Council of Teachers of English host virtual book club


Courtesy Photo

Book club member discuss the young adult novel, “I’m not Dying With You Tonight” during their zoom meeting. This is one of three books the club will read this semester


Students of all majors who are interested in reading young adult literature and discussing real-world issues are invited to join the UNI Council of Teachers of English (UNI CoTE) virtual book club. The book club is currently reading “I’m Not Dying With You Tonight,” a young adult novel by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal that follows two teenage girls during a city riot as they attempt to survive the night.

Department of Languages and Literatures faculty members and UNICoTE advisors Dr. Erika Bass and Dr. Sheila Benson met at the beginning of the semester and created the book club as a way for UNICoTE members to come together and have fun in a virtual environment. The group normally meets twice a month in person, but COVID-19 caused Benson and Bass to opt for online meetings. Bass said this book club provides an opportunity for the group to remain active and read books they may not otherwise pick up. 

UNICoTE members voted via the group’s Facebook group on three books to read this semester: “I’m Not Dying With You Tonight,” “Cut Off” and “Clap When You Land.” Book club members provide their own books, which can be found at local libraries or book stores like Soul Book Nook in Waterloo.

Benson noted that the group is excited about young adult literature and interested in racial issues based on the selected books. The description of “I’m Not Dying With You Tonight” on Goodreads shares that the book “follows two teen girls—one black, one white—who have to confront their own assumptions about racial inequality as they rely on each other to get through the violent race riot that has set their city on fire with civil unrest.” 

“I think we need to be having conversations around race issues, and I feel like that’s one of the things that books can do,” Benson said. 

“And I know that this book in particular was written to invite those kinds of conversations.” 

Bass added that the book club will allow group members to stay in contact with people outside their households and provide them with a space to discuss real-world issues and connect with others.

“I think it’s also nice for these future teachers, or people who aren’t even considering teaching, to have a cohort of people that they can reach out to and connect with in a different capacity other than just as students,” Bass said.

Lexi Jones, a senior at UNI studying secondary English education, joined UNICoTE in August 2018 to meet people with similar interests after moving to Cedar Falls. She’s met some of her best friends through the group, and she’s looking forward to discussing all three books in the coming weeks.

“I just love the idea of being in a book club,” Jones said. “It’s such an ‘english teacher’ thing to be a part of.” 

She’s glad to see familiar faces and still feels part of the group even though it’s moved to an online format.

“Anytime I’m reading, it’s always going to be good for growing and learning,” Jones said. She’s also excited to see how the books apply to current events and trending topics.

Book club members are asked to have each book read before a meeting, where the plot will be discussed. Meetings are planned to be hosted once every two weeks, but times can be adjusted as requested by members.

Students interested in joining the book club can request to join the group UNICoTE – UNI Council of Teachers of English on Facebook or email Bass ([email protected]) or Benson ([email protected]) for the book club’s Zoom link. The next meeting will be on Oct. 1 from 6 p.m. to 7p.m.