by Shayyan Malik '21
The Dickinson College Wellness Center recently launched a virtual book club to keep every book enthusiast in the loop and connected with their fellow readers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The club meetings are divided into four groups inspired by the Dickinson Four model and enable students to participate in a curated experience.
“I came up with the idea for an online book club shortly after the college announced that the fall semester would be remote. I wanted to create a way for students, on and off-campus, to connect with the Wellness Center in a nonclinical way,” says Rebecca Shoemaker, staff psychologist and counselor at the Wellness Center.
“I immediately knew that I would like the book club to focus on books written by Dr. Brené Brown because her work centers on issues common to college students such as vulnerability, perfectionism, shame, connection, belonging and leadership,” says Shoemaker who, along with her fellow facilitators Carrie Bowerman (part-time staff counselor) and Rebecca Anderson (part-time staff counselor), takes the readers through a journey of Brown’s books. “Given that Dr. Brown’s research and books build on each other, I thought it would be fun for each academic level to read and discuss a different book that is uniquely fit for the common experiences of those groups.”
Even though the club is split into four groups, participants are encouraged to follow their personal interests and join whichever group they feel the most comfortable in. In their respective groups, participants take part in interactive discussions about Brown’s books. “This sharing becomes the foundation of the discussion, but students also have access to read-along questions, created by Brown, and additional media links—podcasts, Ted Talks, videos, handouts—to encourage dialogues that apply the content of the books to current social justice, diversity and sociopolitical issues,” says Shoemaker.
Students, college staff and professors have all expressed interest in the club and have been engaging with students in their weekly meetings. The book club builds upon Dickinson’s efforts to keep students connected and informed during the pandemic.
“My overall goal with the book club series is to offer students a point of connection during this difficult, and stressful time,” says Shoemaker. “I hope students will see this book club as an opportunity to create a sense of belonging with their peers and critically examine concepts that are relevant to our day-to-day well-being and interpersonal relationships.”
Published October 28, 2020