book. (I’d explain it, but then it wouldn’t be an inside joke anymore. 😉 )
The point is, buddy-reading and geeking out go hand in hand. If you and your friend are both fans of a series or author, you’re bound to find plenty of reasons to go “SQUEE!” together. So, go on. Unleash your inner booknerd in front of your reading buddy. Chances are they’ll do it, too.
Benefit #5: It makes reading even more fun!
If you’re reading this post, you most likely agree that reading is awesome. Why not make it even more so? When Rebekah and I finished The Wise Man’s Fear, we agreed that buddy-reading it together was a fantastic idea. Not only did we conquer that 1,000-page giant, but we had infinitely more fun reading it together than we would have alone.
And really, fun is what fuels the fire here. If you’re enjoying a buddy-read, you’re more likely to geek out with your friend, gain a greater appreciation for the story, be accountable during the challenge, and finish the book. Most importantly, you’ll forge a stronger friendship with your buddy-read companion – and that may be the biggest reason why I encourage everyone to try it for themselves.
Have you buddy-read a book before? What was your experience like? If you haven’t, is it something you’d consider trying in the future?