University Libraries 2022-2023 Book Club

Join us for the 2022-2023 Book Club sponsored by the Friends of the Libraries, WSU Alumni Association, and the WSU Retirees Association.

When and Where:

Thursday evenings at 5:30 p.m. on WebExRegistration is encouraged but not required.

What We’re Reading:

September 8, 2022: Hell of a Book by Jason Mott

In Jason Mott’s Hell of a Book, a Black author sets out on a cross-country publicity tour to promote his bestselling novel. That storyline drives Hell of a Book and is the scaffolding of something much larger and urgent: since Mott’s novel also tells the story of Soot, a young Black boy living in a rural town in the recent past, and The Kid, a possibly imaginary child who appears to the author on his tour.

As these characters’ stories build and converge, they astonish. For while this heartbreaking and magical book entertains and is at once about family, love of parents and children, art and money, it’s also about the nation’s reckoning with a tragic police shooting playing over and over again on the news. And with what it can mean to be Black in America.

Who has been killed? Who is The Kid? Will the author finish his book tour, and what kind of world will he leave behind?  Unforgettably told, with characters who burn into your mind and an electrifying plot ideal for book club discussion, Hell of a Book is the novel Mott has been writing in his head for the last ten years. And in its final twists it truly becomes its title. (Description from the publisher)

November 10, 2022: Blackout by Erin Flanagan

Blackout - Book Cover Image

Join special guest Wright State University Professor of English and Edgar Award-Winning author Erin Flanagan in this discussion about her new novel, Blackout.

Seven hard-won months into her sobriety, sociology professor Maris Heilman has her first blackout. She chalks it up to exhaustion, though she fears that her husband and daughter will suspect she’s drinking again. Whatever their cause, the glitches start becoming more frequent. Sometimes minutes, sometimes longer, but always leaving Maris with the same disorienting question: Where have I been?

Then another blackout lands Maris in the ER, where she makes an alarming discovery. A network of women is battling the same inexplicable malady. Is it a bizarre coincidence or something more sinister? What do all the women have in common besides missing time? Or is it who they have in common?

In a desperate search for answers, Maris has no idea what’s coming next—just the escalating paranoia that her memories may be beyond her control, and that everything she knows could disappear in the blink of an eye. (Description from publisher)

January 12, 2023: Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

Island of Missing Trees - book cover image

It is 1974 on the island of Cyprus. Two teenagers, from opposite sides of a divided land, meet at a tavern in the city they both call home. The tavern is the only place that Kostas, who is Greek and Christian, and Defne, who is Turkish and Muslim, can meet, in secret, hidden beneath the blackened beams from which hang garlands of garlic, chili peppers and wild herbs. This is where one can find the best food in town, the best music, the best wine. But there is something else to the place: it makes one forget, even if for just a few hours, the world outside and its immoderate sorrows.

In the center of the tavern, growing through a cavity in the roof, is a fig tree. This tree will witness their hushed, happy meetings, their silent, surreptitious departures; and the tree will be there when the war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to rubble, when the teenagers vanish and break apart.

Decades later in north London, sixteen-year-old Ada Kazantzakis has never visited the island where her parents were born. Desperate for answers, she seeks to untangle years of secrets, separation and silence. The only connection she has to the land of her ancestors is a Ficus Carica growing in the back garden of their home.

The Island of Missing Trees is a rich, magical tale of belonging and identity, love and trauma, nature, and, finally, renewal. (Description from Publisher)

March 9, 2023: The Love Songs of W.E.B. Dubois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers – Fiction Winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize

Honoree Fannone Jeffers’ debut novel, The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, is about the world of our ancestors, and lets them sing. Their high notes are legacy, history, tradition, and the mysteries of the spirit world. Their low notes are the atrocities of the Mid-Atlantic Slave Trade, smoothed over and often dismissed, yet impossible to ignore, thanks to the inherited damage that continues to contaminate society today. They sing of the early days when the Indigenous mixed with the African and the Scottish, and they sing of their descendants.

From the early days of what is now Georgia, in America, we visit Seminole territory, moon houses, Creek villages. This early America, with its society of slavers and the enslaved, is juxtaposed with the modern story of Ailey Garfield coming of age in the contemporary South. We watch as Ailey confronts familial responsibility, racism, sexism, and domestic abuse. For Ailey, the academic world looms as opportunity and refuge, even as street life in the city is also a reality for her and her family. Intellectual ideology provides hope but is also problematic; Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois do not see things, eye to eye. The Black community, as monolith, is deconstructed, here. We experience 20th Century America, particularly the Civil Rights Movement, as well as the complexities of drug addiction and the constrictions of marriage, through Ailey’s mother, her sisters, and her extended family.

This cacophony of voices is ultimately about love, even as heinous acts occur during slavery and continue in contemporary America. Depraved family members co-exist with righteous matriarchs and patriarchs. Class differences between lovers, colorism, and identity are also themes in this ambitious work. Jeffers celebrates the power of education and ideas, the community provided by the African American church, and the survival of a people confronting unbelievable odds. These love songs exalt literature and activism and are an invitation to us all to join in.

(excerpt by Lisa Page at https://www.daytonliterarypeaceprize.org/2022-awards/)

Book titles are available for borrowing from the WSU Libraries collection, click on book titles above to check current availability. Don’t have a WSU library card? Join our Friends of the Libraries for borrowing privileges and help support the Libraries’ collections and programs.