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Book Club

The Global Book Club

The Global Book Club was created as a campus-wide objective to share the experience of reading a good book together, with an added layer of learning about a new culture. The Daily Herd sat down with Colleen Callahan-Panday, assistant director of International Students and Scholars, to learn just what a globally inspired book club on campus is all about.

April 15, 2014
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WHO RUNS THE BOOK CLUB?

It is co-coordinated by me and Jen Amedy, manager of the Campus Bookstore.

HOW LONG HAS IT RUN?

We started in the fall of 2012 and have done four semesters’ worth of country-specific reading: China, Iran, Turkey, and Nigeria. We choose a country and pick one nonfiction and one fiction book to read to give the group a good overview of the country’s culture and history.

HOW MANY MEMBERS IN THE GROUP?

It varies, depending on the country. Sometimes we have a good number of people from a specific country to discuss the books, and sometimes the group is more intimate. There are several “core” members who come every time, regardless of country and book selected.

HOW OFTEN DO YOU MEET?

We meet once in each term to give people a chance to read the book.

WHAT TYPES OF BOOKS DO YOU INCLUDE?

The nonfiction is generally read first to give more general background to a particular country, followed by a work of fiction by one of that country’s notable authors.

WHO PICKS THE BOOKS?

We often take suggestions from people with intimate knowledge of the country. Our China books were suggested by Professor Jennifer Rudolph, whose academic specialty is China; our Iranian books were suggested by several Iranian graduate students.
“Often we have students from the countries whose books we are reading join us to add an additional layer of meaning through giving firsthand perspective on a place, its culture, and its history.”

WHAT IS THE GOAL OF THE GROUP?

To learn more about different parts of the world, and to enjoy good books together.

WHAT’S A TYPICAL GLOBAL BOOK CLUB MEETING LIKE?

Once everyone is settled into the circle of chairs set up in the bookstore we open the discussion. Readers are free to share their thoughts about the book in general, the plot, cultural points, questions, etc. Often students from that region or people who have traveled there add to the discussion with personal experiences. The bookstore sponsors snacks from the region of the world we are reading about.

WHAT BOOK WILL YOU DISCUSS ON WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16?

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It was in the New York Times Book Review’s “10 Best Books of 2013.” And it won the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award.

CAN PEOPLE SHOW UP EVEN IF THEY HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK?

Yes, if they are interested in listening, or if they have experience in Nigeria, or if they have read part of the book and still want to discuss, they are welcome to attend.

WHO SHOULD THEY CONTACT?

Me, at ccallahan@wpi.edu.

WHERE AND WHEN ARE YOU MEETING?

At the WPI Bookstore, Campus Center, 4:30–6pm.