The Notre Dame Book Club is thrilled to announce its first ever All-School-Reads! This special invitation to read in community is not only extended to students and faculty, but to families, alumnae and friends as well. To show that we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement, the Notre Dame Book Club has decided to select works of all genres that shed light on the reality of systemic racism in America. We all must make a concerted effort to learn how we can eradicate racism and show support to those who have experienced it. And one way to begin that learning process is to read. To join in on the fun, take a look below at our monthly book selections.
APRIL DISCUSSION: This month we have chosen Difficult Women by Roxanne Gay. This brilliant and powerful collection of short stories features female characters who are grappling with trauma and the pressure of conforming to societal norms. Roxanne Gay is a writer, professor, advocate for body positivity, and social commentator. Her career gained momentum after her collection of essays, Bad Feminist, was welcomed with wide acclaim.
Here is just one of the many praising reviews for Difficult Women:
“The characters who inhabit Difficult Women . . . aren’t just characters. They are our mothers, sisters and partners. They are human. They are us . . . Gay manages to capture entire lifetimes, painstakingly sketching women, the underlying drives that give them their shape and the indignities that color the lenses through which they see the world. Gay’s style isn’t paint-by-numbers, either. It’s pointillism—and details such as race, class and sexuality are not missed. Gay has a deft touch with how those intersecting identities mold and shape women’s experiences . . . These are real stories about real experiences and women seeking, deserving happy endings. They aren’t victims but survivors. Gay makes mosaics out of these women, seeing them as perfectly imperfect wholes in a world that routinely tries to break them down to pieces.” —Jaleesa M. Jones, USA Today (4/4 stars)
NOVEMBER DISCUSSION: This month we have chosen Transcendent Kingdom, the latest novel from New York Times best-selling author, Yaa Gyasi. Two years ago, we read her profoundly moving first novel, Homegoing. It was one of the most successful meetings we have ever had. We are certain that her latest book will generate as special and as memorable of a discussion. You will quickly see that this novel is a beautiful one. Please see the following NYT review for some more information: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/
OCTOBER DISCUSSION: On July 17th, we lost The Honorable John Robert Lewis. Small in stature, but a giant of the Civil Rights Movement, he lived a life of faith and the steadfast belief that we could achieve Beloved Community here on earth if we all did what was right. He encouraged us to “get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.” He walked, marched, sat-in and spoke with a fierce determination to manifest a just society. To honor his memory and learn how we can continue his mission, we have selected John Meacham’s new biography, His Truth is Marching On: John Lewis and The Power of Hope.
AUGUST DISCUSSION: Our second selection is So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. How do we have honest and productive conversations about race when it can be such a difficult subject to broach? What is the appropriate language to use when discussing racism? What are the right questions to ask a person of color when we want to learn more about their experience? In this collection of enlightening and frank essays, Oluo tackles subjects dealing with race such as police brutality, mass incarceration, white privilege, intersectionality and affirmative action. This is ultimately a book that teaches us how to be empathetic when it comes to race and how to best take action as anti-racists.
JULY DISCUSSION: Our first selection was Colson Whitehead’s, The Underground Railroad which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and The National Book Award in 2016. Mr. Whitehead’s novel introduces us to Cora, an enslaved young woman on a Georgia plantation. Cora is certain that she will continue to experience even more agony and sorrow, and then Caesar arrives from another plantation in Virginia with a plan. He encourages Cora to escape and join him on The Underground Railroad. In Colson Whitehead’s ingenious and metaphorical interpretation, The Underground Railroad is exactly that: a series of tunnels and tracks, engineers, and a secret network of individuals who aid those traveling to freedom. This is a brilliant, provocative, and insightful retelling of the history of slavery in America and also a story of Cora’s determination to escape brutality and bondage to find freedom.
While these books are available on Amazon and other online booksellers, consider ordering them from one of these Black owned bookstores:
The Notre Dame Book Club is moderated by Ms. Lydie Kane, English teacher and ND alumna, and co-chaired by current seniors, Brigid McCabe and Devon Neville.