It’s Grace here to do a recap of March’s book club at the Oxford Exchange.
For those of you who haven’t heard about my ventures before, I’ve been running a teen-focused book club for about a year now. You can read my original announcements and explanations here and here for Inkwood Books and Oxford Exchange.
We’ve had a really great roll with book club lately. Our last few picks have been phenomenal, and we’ve had a fantastic turnout. Admittedly, we’re a book club that often ventures into talking about Brain Pickings or comparable books to the month’s title as well as aspects of the book we’re supposed to be discussing.
The funny part about OE book club is that although I do have a core group of regulars, we always have somebody new. It’s really lovely actually. It varies, who all shows up in a given month.
For those of you who have never been to book club before – which is, for my virtual and/or adult readers, many of you – here’s how it normally goes. I get to book club early and figure out logistics with my manager. As people trickle in, we talk about what’s going on in our lives. (For many of the seniors, we chat a little about college because that’s our main concern.) When most everyone’s there, we start round-table introductions if there’s anyone new. Everyone knows the routine: name, grade, school, favorite/latest book.
First off, I ask what people thought of the book. If somebody has a strong opinion, they explain. Based on that, I moderate the discussion as it lapses into specific scenes, topics, etc,. And I always encourage everyone to bring in ideas from other works or sources too. We’ve been exposed to a lot of websites, current events, and books that way. That, for me, is one of the most rewarding parts of book club.
During discussion, my manager might pop her head in at some point and tell us that we’re welcome to the food. Because teen book club is right after Tea for Tots, we get the leftovers. And they’re usually divine: cucumber sandwiches, chocolate covered strawberries, mini cupcakes, etc,.
And then we go back to talking.
This month, we read The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac, for a few reasons.
- Hello…Jack Kerouac.
- Warby Parker just moved into Oxford Exchange (and they love that book!)
- Several kids were reading it already, and we’re nothing if not accomodating.
March was a bit of a tough month for discussion because it’s probably one of the busiest months of the year for high schoolers. Third quarter is really difficult, and many people play spring sports. Not many people finished the book, even though it was less than two hundred pages. One of the nice parts about The Dharma Bums, however, was that the plot wasn’t the most relevant part of the book.
The Dharma Bums is a book about travel along the California coast, as well as Ray Smith’s (a loose interpretation of Jack Kerouac) experiences with his form of Buddhism. I personally learned a lot about other religion through this book, and that was something we discussed. Additionally, we talked about Japhy and Princess and some of the characters who cropped up throughout.
By the end of the month, I had so much of this book underlined! There were some lovely lines that really made me think (one of the reasons I love Kerouac) so I definitely brought those up and we had some great conversation.
Next month, we’re reading a collection of inter-connected short stories (à la The Tsar of Love and Techno) which we’re all really excited about! So if you’re in the Tampa area and are a teen who would love to eat cupcakes/talk about books/make new friends, come join! For the record, you can always hear the latest about book club – and all my bookish goings-on – on my Twitter and Instagram.
Teen Classics Book Club
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz | Goodreads
April 24, 2016 at 3 P.M.
Commerce Club, Oxford Exchange
Free – tea and treats provided