Tag Archives: Library Book Club

Library Book Club history outlined in new book

by Jerome Reading, Patron Saint and Heavenly Intercessor of Libraries

Before the Second World War, most academic librarians considered the promotion of extracurricular reading to be a core component of their professional duties. Typical of this approach to librarianship was Edwin Osgood Grover, Director of the Library at Rollins College, who taught a popular course in recreational reading and in 1926 was made “Professor of Books” at the college.

Since the 1950s, academic librarians have increasingly seen themselves as information specialists, and the promotion of reading to be the mission of public libraries. In recent years, however, a number of academic librarians have joined researchers who question the healthfulness of consuming unprecedented amounts of “fast” information produced on the internet and in social media. Taking a cue from the globally successful “slow foods” movement, journalist Maura Kelly, in a 2012 article for The Atlantic, proposed a “Slow Books Manifesto” that called on readers to set aside 30 minutes of the reading day from newspapers, websites, magazines, and even non-fiction books, in order to read literature.1

The Slow Book Revolution: Creating a New Culture of Reading on College Campuses and Beyond,2 published in September, is also a fruit of the idea that, just as foods grown and harvested with care for slow enjoyment are healthier for the body than industrialized products, books written for attentive reading and reflection are healthier for the mind than an intellectual diet based on electronic information.

Included in The Slow Book Revolution is a case study of the Regent Library Book Club by Associate Librarian Harold Henkel. In the chapter Harold gives an overview of the Book Club’s history since its founding in 2008, and discusses what has been successful and not so successful in order to provide a guide to other academic librarians considering a book club at their institutions. Harold says he was honored to contribute a chapter and hopes that the book inspires other academic librarians to take up the cause of promoting literature on their campuses.


1Maura Kelly, “A Slow-Books Manifesto” The Atlantic, March 26, 2012, http:www.theatlantic.comentertainmentarchive201203a-slow-books-manifesto254884.

2Meagan Lacy, et al., The Slow Book Revolution: Creating a New Culture of Reading on College Campuses and Beyond (Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited, 2014).

Regent Reads starts July 1

This July the Library will be hosting our fourth annual Regent Reads, a summer reading program for children ages five to nine. Each Tuesday morning, from 10:00 to 11:30 am, we will feature two illustrated books: one about a Biblical hero and one about a modern-day hero (such as a military veteran or teacher), read by members of the Regent and local communities. There will also be an interactive time with music and movement. Each program will conclude with snacks and coloring activities. For more information and a schedule of books, see the Regent Reads webpage.

In addition to the Regent Reads series for young children, The Library Book Club invites children 10 and up as well as adults to join us on July 31 at 12:00 for a discussion of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer . For more information about this event, see our website, or contact Harold Henkel at harohen@regent.edu.

All summer literature events are free and open to the public. RSVPs are encouraged but not required.

Take the Library Book Club survey

To our dear readers:

The Library Book Club was founded in 2008 to encourage the recreational reading of literary classics as well as high-quality contemporary literature. To date, the Book Club has read and discussed 55 (mostly) great books. We hope to be around for many years to come and would like to ask a small favor, both from our members, and from the dozen or so of you who have not yet read a book with us:

Please take two minutes to complete our survey: https:www.surveymonkey.comsJRHN8ZB.

Thank you for your support. Your responses will help us improve the Book Club as a resource for the Regent community.


Image Credit:  Handelsman, Bud. [Cartoon]. The New Yorker, February 7, 2012. http:www.newyorker.comonlineblogscartoonists201202a-far-far-better-cartoon-gag.html.


Book Club discussions now online via Google Hangouts

Beginning with our discussion of Dracula on November 8, the Library Book Club will allow distance students and faculty to participate in book discussions via Google Hangouts. Google Hangouts is a free video calling service offered by Google through their Google+ and Gmail systems. The service is similar to Skype, but allows up to ten participants to videoconference together at no charge.

Discuss books with us from anywhere.

Here is the permanent Google Hangout URL that we will use for all Book discussions:  https:plus.google.comhangouts_eventc0lnc83s5ok7tecuqdcnjg0mcno?authuser=0&eid=100028809078157626561&hl=en

For more information about joining the Book Club online, or to receive an e-mail reminder before each discussion, please contact Harold Henkel at harohen@regent.edu.

Dracula — a word from the Library Book Club

First edition of Dracula, published by Archibald Constable and Company (UK), 26 May 1897 First edition of Dracula, published by Archibald Constable and Company (UK), 26 May 1897

This week (September 22 – 28) is Banned Books Week, so it seems appropriate to address the controversy surrounding Dracula, one of the titles on the Library Book Club’s fall reading list.

The purpose of the Library Book Club is to encourage the reading of literary classics as well as contemporary works that may become classics. We strive to read as diverse a list each year as possible. The main criteria for inclusion on the schedule are literary quality, readability and appropriate length, and projected interest by the Regent community.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula, like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, is a recognized classic in which Christian themes such as temptation, sin, and good versus evil are everywhere present. Dr. Susannah Clements, author of The Vampire Defanged: How the Embodiment of Evil Became a Romantic Hero, offers this explanation of the novel’s relevance for Christians:

Dracula is all about sin and faith. Stoker uses the figure of the vampire to explore metaphorically what sin and temptation look like—how sin infects the human heart and the consequences of it. Just as in other literature with fantasy elements (e.g. The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia), the fantastic, paranormal elements are used to give the author a way to explore themes in a context that strikes readers unexpectedly and therefore gives them more power.

It’s important to understand that the book is not on the side of the vampire (and therefore evil and sin). It’s all about how sin may appear darkly compelling, but how absolutely and invariably destructive it is. In more contemporary vampire stories, there is ambiguity around this issue—many of them questioning any sort of distinction between good and evil. There is no such ambiguity in Stoker. The heroes are Christian warriors, armed with faith and consciously seeing themselves as fighting the vampire for the sake of God’s kingdom. The novel is fully grounded in a Christian worldview. Ultimately, it is only faith in the power of Christ that leads to victory over sin, symbolized by the vampire.

Unlike The Arabian Nights, Canterbury Tales, and Leaves of Grass, among other classic works of literature, one distinction that Dracula cannot claim is placement on the list of frequently challenged or banned books. The Library Book Club invites readers who question the appropriateness of reading Dracula at a Christian university to read the novel, and join us on November 8 for a robust exchange of opinion.