Though I’ve always been interested in discussing a book or article with a group, I’ve never joined a reading club. I was thinking about that this summer and so when I learned about Broadview’s National Online Reading Club, I was elated — it seemed like the perfect match for me!
The Broadview Online Reading Club is a one-hour Zoom event, where three or four writers from each month’s issue speak for about five minutes apiece about their Broadview story. (Check out a typical club meeting here.) Then, the floor is opened for questions and comments, and a lively discussion ensues. The event is free, and there’s no need to sign up ahead of time, but donations to Broadview are encouraged.
“Broadview’s Online Reading Club was started last spring to foster a sense of community amid the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Jocelyn Bell, editor-publisher of Broadview. Several in-person Broadview Reading Clubs had already popped up across the country, and we had been finding new ways to support them and to encourage new clubs to form. But when the pandemic happened, a former board member suggested offering a national online version of the club, and we loved the idea.”
Hosting a national online event was a first for the publication, and it’s been a success, with more than 60 attendees at each of its first three sessions. High approval ratings were reported in its post-event surveys.
More on Broadview: Broadview Reading Clubs get the conversation going
In June, Bell hosted and moderated the meeting and four writers shared their pieces from that month’s issue. Participants hailed from North Saanich, B.C., River Hebert, N.B., and many towns and cities in between.
I was captivated by the way these talented writers brought their stories to life. During the June meeting, Judith Pettersen of Flin Flon, Man., shared her piece “Our Last Day,” which was about how she and her husband spent their final hours together. She evoked my emotions in a way I didn’t expect as I found myself feeling empathy, as well as admiration for her strength.
The writers, who often work long hours alone, also seemed excited to meet and interact with their readers. Isaac Würmann took part in the July Online Reading Club meeting to discuss the personal piece he wrote about wrestling with his German heritage. “It was a fantastic opportunity to engage with readers and see how people responded to my writing,” Würmann says. “I appreciated the opportunity to hear from the other writers about their processes, while researching and writing their own magazine pieces.”
I wasn’t alone in my enthusiasm for the Reading Club. One of the attendees, Mary Leslie of North Saanich, B.C., mentioned that she reads every issue of Broadview, so the club only enhances her experience of the reading material.
“I appreciate the topics, the quality of writing and the inclusion of other faith traditions and perspectives immensely. Having a like-minded community to discuss these topics with is so appreciated.” she says.
The next reading club is on Monday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. Eastern. Zoom link information will be sent to Broadview’s e-newsletter recipients on the day of the event.
These sessions have revived my love of reading. Will I be attending Broadview’s future National Online Reading Club meetings? That is a definite yes! Hope to see you there!
Nthabiseng Selelo is a media and communications assistant, and writer in Toronto.