Civitas honors program cracking open book club


image13A new book club partially funded by the Civitas program will start meeting later this month to discuss books through deep literary analysis and thought.

Sophomore nursing major, Jessica Marsland, said she was inspired by Civitas classes to create the club.

“What I love about the Civitas classes is the critical thinking and deep thought that is based off literature,” said Marsland. “Why not have a book club where students can do that?”

Director of Civitas, Bill Swart, worked on behalf of the book club to fund it. With the approval of the Civitas Council, the club is set to receive partial funding to help buy the first book the club reads every semester. 

Apart from receiving partial funding from the Civitas program, the club has no direct relation to Civitas courses.

Marsland approached Dr. Janet Blank-Libra, professor of the Civitas literature course, who agreed to advise and participate in the club. Twenty students have already expressed interest in joining the club.

The club is meant to encourage reading outside the classroom. 

“We forget reading is fun,” said Civitas junior Sentel Johnson, who is considering joining the club. “This club gives students the opportunity to read without the pressure of reading to receive a grade.”

The official goal of the book club from its constitution is “to grow and strengthen the Civitas Community, outside the classroom through deep literary analysis and discussion.” 

The club will give Civitas students a way to meet other students in the Civitas program outside of the classroom. Marsland wanted to make it easier for students to get to know each other.

“The club gives people a good excuse to meet up outside of class in a more relaxed setting,” said Johnson.

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Marsland and Johnson agreed that finding a good book to read outside the classroom can be difficult. Both mentioned that they are excited to have Blank-Libra as the club’s advisor.

Blank-Libra will take an active role in the club as facilitator and mentor to students by reading and discussing with students at meetings, Marsland said. 

Johnson said that part of the reason she was interested in joining the club is because of the role Blank-Libra will have.

“I want the book group to be a place where students can come together and talk about something that they are passionate about and talk about a book they’ve connected with and in that way, lead themselves towards thinking deep and great thoughts,” said Blank-Libra.

The club will start with Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple. The book was published in 2012 and has been adapted for the screen. The film is set to be released in October later this year.

“The book offers both humor and a way to think about the human condition,” said Blank-Libra.

Though there is no set booklist yet, Blank-Libra will work with the club to choose books that engage the students and allow for deep reflection.

     Club members will buy the majority of the books they read for the club, so Blank-Libra and Marsland plan to choose affordable books in the $10-12 range.

Johnson said she was glad to hear the club is not going to be too expensive. However, Sentel also said she was concerned about having enough time to read for fun while balancing a busy course load. 

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Sophomore Civitas student Trey Waldrop, who is also planning on joining the club, said he was initially concerned about the work that comes with a club.

“At first I was concerned about the time commitment, but I think that a mutual understanding with my peers in the club that our coursework must always come first will alleviate that stress and keep the time commitment appropriate,” Waldrop said. 

Marsland said the club will meet roughly every three weeks to give people enough time to read. 

     “I hope that students realize that even though they are terrifically busy, they can always find time to read a great book,” said Blank-Libra.

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