Five Benefits of Buddy-Reading

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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!

(By the way, I’m taking questions for a special interview to commemorate the blog’s 7th birthday! Click here to learn how to submit your questions by Tuesday, July 5th.)

Benefit #1: Buddy-reading encourages accountability and friendship.

Wise Mans Fear coverA 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?

45 thoughts on “Five Benefits of Buddy-Reading

  1. I haven’t ever done this, before. Initially I wasn’t sure – but the more I read, the more I could see all the advantages. It sounds like a really brilliant idea – and you’re right, it would work best on either a rather challenging read, or a doorstopper, like the Rothfuss:).

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I do a lot of buddy reading and I definitely agree with all the points you’ve made. I’ve also discovered that it can sway my rating for a book a bit. If all my buddy readers love a book and I don’t, I am not going to give it the same rating as my friends, but I might be more inclined to give it half a star or a star more than I would had I read it alone.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hmmm, that’s interesting. Since I’ve only done one buddy-read so far, I can’t say whether it would influence me to rate a book higher just because my friends enjoyed it more than I did. Rebekah and I both ended up loving The Wise Man’s Fear and gave it near-perfect ratings. So we didn’t run into that scenario this time.

      Thanks for commenting, Kat!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Becca and I buddy read the same writing craft books for a year, and wow, did it ever elevate our knowledge. Anything I didn’t quite get, likely she did, and vice-versa. We were able to deconstruct all the books and techniques. REALLY recommend doing this. 😉

    It also likely accounts for who we can write books together so seamlessly–our styles blend well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a great idea, actually. I have a few craft books I’ve been meaning to read, but I keep putting them off mostly because I have so many “pleasure” reading books to catch up on. It’s so hard to balance the two! But maybe a buddy-read might not be a bad way of tackling that problem.

      Thanks for commenting, Angela!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This turned out really well Sara – nice job! I had sooo much fun, and I honestly don’t think I would have made it around to reading TWMF for a long time. And I’m up for another brick whenever you are 😛

    Anyhow, you summed up every reason that made this such a fun experience. I agree on every point. I noticed the intereting point in the comments below – about if a buddy read might influence individual ratings. I guess it would depend on the book – my sister and I discuss every book we read together, and I’ve noticed that talking through a book can actually bring out points I missed (but later appreciate), or make me like it more/less! So it’s not so much that we influence each other, it’s that our different perspectives make us examine the book in a way we might not normally. Granted, we agree a lot of the time, but she and my sister-in-law (who I am also really close to) have all rated the same book differently on numerous occasions. I’ve been tempted to not be so hard on a book after talking to someone, but in the end, I still evaluate it the same way I always meant to.

    ❤ RH

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Rebekah! And yes, let’s do it again sometime. I think I might have Tweeted you earlier with a question about it. 😉

      I tried to think back on books I’ve read at the same time with offline friends… But I honestly can’t think of any. Mostly when we talk about books, we’re recommending books to one another or analyzing (to geeky detail) books that we read a while ago. But I think I’m still like you: I usually end up sticking to my overall opinion of it even after discussing it with someone else.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My husband and I are actually reading the same book right now…I don’t think we’ve ever done that before. Our reading speeds are very different! But it’s a book I’ve already read, and we’ve been watching the TV adaptation (Leviathan Wakes/The Expanse).

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I tried to buddy read The Thousand Nights and One Night with another blogger, but it was difficult. The material was super dark (lots of rape, mutilation, and torture) and we were also blogging our process at the same time. I think I may try it again, though, if I can find a local person who wants to buddy read with me. I think the prospect of having to type every little bit zapped all the fun out of it. 😦 Anyway, it sounds like it worked well for you, so maybe next time I’ll choose a title that’s a bit more modern. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yikes. :S I haven’t read The Thousand and One Nights before, but based on what you said here… yeah, I can imagine it being a difficult read regardless of whether you read it along or with someone. But at least you gave it a try, and I commend you for trying it with that particular book. And like you said, it might be worth trying another buddy-read in the future, with a book you think you’ll have a better chance of enjoying.

      Liked by 2 people

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  10. I borrowed The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear from my friends after reading this post (they’re the birthday gifts that I have to return). I also shared the article with a few of my bibliophilic friends and they were really excited about it. I’ll let you know how that turns out for me. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I have a reviewer friend, so we might not be buddy reading, but we recommend books to each other: BOTH good and bad ones. And after we finish the recommendation, we get to rave or rant about those books and it’s a real fun.

    Liked by 2 people

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