lifelong learning

UW Alumni Book Club

Personal stories, timely topics, transformative fiction… Let’s dig into some amazing books together! All curious readers are welcome at the UW Alumni Book Club.

Together, we read a book about every two months. Choose just one or all five — whatever works for you.

The free online forum has suggested timelines and prompts for online discussion. Join us for special events that take the conversation to the next level!

“So often we think of reading as a solo activity, but with discussion it improves and elevates the experience.” —Marilyn Conover Watt, ’76, ’81

Now Reading:

“Free Speech: A History From Socrates to Social Media” by Jacob Mchangama

Reading period: Aug. 5–Oct. 7, 2022

We are teaming up with our partners at UW Impact to delve into a very timely topic! From the lawyer and human rights advocate who brought us the “Clear and Present Danger” podcast comes “Free Speech: A History From Socrates to Social Media.” This debut book traces the first recorded glimmers of free speech in ancient history. Follow its progress (and setbacks) through conquests, revolutions and changing technology. How is it that free speech has been able to change the power balance in societies? Why has it so often has led to societal panic and brutal backlash throughout the course of history?

“A vivid, highly readable account of how today’s most pitched battles over free speech reflect tensions and impulses that are as old as history itself.”
Suzanne Nossel

Get your copy:

UWAA Members save 20% on “Free Speech.” Use code UWAAJM in-store and at 
*Some restrictions apply; visit for full details. Coupon code must be given to cashier to receive discount in-store; non-Pack Rewards members receive a 10% discount with this coupon code. Valid through Oct. 7, 2022, in-store and at

Book events:

“Free Speech” Book Chat

Sept. 28,  2022  |  5 p.m.  PDT |  online

Join the UW Alumni Book Club for a conversation about the ongoing cycles of free expression and censorship throughout history. Get together online with fellow readers and UW Impact advocates to talk about the book and your reflections while reading!

The Trickier Side of Free Speech

Thurs. Oct 6,  2022  |  5 p.m.  PDT |  online

Join us to explore the contemporary issues and challenges associated with free speech. UW Impact, the UW Alumni Association’s legislative advocacy program, will host this discussion. State Senator David Frockt, media litigator Caesar Kalinowski, ’17, and UW political science professor Victor Menaldo will bring their insights and experience to the panel.

What parts of free speech are the least understood? What threats or rollbacks of this revered hallmark of American democracy might be on the horizon? Does the First Amendment create challenges in maintaining order during political or social unrest?

(No spoilers! You do not need to have read the book to participate.)

Meet the Panelists

Husky Theater Night: “What the Constitution Means to Me” — SOLD OUT!

Thurs. Oct 20  |  6 p.m.  |  Seattle Rep

Inspired by topics raised in the current UW Alumni Book Club reading of “Free Speech,” UWAA and our friends at UW Impact are organizing a night at the theater! “What the Constitution Means to Me” is a Tony Award nominee and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Your orchestra seat also includes a hosted pre-show reception with drinks, snacks and a fascinating view of the back-of-house production areas. We hope you’ll join us for an evening of big ideas — on and off the stage!

About the play: Heidi Schreck’s boundary-breaking play breathes new life into our Constitution and imagines how it will shape the next generation of Americans. In this hilarious, hopeful, and achingly human new play, she resurrects her teenage self in order to trace the profound relationship between four generations of women and the founding document that shaped their lives.

9/23/2022 Update:  This event is now SOLD OUT.

Plan Ahead:

Historic portrait of Mary Shelley next to "Frankenstein" book cover“Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley

Reading period: Oct. 14–Dec. 16, 2022

We are throwing it back to 1818 — just in time for Halloween! “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus” is an acclaimed Gothic novel with elements of both horror and science fiction. In contrast to the more modern adaptations for film and stage, Mary Shelley’s original telling of the story has a deeply political and philosophical slant. What are the consequences when scientists are not willing to take responsibility for their creations? Can an orphaned outcast ever find peace in a society that only responds with fear and rejection?

2022-2023 Reading List

Free Speech by Jacob Mchangama

Reading Period:
Aug. 5–Oct. 7, 2022

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Reading Period:
Oct. 14–Dec. 16, 2022

The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

Reading Period:
Jan. 6–Mar. 10, 2023

The Half Known Life in search of Paradise by Pico Iyer

Reading Period:
Mar. 18–May 20, 2023

Readers Choice: Favorite Fiction

Reading Period:
May 27–July 29, 2023


Share Your Book Ideas!

Have suggestions for upcoming book club titles?
Submit your ideas to our Book Club Suggestion Form.

Check out the books that have already been suggested.

The UW Alumni Book Club is a collaboration between UWAA, the UW Libraries, the University Book Store—and passionate readers like you.

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