Form a Book Club, Beat the Boredom


Clockwise from top left, seniors Shreya Sinkar, Sarah Adams, Jeha Kim, Priyal Garg, and Sagnik Chowdhury meet over Zoom to discuss their latest book club book, The Woman in the Window.

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably guilty of starting (and never finishing) multiple books, only to set them aside onto a never-ending reading list in order to “focus on school.” The Japanese even have a word for it—“tsundoku”—which literally translates to “reading pile.” And although the stay-at-home order has meant the cancellation of most activities, the extra free time has also given some students the opportunity to, at long last, get back into reading.

Lucy Milligan
Lucy Milligan shares the stack of books that she plans to read. She has a unique set of interests ranging from the works of ancient philosophers to the short stories of Ernest Hemingway.

For seniors Sarah Adams, Sagnik Chowdhury, Jeha Kim, Priyal Garg, and Shreya Sinkar, this means forming a book club. Sagnik says, “We started book club because we wanted to see each other and have something to talk about, and we started off with Twilight because of how bad it is.”

However, their current book is something they were able to pick up again during quarantine. Sarah explains, “Shreya started reading The Woman in the Window a year ago and abandoned it because of the SATs, and then she recommended it when we were looking for another book.”

The novel by A. J. Finn is a psychological thriller (also set to come out as a movie later this year, coronavirus willing) about an agoraphobic psychologist who investigates the mysterious disappearance of her neighbor. You might be wondering: how do you go from vampire/werewolf romance to this?

“The books we read and plan on reading vary from very stupid fanfiction to in-depth novels about psychological trauma, so there’s something for everyone,” says Jeha.

But for Jeha, it’s not so much about the content of the books as the way it connects them.

“Book club has been a really great way for me to connect with my closest friends,” she says. “With quarantine, we’re all not doing much, so doing something together not only allows us to spend time doing something productive, but it also gives us all something to talk about besides the same question of, ‘How’ve you been?’.”

Book club has been a really great way for me to connect with my closest friends… it gives us all something to talk about besides the same question of, ‘How’ve you been?’

— Jeha Kim, 12

Still, Sarah makes time to read some of her personal favorites alone. She highly recommends Paul Kalanithi’s autobiographical novel When Breath Becomes Air.

“It’s a memoir of a neurosurgery resident who isn’t sure about what to do with his life at first, but knows that he wants to learn more about the human experience. Eventually, he finds that medicine is the most fulfilling way for him to do so, but when he’s in his final year of residency, he finds out that he has terminal cancer.”

Other students like senior Lucy Milligan can’t seem to find people to share her slightly outdated literary interests—including authors like Plato, Herodotus, and Ovid—but nonetheless is using quarantine to make headway in the stack of books sitting on her nightstand. “I think most of them follow a pretty clear theme, except for Great American Short Stories, which I won as a prize at a MUN conference,” she says with a laugh.

Interested in picking up a book now? Now that the real library is closed, Open Library is a great substitute where you can make an account to “check out” books online for free.

You can also find a complete list of the recommendations featured in this article (and more!) here. Happy reading!