A Novel Idea is one of the hundreds of clubs at Iowa State, with 85 members but only 10 regulars.
The club is based on students who want to continue to read and look to build social connections. The group meets once a month to discuss books ranging from self-help to controversial books.
“It originated just with a couple girls who wanted to start a book club on-campus and meet other students that loved to read and have it be like a laid-back, inclusive and non-stressful environment,” said Paige Ahlrichs, president of A Novel Idea and senior in mathematics. “Just to meet with other students and connect with them on campus.”
The club was created five years ago with the idea of providing a space to read and discuss various books on campus. A Novel Idea is an inclusive club where students meet to discuss and debate about different books. The books are chosen by Ahlrichs and the club treasurer and are confirmed through the meetings. Ahlrichs said she tries to bring books from all genres.
The club originally started out with paying dues so the club president could buy books for all the club members, but due to limitations, Ahlrichs said she took that aspect out and gave the members the responsibility to obtain their books.
“In the end it also made the readers read more up-to-date books because when we had club dues we would have to only read books that we could get for a dollar or two and en masse so that we would have enough for all of our members,” Ahlrichs said. “And that means we would have to read books that are kinda outdated and not as current with the time.”
A Novel Idea recently read “The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry” written by Jon Ronson, who worked with psychologists and neurologists to create a method on how to pinpoint a psychopath. The book has spiked controversy for the readers who questioned the legitimacy and accuracy of the test.
“There was a lot of controversy about the efficiency of this test and if it’s really accurate in how it determines if someone is a psychopath,” Ahlrichs said. “It talks about how [Ronson] came up with the tests and the interviews he had with people and it goes into detail about each category of the test and that it kinda breaks down the different qualities that [Ronson] would say a psychopath would have.”
Ahlrichs said the small group helps build the environment of the club by giving everyone the chance to speak up.
“We like our debates to be spirited and we try not to have just one viewpoint in our book clubs; we don’t read books that are all the same,” Ahlrichs said.
To keep the debates spirited and the club small, Ahlrichs said A Novel Idea will not be participating in ClubFest on Sept. 11. However, students who wish to join the club are welcome to come to the meetings or reach out to Ahlrichs.