Unlimited Book Club

The Unlimited Book Club is a joint venture of the Coos History Museum, Coos Bay Library, and North Bend Library. We formed to encourage awareness and foster community discussions on equity, diversity, and inclusion through reading and thoughtful conversation. 

The club will meet every second Thursday at 6:00 PM. The meetings will be an opportunity for members to discuss the month’s book as well as vote on book titles for future meetings and connect with fellow community members. Our next meeting will be on March 11th at 6:00 PM and we will be discussing the book, Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano.  

To sign up for the book club and receive a link to the zoom meetings, please click here: Unlimited Book Club sign-up. 

You may also find information about the Unlimited Book Club on our Facebook page, our Events page, or by contacting Ariel Peasley at education@cooshistory.org or at 541-756-6320 x216.

View more information below!

Resources and Discussion Quotes

Julia Serano’s website: Julia Serano 

January 28, 2021 – The Hammer Museum: White Feminism with Koa Beck & Julia Serano

Discussion Quotes

“One of the most frustrating aspects about being a transsexual is that I’m frequently asked to explain to other people why I decided to transition. Why did I feel it was necessary to physically change my body? How could I possibly know that I’d be happier as a woman when I had only ever experienced being male? If I don’t believe that women and men are “opposite” sexes, then why change my sex at all? Unfortunately, while these are among the most common questions people ask, they are also the ones to which people are the least open to hearing my answer” (77).

“Similarly, while I understand cissexual culture (as I was raised as, and generally assumed to be, cissexual), most cissexuals tend to have an extraordinarily limited understanding of transsexuality” (290).

Ocean Vuong’s website: Ocean Vuong

January 28th – Brooklyn Public Library: Documenting the Uprising: A Panel Discussion on Archiving and Activism 

Discussion Quotes

“I am thinking of beauty again, how some things are hunted because we have deemed them beautiful…” (paragraph on 238).

“A new immigrant, within two years, will come to know that the salon is, in the end, a place where dreams become the calcified knowledge of what it means to be awake in American bones—with or without citizenship—aching, toxic, and underpaid.” (80-81)

“Sometimes being offered tenderness feels like the very proof that you’ve been ruined.”

“I am thinking of freedom again, how the calf is most free when the cage opens and it’s led to the truck for slaughter” (216).

Netflix documentary film – “I am Not Your Negro”: Based on James Baldwin’s unfinished book , this visual essay explores racism through the stories of Medgar evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr.

October 7th – PGCMLS (Prince George’s County Memorial Library System): Eddie S. Glaude Jr. on “Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its Urgent Lessons for our Own”

November 20th – WDET: Detroit’s NPR Station: Eddie Glaude: Racism We’ve Seen in Trump Era is Not New. It’s Just Louder. 

Upcoming: February 9 at 6:30 PM – Oregon Humanities: The Fire is Upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., And the Debate over Race in America.

Discussion Quotes 

“We don’t hurt more, we just die faster.”

“We must tell the truth till we can no longer bear it.” (4)

“In our time, with so much hatred and venom in our politics and our culture, we must actively cultivate communities of love that allow us to imagine different ways of being together. That means pulling people we love closer; opening ourselves to the unexpected pleasure of meeting and knowing someone new; and retreating into the comfort of their company as a material counterweight to the ugliness of our politics.” (142-143)

“It is not enough to merely acknowledge these dark moments when the politics of fear threaten to overwhelm, as Jon Meacham does in his brilliant book The Soul of America, but then to move quickly to examples of hope that affirm the country’s sense of its own exceptionalism. We fail to linger in the dark moments at our peril… One has to linger here. Move too quickly, and you set yourself up for another nightmare.”

Interpretation matters: What we do with the facts, the kinds of questions we ask about them, and for what ends, matter.” (78)

Jan 21, 2021 – New York Times podcast: America’s Caste System Is 400 Years Old. That Doesn’t Change Overnight

Dec 1, 2020 at 5:00 PM – Oregon Humanities: Can We Get Along? 

2017 TED talk with Isabel Wilkerson: The Great Migration and the Power of a Single Decision

Los Angeles Times Virtual Book Club: Journeys to America: Writings on a Hidden Nation with Karla Cornejo Villavicencio & Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

Questions by Hosts

Do you agree with Isabel Wilkerson’s argument(s) that the United States embodies a caste system? On page 352, Wilkerson quotes Taylor saying “if people were given the choice between democracy and whiteness, how many would choose whiteness?”; what do you think? On page 387, Wilkerson says that we need to be “pro-African-American” among other pro’s; how does this relate to or differ from Kendi’s argument to be “anti-racist” among other anti’s?

Wilkerson often implies or states that we are all performers, playing our racial and/or caste roles that would not exist if we did not act them out. After reading this book and Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist, does anyone else feel like they are living in a fictional movie or novel where everyone is ignoring facts or truths in order to keep each other down and elevate themselves on both the local and global stage? I keep hearing the following quote from The Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten at their last performance, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” I do!
People experiencing homelessness are an untouchable as well. I have no problem believing that African-Americans in this situation have it even worse than whites, but as a whole, once people fall into a state of homelessness, they are often written off completely, and they are treated as a threat to the public good. If we are to move from a caste society to one that reflects our better natures, if we can come to celebrate cultures and races, I think we need to keep in mind that we cannot allow an underclass to remain in place.

An interview with Ibram X. Kendi hosted by The Aspen Institute: How to Be an Antiracist

TED talk with Ibram X. Kendi: The Difference Between Being “Not Racist” and Antiracist 

Questions by Hosts

On page 180, Kendi says “To be antiracist is to equate and nurture difference among racial groups.” We often talk about celebrating diversity and differences, but do we need to concentrate harder on equating differences? How do we do this?

In my own interpretation, Kendi says that if we make things equal, fair, and just for Black people, especially for Black transgender women, that we will ultimately make the world, or at least our country, better for everyone. Conversely, he says that groups such as white supremacists and the policies and ideas they promote, are making the world worse for everyone, including White people. What do you think about these ideas?

How does Kendi make you examine your own situation, your own biases?

A talk presented by PEN America and Summit: Patrisse Cullors and Joshua Wong in Conversation with Baratunde Thurston 

Interview with Patrisse Cullors hosted by Trevor Noah on The Daily Social Distancing Show: How to Phase Out the Police 

NYTimes article: Some Protests Against Police Brutality Take a More Confrontational Approach(question for discussion: “How does the BLM movement fit into what is currently happening in Portland?”)

Questions by Hosts

If you had to use one word to describe a major theme running through this book that holds the author together and provides her much needed comfort, what would that word be?

Now having read this book, in a sentence or so, what do you believe is the main purpose and goal of the Black Lives Matter movement?

I want to discuss her beautiful writing style, and her influences, but I think it might be more important to look forward instead, and (borrowing and wrecking a line from Hamilton) discuss her book as a moment in a movement.

Book Titles

March 11, 2021: Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano

April 8, 2021: Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

May 13, 2021: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

 

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

Made in Japan, Settled in Oregon by Mitzi Asai Loftus

Peculiar Paradise: A History of Blacks in Oregon, 1788-1940 by Elizabeth McLagan

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown

Apeirogon: A Novel by Colum McCann

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn

The Morning the Sun Went Down: A Memoir by Darryl Babe Wilson

The First Oregonians by Laura Berg

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo

Oregon Democracy: Asahel Bush, Slavery, and the Statehood Debate by Barbara Mahoney (academic article)

From a Native Son: Selected Essays on Indigenism, 1985-1995 by Ward Churchill

See No Stranger by Valarie Kaur

Men we Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward

The Overstory by Richard Powers

What You Should Know about Politics…but Don’t: A Nonpartisan Guide to the Issues that Matter by Jessamyn Conrad

Muslim Women Are Everything by Seema Yasmin and Fahmida Azim

The Power by Naomi Alderman

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright

February 11, 2021: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. 

January 14, 2021: Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

December 10, 2020: Caste: The Origin of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson 

November 12, 2020: How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

October 8, 2020: When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele