The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

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The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

[PODCAST] Book Club plans for next year

BOOKS UNITE. Book Club members come together in the math classroom to celebrate the class of 2024 before senior projects. Junior Grace Medrano said, “We [Medrano and Raven Glaser] took over last month [as the new leaders], so we’ll be running it next year.” (Submitted photo by Grace Medrano)

Zimo Xie: Hi, I’m Zimo Xie and in this podcast, I will be diving into the Book Club’s book selection process and plans for next year with the new Book Club leaders, Grace Medrano and Raven Glaser.

Xie: What does a typical club meeting look like in Book Club?

Grace Medrano: Well, historically, we’ll start with just chatting a little bit. Especially if we’ve just finished a book, we’ll talk about first impressions, enjoyment level, and readability. Book club– A lot of us come from different reading levels. I think that’s kind of a misconception that we’re all mega-readers. A lot of us have different time constraints and reading levels. So for some people, a book might be like, ‘Oh, it was great. I had such a great time’, and someone else will be like, ‘that was the most mind numbing book I’ve ever read in my life.’ So yeah, we’ll usually chat about the book. First impressions. Historically, our old leaders, now I guess that would be us, would bring questions in for us to talk about, and there’s always snack.

Raven Glaser: Yes, there’s always snack. So I think part of the first part is also just like grabbing snack, and like settling in. But I also think, even though there are questions that they bring in, it’s not like we have to answer these questions like, ‘this is what we gotta get through the list. We got to do this.’ It’s more like it’s just a discussion and the dialogue comes down to just talking if you have questions or something prepared so that we can actually continue.

Medrano: Usually we’ll go off one question and then suddenly, we’re just talking about – we’ve managed to spin it into an entirely different discussion.

Xie: Can you talk more about the reading levels of different people? What do you mean by that?

Medrano: I mean, obviously, we’re all in high school, so we’re all at a certain reading level, but it also just has to do with the books people like. I think that reading level can’t necessarily be quantified. I know people try to do that a lot. But I think that’s really hard because certain students have a really hard time reading one kind of book, but they’ll have a really easy time reading another and vice versa. So I think, like we’ve read mysteries, where some people have a really fun time because they’re enjoying trying to crack the code and exploring and some people just get really confused.

Glaser: There was one that had a lot of jumping between different parts, and I think that part, that jumping between a lot of different voices can be really easy for people, especially people who read a lot of fantasy, or like genres that tend to do a lot of part-switching, but it might have been harder for some people to go back and forth.

Medrano: So I think that’s my primary thing. Like, when you read across genres, people are going to have easier and harder times depending on the genre. So that’s why, picking books, people always bring in a suggestion and we all vote on it. So everyone gets a say. And then, we try to mix up the genres, so that we don’t just read one thing throughout the year.

Xie: Can you also talk more about the book selection process each year and how many books you guys typically go through during the school year?

Glaser: Yeah, I mean, this year, I think we read like four or five. I think that’s about right. I don’t know. So, towards the end– well at the beginning of the year, when there’s kind of a lot of freshmen still coming in, and still trying to figure out if they’re going to join the club or not, we tend to read a lot of short stories. So it’s you just read a short story and then come and we discuss it and it’s not like a book. So that one wouldn’t really count. And then towards the end of the year as well, because a lot of people have a lot of stuff on their plates, we don’t want to–-

Medrano: Overwhelm them.

Glaser: Yeah, we don’t want to overwhelm them and be like, ‘you have to read an entire book in a day.’ We don’t want to do that, we end up doing a lot of graphic novels, which–

Medrano: Count.

Glaser: Yeah, they count, but due to the nature of the format, are a lot easier to read.

Medrano: But yeah, so like we said, everyone will bring in a suggestion, or they’re supposed to bring in a suggestion. Participation’s 50/50, people just forget. They’re supposed to bring in a blurb, and if they forget to bring in a blurb, that’s what Google is for.

Glaser: GoodReads. It is the best.

Medrano: And so we’ll all just write down all the books that people want to do. And then, we just go through the voting process. You usually get like, depending on how many books we bring in, three votes to start, and then you just get to narrow it down from there.

Glaser: The only thing I will add to that though, is that depending on the type of book, like we don’t do book series, because then once again, you’re investing for way longer, and we want to make sure that we can get a ton of different types of books. So book series are off the table, unless it’s kind of like it could be a standalone, you know what I mean?

Medrano: We also avoid really long books.

Glaser: We try to avoid really long books.

Medrano: Anything over 400 is iffy.

Glaser: Yeah, and we don’t really try to avoid books that have a lot of heavy topics, but there are like– you do have to like fish for trigger warnings, like make sure that people know and then you also–

Medrano: Some books we have to get admin approval.

Glaser: Yeah

Xie: How long has Book Club been around?

Medrano: Not very long, I think like four years?

Glaser: Yeah.

Medrano: About four years. We took over last month-ish, so we’ll be running it next year. It was Melina Kannankutty and Lucy Shaffer’s ‘love child’ they’d always say. They started it in their freshman year, and we were threatened to continue it or face the consequences. I love it, so I’m not upset that I have to take over, but–

Glaser: Very accurate, very accurate.

Medrano: They did say if they find out anything bad has happened to the club, they will come back.

Xie: So this is a relatively new club.

Medrano: Yeah, relatively. There are some that are newer and some that are older, but yeah, we’re second gen. So we’re kind of figuring it out for ourselves, seeing if there’s anything that might work better or any changes we need to make.

Xie: Are there any changes right now that you’re thinking about that you might have moving forward that you might want to make?

Medrano: I’m thinking, something I want to just make sure we consistently do is just be a little more thorough with trigger warnings if they come up. Like Lucy always tried to make sure we got them, but I think sometimes we would all get jump scared and we’d be like, ‘Whoa, that came out of nowhere.’ So I think just reading ahead a little more often on my part, at least, and just making sure, you know, we’re all aware. And then also, I think, sometimes when heavy topics would come up, we’d kind of dance around them a little just instinctually, but I feel like maybe I don’t know if we’ll do this or not, but maybe just acknowledging a little more like, ‘So this happened. Did this make people feel things? If not, it’s okay. But if you had feelings about this, feel free to talk about it.’

Glaser: I feel like for me, it’s more like– so last year, we created like a Free Little Library, and it’s out on the lawn, and like, Melina and Lucy have tried but it’s also like, semi-dead constantly. There’s like a couple books in it, and I want to–

Medrano: That just means people are taking our books.

Glaser: True, but I want to– I think like next year try to see if we can get a lot more books to get put in.

Medrano: Yeah, more consistent.

Glaser: Yeah, so that there’s like– I mean, even having an overflow would be nice, so that when books start to run out, we can replenish it.

Medrano: I think we were thinking of setting up a book drive to happen more often, so we can fill up the Little Library consistently.

Xie: What would that look like if you did have a book drive?

Medrano: I think we’d probably, you know, make an announcement in the newsletter, and then probably put bins by the you know, two entrances, and I’d be willing to stand there every morning like, ‘Book. Put a book in there I don’t care.’

Glaser: I think a lot of people have books that are just sitting around their houses they’re not really using anymore. And I think there is value to giving it back to the community and sharing.

Medrano: And I think it doesn’t have to be like a high level book. This is a neighborhood right? Like this isn’t like a college town. There are plenty of families with small kids who– we live near Mattocks, this school is really close to Mattocks Park, right. So there’s a lot of small, younger people around, even if you want to bring in an old kids book. That’s great, too. So I think just yeah, trying to get a little more participation in that would be great.

Xie: Thank you for tuning in to the podcast and the Book Club will return in the fall. For more podcasts, check out RubicOnline.

Music from Pixabay: happiness-upbeat-150907

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About the Contributor
Zimo Xie
Zimo Xie, Feature Editor
Hi, my name is Zimo Xie (she/her). I’m a sophomore and this is my second year on staff. This year, I work as a feature editor for the RubicOnline. Outside of journalism, I’m involved in two orchestras and dance. I love to hang out with my cats at home. I can be reached at [email protected].

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