Book Discussions

We often offer book discussions in support of our public events and also for our monthly Luann Dummer Center for Women Book Club.  Book discussions take place from noon-1:00 pm in OEC 103 (Luann Dummer Center for Women). The LDCW Book Club is free and open to the public. All are welcome!

This year, in honor of our March 2015 Women’s History Month speaker Nina Totenberg, we will focus on books relating to our theme "Women Change-Makers." We have included in our list some classic titles and some less well-known works. We are focusing on the texts with prominent female roles.

jan book 2016

January 27, 2016

Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography

Written by Laura Ingalls Wilder

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Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography (2014) by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Memoir)

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s newly-published autobiography reveals the true stories of her pioneering life and re-introduces readers to the woman who defined the pioneer experience for millions of readers around the world. Through her recollections, Wilder details the Ingalls family’s journey from Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, back to Minnesota, and on to Dakota Territory during sixteen years of travels, unforgettable stories, and the everyday people who became immortal through her fiction. Using additional manuscripts, diaries, maps, and letters, Pioneer Girl adds depth to Wilder’s work through historical context and the exploration of her growth as a writer.

Feb Book club 2016

February 24, 2016

Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World

Written by Linda Hirshman

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Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World (2015) by Linda Hirshman (Non-fiction)

The relationship between Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg—Republican and Democrat, Christian and Jew, western rancher’s daughter and Brooklyn girl—transcends party, religion, region, and culture. Strengthened by each other’s presence, these groundbreaking judges, the first and second to serve on the highest court in the land, have transformed the Constitution and America itself, making it a more equal place for all women. Hirshman’s dual biography includes revealing stories of how these trailblazers fought for their own recognition in a male-dominated profession—battles that would ultimately benefit every American woman. She also makes clear how these two justices have shaped the legal framework of modern feminism, including employment discrimination, abortion, affirmative action, sexual harassment, and many other issues crucial to women’s lives. Meticulously researched and absorbingly told, it is an authoritative account of our changing law and culture, and a moving story of a remarkable friendship.

March book 2016

March 30, 2016

Her Honor: Rosalie Wahl and the Minnesota Women’s Movement

Written by Lori Sturdevant

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Her Honor: Rosalie Wahl and the Minnesota Women’s Movement (2014) by Lori Sturdevant (Non-fiction)

While there is no single hero of the Minnesota women’s movement, Rosalie Wahl, the first woman on the Minnesota Supreme Court, changed the way her fellow judges saw the cases they decided. A champion of both women’s rights and civil rights, she brought new attention to the problems that faced women impoverished by divorce, abused by their partners, and others who coped with poverty and discrimination. With sharp intelligence and hard work, Wahl herself had overcome childhood tragedy and a difficult marriage to become a defense attorney, a respected judge, and a mentor to many. As essential backdrop to Wahl’s inspiring story, Sturdevant charts the progress of the women’s rights movement in Minnesota and showcases notable leaders on both sides of the aisle.

April book 2016

April 27, 2016

Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout

Written by Lauren Redniss

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Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout (2010) Lauren Redniss (Fiction)

In 1891, 24-year-old Marie Sklodowska moved from Warsaw to Paris, where she found work in the laboratory of Pierre Curie, a scientist engaged in research on heat and magnetism. They fell in love and took their honeymoon on bicycles. Then they expanded the periodic table, discovering two new elements with startling properties, radium and polonium. Recognizing radioactivity as an atomic property, they heralded the dawn of a new scientific era, winning the Nobel Prize. Then, in 1906, Pierre was killed in a freak accident. Marie continued their work alone. She won a second Nobel Prize in 1911, and fell in love again. In the century since the Curies began their work, we’ve struggled with nuclear weapons proliferation, debated the role of radiation in medical treatment, and pondered nuclear energy as a solution to climate change. In Radioactive, Redniss links these contentious questions to a gripping love story in 19th-century Paris.

May book 2016

May 25, 2016

The Long Loneliness: The Autobiography of the Legendary Catholic Social Activist

Written by Dorothy Day

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The Long Loneliness: The Autobiography of the Legendary Catholic Social Activist (1952) by Dorothy Day (Memoir)                                                

A spiritual classic but also the story of a radical Catholic social activist who in her Catholic Worker movement blended immediate assistance with a vision to work toward social revolution. As a spiritual pioneer, her ecumenism and understanding of the implications of liturgical renewal made possible a movement that has outlasted her and fashioned her into a model for Catholics and radicals. Day’s activism, wonderfully detailed in her autobiography, proved a potent source of inspiration for many leading figures in the movement toward peace, racial justice, and poverty.

June book 2016

June 22, 2016

The Scarlet Sisters: Sex, Suffrage, and Scandal in the Gilded Age

Written by Myra MacPherson

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The Scarlet Sisters: Sex, Suffrage, and Scandal in the Gilded Age (2014) by Myra MacPherson (Non-Fiction)

A fresh look at the life and times of Victoria Woodhull and Tennie Claflin, two sisters whose radical views threatened the white male power structure of the nineteenth century and shocked the world. In 1870 Woodhull and Claflin became the first women to open a brokerage firm, not to be repeated for nearly a century. A half-century before women could vote, Woodhull used her Wall Street fame to become the first woman to run for president, choosing former slave Frederick Douglass as her running mate. She was also the first woman to address a United States congressional committee. Claflin ran for Congress and shocked the world by becoming the honorary colonel of a black regiment. They were the first female publishers of a radical weekly, and the first to print Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto in America. Award-winning author Myra MacPherson deconstructs and lays bare the manners and mores of Victorian America, remarkably illuminating the struggle for equality that women are still fighting today through the story of these inspiring and outrageous sisters.

July book 2016

July 27, 2016

 Esther

Written by Rebecca Kanner

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Esther (2015) by Rebecca Kanner (Fiction)

Kanner draws on biblical narrative and Jewish mythology in her follow-up novel to the award-winning Sinners and the Sea. Kanner focuses on the story of Noah’s wife, Esther, revealing the Persian king’s relationship with Esther, a Jewish girl taken from her hut by the king’s brutish warriors and forced to march across blistering, scorched earth to the capitol city. Trapped for months in the king’s palace, she must avoid the ire of the king’s concubines and eunuchs all while preparing for her one night with the king. Soon the fated night arrives, and she does everything in her power to captivate the king and become his queen. But wearing the crown brings with it a new set of dangers. When a ruthless man plies the king’s ear with whispers of genocide, it is up to the young queen to prevent the extermination of the Jews. Kanner shows how Esther must find the strength within to violate the king’s law, risk her life, and save her people.

August book 2016

August 24, 2016

Nemesis: A Miss Marple Mystery

Written by Agatha Christie

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Nemesis: A Miss Marple Mystery (1971) by Agatha Christie (Fiction)

Agatha Christie, the acknowledged mistress of suspense and creator of indomitable sleuth Miss Marple, brings her skills into play in Nemesis as Miss Marple receives a letter from a dead man, Mr. Rafiel, who instructs her to investigate a crime, although he is unable to elaborate due to his most mysterious and untimely death. Outsold only by Shakespeare and the Bible, we honor Agatha Christie as a literary trailblazer who brought to life so many unforgettable characters, a staggering oeuvre of ingenious whodunits, locked room mysteries, and perplexing puzzles.