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The Gathering Place Blog

Positive Programming: Book Club

By: Kateri Kramer, Administrative Coordinator of Art Restart

For as long as I can remember, I have been afflicted with what Zadie Smith has coined “Pathological Reader Syndrome”. A common symptom includes the inability to pack less than three books on any vacation regardless of length. Recently I found myself shoving 5 books into a purse for a short 4 day trip to Los Angeles, simply because the possibility of being stranded in an airport without a variety of reading choices was not going to happen. In fact, I can’t go anywhere without at least two books to keep me company. “Pathological Reader Syndrome” is highly contagious, which was why when I started to work with our Education and Job Readiness Program Manager, Melany, I knew that in no time many of our members would find they were afflicted with the same syndrome. Voraciously reading while standing in line, or eating lunch, or resting after a tiring day.

This is exactly what happened when Melany (Education and Job Readiness Programs Manager) and I (Administrative Coordinator of Art Restart) began the book club. We choose a short story, a collection of poems, or a non-fiction piece to read aloud during the hour and then discuss. It is a short respite in our member’s days; an hour of calm, not having to worry about where one will sleep during the night or where their next meal will come from.

Literature is solace. But it is also a catalyst for community building. F. Scott Fitzgerald said “That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal, that you are not lonely and isolated. That you belong”. I love having the opportunity to hear what our members think about what we’ve read, that they have found language to express some emotion or thought otherwise rendered silent. I love hearing them communicate with other members through the art of literature; building bridges and building community. But most of all, I love hearing that our members have identified with some universal human trait through the lives of Dr. Juvenal Urbino from Love In The Time Of Cholera, or Toni Morrison in Sweetness from God Help The Child, or Thomas-Builds-The-Fire from This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona. It is an affirmation to know that we share common experiences with people whom we’ve never met and people whom are sipping tea by our side.

The Gathering Place Book Club loves having the opportunity to point members to where they can get more books to take with them, and we occasionally get donations from the Denver Public Library, however, more book donations are always welcomed! To donate books to TGP contact Kateri (