Book Discussions

Each summer, our staff host a range of book discussions.  The books span a variety of topics, and the literature provides a great starting point for conversations that extend well beyond the text. Our 2019 books were as follows:


The Best We Could Do
Author: Thi Bui

The Best We Could Do_Thi Bui_Book Discussion 2019

This illustrated memoir grapples with longing for the past and the sacrifices her family made to find a better life. Through personal storytelling, author reckons with the sacrifices and meaning of parenthood. After having left Vietnam at a young age in the 1970s and coming to America, Thi Bui retells her family’s story with a new perspective, exemplifying how our experiences and collective memories can travel and evolve across generations. This 2017 National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) Finalist is an evocative memoir and page turner as you journey with one family in search of a better life.


Dept. of Speculation
Author: Jenny Offill
Dept. of Speculation_by Jenny Offill_Book Discussion 2019In Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation (2014), the future seems to hold infinite possibilities for a young couple in New York City. But as the wife grapples with motherhood, writer’s block, and her husband’s changing nature, the years slip by. Through concise vignettes that capture the meandering nature of thoughts, Offill weaves a bittersweet story of marriage, motherhood, and tender humanity. From bedbugs and broken arms to Buddhist teachings, the protagonist guides us through moments teeming with emotional weight. Named one of the 10 Best Books of 2014 by the New York Times Book Review and shortlisted for the Pen/Faulkner Award, Dept. of Speculation is philosophical and witty, vivid and real. It can be read in one gut-wrenching, heartwarming sitting.



A Primate’s Memoir
Author: Robert Sapolsky

A Primates Memoir_by Robert Sapolsky_Book Discussion 2019

In A Primate’s Memoir, we are transported to the savannas of Kenya where Stanford professor Robert Sapolsky documents the lives and political warfare conducted by a baboon troop that he followed for thirty years. The book is split between the story of this baboon troop and Sapolsky’s personal experience doing research in Kenya—both sides of the narrative hold emotional moments, humorous stories, and insightful revelations about humans and baboons alike.





*The House on Mango Street
Author: Sandra Cisneros


*We offer The House on Mango Street as an optional reading for Women’s Breakfast, around which to center discussions of individuality, coming-of-age, and more. If you don’t have time, it’s cool too! We have lots of amazing tunes, poems, and more to share with you and can tailor the conversation to the interest of the group!