Students join Freshmen-Sophomore Book Club, share love and passion for reading


Photo credit: Audrey Chang

Maia Alvarez (‘24) and Charlie Clayton (‘25) look through the book “The Woman in the Window” as they discuss it in the book club. The Freshmen-Sophomore Book Club had their first meeting Jan. 25 during lunch.

By Audrey Chang, Editor-in-Chief

As upper school students become busier with school and extracurricular activities, it can be difficult to find time for or enjoy reading as much as they would have in the past. Sophomore Guinevere Hesse said she created the Freshmen-Sophomore Book Club to give students the opportunity to connect with other book lovers and rekindle their enthusiasm for reading.

Hesse started the book club this year based on the idea of the current Junior-Senior Book Club at Archer, where a group of juniors and seniors meet once per month to discuss a chosen book. The Freshmen-Sophomore Book Club had their first meeting on Jan. 25 and aims to provide a space for Archer students in ninth and 10th grade to share their love for and excitement about reading. 

“I love being able to give other people the opportunity to discuss reading or to discuss a book. I know a lot of girls in Archer and outside of Archer aren’t able to read anymore because they’re either so busy with school or they just don’t find it exciting anymore,” Hesse said. “I really just want to bring that love of reading back to as many people as I can.” 

The club currently has five members, including freshman Charlie Clayton, who joined the book club to get more diverse book recommendations and expand the types of books she reads. 

“I feel like Archer is a good place to do whatever you want to do without having to feel pressure,” Clayton said. “I found myself not only reaching out to fantasy, like I did when I was younger, but to nonfiction or thriller … I think the books that are being recommended and will be recommended in this club are going to help me to broaden my perspective.”

English teacher Jennifer Dohr is the faculty adviser for the Freshmen-Sophomore Book Club, and she meets with Hesse in advance to help her brainstorm ideas for texts, activities and develop ideas for how to lead the session. 

“I could not be more proud of Guinevere, and I hope she’s really proud of herself. She’s doing something important for the Archer community — in particular, the freshmen and the sophomores — in terms of creating opportunities for pleasure reading,” Dohr said. “She demonstrated such joy, and I think that enthusiasm is what’s going to carry the Freshmen-Sophomore Book Club forward.” 

Hesse plans to hold book club meetings on the last Tuesday of every month so students have time to complete the books. The first book she chose for the book club is “The Woman in the Window” by A.J. Finn, a murder mystery thriller that was also adapted into a movie.

What Guinevere Hesse is showing us is that courage to try something new… I’m exceedingly proud of her and I hope that she’s nothing but thrilled by what she’s doing.

— Jennifer Dohr, English Teacher and Faculty Advisor of Freshmen-Sophomore Book Club

“This book really was one of those eye-opening books for me. It really just changed my life and how I saw things,” Hesse said. “I had never been into the type of murder mystery novel before and then I read this book, and it introduced me into a whole other world of books … And I just really want to share that with the larger community.” 

During the first book club meeting, members discussed their opinions on topics like the complexity of the main characters, the intended target audience and surprising moments in the story. They also watched a clip of the film adaptation of the book.

“We had such an amazing conversation,” Hesse said. “We really shared a lot of the same opinions and I had heard opinions that I hadn’t even thought of, but I had agreed with.” 

Along with discussing the book, Hesse planned activities to further engage the book club members, like Jeopardy-based questions about the book as well as themselves that let the students learn more about each other. Hesse said the book club activities center around reading but also focus on the connection between club members.

“My favorite part was watching Guinevere shine, watching her connect with the students who came — it was a small group, but that is always how clubs begin,” Dohr said. “For me as an educator, to see a student so turned on by literature, so eager to discuss a novel that she would create a whole club to do so once a month, is just music to an English teacher’s ears.” 

While Hesse chose a mystery book for the club’s first read together, she also plans to recommend a variety of genres to further inspire students’ love of reading.

“I want to be able to introduce a lot more types of books to Archer, so they’re not just all going to be murder mysteries. I want to introduce some historical fiction and some fantasies — a lot of different types of books,” Hesse said. “Girls can find a type of genre that they like, and be able to read more of that genre. So I want to just immerse Archer girls in all types of books.”