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Book club, cultural clubs explore global-themed reads

This year, Notre Dame’s book club is striving to go global by picking a book with an international connection each month. To maximize their multiculturalism, the officers plan to collaborate with Notre Dame’s cultural clubs that correspond with their monthly read.

“We are choosing books based on different cultures,” said book club president and graduate student Mayesha Sahir Mim. 

It is the first year the club has taken on a theme with their book choice. Sahir Mim said the club wants to “make things more fun and interesting” through a theme since it was inactive last semester, and meetings have been held over Zoom since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each month, the club will pick a book that fits the theme, purchase it for interested members and then meet on a Thursday evening at the end of the month for an informal discussion about their thoughts on the book. September’s book was “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian author. At September’s meeting, the Brazilian Students Association gave a presentation on Brazil and Coelho’s life.

“We thought the theme would be just for the semester, but there’s so many countries. And when we collaborated with the Brazilian club, we had a lot of fun with it,” Sahir Mim said. “We thought three months won’t be enough time, so we’ll just continue with it even over the spring semester.”

This month, the club is reading “The Girl with the Louding Voice” by Abi Daré, a book about a Nigerian girl and written by a Nigerian author. For its Oct. 27 meeting, Sahir Mim said the African club plans to give a presentation on Nigeria and share African food while discussing the book.

“I love our global theme this year. I think it’s really important to seek out stories from all types of people and am happy to be learning about different parts of the world from it,” social chair Sarah Nano said in an email.

Sahir Mim also mentioned the book club is planning to collaborate with Notre Dame’s Multicultural Student Programs and Services (MSPS), diversity council and international student and scholars affairs in their upcoming meetings.

Sahir Mim said she is hoping that establishing a theme and holding more engaging meetings will encourage current members to become more active and attract new ones.

“We definitely want more people to be aware of our club and join,” she said.

Currently, the club mostly consists of graduate students, but Sahir Mim said the group is open to undergraduates as well. 

“You will make some friends, and you get to discuss your ideas about a book that you’re reading,” she said of the club. 

Nano seconded that idea, saying she has enjoyed meeting new people as part of the club.

“I’ve already met so many great people who’d I’d love to get to know more about. I also like that book club pushes me to broaden my reading choices,” she said in an email.

Interested students can contact Sahir Mim at mmim@nd.edu or direct message the Instagram account, @bookclub_nd.

Contact Kendelle Hung-Ino at khungino@nd.edu

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Saint Mary’s students revive, rebrand College English club

The Saint Mary’s English club has been dormant for the past couple of years. This semester, it has revived by several Saint Mary’s seniors. 

The seniors behind the club’s reestablishment started with conversations in English classes by president Madeline Law, vice president Gracie Conlon, secretary Shannon Haverty and treasurer Genevieve Coleman.

Editor’s note: Law is currently a Viewpoint copyeditor and Coleman is an assistant managing editor at The Observer, respectively.

Haverty discussed the goals the club wants to achieve within the Saint Mary’s community. 

“[The co-chairs] all had found ourselves discussing books outside of class that we really wanted to continue talking about in class,” Haverty said. “We wanted to rekindle this love for reading and writing that we think all majors have. The co-chairs found that in our classes, but wanted to share it with the rest of our community.” 

Belles’ Booknook can be considered a place to wind down and destress from all the academic and social overload that can occur in one’s college experience, according to Haverty.

Haverty discussed how academic stressors and personal commitments can make one forget the love and passion they have for recreational reading.

“A lot of students and other majors had a love for reading or writing at one point in their lives, but the academic stressors had put a lot of weight on them, that they forget about reading and just skim read or not find that love for it,” she said.  

Furthering the discussion on Belles’ Booknook’s mission for the community, Haverty stated that she hoped the club has an impact that not only reaches the Saint Mary’s community but also the South Bend community as well. 

“I would say the thing that makes us very different is that we want to work with our fellow clubs in our community …We’ve talked about a few ideas we want to lay out and one of those is what if we did some workshops in the South Bend Community’s school systems and brought reading and literature and made it more accessible to our schools because a few of us are education majors as well.” 

Belles’ Booknook is not going to always be solely focused on sit down discussions over books. There will be events hosted by the club. Haverty discusses the possibility of hosting guest speakers who are authors as well as having creative themed parties. 

“We discussed having a dress-like-a literary-character day and or event,” Haverty stated. “We also talked about having a guest speaker who is an author and maybe the author could be a previous Belle.” 

This although will not be the sole purpose of the club since its main focus will be on their “book talks” group meetings which are bi-weekly. These meetings will take place in Belles Backyard and will either highlight any national holidays or it can be a tool to connect with fellow Saint Mary’s students.

“Book talk is going to be a place where we can highlight any national holidays that correspond with reading and writing like Banned Book Week or National Write a Letter to your Teacher day or something like that … but book talk will be a place more so where we can all come together,” Haverty said.

The Belles’ Booknook’s first book talk will be on Sept. 8, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Belles’ Backyard.

If students are interested in joining the club, they can email bellesbooknooksmc@gmail.com or sign up through Belle Tower.