On the Same Page makes reading a group activity

H.T. Coutts Library and the Faculty of Education have joined forces to launch a faculty-wide book club known as On the Same Page. Librarian Debbie Feisst explains the benefits of reading with others.

Isabela C. Varela - 10 October 2014

Whether we're talking about a group of friends gathering for conversation in someone's living room, or legions of Oprah Winfrey's followers propelling a book to the top of the New York Times bestseller list, all book clubs share two things at their core.

First, they share a love of reading. And second, they are all rooted in a desire to take a normally solitary activity and make it a shared experience. Not surprising, then, that the Faculty of Education now has a book club of its own.

Known as On the Same Page, the book club debuted at the start of this academic year as a pilot program initiated by H.T. Coutts Education & Physical Education Library in connection with the faculty.

The goal? To generate conversation throughout the Faculty of Education using a piece of contemporary Canadian fiction that is also introduced to undergraduate Education classes. As such, the chosen book will be taught, discussed and analyzed across classrooms. But it doesn't stop there.

The program may also include a visit by the author, readings, workshops, and contests, engaging the greater University of Alberta community.

We asked Debbie Feisst, public services librarian at Coutts Library, five questions to find out more about On the Same Page and the book club's first selection, Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese.

Q: On the Same Page is kicking off the 2014-15 academic year with the novel Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese. What makes this book a good choice for this community reading experiment?

A: Indian Horse is a great title for On The Same Page as it really has something for everyone, and its many themes - hockey, abuse, despair, hope, survival, culture, etc. - are superbly interwoven.

Close up of Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

It is incredibly engaging and pulls the reader in from the very beginning. As well, Richard Wagamese's wonderful storytelling is very descriptive - in particular his depictions of nature. It is a tough one to put down.

Q: What are the advantages to reading a novel as part of a book club rather than on one's own?

A: Reading a novel as part of a book club allows readers a sense of community, to be part of something larger than one's self. It allows you to consider alternate viewpoints as well as the opportunity to read a book that you may not have initially considered. A book club can break you out of a reading rut, introduce you to new friends, and allows you the freedom to be honest in an inclusive environment.

Q: What's the most memorable feedback you've heard so far about On the Same Page and/or Indian Horse?

A: More than one person has told me that they could not put the book down and read it in one night!

Q: What kind of reader are you? Do you dive into a book and read it in one or two sittings, or do you read it over weeks or months?

A: I often have several books on the go any given time - fiction, non-fiction, children's and young adult alike. I can sometimes read a bit of a book, start something else, and then come back to it several months later.

Q: Describe Indian Horse in three words.

A: Emotional. Powerful. Hopeful.

All are welcome to join the On the Same Page book club. Click here to get the print book or download it to your mobile device. For a schedule of face-to-face book club meetings, click here. You can also stay up-to-date on book club activities by following On the Same Page on Facebook.