LU Book Club on interviewing author Susana Roy and more

Reading burnout can be one of the hurdles to joining a book club on any college campus. Thankfully, the co-president of the Lawrence University Book Club, junior Eliza Peetz, aims to address these problems.

“I found that once college happened, especially at Lawrence, it was really hard to keep up with reading, so I wanted to have a book club […] to continue to read and make time for it, but also as a way to talk with other readers and connect with people that also enjoy it,” Peetz stated.

Peetz has been an avid reader “ever since [she] could remember.” LU Book Club is a place for anyone, and for those that may just want to find a book to read and discuss it without strings attached, according to Peetz.

LU Book Club chooses books based on a voting poll and recommendations, encouraging anyone who is interested to recommend books. Peetz says usually she tries to look for books that are inexpensive, as Lawrence University does not allow club money to be spent on books. This limitation has led to an expansion of Book Club as an “intentional space for reading.” The last 30 minutes of Book Club have recently been used to foster an intentional reading environment, producing a stronger incentive to read. Other recent endeavors of the Book Club included going to coffee shops, an idea introduced by senior Lainie Yank, the other current co-president of the club.

Peetz aims to keep reading expectations manageable in the club.

“There is no expectation other than the caveat of being involved, which doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to read the book or talk all the time,” said Peetz.

The LU Book Club Instagram follows up on the point, saying that “All reading is optional! Feel free to come to meetings even if you haven’t done all (or any!) of the scheduled reading.”

Every term, the LU Book Club picks just one book to read, meaning there isn’t a large time investment. Peetz also talked about the enjoyment of discussion, laughing and saying that “people love to be haters,” referencing that people still contribute even if they don’t like that term’s book. Peetz finds discussions intriguing in that aspect. In the past they have read books such as “Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller, “The Invisible Life of Addie Larue” by V. E. Schwab, “The Atlas Six” by Olivie Blake and most recently “How I Became a Tree” by Sumana Roy.

Recently LU Book Club was able to present author Sumana Roy as a guest speaker over Zoom to talk about her 2017 book, “How I Became a Tree.” The experience of interviewing Roy was insightful: as Peetz explains, “when she was first writing this book, she wasn’t intending this to be a book [per se]. It was more of her personal thoughts, as her main goal when she decided to publish the book was to expand upon genres and to move outside of the box.” Peetz further emphasized her appreciation for the book, as she found the aspect of “how open [Roy] was and how she tied personal identity to the book” as the apogee of the book.

Peetz stated that the experience was “very awesome as she was very, very sweet, and she was genuinely the sweetest person that I have ever met and was very willing to work with us despite the time difference.”

Peetz said the interview came together thanks to a student at Lawrence who saw the club’s book poll and reached out to Peetz because they had a connection with the author.

“No matter if it’s a book you love or hate, there is always so much merit to someone who is able to sit down and write a full and complete story,” said Peetz on the opportunity to talk to an author.

Luckily, Peetz very much liked “How I Became a Tree,” as this was one of her favorite books she read in LU Book Club, and she highlights meeting with Roy over Zoom as pivotal as the president of LU Book Club — she tells me that it was emotional just to have the meeting, as anyone could imagine.

Peetz exclaims that Roy was “just very, very happy that a tiny school was reaching out to her on the whole other side of the world,, and she said that she really enjoys having talks and discussions like this, especially with people who aren’t there to be performative as readers, but with people who are genuinely interested in knowledge and learning and experiencing different stories.”

Peetz iterated that “Lawrentians are so awesome and have so many connections with people across the world.” The LU Book Club met every Sunday from 5 to 6 p.m. in the Esch Hurvis Center for Spiritual & Religious Life, also known as Spirit Space, during the Winter Term, though the time may change during Spring Term. For updates on the club’s meeting time, check LU Book Club’s Instagram @lubookclub.