HBHS students hit the books – purely for enjoyment

September means back to school, and specifically, back to the books: textbooks, standardized test preparation books, confusing classics and pages of Shakespeare.

But senior Katarina Kotarski realized she finds escape from the demands of school in the very things that most students dread. She also came to find that she wasn’t alone in her view of reading.

This is why she recently began Hollis Brookline High School’s first Book Club.

This club is meant to be anything but an English class. Kotarski takes care to pick novels that appeal to young adults and are an enjoyable, thoughtful read.

"We read popular fiction, so that’s books that are on the New York Times Best-sellers List right now," Kotarski said. "For example, we read ‘The Girl on the Train,’ and that’s a movie coming out in October."

The Book Club offers something else you don’t get in English class: food.

A typical Book Club meeting consists of the 30-odd members coming together in the classroom of Ann Melim, an English teacher and one of the club’s advisers. The members typically bring snacks and spend their time sharing ideas about the novel they enjoyed that month.

And if a member didn’t get to finish the book in time? No one’s judging.

"That’s what I love about how relaxed our club is," Kotarski said. "If you don’t get the reading done in time, you don’t have to come to the meeting. It’s not a huge responsibility on you. Or say a book doesn’t even appeal to you. You don’t have to read it for that month, you can just do it another month."

This laid-back atmosphere has helped the Book Club grow from 15 to more than 30 members in less than a year. Kotarski is thrilled with the progress her club is making, and with a rising number of underclassmen joining in, she is hopeful that someone will be able to carry the club on once she graduates in June.

The members agree: Book Club is something that should stick around.

"A book club is such an important addition to school because English classes sometimes draw students away from reading," said senior Rachel Bill, a member of the Book Club. "I love Book Club because it has shown me books to read that I may not have read without partaking in this club."

If you’re looking for a new page-turner, consider taking part in Kotarski’s Book Club – for it is only the first chapter of their successful story.

This column is written by Nicole Poitras, a senior at Hollis Brookline High School. She was among 51 high school journalists representing all 50 states and Washington, D.C., who attended the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference in Washington in June.