lifelong learning

UW Alumni Book Club

Last fall, UWAA and UW Libraries launched the UW Alumni Book Club, a self-paced literary educational experience designed with the eclectic reader in mind. Personal stories, timely topics and transformative fiction have all found a place on our bookshelf.

Together, we read a book every two months. Choose just one or all six — whatever works for your schedule or speaks to your curiosity.

You’ll receive regular emails to help you get the most of your reading experience, from suggested timelines to moderated online discussions facilitated by Professional Book Club Guru.

During these extraordinary times, it’s more important than ever to explore new ways of connecting with each other. We also might have more time to crack open a good book. Join the conversation and community of the UW Alumni Book Club.

Up Next

Book cover: "The Color of Law"

“The Color of Lawby Richard Rothstein

Selected by UW Alumni Book Club members, our next selection is presented in partnership with UW Impact, as part of their Common Ground reading list. Sure to challenge perspectives, “The Color of Law” is sure to provide opportunities for conversations.

“In this groundbreaking history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein, a leading authority on housing policy, explodes the myth that America’s cities came to be racially divided through de facto segregation—that is, through individual prejudices, income differences, or the actions of private institutions like banks and real estate agencies. Rather, “The Color of Law” incontrovertibly makes clear that it was de jure segregation—the laws and policy decisions passed by local, state, and federal governments—that actually promoted the discriminatory patterns that continue to this day.”

UWAA members save through University Book Store’s Pack Rewards program. Buy online.

Current Book Club Selections

Kick off your summer reading with three very different options. Read one or all three, and as always, if purchasing a book, consider placing your order with University Book Store. (UWAA members receive discounts through U Book Store’s Pack Rewards program.)

Book Cover: In Cold Blood

In Cold Bloodby Truman Capote

On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues.

As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. “In Cold Blood” is a seminal work of modern prose, a remarkable synthesis of journalistic skill and powerfully evocative narrative.

Wrap-up Discussion
Thursday, Aug. 13, 5–6 p.m. PDT
Truman Capote’s true crime classic is the subject of this virtual get-together. Dig into how the author builds suspense and how “In Cold Blood” went on to shape the enduring true crime genre in this moderated online discussion.

Sabrina & Corina: Stories” by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s magnetic story collection breathes life into her Latina characters of indigenous ancestry and the land they inhabit. Set against the remarkable backdrop of Denver, Colorado–a place that is as fierce as it is exquisite–these women navigate the land the way they navigate their lives: with caution, grace, and quiet force.

“Sabrina & Corina” is a moving narrative of unrelenting feminine power and an exploration of the universal experiences of abandonment, heritage, and an eternal sense of home.

Wrap-up Discussion
Tuesday, Aug. 11, 5–6 p.m. PDT
Gather online to discuss Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s masterful reflections on home, family, class and race. Which characters resonated with you? Which stories do you think will be sticking with you?

American Spy” by Lauren Wilkinson

It’s 1986, the heart of the Cold War, and Marie Mitchell is an intelligence officer with the FBI. She’s brilliant but she’s also a young black woman working in an old boys’ club, and her career has stalled out. So when she’s offered a spot on a shadowy task force aimed at undermining Thomas Sankara, the charismatic, revolutionary president of Burkina Faso, she says yes, even though she secretly admires the work Thomas is doing for his country.

Inspired by true events, this novel knits together a gripping spy thriller, a heartbreaking family drama, and a passionate romance. This is a face of the Cold War you’ve never seen before, and it introduces a powerful new literary voice.


UW Students Talk About Burkina Faso
Friday, Aug. 7, 11–11:30 a.m. PDT
Two students share their experience with both colonialism and international interference within their country and region.

Cold War in Africa
Monday, Aug. 10, 4–4:30 p.m. PDT
UW Professor Lynn Thomas gives us more context about the African front of the Cold War in a moderated online discussion.

Wrap-up Discussion
Wednesday, Aug. 12, 5–6 p.m. PDT
Get together online to talk about this gripping summer read with your fellow UW Alumni Book Club members.

Previous Selections

Below you’ll also find conversations with UW alumni, faculty and staff connecting our books to the lives of Huskies on campus and around the world.

A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles

In this mega-bestseller, Alexander Rostov lives under house arrest in the Metropol Hotel. He encounters Nina, a precocious and wide-eyed young girl, who introduces Alexander to an absorbing, adventure-filled existence, despite his captivity.

“Fun, clever, and surprisingly upbeat . . . A Gentleman in Moscow is an amazing story because it manages to be a little bit of everything. There’s fantastical romance, politics, espionage, parenthood and poetry.” —Bill Gates


Book Events

People & Their Spaces – A Book Club talk about A Gentleman in Moscow
May 19, 2020 4 p.m. PDT

Join us for a conversation about building design and function as it pertains to cultural identity!

Vikramaditya Prakash, Professor of Architecture and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the College of Built Environment, joins the UW Alumni Book Club in a conversation about the power of architecture and designing space. The Alumni Book Club’s current selection, “A Gentleman in Moscow,” is set in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow and the hotel itself becomes a character in the story.

Learn more


A Husky in Moscow Book Club Conversation
May 21, 2020, 11 a.m. PDT (US and Canada)

Brendan McElmell is a current Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History department who is studying love and relationships in Russia in the 1940s and 50s. He’s currently living in Moscow conducting his research (while also social distancing!).

Join us for an online conversation about what it’s like staying at home in Moscow right now, and studying the past lives of Russians!

Join Zoom Meeting (Meeting ID: 928 6822 3744)

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee” by David Treuer

This 2019 National Book award nominee for nonfiction, recommended by Nancy Pearl, is a sweeping history—and counter-narrative—of Native American life from the Wounded Knee massacre to the present.

“Chapter after chapter, it’s like one shattered myth after another.” —NPR

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” by Lori Gottlieb

Every year, nearly 30 million Americans sit on a therapist’s couch—and some of these patients are therapists. In her remarkable new book, Lori Gottlieb tells us that despite her license and rigorous training, her most significant credential is that she’s a card-carrying member of the human race.

“An addictive book that’s part Oliver Sacks and part Nora Ephron. Prepare to be riveted.” —People Magazine, Book of the Week

Keep learning

What issues are today’s students facing? Glenna Chang, Ph.D., Associate Vice President, UW Student Life, moderated a discussion with Natacha Foo Klune, Ph.D., Director and Counseling Psychologist, UW Counseling Center; Meghann Gerber, Psy.D., Psychologist, Mental Health Clinic Unit Head, Associate Director for Mental Health, Hall Health Center, UW; and Megan Kennedy, M.A., LMHC, Interim Director, UW Resilience Lab.

Danny O’Rourke, Ph.D., ’09 ’15, is a licensed psychologist and director of Training and Education at Evidence Based Treatment Centers of Seattle. He talked about being a Husky Psychologist and how his UW training informs his interactions with patients every day.


“No-No Boy” by John Okada, ’47, ’51

This historical novel tells the story of a Washington state Japanese American in the aftermath of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

“‘No-No Boy’ has the honor of being among the first of what has become an entire literary canon of Asian American literature.”
—Novelist Ruth Ozeki

We strongly recommend you purchase the book from the University of Washington Press. All UWAA members get 30% off at UW Press. Non-members can purchase “No-No Boy” with a 20% discount by using the code WABOOKCLUB.

Keep learning

English Professor Shawn Wong discusses his work creating the field of Asian American literature, his role in the publication of “No-No Boy” in the 1970s and his fight with Penguin Publishing when they illegally published the book this summer.

A conversation with Danielle Higa, ’07, and Caitlin Oiye Coon, ’02, descendants of incarcerated Japanese Americans who now work at Densho, an organization that works to preserve and share history of Japanese incarceration.

Professor Michelle Martin, Beverly Cleary Endowed Professor in Children and Youth Services and Chair of the Master of Library and Information Science program, talks about diversity and representation in literature and the importance of #OwnVoices writers.


Read the UW Magazine story on the book: “The legacy of ‘No-No Boy'” by Vince Schleitwiler

Attend the Friends of the Library Annual Lecture: “‘No-No Boy’: The Story of How a Novel goes from 1500 Copies Sold to 158,000 Copies” with speaker Shawn Wong on Jan. 30

How to Raise an Adult” by Julie Lythcott-Haims

This book kicked off the UW Alumni Book Club around Labor Day. (Find the book at UW Libraries.)

“This is the stuff of the best parenting advice . . . . A worthwhile read for every parent . . . . Our children are engaged in the serious work of becoming an adult. With this book, Lythcott-Haims provides the missing user manual.”
―The Chicago Tribune

Keep learning

Listen to a conversation between author Julie Lythcott-Haims and UW Political Science and Public Policy Librarian Emily Keller:

Listen to Julie Lythcott-Haim’s Oct. 1 lecture at Kane Hall.

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