SPANISH READING CLUB: ELEVEN YEARS AND MORE THAN ONE HUNDRED SHARED READINGS
With the first session of 2015, the Institute's Library Reading Club turned eleven years old and surpassed a decade of existence. In all this time it has been held without interruption during the months of September to June and always on the last Thursday of each month, to share opinions and discuss impressions on the chosen book. Many books have followed one another since the first reading Katya's sister Andrés Barba in January 2004 (one hundred and seven to be exact with the next one, My Antonia).
One of the main objectives in those initial years when choosing the titles was the alternation of North American writers with Spanish ones. Sometimes we were lucky enough to have the authors themselves participate in the debates. Writers such as Lourdes Ortiz, Rafael Reig, Javier Azpeitia, Carlos Aguilar, Carmen Boullosa, Manuel Fernández-Montesinos or Javier Azpeitia, among others, passed through the reading club.
Over time, it was decided to focus the readings on specific topics in cycles, always reading Spanish and American authors or at least referring to both cultures. Under this new orientation, the cycle began in January 2009 memory and exile with Soledad Fox Maura as moderator. The success of participation in this new approach meant that this first cycle was followed by two others: Women – Women: One hundred years of literature y Memories: other lives, other worlds.
As of the 2011-2012 academic year, coinciding with the participation of Jacqueline Cruz as moderator, the club began to focus on North American issues. It is the case of the cycles American film literature, The others from the United States y Rrepresentations of American society in foreign literatures. So to date with Interwar American Literature.
The high rate of participation as well as the congratulatory messages that some attendees have sent are a reflection of the interest and satisfaction that being part of the activity generates.
As a balance of these ten years of promoting reading, a survey was carried out among the participants in the last session of November, from which we highlight some data:
It is striking that the highest values in terms of years of attendance are the most extreme: either more than five years or less than one year. The reason is that although there are very veteran participants, quite a few new participants have joined in this last cycle. Unlike most of them, they have not discovered the activity through word of mouth, but through the internet or through the Institute's information bulletin.
Among the most valued of the activity is the work of the moderator and the selection of titles. Most of those surveyed have really enjoyed the titles and cycles chosen to date. The current cycle together with the Cinema and Literature They are the two that have been liked the most, although some of the favorite titles belong to other cycles.
The most demanded suggestion in terms of topic for future cycles would be to address contemporary literature, although they also propose other topics such as racial discrimination, the relationship of writers with cinema or English-language writers who have written on Spanish themes.
There are hardly any suggestions for improvement, but we highlight the request that the selection of books be easier to find (sometimes they are old or classic books that are no longer widely distributed) and that the group could be less numerous (although everyone is grateful that the activity is of free assistance and free, now with the sponsorship of American Space Madrid).
Our wish as an organization after so many years is to be able to continue sharing readings and good books for at least another 10 years.