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A Closer Look Book Club creates discussion

Anthony Ruggiero
University of Arizona Book Club discusses The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga at the University Poetry Center on March 8th.

A Closer Look Book Club is a project of docents within the UA Poetry Center. This club looks to challenge their members and choose titles that will create discussions that leave the group and follow members into their daily lives.

“Our book club is unusual from a book club at your local library because we try to choose books of literary fiction,” said Mary Myers, an organizer of the A Closer Look Book Club. “We were trying to encourage the members of the book club to take a look at the way things have changed in the past two years in the world and in the country.”

This month, the book club read “The White Tiger” by Aravind Adiga, which won the 2008 Man Booker Prize. The book is about an impoverished man in India. The book was chosen based on the club’s theme of “Cultural Shifts, New Thinking.” 

The club often chooses fairly recent books written by unacclaimed, skilled authors or books that they normally wouldn’t read.

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Colleen Burns, a founder of the club, greeted members at the door during the club’s March 8 meeting. Members signed in and headed over to the couches near the glass walls in the Poetry Center. When the meeting began, Myers lightheartedly stated the club’s three rules.

“Don’t hog the microphone, be respectful, and what’s the third one? Does anyone remember?”

Katy Sharar has been in the club for two years and facilitated the March 8 discussion. She brought copies of a list of questions and background on the author for everyone. She kicked off the discussion by asking every member what they enjoyed about the book. She asked questions like “Can someone who lives in one reality talk about an alternate reality?”

The club related the themes in the book to today’s issues, which created a lively discussion. 

Members come and go, but there are quite a few members who have been involved for five to 10 years, according to Myers. She said there are members who have never missed a meeting.

Sharar said members have “interesting, deep, and not-on-the-same-page ideas,” all while being respectful of one another. The group proposes questions that challenge each other’s ideas.

“These are people I don’t see around the campus or the Poetry Center except for the book club,” Myers said. “We are filling a special interest and a special need for people in the community to challenge themselves intellectually and think about writing in books.”

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Sharar thinks this book club is special because they try to represent authors that might not be heard as often.

Meetings of the club are free and open to the public.

“We find that the University of Arizona Poetry Center is a beacon for a number of people,” Myers said. “It’s not entirely limited to poetry. Ours is an offering to people who aren’t into poetry but maybe will look into it.”

The club meets once a month at the UA Poetry Center. They will hold their final meeting of the semester on April 12 to discuss “The Sympathizer” by Viet Thanh Nguyen.

Follow Lauren Whetzel on Twitter.

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