To sign up for the book club, please click here: Unlimited Book Club registration.
UPDATE: The November book club will take place on Wednesday, November 17th at 6:00 PM
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 November 17th at 6:00 PM and we will be discussing the book: The Overstory by Richard Powers
You may also find information about the Unlimited Book Club on our Facebook page or by contacting Ariel Peasley at email@example.com or at 541-756-6320 x216.
View more information below!
Resources and Discussion Quotes
Richard Powers’ website: Richard Powers
September 13, 2021 – New York Times: Richard Powers Speaks for the Trees
October 16, 2019 – OPB: Richard Powers: “The Overstory”
Discussion Quotes & Questions
“The best arguments in the world won’t change a person’s mind. The only thing that can do that is a good story.” (336)
“It occurs to Adam where the word radical came from. Radix. Wrad. Root: The plant’s, the planet’s, brain.”
“On his fourth night in the cell, Nick dreams of the Hoel family chestnut. He watches it, sped up thirty-two million times, reveal again its invisible plan. He remembers, in his sleep. On the cot’s thin mattress, the way the time-lapse tree waved its swelling arms. The way those arms tested, explored, aligned in the light, writing messages in the air. In that dream, the trees laugh at them. Save us? What a human thing to do. Even the laugh takes years.”
“Once you’ve bought a novel in your pajamas, there’s no turning back.”
July 15, 2021 – The Nation: In Utopia, I Never Have to Write About Immigration Again by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
April 15, 2021 – Common Reads: Karla Cornejo Villavicencio (author of The Undocumented Americans) at the FYE Conference 2021
October 21, 2020 – New York Times: ‘I Came From Nothing’: An Undocumented Writer Defies the Odds by Concepción de León
Discussion Quotes & Questions
“As an undocumented person, I felt like a hologram. Nothing felt secure. I never felt safe. I didn’t allow myself to feel joy because I was scared to attach myself to anything I’d have to let go of. Being deportable means you have to be ready to go at any moment, ready to go with nothing but the clothes on your body. I’ve learned to develop no relationship to anything, not to photos, not to people, not to jewelry or clothing or ticket stubs or stuffed animals from childhood.” (60)
“Some people choose between the medical and the natural, but we didn’t have the funds for the medical.” (88)
February 23, 2016 – McMenamin’s History Pub Talk: Detained by My Country with Mitzi Loftus
May 9, 2012 (updated July 27, 2020) – Columbia Gorge News: ‘I had to give up the Hood River Valley’ by
April 14, 2007 – Oregon State University: Multicultural Voices of Oregon: Mitzi Asai Loftus Oral History Interview
Discussion Quotes & Questions
“It was not until years later, when my mother was in her sixties or seventies, that we learned how she felt about coming to a strange country to marry a strange man. Her answer to her parents had been, “I didn’t want to.” In traditional Japanese culture, a girl did not have a right to express her own feelings in such matters. I learned how liberal her family was back in 1911, for they asked her if she would like to marry this man in America.” (19)
“Having no idea how long we would be contained in camp nor how to appease the neighbor with his invented charges, Pa sadly but with resignation agreed to sell the farm to him. This whole episode was the source of a great deal of bitterness, rancor, and regret for Pa for many years. Pa’s respect for this man diminished, and I do not believe he spoke to him the remaining twenty-five years of his life.” (99)
Colum McCann’s website: Colum McCann
August 16, 2021 from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM ET – Temple Beth Zion–Beth Israel (BZBI) Book Club: Apeirogon by Colum McCann, to be reviewed by Sharon Greis
July 29, 2021 – Hyperallergic: How Watermelon Became a Symbol of Palestinian Resistance by Billy Anania
February 2, 2021 – WAMC Podcasts: #1698: Colum McCann “Aperiogon”
May 29, 2020 – Politics and Prose: Colum McCann, “Apeirogon” – in conversation with Ben Rhodes
February 24, 2020 – The New York Times: Colum McCann Gives Voice to Grieving Fathers, One Israeli and One Palestinian by
Luis Alberto Urrea’s website: Luis Alberto Urrea
August 24, 2021 from 6:30-7:30 – Chicago Public Library: Adult Book Discussion: The Hummingbird’s Daughter
April 8, 2021 – URI College of Arts and Sciences: Spring 2021 Humanities Festival: Luis Alberto Urrea
August 2, 2019 – Time: The Shame of the Border Crisis Will Never Leave Us by Luis Alberto Urrea
“The sibs all thought Little Angel was cheating the system somehow. A culture thief. A fake Mexican. More gringo than anything. He knew that. He had heard his sister call him a “gringo-Mex.“
“He believed he was celebrating them when he shared stories of their foibles. He felt the burden of being there living witness. Somehow the silliest details of their days were, to him, sacred. And he believed that if only the dominant culture could see the small moments, they would see their own human lives reflected in the other.“
“And Lalo hears his own voice again, sounding alien, as if it were his father’s voice, saying, “We got to stop. We just running in circles. Payback, payback, payback. You ain’t never gonna pay nothing back.” The pistol drops to his side. The man on the couch opens his eyes, sees the gun has dropped away from his face, and suddenly deflates with disbelief. He is revealed: a middle-aged loser who has disfigured his own face and is not a threat to anyone in the world. Not even worth shooting.” (243)
“…the pallbearers were all in white. Yndio and Lalo at the head of the coffin. Pato and Marco in the middle. Little Angel holding up his back corner, looking across at Minnie. She stood tall. Pants and a satin vest. Nobody was going to tell her women didn’t carry coffins.” (312)
Dr. Seema Yasmin’s website: Dr. Seema Yasmin
Fahmida Azim’s website: Fahmida Azim
November 23, 2020 – The New York Times: ‘Muslim Women Are Everything’ Turns the Page on Stereotypes
“… the International Skating Union eventually changed its rules to keep with the times, and with Zahra. A sponsorship deal with Nike soon followed and Zahra became one of the faces of the company’s athletic hijab, which was launched in 2018. Her persistence, strength and courage paved the way for Stephanie, who similarly refuses to let other people’s narrow beliefs limit her movements.” (91)
Muslim women are expected to defend Islam, explain their rituals, explain their dress, justify their existence—anything contrary to this is seen as a radical act…Suhaiymah refuses to be “respectable,” to write the words expected of her: “I put my pen down. I will not let that poem force me to write it, because it is not the poem I want to write. It’s the poem I have been reduced to. Reduced to proving my life is human because it is relatable. Valuable because it is recognizable…Because if you need me to prove my humanity, I’m not the one that’s not human.” (37)
The Toni Morrison Society website: Toni Morrison
The Last Interview Series – Toni Morrison: The Last Interview and Other Conversations by Melville House and Nikki Giovanni
December 7, 1993 – The Nobel Prize: Toni Morrison: Nobel Lecture
“…the aspect of married life that dumbfounded him and rendered him totally dysfunctional was the appearance of children. Having no idea of how to raise children, and having never watched any parent raise himself, he could not even comprehend what such a relationship should be…As it was, he reacted to them, and his reactions were based on what he felt at the moment.” (126)
“His subconscious knew what his conscious mind did not guess–that hating them would have consumed him, burned him up like a piece of soft coal, leaving only flakes of ash and a question mark of smoke.” (151)
“Then they had grown…They ran the houses of white people, and knew it. When white men beat their men, they cleaned up the blood and went home to receive abuse from the victim. They beat their children with one hand and stole for them with the other. The hands that felled trees also cut umbilical cords; the hands that wrung the neck of chickens and butchered hogs also nudged African violets into bloom; the arms that loaded sheaves, bales, and sacks rocked babies into sleep. They patted biscuits into flaky ovals of innocence–and shrouded the dead. They plowed all day and came home to nestle like plums under the limbs of their men. The legs that straddled a mule’s back were the same ones that straddled their men’s hips. And the difference was all the difference there was.” (108)
Jacqueline Woodson’s website: Jacqueline Woodson
March 16, 2021 at 4:00 PM – Virginia Festival of the Book: An Evening with Jacqueline Woodson
March 18, 2021 at 5:00 PM – Vernon Area Public Library: One Book, One Community: Author Visit with Jacqueline Woodson
March 23, 2021 at 3:00 PM – Politics and Prose: Parent Like It Matters: How to Raise Joyful, Change-Making Girls with Jacqueline Woodson
“But that morning in September, as we run from the Black Breakfast Table to the television in our homeroom, we blend into a single child crying as newscasters tell us how much we don’t yet know” (122).
“It’s the grown-ups who can’t fathom what they refuse to see” (173).
“Maybe this was the moment when I knew I was a part of a long line of almost erased stories” (15).
“She felt red at the bone–like there was something inside of her undone and bleeding” (161).
“We both loved how he wrote. He was truly saying, Can we just be who we are, people? Can we just take off our masks and laugh and dance and eat and talk? But then he has the nerve to have that name Paul Laurence Dunbar—like you need to say it with your pinky pointing out. Hmph. Made me and Po’Boy shake our heads at all that our people are” (179).
Julia Serano’s website: Julia Serano
March 11, 2021 – The New Yok Times: How Some States Are Moving to Restrict Transgender Women in Sports
March 8, 2021 – The Crime Report: Anti-Transgender Legislation Boom in 2021 Called a ‘Culture War’
January 28, 2021 – The Hammer Museum: White Feminism with Koa Beck & Julia Serano
“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
“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.
“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)
When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele
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.
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
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?
Caste: The Origin of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
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?
November 11, 2021: The Overstory by Richard Powers
December 9, 2021: The Cutting Season by Attica Locke
January 13, 2021: Nobody’s Normal: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness by Roy Richard Grinker
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown
The First Oregonians by Laura Berg
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
From a Native Son: Selected Essays on Indigenism, 1985-1995 by Ward Churchill
Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead
The Healing of Natalie Curtis by Jane Kirkpatrick
Men we Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward
The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates
The Morning the Sun Went Down: A Memoir by Darryl Babe Wilson
Oregon Democracy: Asahel Bush, Slavery, and the Statehood Debate by Barbara Mahoney (academic article)
Peculiar Paradise: A History of Blacks in Oregon, 1788-1940 by Elizabeth McLagan
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
The Power by Naomi Alderman
The Rent Collector by Camron Wright
The Salt Path by Raynor Winn
See No Stranger by Valarie Kaur
A Spectral Hue by Craig Laurance Gidney
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals by Alexis Pauline Gumbs and Adrienne Maree Brown
Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism by Roy Richard Grinker
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Velvet was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
What You Should Know about Politics…but Don’t: A Nonpartisan Guide to the Issues that Matter by Jessamyn Conrad
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
October 14, 2021: The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
September 9, 2021: Made in Japan, Settled in Oregon by Mitzi Asai Loftus
August 12, 2021: Apeirogon by Colum McCann
July 9, 2021: The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea
June 10, 2021: Muslim Women Are Everything: Stereotype-Shattering Stories of Courage, Inspiration, and Adventure by Seema Yasmin and Fahmida Azim
May 13, 2021: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
April 8, 2021: Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
March 11, 2021: Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano
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