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Book Club

Selected readings from St. Mary's University Book Club. The Book Club is coordinated by Dr. Allison Gray.

Upcoming Selections

Recent Books Discussed

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock: A History in Three Volumes

Discussion Date: Tuesday, January 18, 2022 via Zoom.
One September evening in 1785, Jonah Hancock hears an urgent knocking on his front door near the docks of London. The captain of one of Jonah's trading vessels is waiting eagerly on the front step, bearing shocking news. On a voyage to the Far East, he sold Jonah's ship for something rare and far more precious: a mermaid. As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlors and brothels, all of London is curious to see this marvel in Jonah Hancock's possession. Thrust from his ordinary existence, somber Jonah finds himself moving from the city's seedy underbelly to the finest drawing rooms of high society. At an opulent party, he makes the acquaintance of the coquettish Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on--and a shrewd courtesan of great accomplishment. This meeting sparks a perilous liaison that steers both their lives onto a dangerous new course as they come to realize that priceless things often come at the greatest cost. Amazon Best Books of 2018; Betty Trask Prize Award.

While Justice Sleeps

Discussion Date: Tuesday, February 22, 2022 via Zoom.
"An inside-Washington thriller about an ambitious law clerk thrown into a life-or-death treasure hunt with major national implications when the Supreme Court justice she works for slips into a sudden coma." New York Times Bestseller.

The Secret History of Home Economics

Discussion Date: Tuesday, March 29, 2022 via Zoom.
"The surprising, often fiercely feminist, always fascinating, yet barely known, history of home economics. The term 'home economics' may conjure traumatic memories of lopsided hand-sewn pillows or sunken muffins. But common conception obscures the story of the revolutionary science of better living. The field exploded opportunities for women in the twentieth century by reducing domestic work and providing jobs as professors, engineers, chemists, and businesspeople that were otherwise foreclosed." An NPR Favorite History Book of 2021.

The Vanishing Half

Discussion Date: Tuesday, May 3, 2022 via Zoom.
A novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white. The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Named a Best Book of 2020 by the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, People, Time Magazine, Vanity Fair, and Glamour; 2021 Women's Prize Finalist.

Sea Monsters

Discussion Date: Tuesday, June 7, 2022 via Zoom.
One autumn afternoon in Mexico City, seventeen-year-old Luisa does not return home from school. Instead, she boards a bus to the Pacific coast with Tomás, a boy she barely knows. He seems to represent everything her life is lacking―recklessness, impulse, independence. Tomás may also help Luisa fulfill an unusual obsession: she wants to track down a traveling troupe of Ukrainian dwarfs. According to newspaper reports, the dwarfs recently escaped a Soviet circus touring Mexico. The imagined fates of these performers fill Luisa's surreal dreams as she settles in a beach community in Oaxaca. Surrounded by hippies, nudists, beachcombers, and eccentric storytellers, Luisa searches for someone, anyone, who will "promise, no matter what, to remain a mystery." It is a quest more easily envisioned than accomplished.
Winner of the 2020 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

Where the Crawdads Sing

Discussion Date: Tuesday, July 26, 2022 via Zoom.
For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life--until the unthinkable happens. Amazon Best Books of 2018; Reese's Book Club Pick; A Business Insider Defining Book of the Decade.

In the Dream House

Discussion Date: Tuesday, August 30, 2022 via Zoom.
A revolutionary memoir about domestic abuse. An engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad, and a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing relationship with a charismatic but volatile woman, Machado struggles to make sense of how what happened to her shaped the person she was becoming. And it's that struggle that gives the book its original structure: each chapter is driven by its own narrative trope--the haunted house, erotica, the bildungsroman--through which Machado holds the events up to the light and examines them from different angles.

Calling for a Blanket Dance

Discussion Date: Tuesday, September 27, 2022 via Zoom.
A moving and deeply engaging debut novel about a young Native American man finding strength in his familial identity, from a stellar new voice in fiction.

Book Club @ St. Mary's University

St. Mary's University Book Club

Interested in reading a few books for fun? This guide lists the books we have read and discussed. The group is comprised of St. Mary’s University students, faculty, staff and anyone else who is interested in reading! For information or to make book suggestions, contact Dr. Allison Gray

Little Free Library @ St. Mary's University



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