Read our interactive issue to see videos, links and more.
Typically when a professor asks if anyone has anything else to discuss within the last two minutes of class, the only responses are the sounds of notebooks dropping into backpacks and coats being zipped in anticipation of dismissal.
When Professor John McCombe asked that question last Wednesday, multiple students started talking. And no one even groaned.
Though in a Marianist Hall classroom on the evening of Feb. 1, the group of assembled students wasn’t there for a class. The students were there to participate in Porch Reads, an informal book discussion group sponsored by Roesch Library.
“The point is to get students to talk about books they read and hopefully enjoyed,” said Heidi Gauder, coordinator of research and instruction at Roesch. Started in 2005 and comprised of two book discussions a semester, Porch Reads is geared towards sophomores, but upperclassman can participate.
That day’s selection was Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand’s chronicle of American Louis Zamperini’s experience as a Japanese prisoner of war in World War II. The motives behind students’ participation included receiving the free book and their interest in the war.
The discussion was held, like many discussions amongst friends, over pizza and soda. “It’s just people talking and there’s no need to structure that,” Gauder said. “The only structure needed is plates and cups and napkins for the food and drinks.”
Though last week’s moderator is an English professor, McCombe said he didn’t want Porch Reads to feel like class. “In class we talk more about what it means; in here it’s about what we like,” he said.
The students liked Unbroken. The pizza was pretty good, too.