Book clubs may look different in the era of social distancing — some have gone on hiatus, while others have moved online — but what’s most important is that people are still reading, and sharing their love of books with one another.
Now meeting virtually on Zoom, the Long Before the End Book Club is reading Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. This Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of stories focuses on small town life and the relationships between people in that environment. Group member Justin Magnuson shares more:
How did the group select Olive Kitteridge to read?
The book was selected by one of the members, as we generally conclude each meeting by asking someone to pick a book. One of the books we read in the fall was Wendell Berry’s The Memory of Old Jack, and we really liked it. Olive Kitteridge takes a similar approach of tying together the narrative of a character, from a small town, through multiple encounters.
What has it been like moving your book club online to practice social distancing?
This last session was our first attempt at discussing a book virtually. I think the discussion was very similar to our in-person meetings. It lacked some of the intimacy that being in close proximity offers and turn taking, but I feel that our core members are quite comfortable with each other, and we still filled the full session.
The world is experiencing an exceptional amount of grief and loss right now. How do you think books can help?
I think books are an excellent way to introduce topics and ways of being that people might be uncomfortable contemplating but when embedded in a story make it easy to explore. My hope is that by exploring the topic of death and dying in literature we can dig into our own values and thoughts, but also be challenged to listen deeply to each other, develop more empathy, and hopefully take what we’ve learned out into our lives.
Catching Up: Here’s what other area clubs are reading next.
• Carmichael’s Community Book Club: Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe
• Louisville Book Babes: Big Sexy Love by Kirsty Greenwood
• Modern Mrs. Darcy: The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar
BY VANESSA HUTCHISON