The University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s AOK Library is frequented by masses of students as the fall semester comes to an end and final exams approach. Time is a precious resource during these last few weeks of studying for final exams and perfecting final papers. It can be difficult to find time for hobbies, but one group of students has been taking time to sit back and have fun as they have all semester. They meet every other week in the RLC seminar room to discuss a shared interest: books.
The Book Club was founded two years ago during the spring semester by a small group of students who all enjoy reading. Club President Everest Brooks, a senior computer science major, says that the idea was simple; the students just wanted a place to “meet and talk about books,” and he describes the atmosphere of the meetings as “super relaxed.” Originally, the group collectively chose one book to read for each time period between meetings and would then discuss it, but decided to change things up this year. Now, attendees are free to talk about their reading experiences old and new, making for more varied conversation and, as Brooks notes, allowing members “to grow [their] book lists.”
Both Brooks and club Public Relations Manager Jeanette Richardson, a senior history major, agree that their participation in the club encourages them to read. Brooks admits that, during his freshman and sophomore years of college, he read “maybe two books” that were not assigned for class despite his love for reading; he just felt too busy with classwork. Now, he makes time to read and shares his experiences with the group. Richardson observes that “people don’t read as much now unless it’s mandatory for class,” so she looks forward to attending meetings to be in an environment where she finds “people who genuinely enjoy books.” She has over 1,500 books on her list of books that she wants to read, as she regularly adds suggestions from others, and has read 55 books so far this year, something she says she has not done in a long time.
Currently, the Book Club has a small membership. Richardson stumbled upon the club at Involvement Fest and now directs communications by reaching out to potential members on their myUMBC and Facebook pages. Recently, the group has collaborated with two other organizations on campus in events that both Brooks and Richardson enjoyed. In October, there was an event called Spooky Books in the library’s Special Collections. In November, members of the Hot Beverage Club brought teas representing famous authors to sample and share.
The Book Club’s goal is to encourage students who like reading — even if life has been too busy for them to read in some time — to come out and talk about books. Richardson notes that she was wary when she first joined because science fiction is a popular genre among members and it’s not her favorite, but everyone listened to her and chimed in. She was excited to hear about all types of books being discussed, and she has even expanded her reading horizons. To all interested students, she says simply, “join us.”