Reading Clubs: shared passion for literature | A federal network coordinated by the Economic Culture Fund

Several boys and girls gather to read at the Monte Hermoso Popular Library (PBA) located three blocks from the sea, from where they sometimes hear it roar with fury. In that same landscape, seven women get together to read stories by Clarice Lispector in the living room of a house. At the Asencio Abeijón Popular Library in Rada Tilly (Chubut), a small but powerful ritual takes place: every Friday after school, Sofi and Ágatha cross the door “as if carried by a whirlwind of laughter, sweets and cookies for snack,” and Paula later joins them. A group of Storytelling Grandmothers from San Justo (Santa Fe) have been weaving “tasks and knowledge around the fire of literature” for seven years. Several writers from Coronel Dorrego (PBA) get together on Saturday afternoons to read to women travelers and put together an atlas. Nine storytellers, readers and teachers organize the Mountain Library in motion in Valle de Punilla (Córdoba), eight children from Comodoro Rivavadia (Chubut) meet every Friday to share readings at the Antoine de Saint Exupéry Popular Library and a group of neighbors from Villa Luro (CABA) “united by fear” read stories by various authors and talk about what they read.

What do these groups have in common? everyone shares passion for literature and are part of the Reading Clubs project of the Economic Culture Fund “Read and talk”. “We could read any book alone, but reading the same book with other women excites and enriches us,” say the members of the club. Fridays, cinnamon in the blog that compiles collective experiences. “For me, reading is like listening to birdsong,” someone wrote in Comodoro Rivadavia, and thus, after a vote, the club born within the walls of the Mental Health Day Center of the Regional Hospital was baptized, which later left the environment. hospitable and moved to the city’s Public Library. “We believe that it is read in different ways: with touch, with listening, with the available senses,” say the members of Let’s look togethera club made up of people who are between 45 and 70 years old – some of them are blind – in San Carlos Centro (Santa Fe).

There are clubs in CABA and PBA, in Chubut, Santa Fe, Córdoba, Neuquén, Tierra del Fuego and even Base Esperanza (Antarctica). There are clubs designed for early childhood and others made up of literate children, adolescents or adults. There are clubs that were formalized in the heat of this project and others that emerged before: Possible worldsfor example, is a group that was born in the workshops for older adults offered by the Faculty of Journalism of the National University of La Plata in agreement with PAMI in 2004; Round is a space that emerged from the “Women and Children in Prison” Project developed by the Faculty of Humanities and Educational Sciences of the UNLP 13 years ago in Penitentiary Unit No. 33 of La Plata, where babies and children live (up to 4 years old) with their mothers and pregnant women deprived of their liberty.

Asteroid Club, in Comodoro Rivadavia.

Angelica’s angels It is a club from Alta Gracia made up of five friends who have known each other for many years (two from there and three from Buenos Aires who have lived in Córdoba for a long time). After the pandemic they decided to resume meetings and the date coincided with the day Angélica Gorodischer died: Saturday, February 5, 2022. “It was a coincidence, it was the day we had planned to get together and we had also chosen her texts to read. That situation made us choose that name for the group. We meet every Saturday, in our homes or in a park if the day is nice, and we read not only the materials provided to us from the Club Network but also others. when we are together, out loud, and generally they are books by female authors,” says Mariana Coppolecchia, and lists some authors they approached: Leonora Carrington, Amparo Dávila, Clarice Lispector and Cristina Peri Rossi, among others.

Diversity is the great premise in the Network of Reading Clubs(s). María Inés Bogomolny, a graduate in Educational Sciences (who likes to define herself as a “spreader of readings”), is the one who coordinates the project together with Patricia Domínguez and for her the plural is important because it defines the spirit of the initiative. “We call them reading clubs because there is not just one but several. Reading is generally spoken of in a school sense,” she explains to Page 12, and underlines the idea of ​​reading and conversing. “We find it interesting that the word circulates, beyond what the author meant. As co-authors of the text we can trace what echoes, associations and resonances occur in each one. When we talk about what we have read, very interesting issues related to personal history and the readings themselves are revealed,” says Bogomolny.

The project is based on choice and desire (in these clubs no one reads out of obligation or curricular imposition), cooperation (it is not a competition to see who reads the most) and diversity (there is no single way to approach works and authors). It is an “open network in permanent transformation”: clubs are offered every three months a menu of free copies curated according to the seasons of the year, virtual accompaniment and exchanges on the Internet; In exchange, a frequency of meetings, participation in monthly virtual meetings and a collective record of reading experiences are required. Each club regulates itself and chooses its own rules – some have a coordinator, others have a horizontal structure – but there is no monetary exchange: no money is asked to participate and only the coordinator can collect fees, but not from the participants but from the participants. from some external public or private institution.

From Comodoro Rivadavia, Domínguez comments: “For us, the federalization of the proposal is very valuable because there is a tendency to centralize everything. It is a publishing house based in CABA, so it could have been somewhat more restricted, but that was not the case.” The coordinator says that there was no open call, the network was put together by word of mouth. “There is no single model: some are in-person, others virtual, some are itinerant and others happen in libraries or living rooms. They are clubs with very different experiences,” explains Domínguez, and Bogomolny highlights that for them “there is no difference between clubs.” They also clarify that This is not a book distribution program since participants are not required to read only copies of the FCE.. “The readings bring us together. Each one brings their experience of intimacy with reading and here we discover the richness of reading with others. There are clubs that read together and others that read before to talk later. There is a very exquisite resonance of senses,” Domínguez emphasizes.

The network began in the fall of 2023 and the coordinators maintain that “collectivity is part of a human need, although lately it has become an emergency.” “What is valuable is the experience of building with others these spaces for enriching symbolic worlds through reading. I always say: ‘Not only bread, but also roses.’ In critical times we must remember this because otherwise we will remain in basic survival. It is a time that requires maximum collective efforts,” reflects Domínguez.

*For more information you can access the “Read and Converse” Reading Club Network.

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