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Books@Work brings professor-led literature seminars to workplaces and community settings to build confidence, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. As a non-profit organization, we strive to develop a broad network of life-long learners and advanced readers whose passion spreads through companies, families, and communities.

What are we reading? Check out our bookshelf.

The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien

A narrative of American soldiers in Vietnam: “They carried all they could bear, and then some, including a silent awe for the terrible power of the things they carried.”

Othello - William Shakespeare

A tragedy of jealousy, manipulation, and revenge. Alongside Hamlet, the villain Iago may be one of Shakespeare’s most remarkable characters.

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Bartleby the Scrivener - Herman Melville

Subtitled “A Tale of Wall Street,” this story focuses on the relationship between a lawyer and his employees, most notably the enigmatic copyist Bartleby who, when given a task, replies that he would “prefer not to.”

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass - Frederick Douglass

Published in 1845, Douglass’s memoir is a foundational account of American slavery, recounting his journey from childhood on a plantation to his role as a spokesperson for the abolitionist movement.

Germinal - Émile Zola

Facing extreme poverty, miners protest worsening working conditions in a French mine and confront societal norms.

The Giver - Lois Lowry

In a dystopian society where emotions have been erased, the child who retains deep feelings struggles to find his place.

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Stoner - John Williams

A powerful novel that follows the quiet tragedies and dreams of William Stoner, a fictional English professor at the University of Missouri.

Pride & Prejudice - Jane Austen

One of the most famous novels in the English language, Austen’s masterpiece explores the role of “first impressions” in society and romantic relationships.

Frankenstein - Mary Shelley

Forget everything you know about green monsters covered in scars. Shelley’s gothic novel, which she began writing when still a teenager, is a tale of loneliness, hubris, and the pursuit of knowledge.

The Stories of John Cheever - John Cheever

Sixty one stories from a master short story writer that explore people beneath the surface: the dichotomy between outer appearances and inner thoughts.

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In Cold Blood - Truman Capote

One of the most influential works of literary non-fiction, Capote tells the story of a murdered family in a small Kansas town.

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Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

Written in 1931 and originally intended as a satirical novel, Brave New World depicts contemporary 20th century issues through a futuristic utopian lens.

Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi

A sincere and deeply human autobiographical graphic novel about the author’s childhood during and after the Islamic revolution in Iran.

Five Dialogues (Euthyprho, Apology, Crito, Meno, Phaedo) - Plato

Five powerful dialogues covering the most famous aspects of Socrates' life: his trial and subsequent execution.

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Dracula - Bram Stoker

Written in 1897, Dracula is the gothic novel, written in letters, that introduced the famous vampire and his efforts to move to England from Transylvania.

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Man's Search for Meaning - Victor Frankl

The story of Frankl’s imprisonment in Auschwitz and his theories of what keeps people going in life challenging situations: meaning and desire to live for something larger than the self.

Saving Fish from Drowning - Amy Tan

Eleven misguided, and sometimes oblivious, American tourists travel to China and Burma. A study in relationships against the backdrop of political instability.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe - Fannie Flagg

An inventive novel about two woman, one middle aged and one elderly, enriched by the stories they share of the latter’s youth in Whistle Stop, Alabama.

My Ántonia - Willa Cather

A masterpiece of regional American literature, a novel of the prairie written in 1918 tells the story of the families of a fictional town in Nebraska.

Close Range: Wyoming Stories - Annie Proulx

Known best for the story Brokeback Mountain, Proulx’ stark and often brutal short stories explore the rough edges of hardship, missed opportunity, sadness and spirit.

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Homage to Catalonia - George Orwell

First published in 1938, Homage to Catalonia is George Orwell's account of his experiences during the Spanish Civil War.

The Road - Cormac McCarthy

A post-apocalyptic tale of a father and son, traveling a landscape marked by an unspecified cataclysm that has destroyed most of civilization and the majority of life on Earth.

Brother, I'm Dying - Edwidge Danticat

A powerful memoir, written in 2007, by a young Haitian writer whose life (and love) is split between family members in Haiti and the US, and the tragedies that befall both.

Noah's Compass - Anne Tyler

A solitary 60 year old man comes to term with his life as he engages with his three grown daughters.

The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

The story of Amir, a young Afghan boy, whose closest friend is Hassan, his father's young servant.

The Republic of Wine - Mo Yan

A novel by Nobel Laureate Mo Yan about the Chinese people and their relationship to food and drink.

A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There - Aldo Leopold

A 1949 non-fiction book by an American ecologist, writing about the land around his Wisconsin home.

The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K. LeGuin

Winner of the
Hugo and Nebula prizes for science fiction, LeGuin's
powerful novel tells the story of a human voyager to a planet where inhabitants can change their gender at will.

Lost Illusions - Honore de Balzac

The story of the handsome would-be poet Lucien Chardon, who learns that talent counts for less than money, intrigue and a lack of scruples. A classic of French literature.

Pygmalion - George Bernard Shaw

The classic play that inspired the much loved musical, My Fair Lady.

On the Road - Jack Kerouac

Perhaps the most famous book of the "beat generation," On the Road narrates a drive across the country in search of what Kerouac called "the inherent goodness in American man."

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou

The 1969 autobiography of the early years of the poet and writer, Maya Angelou. Through rich metaphor, the book explores the the difficulties of an African-American girl coming of age in a white and male-dominated society.

The Periodic Table - Primo Levi

A memoir in the form of short stories by Holocaust survivor and chemist, Primo Levi, linking chemistry and humanity in broadly relevant ways.

My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult

A novel of family love and the issues that arise when a child is conceived to help save the life of her older sibling.

Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut

A satirical novel, centered around the fire-bombing of Dresden, exploring the World War II experiences of a soldier named Billy Pilgrim. Broadly considered Vonnegut's best novel.

A River Runs Through It - Norman McLean

A semi-autobiographical collection of short stories marrying nature, religion, humanity and fly fishing.

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The War of the Worlds - H.G. Wells

A science fiction novel of Mars and martians, first serialized in 1897 and made famous by Orson Welles' radio broadcast in 1938. First presented as a news bulletin, Welles' production caused panic among the listeners who thought the report was real.

The Vintage Book of Latin American Short Stories - Carlos Fuentes, Julio Ortega, editors

An anthology of short stories by prominent Latin American writers, including stories by Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

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A Savage Conflict - Daniel E. Sutherland

In his work of non-fiction, Donald Sutherland examines guerrilla warfare in the Civil War and argues its crucial role in weakening the Confederate war effort.

About a Boy - Nick Hornby

Will Freeman, a forever-single bachelor living off the royalties of one Christmas song written by his father, discovers the perfect way to meet single women: attend support group meetings for single parents (even though Will doesn't actually have a child). Through this, he meets Marcus, a quirky 12 year old boy with whom he strikes up a friendship.

An Unquiet Mind - Kay Redfield Jamison

In her memoir, Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, one of the foremost authorities on manic-depressive (bipolar) illness, details her first-hand experiences with the illness.

Benito Cereno - Herman Melville

This book explores happens when an American merchant ship comes upon a mysterious Spanish ship where the nearly all-black crew and their white captain are starving and yet hostile to offers of help.

Broken Harbor - Tana French

Fourth novel in the Dublin Murder Squad series finds its main character, cop Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy trying to solve a triple homicide. This triple homicide reminds him of something that that happened in his past that he's tried to keep to keep tightly under control.

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As We Are Now - May Sarton

This book tells the story of Caroline Spencer, a 76 year-old woman who, while mentally sharp, is physically frail and placed in a "home" by her relatives. Subjected to humiliation and cruelty, Caroline fights back.

Citizen 13660 - Mine Okubo

A memoir describing the author's time spent in relocation centers as one of the 110,000 Japanese-American citizens who was placed in "protective custody" during World War II.

Eating Animals - Jonathan Safran Foer

Part memoir, part investigative report, this book embarks on a journey to explore the origins of many eating traditions and the moral dimensions of eating.

50 Great Short Stories - Milton Crane, editor

A comprehensive selection of the world's finest short fiction. Authors represented include James Joyce, Henry James, Edgar Allen Poe, Katherine Anne Porter and E.B. White

Four Fish - Paul Greenberg

An exploration of the history of the most popular fish on the menus at restaurants and the current trend of farmed fish.

Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

Classic story of the orphan Pip, and his personal growth and development as he is granted a large sum of money - or "great expectations"

Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift

This classic satire follows its main character, Lemuel Gulliver, through his adventures with the little people of Lilliput and his subsequent encounters with the crude giants of Brobdingnag, the philosophical Houyhnhnms and the brutish Yahoo - each giving Gulliver different insights into human behavior.

If I Stay - Gayle Forman

17-year-old Mia Hall deals with the aftermath of a catastrophic car accident involving her family. In a coma, Mia has an out-of-body experience, and watches as friends and family gather at the hospital where she is being treated. The only choice she has is to decide whether to wake up.

Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain - David Eagleman

A neuroscientist answers the question: "If the conscious mind—the part you consider you—accounts for only a tiny fraction of the brain’s function, what is all the rest doing?"

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In the Garden of Beasts - Erik Larson

The true life story of William Dodd who served as the American Ambassador to Germany from 1933-1937. The book traces the relationship between Dodd and his daughter, Martha as the personal and political intersect as the terror of the Nazi regime unfolds.

In the Gloaming - Alice Elliott Dark

In these ten stories, Alice Elliott Dark visits the fictional town of Wynnemoor and its residents, present and past.

Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust - Immaculee Ilibagiza

This memoir of the Rwandan genocide traces the author's search for God and forgiveness while surviving 91 days with 7 other women hiding in a cramped bathroom as machete-wielding killers hunted for them.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot

The story of Henrietta Lacks and the immortal cell line HeLa, that came from her cervical cancer cells in 1951.

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The Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton

The first woman to
win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for this novel, Edith Wharton explores the values, biases, and institutions of people living in nineteenth century New York.

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Les Liaisons Dangereuses - Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

The story of the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont, two rivals (and ex-lovers) who use seduction as a weapon to humiliate and degrade others, all the while enjoying their cruel games and boasting about their manipulative talents.

Love Medicine - Louise Erdrich

A tale of two families and how their destinies intertwine over the course of fifty years on and around a North Dakota reservation.

Looking For Alaska - John Green

In this young adult novel, Miles "Pudge" Halter attends boarding school where he meets the gorgeous, clever, self-destructive and damaged Alaska Young. She steals his heart and nothing is ever the same.

Messenger - Lois Lowry

The fourth young adult novel in "The Giver" quartet of books. Something sinister has seeped into Village where Matty lives and the townspeople vote to close it to outsiders. Matty must leave Village to deliver one last important message.

Snow Falling on Cedars - David Guterson

Set on the fictional San Piedro Island in the northern Puget Sound region of the state of Washington coast in 1954, the plot revolves around a murder case in which Kabuo Miyamoto, a Japanese American, is accused of killing Carl Heine, a respected fisherman in the close-knit community.

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Red Leaves - Thomas Cook

Eric Moore has a successful business and good family life until one night, when the girl his son is babysitting goes missing. Eric struggles with the aftermath and the fact that he isn't sure of his son's innocence.

The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler

Private investigator Philip Marlowe is called to the home of a dying millionaire to help handle the blackmailer of one of his two daughters. Marlowe soon finds himself involved with more than extortion.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon

The touching, hilarious tale narrated by Christopher, a gifted and incredibly logical teenager who struggles to interpret the world around him. When his neighbor's dog is found killed, Christopher takes it upon himself to investigate the murder.

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Sandalwood Death - Mo Yan

Set during China's Boxer Rebellion, the novel centers around Sun Meiniang and the three paternal figures in her life.

The Blood of Lorraine - Barbara Corrado Pope

The second in the Bernard Martin mystery series, the book follows a magistrate battling anti-Semitism in the province of Lorraine, France.

The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway - Ernest Hemingway

The definitive collection of Hemingway's short stories, including "The Snows of Kilimanjaro", "Hills Like White Elephants" and "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place".

The Faith Club - Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner

Three American mothers of three different faiths come together to try and understand each other and their three religions.

The Glass Castle: A Memoir - Jeanette Walls

A memoir of the author's unconventional, poverty-stricken upbringing with dysfunctional parents.

The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy

Seven-year old twins who live with their affluent family in India see their world changed forever with the arrival of their beautiful young cousin.

The Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka

The classic novella in which a young man who, transformed overnight into a giant beetle-like insect, becomes an object of disgrace to his family, an outsider in his own home, a quintessentially alienated man.

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The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

Set in a post-apocalyptic North America, 16 year-old Katniss volunteers to take her sister Prim's place when Prim is selected to participate in the country's yearly Hunger Games, a punishment and reminder for a prior rebellion. In the gruesome Games, each district of the country send one boy and one girl to fight in a winner takes-all-battle to the death.

The Imperfectionists - Thomas Rachman

This debut novel follows the topsy-turvy private lives of the reporters and editors of an English-language newspaper in Rome as they try to keep a paper afloat as the age of print news gives way to the Internet age.

The Industrial Revolution 1760-1830 - T.S. Ashton

A historical work that presents the Industrial Revolution as an important and beneficial mark of progress that improved the living standards of most British people and sparked greater intellectual ingenuity.

Collected Fictions - Jorge Luis Borges

Borges' Collected Fictions brings together his genre-bending and deeply philosophical works, showcasing his contributions to what would come to be called "magical realism" and his monumental place in Latin American literature.

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The Million Pound Bank Note - Mark Twain

Penniless and in rags, Henry Adams is given a million pound bank note from two eccentric and rich brothers. He is unaware that he is the subject of a bet between the two brothers.

The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language - John McWhorter

A linguist lays out how languages mix and mutate over time and how we've come to approximately 6,000 languages on Earth today.

The Tempest - William Shakespeare

In one of Shakespeare's most lyrical plays, Prospero—a magician on an enchanted island—punishes his enemies, brings happiness to his daughter, and comes to terms with human use of supernatural power.

The Time Machine - H.G. Wells

The story that launched H.G. Wells’s successful career and earned him his reputation as the father of science fiction.

Whale Talk - Chris Crutcher

T. J. - an adopted teenager living in the fictional town of Cutter, Washington, jumbles together a shabby swim team of student underdogs in order to aggravate and shame his high school's elitist athletics program.

What Work Is - Philip Levine

A poetry collection exploring many themes, including physical labor, class identity, family relationships and personal loss.

Winesburg, Ohio - Sherwood Anderson

A cycle of short stories concerning life in a small town at the end of the nineteenth century.

The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

The best-selling tale of Harvard professor and symbologist Robert Langdon who is called to help when the curator of the Louvre has been found murdered, his body covered in symbols.

Zoo Story - Thomas French

Based on six years of research, Zoo Story is an unprecedented account of the secret life of a zoo and its inhabitants.

The Complete Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi

Satrapi's memoir-in-comic-strips is the story of her coming of age in a large and loving family in Tehran during the Iranian Revolution.

The Cult of the Saints - Peter Brown

An exploration of the role of tombs, shrines, relics, and pilgrimages connected with the sacred bodies of the saints.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven - Sherman Alexi

These darkly comic short stories create a complex and grim portrait of life in and around the Spoke Indian Reservation.

The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics - Arthur Frank

A collection of illness stories, ranging from the well-known to the private testimonials of people with cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, and disabilities.

Walden and Civil Disobedience - Henry David Thoreau

"Walden" details Thoreau's experiences over the course of two years in a cabin he built near Walden Pond. "Civil Disobedience" is an essay that argues that individuals should prioritize their consciences over the government and laws.

Wild - Cheryl Strayed

A memoir of the author's 1100 mile solo hike of the Pacific Crest Trail after her life has fallen apart.

Still Life with Oysters and Lemons: On Objects and Intimacy - Mark Doty

Thoughts on our intimate relationships to objects and how they are often bound to the people and places of an individual lifetime.

Sheherazade Goes West - Fatima Mernissi

The world-renowned Islamic feminist tells her life story and experiences as an independent Moroccan woman facing Western culture.

My Year of Meats - Ruth Ozeki

A cross-cultural tale of two women brought together by unusual circumstances -- Jane Takagi-Little, a producer of a Japanese TV show, and Akiko Ueno, a Japanese housewife trying to escape her overbearing husband.

How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built - Stewart Brand

A study of buildings in relation to time and the occupants in them.

Farmer's Almanac: A Work of Fiction - Chris Fink

The author works to crack open rural America in his imaginary handbook for rural living.

Daphnis and Chloe - Longus

The classic, ancient Greek story of a shepherd boy and girl who fall desperately in love, yet face incredible obstacles.

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Beyond the workplace, Books@Work builds a network of readers. Texts, ideas, and voices move from the seminar to work floors, homes, schools, public spaces, and the broader community. In this manner, Books@Work encourages creativity and critical thinking everywhere.

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Latest chapter from the notebook

Comparing Points of View: A Reading Journey

Talking about books is an opportunity to see even more perspectives and to gain a nuanced approach to our own. If we live in the echo chamber of our own heads and never listen to alternate voices, we risk missing the ways our thinking has become cramped or trapped–and we’ll never learn to disagree productively or to speak up at work, either.

Paying attention to and learning from other perspectives enriches our sense of the world and our place in it. It can help us feel less isolated, less cut off from people who disagree with us. It can help us find kindred spirits in even the most unlikely places. And, instead of “complaining because the rose bushes have thorns,” we are reminded to “rejoice because the thorn bushes have roses.”

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What are people saying?

When you are serving a group of people who have been through such emotional and traumatic experiences – it’s hard to expect them to say “my name is so-and-so and this is what happened to me.”  But if you give them an opportunity through poetry to say “I feel this or I remember that,” they identify those lines with events in their lives. It makes sharing their experiences artistic rather than transparent. Poetry reaches that vulnerable piece and brings about a healing that other things do not.  

-Frechic Dickson, Community Leader

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