Lizzie Potter once started a personal book club with a friend of hers because of their shared love of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Both of them were fans of the Disney film, but had never read the novel. So they decided to each buy a copy, read it over the course of a month, and check in every few days to discuss the characters and themes portrayed in the classic tale.
Potter, a senior studying specialized studies, said book clubs serve as helpful tools in connecting people through books. Although the way people read may have changed with technology, there is still value in discussing books with others.
If You Go:
What: •Athens Uncorked Well Red Bookclub
When: •6 p.m., •Sunday
Where:• Athens Uncorked, •14 Station St.
Admission: •$25 pre-pay membership fee
“The themes that books have now are still relevant,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you read a paperback or on a Kindle. The themes you’re reading about are still worth discussing face-to-face because we still think the same way.”
Book clubs can range in size and purpose. Some area clubs feature wine tastings while discussing novels. Other university-based groups are more academically focused. In any case, book clubs provide a social experience through a shared value for literature and its teaching abilities.
George Poleondakis, a junior studying finance, recently started The Book Club at Ohio University as a student organization for business students and others with an interest in discussing self-improvement and career-based books with their peers.
Poleondakis, the president of The Book Club, said the group is different from a traditional book club and is fairly loosely structured. Rather than all reading the same text, the group’s eight current members choose their own books to read and share what they learned from the books with the other members at club meetings.
“It’s more like sharing information,” Poleondakis said. “It’s gaining knowledge and expertise by reading books, rather than just in the classroom.”
Poleondakis said the information sharing goes beyond what’s learned in the books, too. The group often shares helpful articles with one another, and older members share advice with younger ones on career-related topics such as internships. The aspect he appreciates most about the club is the laid-back atmosphere it maintains while still being informative.
“We’re not doing anything too lazy, but it’s supposed to be fun,” Poleondakis said. “The annoying thing is when you have to put a deadline on it or write a paper about a book instead of just talking about what you liked.”
Athens Uncorked, a wine bar at 14 Station St., has hosted a monthly book club since about the time it opened its doors nearly four years ago.
Adam Hart, a bartender at Athens Uncorked, said the owner is a major book lover and tries to choose a new book each month based on what he’s read or heard about. This month’s gathering of the Well Red Bookclub, which will take place Sunday at 6 p.m., will discuss the novel Never Let Me Go by Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro.
“Sometimes we’ll do a fantasy, followed by a Western, followed by a true-life historical book or maybe historical fiction,” Hart said. “So we really try to vary just in order to make everybody happy or introduce people to genres that they might not have read before.”
Hart, who bartends at the book club meetings each month, said the gatherings usually include about 15 people, and those who attend usually return for future meetings. They are people of all ages, from graduate students to retirees, and the meetings offer them a chance to have a guiltless night out with good conversation and good wine.
“We try to create an atmosphere that’s not particularly overly academic, but we definitely have questions that we ask for discussion and it keeps the discussion going,” Hart said. “It’s a group of friends, and if you come you feel welcomed into this group.”