Faculty and staff connect through monthly book club

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The University of Indianapolis’ Faculty/Staff Book Club held its most recent meeting on Nov. 15. The club is ran by Professional Edge Center Director and Healthcare Careers Stephanie Kendall-Deitz and Human Resource Business Partner Kara Ooley, who operate as co-chairs. Kendall-Deitz and Ooley started the club after joining the Wellness Committee last year, and were asked to contribute to faculty/staff wellness. The club is for faculty and staff members at UIndy, serving as an activity to promote more wellness opportunities for them, according to Kendall-Deitz. Through subcommittees of the Wellness Committee for faculty and staff, the goal of the club is to create a less structured book club for those attending, Kendall-Deitz said. 

“This is more [of] a book lover’s club that has a general theme of some kind to help guide for fun,” Kendall-Deitz said. “… This one is intended to be like-minded people coming together around a topic for social and wellness purposes.”

Instead of everyone reading the same book each month, Kendall-Dietz and Ooley decided to choose a theme each month that everyone would choose their book from. This way of operating gives attendees freedom to choose what they want, while also learning from what everyone else chose, according to Kendall-Deitz.

“The feedback that came back was that [attendees] wanted to read fun, interesting books, not academic books.” Kendall- Deitz said. “And mostly they were interested in getting involved because they wanted to meet other people on campus. So it was fairly social in nature, which is another reason we didn’t feel like we needed to pick a book and have a bunch of difficult questions about ‘what you think [the author] was trying to tell you in this chapter’ or anything like that,” Kendall-Deitz said. 

A component of wellness for the club was to get faculty and staff an opportunity to meet more people and engage with them about some books they like. This lets anyone who attends have the opportunity to learn something new, according to Ooley. 

“What’s been great is that I’ve expanded into areas I haven’t typically read. I’ve read authors that I never had much of an interest in trying. And then also for me, I was never much of a Goodreads app user and now we’re all in the Goodreads and we talk about what we’re reading and what we want to read,” Ooley said. “So I think for most of us, it’s just we’ve learned parts of ourselves we might not have known were there.”

The Faculty/Staff Book Club normally meets once a month on the first Tuesday at noon, according to Kendall-Deitz. Last year, the idea for meetings was to choose an author for everyone to choose a book from. This year, every meeting will have a different theme each month. At the Nov. 15 meeting, the theme was a book set in Italy, according to Kendall-Deitz.

“I think there’s a myth in the United States that people don’t read anymore. And actually having been involved in multiple book clubs and I follow some book clubs on Facebook… I think reading is nowhere near dead in the United States. That reading for pleasure, for just general information and enjoyment, is as strong as ever in the United States,” Kendall-Deitz said. “What’s different… is that a good number of the people in our book club don’t read paper books. We have lots of people who are reading on e-readers and we have, I’d say, probably half of the people in the book club listen to their books. They’re listening to an audio book while they’re driving back and forth to work… I think the way people read has changed a lot, but I think reading is actually very strong across all age groups.”

The theme of next month’s meeting will be holidays, according to Ooley. To be involved with the club, email kendalldeitz@uindy.edu about your interest in joining.

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