Read in company to read more

A book club in the times we live in is a miracle. That people take time to read a book that is proposed to them, one meeting after another, year after another… and that the atmosphere of a community is created around conversation. about a book it is an oasis.

This is how Miguel Ángel Carmona del Barco sees it, known in Badajoz for setting his novel Alegría en la ciudad and for coordinating ‘The Living Reading Club’. Two weeks ago it premiered its eighth edition with a session for which 50 people registered and which, for the first time, was held in a park, Castelar.

Near the statue of Carolina Coronado, the writer José Ovejero started a conversation with the readers of his latest work, Vibración. The next meeting will take place on May 24 with the author Luis Mario in the Plaza del Pirulo to discuss ‘Beautiful round piece of the sea’.

They are well-known authors, but they are far from the most famous names that are repeated on television. The club coordinator, Miguel Ángel Carmona, is in charge of selecting the works that he then suggests to the attendees. “I have read 24 books in two months to propose five.” In this way, readers have access to news, but they can also avoid the more commercial ones.

Having the opportunity to speak and hear the novelist from the director is one of the characteristics of this circle, which always has the writers to talk to. «It is a luxury to be able to talk with the author about the emotions that his work has provoked in us. Although if you don’t want to say anything or ask, you don’t have to.”

«A club is not a gathering, it does not have the air of gentlemen smoking a pipe and chatting»

Miguel Ángel Carmona del Barco

Writer and coordinator of the Lectura Viva and Libros como el Viento clubs

Be careful, this is not a gathering. «It doesn’t have the air of gentlemen smoking a pipe and chatting. This is a heterogeneous club, with men and women of all ages and from all social strata. The debate about the book equals everyone. There are people with a lot of responsibility talking to students about the book and each one interprets it with their own keys.

This circle, supported by the Badajoz City Council under the coordination of Carmona del Barco, works in collaboration with the city’s bookstores. Until last year I rotated through these. Each session is sponsored by a book store. But given the number of people who are attending the sessions, in 2024 they have been encouraged to take them out onto the streets.

Even so, it seeks to strengthen ties with book stores. “Many times we admire the great bookstores of Madrid when we must also vindicate the Badajoz model, which is the neighborhood stationery-bookstore, and which has done so much for reading.”

«At the meeting on May 24, the bookstore in charge will be Merienda de Letras. So, if you have attended the Castelar meeting, starting the next day you can go for the book that we will talk about on the 24th and you will have a discount of five euros. But only in Merienda de Letras. As we rotate by five, the rest can benefit,” explains the coordinator. For example, Dulce Locura set up a table in Castelar on the first day.

The scenarios for talking with novelists will also change. They have premiered the cycle in Castelar, they will do another one in the Plaza del Pirulo (Santa María de la Cabeza) and a third in the San Francisco temple. After the summer, two more sessions are planned.

The writer also coordinates ‘Books like the Wind’, aimed at children and promoted by the Antonio Román Díez literary studies center with the Department of Culture and school libraries. They meet in the Santa Ana library and the reading rooms in the neighborhoods, such as Santa Isabel. Appointments usually fill up. “Sometimes we have had to leave ten families out because they couldn’t fit in.”

With this other club, “a door to literature” is offered. It is not about storytelling like those that can be organized at fairs, but about having the possibility of enjoying first-class narrators and experts in oral tradition. The first session took place on the 26th with María Riera, the next will be on Thursday, May 23 with María José Floriano at the Santa Isabel library. Although perhaps the best known of all the protagonists is Pep Bruno, who tells stories on Spanish National Radio, has 29 books published and is part of the Association of Oral Storytelling Professionals in Spain. His turn will be after the summer, on November 14.

But why are reading clubs becoming fashionable? «Reading and writing are solitary habits; “Book clubs allow you to share not only your taste, but also the emotions that reading has provoked in you,” says writer Carmona del Barco.

«All of us crazy people who love to read like to comment. It is very curious because on the same reading, the same title, each member of the club can have a different interpretation. That is the experience of Soledad Portero, who coordinates three different clubs at Merienda de Letras, her bookstore in Plaza del Pirulo.

“It is very curious. Regarding the same reading, the same title, each one can have a different interpretation»

Soledad Porter

Letter Snack

It has one for the little ones from 7 to 9 years old, who this April had as proposals ‘Julia y Los Mortimort’, by Raquel Díaz Reguera; for those 10 and up he preferred ‘The Neverending Story’, by Ende, and adults have read Herb, by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim.

Being part of one of these initiatives encourages you to read at least one book a month. «And opt for different things. Because last month I proposed Lazarillo de Tormes and a comic to adults. Some said ‘El Lazarillo?’ and others, ‘a comic?’ With which you open expectations of things that you would not choose due to lack of knowledge or because you do not feel like it. And if they propose it to you, you say ‘well, come on’ and in the end you discover that you like it.

Soledad Portero is an expert in promoting children’s literature. And she knows, from experience, that “children respond.” One of the kids in the 10-year-old group commented at the meeting that they could read the ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ series. They started with the first one and, although they have been interspersed with others, “some of them are already on the fourth.”

The writer Beatriz Mariño participates in the Merienda de Letras children’s reading club.

TODAY

In their case, each reading group meets once a month. The little ones, the first Friday. For youth, the first Saturday at 12 noon and for adults, the last Friday at 8 p.m., when the bookstore closes. Sometimes they are seen inside, and other times outside, in the same square. Sometimes they talk about books without the authors, other times they include them. In recent months they have had a visit from Extremadurans Justo Vila and Beatriz Mariño.

Although the big event is scheduled for May 31. That day will repeat an experience that was already successful last year. Everyone will meet in the river park around a snack in which everyone contributes to share. And, above all, to talk about One Hundred Years of Solitude. “It’s a literary picnic,” the bookseller defines it.

Coordinating a book club is not an easy thing. You have to select the books, read them, prepare the vocabulary, ask questions… It entails important work for the coordinators. In Soledad’s case, she only asks that they buy the book she proposes. In return, readers, and especially children, “acquire skills, learn words and express themselves clearly, construct sentences better, take turns speaking… And they know that if they choose the book that was not the one they I wanted to, it will come out later. “We work on other values ​​that are not just reading.”

«We have just opened a new club about Tolkien and The Silmarillion, the first day you had to read 40 pages»

Agustin Lozano

Tusitala Bookstore

These types of circles are permeating the city. In another bookstore, Tusitala, they have just started another one. On April 23, coinciding with International Book Day, 15 people met at this store in the Old Town to talk about literature. They decided to repeat the 23rd of each month. But, instead of everyone reading the same work, each one will share their experience about the text they are reading at that moment.

«The fact that it is not necessary to always go and that you are not obliged to read a specific book can facilitate attendance. Here you can comment on the latest thing you are reading. It’s about making it more flexible,” explains Agustín Lozano, who has tried to start other reading clubs and knows that it is difficult to maintain them over time.

Although he hopes Tolkien fans will respond. Now they will be able to see each other in a new cycle that will be held in Tusitala. ‘Don’t hurry’ is the name of the club that will analyze ‘The Silmarillion’. The first session discussed the first 40 pages of this compilation of Tolkien books on the 4th. They will be seen once a month with more chapters.

The State Public Library had four clubs and each of them had 25 people. But three of them are disabled. They are Pasión de Papel, the cinematographic ‘Reading in Images’ and the one dedicated to the ‘Lengua de Camoes’, which is its name. From the library they explain that they are waiting to have budget availability to hire the coordinator.

Meeting of the Extremadura Dorii reading club, sponsored by Aexpainba and held at the State Library on Tuesdays.

TODAY

Easy reading in Extremadura Dorii

The Extrema Dorii club, which depends on the Association of People with Borderline Intelligence Aexpainba and which benefits from the Board’s reading promotion plan, continues to move forward. It is held in the facilities of the Bartolomé J. Gallardo library, something that Lucas Soto, its monitor, values. Because this space allows attendees to “participate in society.” These have borderline intelligence or mild intellectual disability and are 18 or older. By going to the public library they are encouraged to participate in other activities of the library itself. This 2024 they will be eight years old and they meet every Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m.

«We read aloud and understanding improves, we all enrich each other»

Lucas Soto

Easy Reading Club Coordinator

«It is a heterogeneous group and everyone reads aloud. One does it better, another worse. Some understand better, others worse. But we all get richer,” says Lucas Soto. They carry out activities with the digital whiteboard, QR codes, virtual and augmented reality… “Everything focused on understanding the book.” Is the improvement noticeable? “Very much,” says Lucas Soto. Participants “gain skills to relate to each other.” And, all, thanks to reading.

 
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