Here at Caracas Chronicles we pride ourselves in fostering a sense of community.

We don’t just tell our readers what we think, we also learn from your reactions. More often than not, comments end up teaching us something about the topic being discussed. Uniquely for a Venezuelan public affairs site, the comments section is consistently mentioned as one of the best things about the blog.

It is in the spirit of fostering this sense of community that we are excited to announce a new regular feature on the blog: the Caracas Chronicles Book Club.

Every month, I will announce the title of the book we will be discussing. Sometimes the title will be in English, other times in Spanish, but every book will be Venezuela-centered.

There will be three posts about the book. The first post will announce the selection and explain why we are going to be reading it together. Fifteen days later, I will write another post – by that day, everyone who participates must promise to have read the first half of the book. Finally, we wrap up the book with our final impressions. Occasionally, if we’re lucky, we might add a hangout session with the author.

The important thing is that people who participate promise to read the book, and that if you purchase it, you do so via our website. (This will become clear when I announce our first pick.)

Book clubs have a long and storied history in the world. In the US and the UK, in particular, they are a common part of the social scene. And online book clubs have taken off in recent years, not surprisingly given how the Internet is practically tailor-made for the sort of passionate discussions books can help germinate.

Venezuela doesn’t really have a tradition of book clubs because, well, in part we don’t have a tradition of reading.

But changing the culture is not the real reason for this.

Many of us come to this blog because we have been forced to emigrate, and the blog helps feed the monster that lives under our bed: nostalgia. Yet our frenetic lifestyles don’t really allow us to ponder our country and read about it – about the issues, about the reasons, about the histories. Too many times we play off our nostalgia by commenting on the latest news article or insane Maduro cadena. The times when we talk about our country on the basis of actual books – well, those are slim to none.

The goal of this feature is to fill that gap. Much in the same way that personal trainers help you commit to the goal of exercising, this book club will be here to help steer you to read about Venezuela and think about her a bit differently – to learn from one another as we learn from a published author.

In a few days, I’ll be announcing the first selection for the book club. Feel free to offer suggestions for future editions in the Comments section.

I’m excited about this idea, and I hope you guys are too. Oh, and while we’re on the topic of books, don’t forget that Caracas Chronicles has its own book, published a few years ago when Chávez was still alive (barely).

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