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ASU students, book it to these clubs to realize your storytelling potential

Book clubs, creative writing clubs and video game clubs bond students through their love of literature and storytelling


"You read one or two stories, and it just clicks, 'this is what you want to be,' and that doesn't happen for everyone, but luckily it happened for me."

Students can have trouble expressing their distinctive passions — emotive slam poetry, escapism through fantasy novels and video games where immersion is essential — so they turn to each other to build connections. 

The Book Club at ASU hosts meetings on varied Tuesdays where they discuss a novel that they choose based on a genre. Club leaders choose five books from a specific genre — mystery, thriller, fantasy, science fiction and romance — that are voted by the club's members. 

“It's such a great community; even if people don't necessarily like to read, you can try it out,” said Ella Smith, founder and president of the Book Club at ASU and a junior studying biochemistry. “It's a very laid-back and low-key vibe, which I like personally because I don't want it to feel like it's homework reading a book."

ASU students form book, video game and writing clubs to realize their creative passions, offering creative writing sessions and an outlet to talk with their media-loving colleagues. 

Smith believes people read to escape from everyday routine and immerse themselves into a daydreaming world. 

“It’s to escape," Smith said. "There's a ton of rough things going on in the world, especially as students. Exams can get hard, and homework can get heavy, so reading just allows an escape, and I like fantasy books. It's a whole different world. You get to experience a new world and drown out the real one for a second.” 

According to Smith, they spend the first 45 minutes discussing "favorite characters, what we thought about the writing in general, was it interesting to read, was it fun?" For the last 15 minutes, they begin voting for the next book.

The Book Club at ASU is currently reading "The Paris Apartment" by Lucy Foley — a thriller about a journalist who disappears in Paris.

Other forms of media also have the opportunity to be discussed and used as a catalyst for student connection. Carson Bidwell, a sophomore studying English, started a video game club that focuses on video games and their storytelling and playability, using the structure of a book club. 

“I love reading and analyzing stories, so I was playing certain games and realized that these are experiences that I want to share with other people, but I had no platform to do it,” Bidwell said. “There's not really anything on ASU for talking about video game stories or video games, so I decided to start the process of making the club, and it’s been a blast ever since.”

Bidwell said that the club chooses a video game to play each month, selecting mostly single-player games for around $20. They discuss them in their meetings every Monday from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Tempe's Durham Hall.

According to Bidwell, video games can offer audiences a more immersive experience that keeps them engaged in a world where your choices affect the storyline.

“There are some cons to video game storytelling, as a lot of video games fall into the idea that you have to have multiple endings, and then they watered down the story in between,” Bidwell said. “But a lot of it's pretty strong because you can experience it firsthand. You get to see a lot of the world or details that movies, TV shows or books can accidentally leave out.”

Creative writing groups are historical outlets for members to share their work and build a community on literary feedback and analysis. Take the Inklings, a literary discussion group that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were members of at the University of Oxford. The Devil’s Inkwell Writing Guild uses their organization to support members in their creative writing efforts. 

“It's really nice because sometimes people need an escape or they need to learn through other writing," Jacki Hyatt, a sophomore studying creative writing, said. "This place was inspiring. It broadcasted itself as being the place at ASU to be."

Isabella Hutchinson, president of the Devil's Inkwell Writing Guild and a junior double-majoring in computer science and English, said that the organization started working with the Piper Center to offer more events hosted by the club, including an annual poetry slam in April. The club meets every Monday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Social Sciences Building.

Hyatt said that her passion for reading came at a very young age, and the club offers her and her colleagues the opportunity to share that passion.

"I fell in love with reading as a kid, and that's a story for a lot of people," Hyatt said. "You read one or two stories, and it just clicks, 'this is what you want to be,' and that doesn't happen for everyone, but luckily it happened for me. When it comes to reading, it's something where everyone can jump into different worlds and stories."  

The City of Poets also offers a club for creative minds of all outlets, especially poetry. 

"I love to write. I have some passion there. Having that background and that passion helps because I'm excited to be in the club every week," said Zoey Kartchner, president of City of Poets and a junior studying English literature. "I'm excited to come up with new things for us to do and encourage people to start creating. So I guess in that way, all the busy work feels fun."

Kartchner said that for future goals, City of Poets wants to focus on starting projects and having "a product for incoming students to look at and see what we've been doing."

They are starting a project inspired by the novel “Invisible Cities” by Italo Calvino. Club members create fictional worlds that they can manifest in different forms, such as poems, that will be compiled into one world at the end of the semester. The semester-long project is meant to exercise students' world-building capabilities and creativity. 

Caley Benson, the social media specialist and a senior studying electrical engineering, joined the organization in their freshman year in 2020 when learning was online.

"I wanted more social interaction,” Benson said. “It would be great to do that in a creative space, and the City of Poets was the perfect place to do that because it was a creative, social club. We were there to be creative, but we were social while we did it.”

Benson affirmed that people outside of ASU are also welcome to join. 

“We welcome people from outside of areas that aren't ASU, we welcome recent graduates, we welcome people who are to become ASU students, and we will welcome people who are doing community college,” said Benson. "If you are in Tempe, we would love to see you at our meetings.”

The City of Poets meets every Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Memorial Union. These times and locations may vary based on events. 

“If you want to join a creative space and make friends with like-minded people, this is the place to do it,” Kartchner said.

Edited by Katrina Michalak, Walker Smith and Caera Learmonth.

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