College of Liberal Arts Online Book Club

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Read and connect with CLA alumni

Join the online CLA Alumni Book Club to connect with fellow Gophers! In this online community, alumni can connect with each other and enjoy books related to lifelong learning, professional development, social issues and more. There is no cost to participate – just get a copy of the book to enjoy! 

Join the virtual alumni book club

Current Book Discussion

The Shakespeare Requirement: A Novel by Julie Schumacher

The January-March book club selection is The Shakespeare Requirement by Regents Professor of Creative Writing and English Julie Schumacher. Schumacher is the first woman to have won the Thurber Prize for American Humor. 

As described in Goodreads:
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune keep hitting beleaguered English professor Jason Fitger right between the eyes in this hilarious and eagerly awaited sequel [need not have read to enjoy this selection] to the cult classic of anhedonic academe, the Thurber Prize-winning Dear Committee Members. Once more into the breach...

Now is the fall of his discontent, as Jason Fitger, newly appointed chair of the English Department of Payne University, takes arms against a sea of troubles, personal and institutional. His ex-wife is sleeping with the dean who must approve whatever modest initiatives he undertakes. The fearsome department secretary Fran clearly runs the show (when not taking in rescue parrots and dogs) and holds plenty of secrets she's not sharing. The lavishly funded Econ Department keeps siphoning off English's meager resources and has taken aim at its remaining office space. And Fitger's attempt to get a mossbacked and antediluvian Shakespeare scholar to retire backfires spectacularly when the press concludes that the Bard is being kicked to the curricular curb.

Lord, what fools these mortals be! Julie Schumacher proves the point and makes the most of it in this delicious romp of satire.

Order The Shakespeare Requirement at a discount from our independent University of Minnesota Bookstore and receive a special 20 percent discount. 

Why You Should Join

Connect with fellow CLA alumni & friends

Joining the book club will introduce you to CLA alumni and friends across industries, generations and geographies, while accommodating your engagement when and where you are most comfortable.

Be a part of a lifelong learning community

Improve your mind, gain wisdom, keep up with a constantly changing world and nurture a thirst for knowledge through the discussion, reflection and sharing of perspectives with likeminded people in a safe platform.

Reading is good for you

Research has proven that when we read we become mentally stronger.  From improving on focus and concentration, to developing stronger analytical thinking skills, to reducing stress, to reducing the chances of developing Alzheimer's later in life, the health benefits derived from reading are innumerable.

What to Expect Once You Join

Sign-up page

The sign-up page will include a description of how the book club works, answers to frequently asked questions, and information about the first book. The sign-up page will still be open for new participants throughout the year.

Content emails

This book club will be managed by PBC Guru. For each book, PBC Guru sends out emails with content that prompts discussions in the online forum. An email may include a link to a review, article, podcast, Ted Talk, or video. Other specialty emails provide a way to announce the vote for the next book, communicate with discussion leaders, and send out periodic surveys.

Online forum

The online forum is where book club members can introduce themselves, discuss the book and learn from other participants. Participants log in with the username and password that they created during the sign-up process. This is not a Zoom-style video call but rather a discussion forum where members can hold conversations in the form of posted messages. 

FAQs

The first book has been pre-selected in order to get the club up and running. Afterwards, alumni book club members will vote between several options each period and select each book based on participants’ interests.

Books will be read every two months. Each book will take an average of six hours to read, so if you have 30 minutes a week to read you’ll do just fine. If members of this virtual community are particularly busy with work, family, or other obligations and can't read or finish a book, that’s okay. If you can only read part of a book and contribute a little to the online discussion then that's okay too. The goal of this program is simply to connect CLA alumni through relevant, interesting topics.

No. All discussions around the books occur through an online forum. There will not be in-person or video-style discussions. The advantage is you can participate anywhere you have internet access and on days and times that are convenient to you. Members may be invited to streaming or in-person events in the future as an added benefit to the book club.

Participation is free for CLA alumni! You are responsible only for obtaining a copy of the book—you can buy, borrow, or download a copy of the chosen book.

Discussions will occur through an online forum. Our book club has a dedicated moderator who manages the forum and poses questions to the group, shares relevant articles, and facilitates conversation about topics in the book. Members are encouraged to post and share as well. This format allows for ongoing conversation and makes it easy for alumni to connect with each other. This will not occur in a Zoom-style or other video setting.

Professional Book Club (PBC) Guru helps companies and alumni associations implement and manage professional reading programs. The College of Liberal Arts is teaming up with PBC Guru to help make this alumni program a great experience for all participants.

We have answers! Feel free to send an email directly to Megan Mehl (mmehl@umn.edu) with CLA Alumni Relations and she’ll be happy to help.

Alumni can join the book club at any time and do not have to participate in every reading session. If you have questions please contact Megan Mehl in the CLA Alumni Relations Office at mmehl@umn.edu We look forward to reading with you!