Given that Kenyon is known as “the writer’s college,” it’s no surprise that students have many options when it comes to extracurriculars involving writing. But what about reading? When literature enthusiast Zeena Osman ’25 noticed that book clubs weren’t commonplace on campus, she decided to do something about it. “I really enjoy book clubs and I was like, ‘Kenyon needs one,’” Osman said. This led to the creation of the Book Watchers Club, which held its inaugural meeting on March 31.
In this new student organization, members read books with film adaptations, which they then watch. They decide on which books they want to read as a group, then select one to read every two weeks. “I don’t want to pressure people with reading a book in one week, because they have other classes and that might be too much,” Osman said. Members also watch the movie on their own before coming to the club’s biweekly discussions on Fridays so that they’re prepared to share their opinions on both works. Members must acquire the selected books and access the movies themselves, although Osman explained that when people do need help getting access to something, the organization plans to provide it.
Each time the group completes a book, they vote on the next choice. “Personally, I just want it to be a new book and not something that everyone’s already read,” Osman said. All the members have diverse opinions on which books to discuss, so Osman predicts that the books selected will likely not favor one genre. “I have a big preference for horror, and one of my friends is in the group and they like fantasy, which I’m not the biggest fan of,” she said, “but I’ll still read [their picks].”
During the past two weeks, members read Paul Trembley’s The Cabin at the End of the World and watched its 2023 film adaptation “Knock at the Cabin.” “I always find the differences between films and books funny, because they’re either kind of accurate or totally off,” Osman said. She believes that this can lead to exciting and engaging discussions. “One of the members texted me that the ending was interesting and they can’t wait to talk about it,” Osman said, “so that [kind of discussion] is what I’m looking forward to.”
When asked about what led to the creation of the Book Watchers Club, Osman explained that she has taken two seminar-style classes with Professor of English Jesse Matz and that she came to love group conversations and debates about literature. “I really enjoy his classes, and I love the discussions we have about books in them,” she said. When talking about this with Matz, she mentioned creating a book club, although she didn’t anticipate that he would jump on the chance to help get it up and running. “He was like, ‘Yeah, of course,’” Osman said, “and I really wasn’t expecting him to say that.” Matz also became the club’s faculty advisor and suggested Lentz House as a space to meet.
Osman explained that since the Book Watchers Club is so new, she hopes more students will join as the word about it spreads. “Right now it’s kind of a small circle, I think because it’s on Friday and it’s also the end of the semester,” she said. Osman believes that it’s a worthwhile organization to join that aligns with common hobbies among students. “You can meet new people and make friends through books, and I think most people at Kenyon like reading books.”
When it comes to the much-debated question about books being better than movies, Osman said, “Honestly, I always like watching the movie, even if it’s not the best, because sometimes you visualize [the book] a lot differently in your head.” For those who disagree, the Book Watchers Club provides a space to debate it.