By Matt Holzapfel
In an age where good, old-fashioned book clubs might be becoming less and less common, there is still a place for book lovers on Elon’s Campus. 80% of families in the United States report that they did not purchase a book in the past year, and less than 60% of “young people” say that they read more than 10 books each year, according to statisticbrain.com. Despite these statistics, there are still many people who enjoy reading for fun and want to see intellectual reading discussions continue across the country. Read On Elon: A Forum For Book Lovers is a recently updated program that aims to bring lovers of reading and conversation together outside of the classroom.
Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest academic honor society and the official sponsor of the Read On Elon program. Dr. Olivia Choplin is an Associate Professor of French at Elon University and President of Elon’s Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. “The ‘Read On Elon’ program is an extension of a program that was first sponsored by Phi Beta Kappa last academic year,” said Choplin. “Students who were part of Elon’s Intellectual Climate Working Group requested money for a student-led book club about intellectual issues that interested them. Greg Honan ’15 and Elena Meskhidze ’16 were leaders of this program.” The group held their first official event on February 21 to discuss the book “The Life You Can Save: Doing Your Part to End World Poverty” by Peter Singer.
“This year, the Members of Elon’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter, the Eta Chapter of North Carolina, decided that they wanted to extend the opportunity to other groups on campus to propose their own book clubs,” explained Choplin. “Our goal was to support intellectual conversations outside of the classroom and to extend Phi Beta Kappa’s engagement with excellence in the liberal arts and sciences to a larger population of Elon community members.” A group of faculty members was put together to oversee the potential book club ideas brought forth to Phi Beta Kappa. “We announced a call for proposals to students, faculty, and staff early in the fall semester. A faculty committee made up of Dr. Jason Kirk (Political Science and Policy Studies), Dr. Prudence Layne (English), and Dr. Alfred Simkin (Biology), reviewed the different proposals which came from students, faculty, and staff from around the university. The committee and chapter then approved funding for six different reading groups on campus, funding a total of $1,154.90 worth of books.”
The first book discussion was focused ethical responsibility, domestic versus international action and the career choices of those concerned about global poverty. Participants were able to enjoy the conversation along with pizza and drinks provided by the group. For more information about the Read On Elon organization, you can contact Dr. Olivia Chaplin at firstname.lastname@example.org or program leader Jason Kirk at email@example.com.