Just finished reading After Story (and listening to the After Story podcast) and just wanted to pop in and say thanks for the podcasts and bookclub discussions! They really helped me better grasp some of the themes of the VN and to look at things in a different way (even though they are now about a year old).
I’m probably one of the few who read the VN before the anime (which is what I will watch next since I’ve finished reading) and I was almost completely blind (only knew one big event from After Story) so everything was new to me. For some anime I like to go back to previous discussion threads and read other people’s comments and takes on things just to get better immersed and catch anything I missed, so when I found the podcasts and route discussions I liked being able to do that for this VN as well. I had to catch up (I had already read Misae and Tomoyo) but after listening to those I made sure to leave time to listen to the route’s podcast before jumping into the next route.
As for Clannad itself, it sits at the top of my (rather short at 9) VNs read list with Fate/Stay Night, Fate/Hollow Ataraxia, and Steins;Gate beside it. I was hooked pretty early and really got into it, especially with how it made me really care about the characters. At first, I didn’t much care for Tomoya and his attitude (I had similar feelings with Okabe in Steins;Gate at first) but as time went on I grew to like just about all the characters in their own ways. However, I think Nagisa was my favorite character overall, and not just because she had the most time spent on her. I followed the route order in the book club and found myself really enjoying the short scenes with Nagisa when they would happen in other routes, so to finally conclude the school arc with her route and continue on with it was something I had been waiting the entire game for (those first few scenes in common with her, meeting her on the hill and having lunch with her, sold me).
Clannad was a spectacular ride and makes me 2/2 on good Key VNs (the other being Planetarian which was my first ever VN). Eventually I would like to have read them all (Tomoyo After and Clannad Side Stories being next, followed by maybe Air?) so when I do get around to those that have had bookclubs done I will be checking those out!