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Read This Book: Book Groups

By May 11, 2018May 13th, 2021The Kerlan Blog

Image from the Spiral Staircase Bookstore, Philadelphia, PA

Why am I in a Book Group?

I get to meet interesting people. I moved to Minnesota five years ago. This was the home of my husband’s family. I had one friend who was an “east-coast transplant” who I knew from Brooklyn, NY. She had been a member of a book group for years and invited me to join. I was thrilled to get to know these women who are educators, feminists, non-profit administrators, artists and musicians, parents and grandparents and daughters as well as smart and engaged in social justice.

I read books that I wouldn’t otherwise pick up myself. No secret, my go-to reading is children’s and young adult books. Every once in a while the group selects something that I had already read like Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, a dystopic near-future novel that is prescient, real, and frightening or Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish, a richly imagined historic novel set in England at the time of the Inquisition with a parallel present day story.

But usually it is something that I would probably never pick up myself or meant to but hadn’t gotten around to it. The first book I read for the group was Kao Kalia Yang’s The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir (Coffee House Press, 2008) a title that had been on my TBR (to be read) pile for years!

Next up is Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker 

and then Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.


How do we pick the books?

This year we picked the books in advance in one marathon discussion. We look at reviews, recommendations, and word-of-mouth. We look for diversity, point-of-view, and sometimes just that there is a consensus on author or topic.

All of the books must have an audio edition.

And sometime there is a field trip to the movie that was based on a book or to a museum that would support and inform the discussion. We are looking forward to Toshi Reagon’s opera  that will be coming to St. Kate’s.

Usually, I am just dying to talk about the book. I am surprised (but shouldn’t be) at the depth of the conversation. The time passes like lightning.

Read This Book!

On a recent Read This Book, Jan Fransen, the Service Lead for Research Information Management and Discovery Systems for University of Minnesota Libraries brought the most recent pick from her book group the true-life crime book I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer .

The book tells the true story of the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California from 1976 to 1986, and of the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case before it recently was solved. 



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