Book club

Book clubs, video games and one really bad date

Grace Schutte

More stories from Grace Schutte

May 10, 2023

Photo by Delia Brandel

A few years back, I went on the worst date of my life. 

It consisted of me sitting shotgun in a sports car for approximately six hours, all the while getting my interests ridiculed to the point where I opted for silence rather than offering up yet another hobby to be struck down. 

“So, like,” he said, “what do you do for fun?”

“I like to read,” I said. 

“So, like, do you just sit and stare at the wall or something?”

“What? No,” I said. “I read.”

“So, you’re depressed.”


“It’s okay to admit it.”

I tried my best not to laugh — I wasn’t sure if he was joking. “Okay. Sure, let’s go with that. What do you like to do for fun?”

“Me?” he said. “I play video games.” 

“And stare at the wall all depressed?” I asked. 

He looked offended. “What is wrong with you?” 

Needless to say, we didn’t go on a second date. 

I remember being so confused with that jump in logic he made, that reading was the equivalent of staring at a wall, as though it were so different from staring at a TV or computer screen.

Reading and playing video games are much more similar than you might think. Only outsiders would make the mistake of claiming them to be solitary acts, when in reality they both house their own expansive communities, fandoms and worlds. 

That’s actually one of the reasons I love reading so much — the community. 

To me, there are few things in this world as precious as a book club. My English degree is essentially one glorified book club certificate (among other things). Truthfully, the discussion of the book is just as great, if not better, than the actual reading itself. 

My first book club was a classic mother-daughter group formed by the PTA moms of my neighborhood. The folks in my book club were the same people in my girl scout troop — the same people I ate lunch with every day and hung out with after school. 

But sixth-grade Grace wasn’t nearly as excited about the whole reading thing as sixteenth-grade Grace is now (what a tongue twister). 

As blooming middle schoolers, we weren’t interested in reading “Stargirl” with our moms. We were focused on important things like doodling on everything with sharpies, perfecting side-swept bangs without getting pink eye and recreating One Direction fanfiction in the library at lunch.

When I did eventually come around to book clubs, I learned what I’d been missing out on all along. Turns out they’re one of the best things ever. My bad. 

There’s something about the exchange of ideas, the sharing of theories, that gets me excited. What did you think about this part? I didn’t see that coming at all. Wait, you can’t stand that character, too? Don’t even get me started on so-and-so. 

This is a love language. I’m telling you. 

Sixth-grade Grace would rather clean her room (gasp, I know) than read “Ella Enchanted” for mother-daughter book club, but now my mom can’t get rid of me once I find out she’s also read such-and-such title. How the tables have turned. 

Reading — writing, while we’re at it — and video games, while appearing as the lonely person’s pastime, are actually some of the most community-based hobbies I can think of. Sure, they have their introverted moments, but you’d be sorely mistaken to claim that’s all there is to them. 

Schutte can be reached at [email protected]