Group encourages all to read and share


Photo provided by Susan Gossett
Susan Gossett poses with her copy of “Little House in the Big Woods.” She shared in the Read Harder Jasper group that she watched a Laura Ingalls Wilder documentary over Christmas break and decided to read the book series again. Gossett hopes others join the group to read more and talk to others about what they are reading.

JASPER — Susan Gossett wants more people to be able to go to faraway places right in the comfort of their own home.

Reading can do that, she said.

“Reading is such a great escape," she said. "It's a way to get out of the house when you can't get out house.”

Gossett, Ireland Elementary School’s librarian, has started Read Harder Jasper, a group built to encourage more people to read.

“It's a movement to get people reading,” she said, “to talk about reading, to post about reading and to get others involved.”

Read Harder Jasper has a page on Facebook and Instagram, both of which were started earlier this week.

Each person who joins the group is encouraged to read physical books, books on electronic devices, or listen to audio books. Group members can post about the books they are reading, give reviews, share photos of books they are reading and ask each other questions about books that are posted. They can even set their own personal reading challenges.

“Your challenge may be one book. Maybe you want to challenge yourself to a book a month. Maybe you want to challenge yourself to get out of reading just romance novels or to read nonfiction,” Gossett said. “Maybe it's just a step forward in reading a different genre.”

She hopes people will talk to each other in the group and ask about the books that people post about.

“I'm currently reading a book and when I put that on there someone might say, ‘Hey, what was that about? I've seen this. Was it good?’ and start a conversation that way,” Gossett said. “Or if someone posts about reading an audio book, maybe somebody will think, ‘I really never thought about doing that before.’ Maybe somebody will post about a really good book about their profession that somebody might not have known about. Any type of reading can open the conversation, to where somebody might see that book and be encouraged to read it.”

Gossett has always been an avid reader. Not only is she reading to students and reading the books in the school’s library, but she reads books she is interested in and listens to audio books. She keeps a listing of the books she has read online at Goodreads. She has a list of about 100 books she wants to read.

Gossett is in a reading group with college friends. “We kind of started during quarantine,” she said. “Since we were home a lot, we started Zooming every other week to talk about what we were reading. We don't all read the same thing, but we talked about what we're reading.”

She said doing that gives her more ideas of other books she should read. “That’s what I love about it,” she said. “Every time we have a meeting. I always say to myself before the meeting that I am not adding any more books to my reading list. But someone will say, ‘I read this book,’ and it sounds so good. So I put it on my list.”

On her personal Facebook page, she posts about books she is or just finished reading, and how she challenges herself to read a certain number of books. She’s gotten feedback from others that they are challenging themselves to read more or that they decided to read a certain book based on her suggestion and descriptions.

“I started thinking that maybe I need to make this bigger,” Gossett said. “As I left school last weekend and I'm turning all this in my head, and then one of my friends who is in my reading group sent a message that she starting a movement. She is from Paducah, and she's like, ‘I'm starting a movement to read harder.’”

Her friend’s effort and hashtag is called Read Harder Paducah 2021. Gossett knew that this was what she was looking to do, without restricting it to a particular year, thus creating Read Harder Jasper.

With the current restrictions and discouragements of going places and gathering because of the virus, reading can help take a person’s mind off the current situation we all find ourselves in, Gossett said.

“When you really can't go anywhere, reading takes you all over the world,” she said. “I was recently in Wisconsin with Laura Ingalls Wilder. I'm currently now in Italy, with the book I’m reading now. You can travel wherever, and I love that aspect of reading.

“During this time, I just feel like we need an escape.”

Gossett’s escape at the moment is in the book “Our Darkest Night: A Novel of Italy and the Second World War” by Jennifer Robson.

Read Harder Jasper is on Facebook and welcomes members. Readharderjasper can be followed on Instagram. Both are also encouraging readers to use the hashtag #readharderjasper.

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