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)
Silent Spring was first published in three serialized excerpts in the New Yorker in June of 1962. The book appeared in September of that year and the outcry that followed its publication forced the banning of DDT and spurred revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. Carson’s passionate concern for the future of our planet reverberated powerfully throughout the world, and her eloquent book was instrumental in launching the environmental movement. It is without question one of the landmark books of the twentieth century.

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; 320 pages)
The renowned scientist who fundamentally changed the way we view primates and our relationship with the animal kingdom now turns her attention to an incredibly important and deeply personal issue-taking a stand for a more sustainable world. In this provocative and encouraging book, Jane Goodall sounds a clarion call to Western society, urging us to take a hard look at the food we produce and consume-and showing us how easy it is to create positive change. Offering her hopeful, but stirring vision, Goodall argues convincingly 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. If we follow Goodall's sound advice, we just might save ourselves before it's too late.

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; 352 pages)

Set in a future where government has all but collapsed, Parable of the Sower centers on a young woman named Lauren Olamina who possesses what Butler dubbed hyperempathy – the ability to feel the perceived pain and other sensations of others – who develops a benign philosophical and religious system during her childhood in the remnants of a gated community in Los Angeles. Civil society has reverted to relative anarchy due to resource scarcity and poverty. When the community's security is compromised, her home is destroyed and her family murdered. She travels north with some survivors to try to start a community where her religion, called 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 by Cheryl Strayed
At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, 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—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully 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)

This non-fiction is a thoughtful and in-depth account of Native resistance to environmental and cultural degradation. LaDuke’s unique understanding of Native ideas and people is born from long years of experience and activism, and her analysis is deepened with inspiring testimonies by local Native activists sharing the struggle for survival. LaDuke speaks forcefully for self-determination and community. Hers is a beautiful and daring vision of political, spiritual, and ecological transformation. Each community discussed by LaDuke—including the Seminoles, the Anishinaabeg, the Innu, the Northern Cheyenne, and the Mohawks, among others—has a unique history of coping with environmental and cultural degradation,

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) (This is a 400+ page book; we will take two months to discuss it.)
The extraordinary New York Times bestselling author of The Lacuna (winner of the Orange Prize), The Poisonwood Bible (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize), and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver returns with a truly stunning and unforgettable work. Flight Behavior is a brilliant and suspenseful novel set in present day Appalachia; a breathtaking parable of catastrophe and denial that explores how the complexities we inevitably 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 rural Tennessee who experiences something she cannot explain, and how 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. Flight Behavior is arguably Kingsolver's must thrilling and accessible novel to date, and like so many other of her acclaimed works, represents contemporary American fiction at its finest.

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) (This is a 400+ page book; we will take two months to discuss it.)
The extraordinary New York Times bestselling author of The Lacuna (winner of the Orange Prize), The Poisonwood Bible (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize), and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver returns with a truly stunning and unforgettable work. Flight Behavior is a brilliant and suspenseful novel set in present day Appalachia; a breathtaking parable of catastrophe and denial that explores how the complexities we inevitably 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 rural Tennessee who experiences something she cannot explain, and how 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. Flight Behavior is arguably Kingsolver's must thrilling and accessible novel to date, and like so many other of her acclaimed works, represents contemporary American fiction at its finest.

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; 268 pages)
A Clan Mother story for the twenty-first century, Sacred Wildernessexplores the lives of four women of different eras and backgrounds who come together to restore foundation to a mixed-up, mixed-blood woman--a woman who had been living the American dream, and found it a great maw of emptiness. These Clan Mothers may be wisdom-keepers, but they are anything but stern and aloof--they are women of joy and grief, risking their hearts and sometimes their lives for those they love. The novel swirls through time, 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. The Clan Mothers reveal secrets, the insights of prophecy, and stories that are by turns comic, so painful they can break your heart, and perhaps even powerful enough to save the world. In lyrical, lushly imagined prose, Sacred Wildernessis a novel of unprecedented necessity.

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

On their second night out, Anna goes off on her own for a solo evening float on the Fox River.  When she comes back, she finds that four thugs, armed with rifles, pistols, and knives, have taken the two women and their teenaged daughters captive. With limited resources and no access to the outside world, Anna has only two days to rescue them before her friends are either killed or flown out of the country, in Destroyer Angel by Nevada Barr.

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; 330 pages)
A major book about the future of the world, blending 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 around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In The Sixth Extinction, two-time winner of the National Magazine Award and New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert draws on the work of scores of researchers in half a dozen disciplines, accompanying many of them into the field: geologists who study deep ocean cores, botanists who follow the tree line as it climbs up the Andes, marine biologists who dive off the Great Barrier Reef. She introduces us to a dozen species, some already gone, others facing extinction, including the Panamian golden frog, staghorn coral, the great auk, and the Sumatran rhino. Through these stories, Kolbert provides a moving account of the disappearances occurring all around us and traces the evolution of extinction as concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up through the present day. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy; as Kolbert observes, it 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; 400 pages)

When Jane Takagi-Little, an unemployed Japanese-American documentary filmmaker, answers the phone at two in the morning, her life is forever altered. She accepts 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, a self-described polyracial prototype, takes her television crew on a journey into the nation's heartlands, in search of America’s most winning wives and their most mouth-watering recipes for meats. On the road, as she falls in love with an enigmatic saxaphonist named Sloane, she makes some heartbreaking discoveries about love, meat, honor and a hormone called DES, once used to promote growth in cows and to prevent miscarriages in women, which has irrevocably altered the shape of Jane’s future. Meanwhile, an ocean away, Akiko Ueno watches My American Wife and dutifully cooks the Meat Of The Week for her husband, Joichi Ueno, the Tokyo PR rep for BEEF-EX. Under his critical gaze, Akiko cooks dishes like Coca Cola Roast and Beef Fudge and fills out a weekly questionnaire, rating each show in categories like Authenticity, Wholesomeness and Deliciousness of Meat.