Arts Muse

Talking all things books with The Tipsygate Readers

Cara Lee speaks to Greta Gruzdyte, President of the new Tipsygate Readers Book Club.

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Image Credit: The Tipsygate Readers

For many, lockdown has been a time to re-engage with hobbies that are often sidelined during the chaos of term time.  For Greta Gruzdyte, this reconnection sparked a desire to continue incorporating these hobbies into the new term by founding The Tipsygate Readers book club.

To start with, please introduce yourself and your committee members!

My name is Greta Gruzdyte. I am a second year Law student, and the President of The Tipsygate Gate readers. Our society is made up of eight members: our secretary is Emily Heffernan, treasurer is Molly Paterson, media officer is Heather Perfect, club leader is Lauren Jarvis, social secretary is Jodie Carson, research secretary is Ellen Lavender, and health and safety officer is Ingrid Moore.

Why did you decide to set up The Tipsygate Readers book club?  Who came up with the idea?

I came up with the idea of starting a book and wine club after watching Book Club on Netflix. I wanted to have a group of people that I could hang out with, but also have a hobby that we could all do together. I realised that I wasn't paying enough attention to my own interests, and thought that this would be a great way of escaping from my degree and having the opportunity to educate myself on different topics.

What are your aims with the book club?

We want to have fun, learn something new, meet new friends and become more well-rounded, as we focus on reading different genres and topics that are prominent in today's society.

What inspired your choice of name?

Our social secretary, Jodie, came up with the name. As I’ve mentioned before, the original name was ‘Book and Wine Club’, but we wanted to make it more York-related.  Jodie said “My first thought was to consider the themes that I thought were relevant to the society, which established both our purpose and identity.  Therefore, I thought it was important to reference reading, alcohol and York.”  Additionally, Jodie wanted, “a name that rolls off the tongue”, and so came up with The Tipsygate Readers, in keeping with “the famous York street names”.

What distinguishes you from other University of York book clubs?  Why are you the one to join?

Our club is not about commitment but rather about selective reading, so that you can join in whenever. We want it to be a relaxed environment where you can share views and opinions with others, as having an open discussion is vital for stretching knowledge boundaries about certain subjects.

Of course, we have to acknowledge the “tipsy” in our name: we are planning on having one social per week. However, we don't want to exclude people who don’t drink, so we are planning on providing soft drinks as well to meet everybody's needs.

What is the current schedule for the book club?

We are currently doing monthly Zoom calls. Once university starts again, we are thinking about face-to-face meetings, but that will depend on the government guidelines. The secretary and I are working towards getting ratification therefore where the meetings will take place is unclear as of yet.  Our social secretary and health and safety officer have already started planning trips for our society too. We are hoping to have at least two per year, which will of course be book related.We are going to have a £4 membership fee if the society is ratified, in order to be able to provide soft drinks and snacks for the club members. However, we are also hoping to make trips cheaper for our club members.

How are you choosing which books to study?  Are they books you feel are important, or more entertainment reads, or a mix of both?

Our club leader (who helps me run the discussions) and research secretary come up with a few themes that are related to current events, and then the committee casts a vote. Once we have our theme, we then ask all the other club members to make book suggestions, and we cast a vote on the different books via Instagram and Facebook. The involvement of everyone is really important to us, because we want to make sure no one feels left out.

Further to the previous question, do you feel you have a responsibility when choosing which books to study?

We feel we have a huge responsibility to our university community when choosing which books to read.  A little thing, such as reading a book, can really make a big difference to our personal growth and emotional intellect, as well as to people we come into contact with.  Through reading, we gain perspective on issues we might have had little knowledge on.

Which books have you studied so far?

Our first book was The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne, focussing on themes such as women and femininity, sin, public and individual guilt, and the mockery of law. Our second book was Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, which explores race, racism, white privilege, class and feminism.

This month, we are reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, with our focus being on Jewish Culture.

For more information on the Book Club, please see @thetipsygatereaders on Facebook and Instagram.

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