Join Our Conversations for CALS OneRead and Make New Connections

Why do we read together?

CALS OneRead is an event where we all decide to read the same book at the same time, and then get together to talk (and frequently joke and banter) about our reactions and thoughts.

This summer, the CALS OneRead choice is a futuristic novel and national bestseller titled Station Eleven. Discussion groups will get together at several branches around the library system starting on June 27th and continuing through July. You can attend any one of these talks, or as many as  you want!

So why do people do this strange thing called communal reading? What’s in it for you?

Some groups that have lots of experience with group reading are the many CALS book clubs that meet year round. Some are focused on specific genres like science fiction/fantasy. Others switch genre every month. Each book group has its own unique character and membership, but one thing they all share is members who value communal reading.

Real dialogue, real connections

Stewart Fuell, leader of the CALS Word Virus Book Club, thinks building relationships and holding meaningful dialogue are the center of the group reading experience. The Word Virus club meets at Vino’s Pizza, which keeps the mood casual and allows for talking over a meal.

“The most valuable result of Word Virus Book Club has been the relationships that form between the people,” Stewart said. “The social aspect is very important. We all need social interaction. Because of social media, we’re more connected in some ways, but more isolated in others. So meeting up is more important now than it has been in a long time.”

Stewart adds that a special kind of talk takes place in book clubs—a dialogue that gets beyond chit-chat, even with people you may have just met.

“Some books are so important that they speak to us as individuals, but also to humanity as a whole: what we could be, what we should never be, and our collective hopes and dreams. So when we read these books as a group, we’re processing them simultaneously as individuals and as a group.”

Laughter and humorous differences of opinion

The Word Virus Book Club also shares a lot of laughter, and the same is true of the Fletcher Library Book Discussion group moderated by Susan Fleming.

At a recent meeting of the Fletcher group, the most common sound was laughter, especially because not everyone was a fan of that month’s reading selection. One of the bonding opportunities offered by group reading is the freedom to disagree: in fact, people look forward to hearing different opinions, and a humorous critique is just as welcome as a word of praise. As Susan said, “Our best sessions are when we have disagreements.”

In a world where disagreement is often not allowed, and people tend to stick to their bubbles, book clubs offer a welcome space where the starting premise is that it’s OK to differ, and every voice is welcome.

New members warmly included

Some of the Fletcher book club members have been attending book clubs for decades.

Sarah, by contrast, is new to Arkansas and attending grad school locally, so she sought out the Fletcher Library book club as a way to get connected with the community. Though it was her first time at book group, her thoughts were as welcome to the group as those of the staunchest veterans.

Another common thought shared by the Fletcher book club members was their appreciation for the way that group book reading encourages them to read books they never would have found on their own. They really enjoy those discoveries and discussing those books with others.

Group book reading brings people together. Everybody is welcome. CALS readers want to hear your voice!

If you would like to join the reading community in CALS OneRead, CALS has a few free copies of Station Eleven available to those who wish to join.

At last notice, there were still free copies left at the Thompson Library (821-3060) and the Fletcher Library (663-5457). We recommend calling ahead to make sure they are still available before picking one up. The library has also made a number of free e-copies available that you may get by contacting

CALS OneRead: Station Eleven Group Discussions

Rooker Library, 11 Otter Creek Ct.
Wednesday, June 27, 4:30 p.m.

Thompson Library, 38 Rahling Cir.
Tuesday, July 10, 7:00 p.m.

River Market Books & Gifts
120 River Market Ave. (in Library Square across from the Main branch)
Friday, July 13, 6:30 p.m.

Fletcher Library, 823 N. Buchanan St.
Wednesday, July 25, 10:30 a.m.


About Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

The author imagines a post-pandemic world in which the vast majority of Earth’s population has died of a deadly virus. A ragtag band of survivors forms a theater company to travel from one settlement to another, passing through dangerous territory full of bandits.

The novel is chilling, imaginative, and full of relevance to our world now dominated by the internet, social media, and celebrity.

Read more updates or check the schedule on the CALS OneRead Facebook event page.