Reflections on Book Club
Tipsy Mamas' Book Club Reading History
I co-host a book club for neighborhood moms with my friend Corinne Foster. In the beginning, we wanted to create a venue to discuss books and writing. Our simple vision has evolved into a space of sensitive discussion and specific action that has reached beyond our meetings to connect members of our community and to challenge us individually.
Our book club has been a starting point for diving deeper into sensitive issues of our community and of our time. We have discussed topics like racism, women’s empowerment and Native American history. We have promoted local writers. We have read responsively and asked what we can do next regarding the issues.
At our first meeting, we discussed Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, a fictional tale of two sisters from Ghana, one who is exported as a slave and the other who remains in Africa. From that auspicious beginning we went on to dive deeper into issues that matter in our community. We learned from the writings and presentations of local writers like Debby Irving’s Waking up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race where we shared vulnerably our personal histories with racial issues. We helped promote neighbor Suzanne Bouffard’s The Most Important Year at a branch of the public library, and I later hosted a gathering of educators and city officials in an attempt to advance her work to highlight the importance of universal pre-kindergarten. Through discussions of Sherman Alexie’s You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me and Caroline Fraser’s Prairie Fires, we were able to educate ourselves on important issues in our country’s history and views toward Native Americans as we heard firsthand from a book club member with a Native American background, as well as from a local children’s librarian who could update us on the motion to remove Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name from a medal that had been previously bestowed in her honor, in an effort to be more sensitive to issues of social justice.
In Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko we wrestled with learning about a contemporary history and culture that has jarring implications on human nature and current events. In Sarah Moss’s Signs for Lost Children we reflected on the idea of the woman as a type of foreigner in her society, and in Naomi Alderman’s The Power we were able to evaluate the role of women in society and the corruption of power in any human being. In Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven we discussed what we value most in the world and through extrapolation to other examples of speculative fiction, pontificated about the future of our environment.
Sometimes we have kicked back with a beach read. Sometimes we just get together for a social night. And along the way we have learned to lean on each other. Our email list has fostered opportunities to share belongings with each other, such as a family lawyer seeking needed goods to help her clients. We have also helped local ventures, such as a local writer hosting a writing workshop. To a new local coffee shop we provided feedback on how the ambiance and menu could be more family-friendly. We have been a platform to announce fundraisers and other community events.
Please check out our reading list and discussion questions and follow along!
Next up: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
The Searcher by Tana French
Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
The Duke Who Didn't by Courtney Milan
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Writers & Lovers by Lily King
Maid by Stephanie Land
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Old Baggage by Lissa Evans
The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
Becoming by Michelle Obama
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Educated by Tara Westover
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Prairie Fires by Caroline Fraser
The Power by Naomi Alderman
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
Five-Carat Soul by James McBride, "The Christmas Dance"
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie
Waking up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving
Signs for Lost Children by Sarah Moss
Faithful by Alice Hoffman
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
Selected Stories by William Trevor, "The Piano Tuners' Wives"
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi