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 2014 Women’s History Month speaker Winona LaDuke, we will focus on books relating to our theme "Women and Environmental Sustainability". We have included in our list some classic titles and some less well-known. We are focusing on novels with prominent female roles.

SeptemberBook2014

September 24, 2014

Silent Spring
Written by Rachel Carson

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Silent Spring (1962) by Rachel Carson (Non-fiction)
First published serially in the New Yorker in June of 1962, Silent Spring appeared in book form that September. The outcry that followed forced the banning of DDT and spurred revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. Carson’s passionate concern for our planet’s future reverberated throughout the world, and her eloquent book was instrumental in launching the environmental movement.

October 2014 Book

October 29, 2014

Harvest of Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating
Written by Jane Goodall

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Harvest of Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating (2006) by Jane Goodall (Non-fiction)
Best known for fundamentally changing our views of primates and our relationship with the animal kingdom, scientist Jane Goodall now turns her attention to taking a stand for a more sustainable world. In this provocative and encouraging book, Goodall sounds a clarion call to Western society, urging us to take a hard look at the food we produce and consume. Arguing that each individual can make a difference, she offers simple strategies each of us can employ to foster a sustainable society. Brilliant, empowering, and irrepressibly optimistic, Harvest for Hope is one of the most crucial works of our age.

November 2014 Book

November 26, 2014

Parable of the Sower
Written by Octavia Butler

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Parable of the Sower (1993) by Octavia Butler (Fiction)

Parable of the Sower is set in a future where government has all but collapsed and civil society has reverted to relative anarchy due to resource scarcity and poverty. Lauren Olamina, a young woman who possesses what Butler dubbed hyperempathy – the ability to feel the perceived pain and sensations of others – develops a benign philosophical and religious system during her childhood in a gated community in Los Angeles. When her home is destroyed and her family murdered, Lauren travels north with some survivors to  start a community where her religion, Earthseed, can grow.


jan book

January 28, 2015

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Written by Cheryl Strayed

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Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail(2012) by Cheryl Strayed (Memoir)

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything: her mother passed away, her family scattered, and her own marriage was destroyed. Four years later, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

 


February 2015 Book

February 25, 2015

All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life
Written by Winona LaDuke (March Women's History Month Speaker)

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All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life (1999) by Winona LaDuke (Non-fiction)

Winona LaDuke gives this thoughtful, in-depth account of Native resistance to environmental and cultural degradation through examples from communities such as the Seminoles, the Anishinaabeg, the Innu, the Northern Cheyenne, and the Mohawks, among others. LaDuke’s unique understanding of Native ideas and people is born from years of experience and activism, and inspiring testimonies by local Native activists sharing the struggle for survival deepen her analysis. LaDuke speaks forcefully for self-determination and community and offers a beautiful and daring vision of political, spiritual, and ecological transformation.

March & APril 2015 book

March 25, 2015

Flight Behavior (month one)
Written by Barbara Kingsolver

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Flight Behavior (2012) by Barbara Kingsolver (Fiction) (Since it is a thick book, we will take two months to discuss it.)


The New York Times bestselling author of The Lacuna and The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver returns with a truly stunning and unforgettable work—arguably her most thrilling novel to date. Set in present day Appalachia, Flight Behavior is a breathtaking parable of catastrophe and denial that explores how the complexities we encounter in life lead us to believe in our particular chosen truths. Kingsolver’s riveting story concerns a young wife and mother on a failing farm in Tennessee who experiences something she cannot explain. Her discovery energizes various competing factions—religious leaders, climate scientists, environmentalists, politicians—trapping her in the center of the conflict and ultimately opening up her world.

March & APril 2015 book

April 29, 2015

Flight Behavior (month two)
Written by Barbara Kingsolver

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Flight Behavior (2012) by Barbara Kingsolver (Fiction) (Since it is a thick book, we will take two months to discuss it.)


The New York Times bestselling author of The Lacuna and The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver returns with a truly stunning and unforgettable work—arguably her most thrilling novel to date. Set in present day Appalachia, Flight Behavior is a breathtaking parable of catastrophe and denial that explores how the complexities we encounter in life lead us to believe in our particular chosen truths. Kingsolver’s riveting story concerns a young wife and mother on a failing farm in Tennessee who experiences something she cannot explain. Her discovery energizes various competing factions—religious leaders, climate scientists, environmentalists, politicians—trapping her in the center of the conflict and ultimately opening up her world.

May 2015

May 27, 2015

Sacred Wilderness
Written by Susan Power

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Sacred Wilderness (2014) by Susan Power (Susan could also come talk about the book.) (Fiction)


Sacred Wilderness explores the lives of four Clan Mothers of different eras and backgrounds who come together to restore foundation to a mixed-up, mixed-blood woman who had been living the American dream and found it a great maw of emptiness. These wisdom-keepers are women of joy and grief, risking their hearts and sometimes their lives for those they love. The novel moves from present-day Minnesota to the Mohawk territory of the 1620s, to the ancient biblical world, brought to life by an indigenous woman who would come to be known as the Virgin Mary. Through Power’s lyrical, lushly imagined prose, the Clan Mothers reveal secrets, prophetic insights, and stories that are by turns comic, so painful they can break your heart, and perhaps even powerful enough to save the world.

JuneBook

June 24, 2015

Destroyer Angel by Nevada Barr
Written by Elizabeth Colbert

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Destroyer Angel by Nevada Barr (Fiction; Mystery)


Anna Pigeon, a U.S. Park Services ranger, sets off on vacation—an autumn canoe trip in the Iron Range in upstate Minnesota—accompanied by her friend Heath, a paraplegic; Heath’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Elizabeth; Leah, a wealthy designer of outdoor equipment; and Leah’s thirteen-year-old daughter, Katie. For Heath and Leah, this is a shakedown cruise to test the new cutting edge line of camping equipment Leah has designed, which will make camping and canoeing more accessible to disabled outdoorsmen. 

When Anna returns from a solo float on the Fox River, she finds that four heavily armed thugs have taken her companions captive. With limited resources and no access to the outside world, Anna has only two days to rescue her friends before they are killed or flown out of the country.

June July 2015 Book

July 29, 2015

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
Written by Elizabeth Kolbert

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The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (2014) by Elizabeth Kolbert (Non-fiction)


In The Sixth Extinction, two-time winner of the National Magazine Award and New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert blends intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes. Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. Kolbert draws on the work of researchers in half a dozen disciplines—including geologists, botanists, and marine biologists, accompanying many of them into the field. She introduces us to several species, some already gone, and others facing extinction, including the Panamian golden frog, staghorn coral, the great auk, and the Sumatran rhino. Kolbert traces the evolution of extinction as a concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up through the present day. Likely to be mankind’s most lasting legacy, the sixth extinction, as Kolbert observes, compels us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.

August 2015 Book Club

August 26, 2015

My Year of Meats
Written by Ruth Ozeki

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My Year of Meats (1998) by Ruth Ozeki (Fiction)

Japanese-American documentary filmmaker Jane Takagi-Little suddenly receives a job producing My American Wife!, a Japanese cooking show sponsored by BEEF-EX, a Texas-based meat industry lobby organization intent on selling American beef to Japanese housewives. Jane journeys with her television crew into the nation’s heartlands in search of America’s most winning wives and their most mouth-watering recipes for meats. On the road, she falls in love and makes some heartbreaking discoveries about love, meat, honor, and DES, a hormone once used to promote growth in cows and to prevent miscarriages in women, which has irrevocably altered Jane’s future. Meanwhile, an ocean away, Akiko Ueno watches My American Wife! and dutifully cooks dishes like Coca Cola Roast and Beef Fudge for her husband, Joichi Ueno (BEEF-EX’s Tokyo PR rep), rating each show in Authenticity, Wholesomeness, and Deliciousness of Meat.