Class Week 7: How Our Book Clubs Went

I left class Monday evening feeling energized, happy, and proud of myself and my fellow classmates. The three hours (OK, a little under three) flew by as we took turns conducting our five book club sessions. Sarah and I went first. We were a little unsure of ourselves as no one had gone before us, so we didn’t have anything to go off of other than our discussions in class and from the readings. The latter prepared us for writing decent questions: we clustered them around each idea we had about the story, or a specific quote we wanted to talk about. We tried to stay away from jargon-y language, like asking about what “devices” the author used, etc. We also tried to avoid leading questions in favor of more open questions.

It was an interesting experience to have the list of questions in front of us when we began. I felt that just reading down the list wouldn’t be as fun for everyone, so I opened up the discussion by first asking what everyone thought of the story. The group was happy to dive in and begin conversing about it immediately, and covered some of the questions we wrote before we got to them. There were a few times where there was a lull in the conversation, and I wasn’t sure whether to leave the ten seconds for someone to pipe up, or whether to start scanning my list for a good follow-up question–this seems like a skill that comes from practice.

I struggled a bit with the role of a leader. I think I did a pretty OK job, but at times I felt a little strange nudging my peers to expand on their thoughts, as opposed to being more of an equal in the conversation. In fact, one piece of feedback we got was that one way to improve would be adding our own thoughts on the book club selection. If it were a casual book club, I could absolutely see the “leader” participating just as much as everyone else. However, I’m not sure how that would go if I were a librarian in an academic library with students or other university-affiliated individuals. It wouldn’t be exactly like the teachers in last week’s reading who were working with kids, but it also would be slightly more formal than a group of friends meeting at someone’s house.

I really enjoyed being a participant in others’ clubs. It was great fun to hear my classmate’s thoughts and talk with them on stories and non-fiction far outside the realms of normal classroom fare.

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One thought on “Class Week 7: How Our Book Clubs Went

  1. I also really enjoyed participating in the book clubs themselves. There was a nice energy in our club, and I imagine that same energy was in the rest of the rooms as well. I like that you specifically avoided just going down the list of questions. I think that’s really smart. My partner and I did the same thing, and took from questions on our list as they became relevant to the conversation.
    I was a little intimidated in the facilitator position as well. I felt a little uncomfortable a) finding ways to start conversations and b) taking a leadership position in a group of my peers. Thankfully, my partner and I were able to help the other out in this instance. I think as we get more practice, this insecurity will go away. Once the conversation got going, I found it difficult NOT to give my opinion. Part of that was the awkward pauses between discussion, but also because my group had some really interesting thoughts about the readings.

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