Texas State book club puts the ‘lit’ in literature


Alkek Lit Society members at their meeting on Oct. 30 at the Open Theater in Alkek Library.
Photo by Brianna Benitez

Brianna Benitez

Books, brownies and wrestlers brought a diverse group of individuals to Alkek Lit Society’s second meeting of the semester.

Alkek Lit Society is a book club at Texas State that began over two years ago. The inspiration for creating the book club stemmed from students wanting a space to socialize and discuss new books.

Donna Dean, Alkek Library assistant, has been on the Alkek Lit Society team since it first started. She said everyone is encouraged to join the club, even if they have not finished reading the book being discussed at the meeting.

She said a typical book club meeting consists of discussing the book the club has finished reading. The floor then opens up to those who have not finished reading the book to share their opinions on what they think so far. Towards the end of the meeting, they begin to discuss other books similar to the same topic they have read.

“Students are super busy all the time so we try to keep it really stress-free,” Dean said.

Dean said they are looking for students’ input on what the club should read next. A calendar indicating what they will be reading each month can be found at resident halls and Alkek.

The book club has recently finished reading, “Crazy is My Super Power: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts and Breaking the Rules,” by former professional WWE wrestler, AJ Mendez.

“(The book) focuses a lot on mental health, overcoming obstacles and achieving amazing things,” Dean said.

In the book, Mendez opens up about the struggles she has faced, like homelessness and her diagnosis with bipolar disorder. Her book explains how she found ways to escape these struggles through comic books and video games. Mendez was inspired to pursue a career in wrestling by the strong female characters in comic books and video games. In her book, Mendez shares her struggle with understanding her demons and getting control of her mental illness.

“(AJ Mendez) actually retweeted our event, so that was pretty awesome,” Dean said.

Hayley Cagnassola, geography sophomore, said this was her second time attending a book club meeting.

“I thought (the book) was really well written,” Cagnassola said. “I was surprised at how good it was.”

Sarah Chestnut, Alkek Library assistant, was the book club member who persuaded the group to read “Crazy is My Super Power.” Chestnut said she is a big wrestling fan, so it was fitting for the club to read a book about a wrestler.

“I felt that a big theme in (AJ Mendez’s) book was strength,” Chestnut said “Not only physical strength but emotional strength.”

The first book Alkek Lit Society read for the fall 2018 semester was “The Hate U Give,” by Angie Thomas. “The Hate U Give” is about sixteen-year-old Starr Carter, and the challenges she faces growing up in a low-income neighborhood and attending a high-class prep school. The book discusses sensitive topics like police brutality against people of color.

One of Alkek Lit Society’s goals is to read more books from authors that are independently published. Dean said the book club seeks to bring awareness to smaller authors. She said this year, Alkek Lit Society is focusing on reading books from authors of color.

“We’re wanting to focus on books that are by women and minorities,” Dean said.

Debbie Pitts, marketing and promotions member of Alkek Library, oversees a lot of the marketing aspects of the library. Pitts helps out with a variety of events at Alkek, like game and movie nights.

“We have events there quite a bit,” Pitts said. “We like to use (the library) because it encourages students to come join in.”

The book club would like to see at least ten members at each meeting. Everyone is encouraged to come to meetings and bring a friend. Dean said the book club has allowed both introverts and extroverts to have a place to come and chat with one another.

“Anyone can join, even if you’re not a student,” Dean said. “Even if you’re taking a semester off and just want to come join your friends and talk about books, you can.”

Alkek Lit Society meets on the last Tuesday of the first three months of each semester at the Open Theater on the second floor of Alkek Library, 6-8 p.m. To learn more about Alkek Lit Society and their upcoming events, visit @alkeklibrary on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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