Building community through prose with Eat Read Love

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Photo by Courtesy Eat Read Love

Eat Read Love meets online to discuss their monthly book.

There are some students who spend their nights paging through vocabulary terms, charts, or tables with more numerical data than words. But for members of one club on Marquette’s campus, their nights are spent engrossed in romance, science fiction and every other type of story that one could think of, transported away from the the world academics and into the realm of the fiction novel. 

Eat Read Love, Marquette’s only on-campus book club, is one place that Maggie Sullivan, the president of the club, says that reading isn’t mandatory.

“It’s very relaxed and very non-committal, but it’s a very random group of people,” the senior in the College of Education said. “We have some English, some engineering, some math, so we have a good mix of people who want to read more and also the really nerdy people that all they do is read.” 

Eat Read Love is a place where readers of all majors and interests can come together for a shared purpose. Each month, members are able to vote from a short list of novels which book they would like to read. And while the books all center around a certain theme or motif, the subject matters can be vastly different.

“The club is nice because it gives me encouragement to read, and the books, even though I have a part in deciding some of them, normally the book I vote for doesn’t win and I still end up enjoying it,” Sullivan said. “And, also, we’ve had some pretty bad books too and those are still fun because then you get to hate on the book in a large group.”

Katie Barth, a junior in the College of Business Administration and treasurer of Eat Read Love, joined the club last year as a way to connect with people during the COVID-19 pandemic and a fully remote fall semester. Barth said that there are a lot of people still finding an interest in reading given how much time they have spent at home. 

“It’s a fun way to get to know people who read, especially for this year. There are a lot more people reading because of [the pandemic] and quarantine, and you can tell by the number of people who joined book club,” Barth said. “It’s a fun environment to talk to people about book [recommendations] and things like that. And for someone like me who just started reading, it’s super fun.”

Recent book club choices like “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Truman Capote and “Before I Go To Sleep” by S.J. Watson prove that the club has diverse choices of reading material from different genres and time periods.

“I like the fact that you’re reading books that you normally wouldn’t pick up for yourself,” Barth said.  “It creates more opportunity for people who also haven’t read that book to read it and discuss it.”

And for Sullivan, the discussion is where members are able to learn the most and where the bonds of the club are made.

“Empathy is very important, and reading has always allowed me to develop that,” Sullivan said. “It’s also cool because not only do you get to read a different character’s perspective, but then you get to hear other people in the club bring in their own experiences, so I’m learning from the book and the people around me.”

Lindsey Craig, a senior in the College of Education and vice president of Eat Read Love, said that the understanding that comes from the club is something special that she has taken away from her time with her fellow readers.

 “I would say ERL gives people another community of friends to talk to and openly share their interests with,” Craig said. “I have seen many of the book club members become close friends outside of the club, which has been so rewarding.” 

And while the club’s main focus is reading and learning from literature and each other, Barth said she encourages others to come to the socials the club hosts for their members and people that may be interested in taking part in their next book.

“Even if you are unsure about the books, I always recommend people just come to the socials because they are chill and there is no prerequisite of reading. That way you can meet the people and decide if it is something you would like to continue,” Barth said.

Eat Read Love’s next meeting will take place March 1, at 7 p.m. in the Lunda Room in the Alumni Memorial Union. The next social will take place on March 8 at the same time. The locations of the club’s meeting change frequently and can be found on Eat Read Love’s Instagram: @eatreadlovemu

 

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This story was written by Kim Cook. She can be reached at kimberly.cook@marquette.edu.