Written by Christina Lopez.
Graphic by Peyton Cabaniss.

The Liberator held its first Book Club on Monday, October 15th. Sitting in a circle, munching on pastries and sipping coffee, attendees discussed how they use humor as a stress reducing tactic. The discussion was centered around three satirical or humorous articles, meant to convey the message that at such a stressful point in the semester, taking a moment to laugh is a necessity.

Book Club began as an initiative by The Liberator Magazine’s Associate Editor of Content, Hira Vayani.

“I wanted to start The Liberator’s Book Club because I thought it would be a great way for us to interact with COLA students, as well as provide a space for students to grab a cup of coffee and relax,” Vayani said. The Book Club’s theme was using humor to cope with the struggles and challenges of being a college student. The discussion ranged from how people resort to watching YouTube videos when overwhelmed with homework to how to react when you constantly lose a shoe. For Vayani, having a space that facilitated productive and comfortable discussion was the most integral aspect of the event.

“By using the framework of a traditional book club, we discussed articles about laughter, shared personal stories, and enjoyed coffee and sweets. I think it went really well—the audience was responsive, seats were full, and the room was bursting with laughter,” she said.

Those in attendance appreciated the humorous articles and the lighthearted discussion, and the group dynamic allowed for many to share funny personal stories. “I really enjoyed it,” said LAC member Kate Diller. “I think talking about productive ways to deal with stress and other things is so important and humor can be a good tactic… laughing about things with other people brings it to another level.” Overall, the power of laughter was palpable at Book Club and was a necessary reminder to take a break. “As we get into the thick of midterms, it can be hard to remember that life is funny and humans are funny and it’s only to our benefit that we not take everything so seriously,” LAC President Michaela Lavelle said.

In fact, studies have shown that taking effective breaks in between studying can actually improve retention of the material and improve productivity.

In one such study, eighty-four test subjects, divided into four different test groups, were asked to complete the same task in fifty minutes. The group that was allowed two brief diversions throughout performed significantly better than the group that worked consistently for the fifty minutes.

Psychology Today confirms this theory but emphasizes physical movement, stimulating creativity, or meditating as ways to relax. Activities that promote brain function in different ways, or allow the brain to relax are productive ways to take a break. Both studies confirm that simply scrolling through social media can actually have the opposite effect and induce more stress.

For Lavelle, attending book club and laughing with her peers motivated her to continue facing the semester with strength. “This book club armed me with the affirmation that things pass and humor is a powerful virtue to lean on when it feels like they won’t,” she said. Ultimately, as midterms and assignments pile on, don’t forget to take a break. It’s important that we pick up a book, go for a walk, do some yoga, or even have a laugh in between heavy studying and moments of stress to recharge to our fullest potential.

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