The AS Women's Center has formed a book club in the hopes of informing students on feminist issues. The club is reading a different book each month until the end of spring quarter.
“It's a really good chance to read prominent feminist literature and create community,” Women's Center co-coordinator Jessica Sele said.
The club's February book selection is “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker. “The Color Purple” is written in the form of letters from Celie, an African-American woman, to her sister and to God. The letters follow Celie as she tries to overcome the hardships of life as a black woman in 1930s southern United States. It has since been adapted into a film and musical and was the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1983.
“I chose ‘The Color Purple' because it deals with a lot of important issues that span across gender, race and class, but at the same time, it can be as hard a book as you want it to be,” Women's Center program support staff member Sarah Lloyd explained. “It can be a light read if you're not looking to delve that deep into it and you want it to just be supplemental to your classes, and it can also be a really amazing, deep book.”
Lloyd chose “Trash” by Dorothy Allison as the book club's March selection. “Trash” is a compilation of 14 short stories telling a woman's life as she rebels against her “poor white trash” Southern roots.
“Dorothy Allison has been really reputable in the field of feminist fiction and creative non-fiction,” Lloyd said.
According to Lloyd, participants can choose which of the short stories they'd like to read, since there are only a few weeks of class in March. The April and May selections are “Where We Stand: Class Matters” by bell hooks and “Mrs. Spring Fragrance,” by Sui Sin Far, respectively.
“It's all really great material, and it'll be a good opportunity for students to explore literature in a group setting,” Women's Center co-coordinator Jenny Henley said.
The Women's Center attempted to start a book club last year, but it wasn't successful, probably because students have full workloads and not a lot of time, Lloyd speculated.
To avoid that problem this year, the book club is organized in a way that will be beneficial to participants without being a full-time commitment. Interested students can sign up for whatever month their schedule can accommodate.
“Each book will have a separate sign-up sheet because people have different schedules at different times,” Lloyd said. Lloyd will be ordering ten copies of each selected work, so ten spots will be available for each month's reading.
Students who are interested in taking part can stop by the Women's Center (VU 514), call the center at (360) 650-6114 or email the center at firstname.lastname@example.org, and then pick up their free copy of the book.
The book club will meet once a month to discuss that month's reading. There are still spots available for the Feb. 26 discussion on “The Color Purple,” Lloyd said. The next meeting will be held March 11.
Lloyd feels that the book club will be popular among Western women.
“Reading for personal reasons is a really important thing,” Lloyd said. “The book club is an exciting step towards embracing feminist literature and female authors. And it seems like people have been excited.”