When I looked through assignments on SI 643 syllabus early this semester, this book club assignment was the least favorable one to me. But, it actually turns out that it was a class assignment the I enjoyed the most so far. Moreover, I learned a lot from this practice.
1. Providing some historical and cultural background of a reading helps club members understand it better and also promotes more lively conversation. In particular, as for a reading which is not very familiar to most members and deals with a different culture, some introductory information is necessary.
2. A book club leader’s role is very important. Especially a leader should make deliberate efforts to embrace any alternative interpretation of a reading so as to stimulate and keep more interesting conversation. For example, we talked about The Cask of Amontillado, and thanks to a book club readers, we enjoyed a very lively conversation based on all interesting interpretation about the characteristics of the narrator of this story. They had all their own good questions ready, but rather than sticking to their questions and leading a discussion into their direction, they changed a course and encouraged book club participants to discuss more about the narrators.
3. A good ‘ice breaking’ is also essential. It helps book club participants more easily bond and make a friendly atmosphere. I was very impressed by our colleagues’ demonstration on how fun and creative ice breaking can be (e.g. role-playing based on characters in story, “put yourself in other’s shoes”, etc.)
4. Regarding our book club exercise, first, I am really thankful to our colleagues. Contrary to our worries of having a reading material that is in a new format, they showed an interest and excitement and participated actively in discussion by sharing their own experience on the subject. But I also found a room for improvement in our exercise. Kirsten and myself worked together for our book club, but we weren’t clear about ‘division of labor’ between us. When more than two persons are leading discussion, then they should plan ahead how to divide their responsibilities in book club and “who leads it when” to make a book club run smoothly.
Conclusion: I wish we have one more book club session!