GVSU book club looks to make reading more enjoyable

Shae Slaughter

A big part of college is assigned reading, but Grand Valley State University’s book club is looking to add some of the joy back into this required task. Many people consider book clubs to be a set pattern of reading one book a week and then discussing it in a group setting. GVSU’s book club breaks that stereotype.

April Urbanowski, the co-president and Sara Krahel, the co-vice president decided to create the club in 2014 in the hopes of breaking that mold.

“It’s not your typical book club,” said Alex Blossom, the other co-president. “We don’t sit down and read one specific book together.”

The format of the club changes a little bit each week and instead, each member talks about the book they want to discuss. Sometimes, groups will be formed based on genres, but there are no steadfast rules. The group also plays a variety of games together, occasionally even taking trips to watch movie premieres for books that have been turned into films.

“We decided to make an organization that would welcome all kinds of people who love books,” Urbanowski said.

The book club also likes to bring authors to meetings to speak at least twice a month.

“It’s nice to hear how people get published and established and hear their story,” Blossom said.

As the club has become more established over the last few years, authors have even begun to reach out to the club, asking to speak on their own which makes the two author visits a month easy to reach. Krahel often takes charge of arranging for these authors to come and speak as part of her duties as vice president.

“I work at Grand Valley’s writing center, so two of our authors have come from there,” she said.

The club also has gone out to visit nursing homes to play shuffle board with residents. Keeping on track with their reading roots, members have also read to at-risk youth at elementary schools to increase the student’s reading levels.

“Since I am a founder, I am a very volunteer-based person,” Urbanowski said. “We have to reach out to the community some way, somehow.”

The activities that book club participates in has helped to create a close family feel according to its members.

“It’s not like a formal club, it’s a big family,” Krahel said.

The members of the book club are from a wide variety of academic areas, not just English subjects, helping to widen the inclusivity of the group. Blossom said they are always open to bringing in new people to join the club.

The club currently has about 30 members from week to week, with meetings taking place from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Kirkhof Center Room 2270. New members are welcome throughout the semester.

“We are a very welcoming organization, we have meetings weekly, if a new face appears in the middle of the semester that’s awesome,” Urbanowski said.

For more information, GVSU’s book club can currently be found on OrgSync, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.