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Virtual book club offers a way to share thoughts, interact during pandemic

“Year of Yes” is the first book in the One Book, One Flossmoor project.

Planning for One Book, One Flossmoor started before anyone knew the COVID-19 pandemic would shut down much of the social interaction we expect as part of “normal” life.

As it turned out, Flossmoor’s inaugural attempt at a village book group is providing an opportunity for participants to share a common experience at a time when face-to-face communication is largely taking place on Zoom and other digital platforms.

One Book, One Flossmoor had its first virtual book club meeting on July 16 and participants had a chance to discuss Shonda Rimes’ “Year of Yes,” book about living outside one’s comfort zone. 

During a year in which comfort zones officially ended in the middle of March, book club members talked about how Rimes — a former south suburban resident turned entertainment superstar — faced her own challenges and how that just might relate to their own lives.

“Book club participants really enjoyed the discussion and shared personal views that were related to several parts of book,” said Nickie Brookens, who is leading One Book, One Flossmoor. “Everyone felt the book was a great choice. Even our one male participant learned a lot about himself and enjoyed the discussion.”

Every participant spoke more than once during the discussion, Brookens said.

“We shared some insightful information about ourselves, our thoughts on the book and how we handle the challenges of saying ‘yes’ to the things that can make us better humans,” she said.

Brookens, Flossmoor’s program and event coordinator, said response to the virtual book club meeting was overwhelmingly positive. She shared some of the comments following the session. 

*I enjoyed this first book discussion. Thank you!” said one participant.

*It was a great discussion with such a great group of people to share time with. I’ll be happy to be the token male again next time,” said another.

“Great job! Everyone on the call was exceptional,” said a third participant.

In planning One Book, One Flossmoor, Brookens said village officials wanted to accomplish the goal of getting the community to come together, have a positive dialogue, make connections and share thoughts around a compelling subject. 

“’The Year of Yes’ was an excellent first choice because it encompassed several aspects that anyone could relate to in their personal life journey,” Brookens said.  

One Book, One Flossmoor was originally discussed as a way to promote interaction within the community. After COVID-19 arrived, numerous group activities in the area were canceled but the book group was still offered as a way to interact.

Brookens said the pandemic presented a number of challenges since large groups of people in face-to-face situations were no longer possible.

“However, the pandemic has also provided ways to rethink how we offer programs and events to the community,” she added.

Thirty-five participants signed up for the first installment of One Book, One Flossmoor.

“I was very pleased with the number of registrants,” Brookens said. “The discussion went really well and every participant would like to do another one.  We will look into doing one in the fall because this one was a success.”

One Book, One Flossmoor offered a new way to approach community participation, she said, and so was the drive-in cinema night at Homewood-Flossmoor High school on the Fourth of July weekend.

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