Residents Brynn Vaughn and Jill Fenton, both avid readers, discovered a way to read a wider variety of books, stay connected and have a little fun, healthy competition with book bingo. They came upon a bingo card on Pinterest three years ago that had categories of books in the squares, such as a memoir, a mystery, a book with a green cover. Their bingo book group called “I’d rather be reading” took up the idea. The first member to read a book from each category in a column, row, or on a diagonal, would get bingo and win a small pot of money and bragging rights.
Vaughn said the challenge of finding books in the different categories, and coming up with new categories each year has been fun and has expanded their reading horizons. One of Vaughn’s favorite discoveries was when she had to find a book with a pirate in it. “I fell in love with Michael Crichton reading Pirate Latitudes,” Vaughn said. Next, Crichton’s Congo was read for the category of a book with a one-word title, and Timeline was read for a book about time travel.
Their Facebook group is the forum for commenting on, recommending and discussing books. The group uses Google sheets with tabs for each member’s bingo sheet so members can see what others are reading. The group continues reading after the initial bingo win; members read to get bingo or just choose books in categories that interest them. Some even go for a blackout where they read a book in every category on the bingo sheet.
Coming up with a time for 10 people to get together, hosting, and coming up with thought-provoking questions for discussion were some of the challenges that originally inspired Vaughn and Fenton to try book bingo.
This format proved successful last year when book groups couldn’t get together in person. Vaughn said, “It’s been something of normalcy that has continued on in the same way it began. That’s been nice because anything resembling normal these days is something to hold on to.”
The group agreed to count books read to or with children at home toward a potential bingo. Vaughn took full advantage with the Harry Potter series. It filled the categories of a book with a dragon in it and a book that features supernatural powers.
“It often feels indulgent to sit and read a book,” Vaughn admitted. Then she added, “but you don’t want to be the one not reading when you see the books being filled out by the others!”