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Many of us are starting to think about 2019—what we want to achieve and how we want the year to look and feel.

If one of your goals is to read more books, you might consider joining or starting a book club.

Though book clubs can be a small amount of work, in my experience they provide many personal and professional rewards.

You'll read more

Book clubs are built in accountability partners for your reading. Clubs force you to stay on schedule with a reading plan. I never want to be the member who hasn’t read the book—what fun is the book discussion then?

It’s always amazing how I find the time to read the week before a meeting…. If you’re in a club, I bet you’ll find yourself reading more, too.

You'll read more widely

Book clubs get you out of your reading rut. In all likelihood, not every book your club proposes will be at the top of your reading list so you’ll be forced to read something that might be a bit out of your zone—but may add some diversity to your thinking about life.

I’m not a big reader of science books but when I was "forced" to read Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry I was pleasantly surprised. I shouldn’t have been—it was deGrasse Tyson! He almost made me want to go back to high school science class!

You’ll build social connections—personally and professionally

I’m not ashamed to say—I love my book club members! I count this group as some of my closest, most important friends. I may not see them as often as I see other acquaintances—but this group is an important part of my personal and professional life.

The books we discuss often take us into personal discussions that result in me seeing the world from a more enlightened perspective and I’m always grateful for their viewpoints.

Besides, most book clubs provide great food and plenty of drink. What more do you need for a great evening?

You’ll engage your brain—which may keep you younger longer

Book clubs force you to read, and reading engages your brain in a way that most other daily activities don’t. Reading books requires focus and concentration—skills many of us are losing in our tech driven, high stress world. Science has shown that reading reduces stress and improves empathy. Which of us couldn’t use a little less stress and a little more empathy?

Dare I push this argument a bit harder and suggest that being part of a book club will allow you to live a longer, more productive life?

You’ll engage in conversations that are an exchange of ideas

Book clubs provide you with an opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations about ideas.

Just my humble opinion, the world needs more discourse—not yelling and finger pointing. Book clubs provide that opportunity—especially if your club chooses books that generate different opinions and feelings. These conversations can be rich and rewarding.

If you’re worried about the conversation, consider sending links to podcasts or articles about the book or the author before the meeting. They can be a starting point for discussion. These days most authors do a round of media for their books so there’s lot of information available on the web.

You’ll have an opportunity to be creative

Book clubs provide an opportunity for everyone to be more creative. Between choosing more interesting books to planning a creative meeting at an interesting location to getting an outside speaker—book clubs can be an outlet for your creativity.

If you are the book club leader, think of yourself as an event planner and get creative about where, when, and how to have an interesting meeting. Is there a great location that corresponds to your book? Is there a fun ice breaker you could plan? Is there some art work your group could create while discussing the book?

The sky is the limit for your meeting possibilities.

Heidi is a life strategist and certified coach who uses book bundles to help individuals and groups reimagine—then implement strategies that will get them to their next chapter. Heidi has lots of free resources and a regular newsletter at TheLiterarySalon.com