Sunday, March 12, 2017

Book Club Experience

I attended an Adult Book Club meeting at my local library. This month, the book being discussed was Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. I have never read this book but had heard good things about the book and the author in the past. I was a bit nervous observing since I had not read the book on my own and I felt like I was unable to participate in any of the discussion, but I stayed to observe anyway!

The book club held an hour long meeting, from 1:30pm to 2:30pm, in one of the Collaborative Spaces in the public library. Their Eyes Were Watching God is the "Big Read" of 2017. The "Big Read" is usually promoted by about 40 different community organizations, and it is used to spark discussion, promote reading, and build up the community. This particular Adult Book Club meeting was one of 27 events that are centered around Hurston's novel.

The book club meeting was facilitated by a library employee named Hillary, and she seemed to be the one who was asking the questions to bring about discussion. Hillary would ask a question and then let the attendees respond, and then she added in her own thoughts once everyone had said their piece. I heard some questions like "What did you think about...?" or "How did this passage on page X make you feel?". From what I could gather, Hurston wrote this novel with a lot of slang; the main character, Janie Crawford, used a lot of broken English, and had heavy use of the N-word. This actually led to a small sub-conversation about censorship, which I was able to chip in a little and talk about the way this language gave the reader more of a feel for the time period of the novel. 

Not all of the attendees participated with the conversation but there were a few who spoke on multiple occasions. None of the attendees stole the spotlight when discussing the novel.

The atmosphere of the book club was very welcoming, and in the Collaborative Space there were chairs and tables for attendees to sit and converse. No food or drinks were provided in the meeting but a few people had brought their own drinks with caps or lids. This book club discusses various genres of books and they meet once a month. For example, next month the Adult Book Club will discuss The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. Although I did not have a chance to read the book, I liked the observation. This ended up being a cool experience. I have never attended a book club before this one, and it was interesting to see the attendees (that participated) discuss their thoughts and different views of the novel.


  1. What a fabulous book! How many people were there? Did any of them talk about going to any of the other events? Are you interested in attending any of them? How did you choose this particular book club (convenient time, location, topic...)? I just wondered since you said you had never been to a book club before and I saw from your profile that you're from Terre Haute, which is a pretty large community with a college so there must be (in my utopian imaginings) loads of awesome book clubs nearby. I should start one on my front porch - wine, chickens, books... wanna come?
    Anyway, glad you had fun!

  2. Fantastic observations and write up! I'm glad you had such a pleasant experience!

  3. It sounds like you had a wonderful experience. I have never read this book either but I am curious about it after reading your book club experience.