Washburn Book Club allows members to expand interests

“The Help ” Kathryn Stockett’s new book, “The Help” is the latest book to be discussed by the Washburn Book Club. The group has been meeting at 1 p.m. on Thursdays in the Crane Room of the Memorial Union.

In the late 1990s Sara Keckeisen, a bookstore employee, started the Washburn Book Club. A core group of people has kept the book club going ever since.

“We kept the book club going because we like discussing books together and being challenged to read new genres and authors,” said Martha Imparato, a Washburn Book Club member. “Some of us like to read Kansas authors’ works.”

The Washburn Book Club meets at 1 p.m. Thursdays, in the Crane Room of the Memorial Union. The members meet every four to six weeks to discuss the latest book they have been reading.

“The book club is a group of people who like to read and are interested in expanding their horizons and learning about books they don’t normally read,” said Imparato.

At the meetings, the book club members discuss the book chosen for that month. The meetings are an open group discussion but are generally led by one person.

“Each person who comes fairly regularly takes a turn choosing the book and leading the group discussion,” said Imparato. “To keep it straight we have an attendance sheet and generally rotate in alphabetical order.”

Most of the books are fiction, but the book club is open to reading all genres of books. So far, the book club has read contemporary and classic works of literature such as: “People of the Book” by Geraldine Brooks; “Naked Came the Phoenix ed.” by Marcia Talley; “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald; “The Big House” by George H. Colt; and this month’s book, “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett.

“Anyone may participate in the Washburn book club,” said Imparato. “People generally come because they know someone in the group or have heard about it from someone.”

Some of the books that the book club reads are from Washburn alumni or faculty such as Debra Stufflebean who wrote “At This Time, In This Place”. Stufflebean is from Topeka and is a Washburn alumna. Another local author is Bob Lawson who wrote Bridge of Dreams and is a faculty emeritus and current member of the Washburn Book Club.

“We have invited many of the Kansas authors to speak and discuss with our group when we read their book,” said Imparato.

The Washburn Book Club is advertised in the Alumni Magazine and it’s on the Washburn events calendar.

There is not a set amount of pages to read before each meeting but the book club members generally try and finish the book before the meetings. If the members don’t finish the book, they go and discuss the book anyway.

“Right now we have faculty, staff and community members in the Washburn Book Club, but students are welcome,” Imparato said. “Students generally don’t have much time for leisure reading during the semester I expect.”