College of Liberal Arts Online Book Club

Logo for Book Club for 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

This Tender Land 

From October 13 through December 15, 2023, the CLA Alumni Online Book Club selection is This Tender Land by Minnesota author William Kent Krueger.

"For fans of Before We Were Yours and Where the Crawdads Sing, a magnificent novel about four orphans on a life-changing odyssey during the Great Depression." 

As described by William Kent Krueger's website: 1932, Minnesota—the Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O’Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own.

Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will journey into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an en­thralling, big-hearted epic that shows how the magnificent American landscape connects us all, haunts our dreams, and makes us whole.

Why 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 like-minded 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. 


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 ( 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 We look forward to reading with you!