Grad Book Club Library

The following titles have all been read and discussed at our biweekly Book Club for graduate students. 


  • The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb
    Growing up Black in rural North Carolina, Ray McMillian’s life is already mapped out. But Ray has a gift and a dream—he’s determined to become a world-class professional violinist, and nothing will stand in his way. Not his mother, who wants him to stop making such a racket; not the fact that he can’t afford a violin suitable to his talents; not even the racism inherent in the world of classical music.
  • The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
    A pioneering researcher transforms our understanding of trauma and offers a bold new paradigm for healing in this New York Times bestseller. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score exposes the tremendous power of our relationships both to hurt and to heal—and offers new hope for reclaiming lives.
  • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
    In this gorgeous, page-turning saga, four generations of a poor Korean immigrant family fight to control their destiny in 20th-century Japan, exiled from a home they never knew.
  • Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
    The story is set in Venice during the early part of the 20th century and follows protagonist Gustav von Aschenbach, a famous but middle-aged writer who travels to the city in search of spiritual fulfillment. Achenbach is soon fixated on the young and beautiful Polish boy Tadzio who he spies on the beach. As his obsession deepens, Achenbach starts to lose touch with reality, descending into a dangerous and self-destructive spiral.
  • Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson
    Knives Out and Clue meet Agatha Christie and The Thursday Murder Club in this “utterly original” (Jane Harper), “not to be missed” (Karin Slaughter), fiendishly clever blend of classic and modern murder mystery.
  • Requiem: A Hallucination by Antonio Tabucchi
    A private meeting, chance encounters, and a mysterious tour of Lisbon, in this brilliant homage to Fernando Pessoa.
  • Death by Carbs by Paige Nick
    When someone kills dieting guru, Professor Tim Noakes, Detective Bennie September has more suspects than solutions. It’s not a whodunit, it’s a who-donut.
  • The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood
    The novel that put the bestselling author of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments on the literary map. The Booker Prize winner’s first novel is both a scathingly funny satire of consumerism and a heady exploration of emotional cannibalism.
  • Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
    Earthy, magical, and utterly charming, this tale of family life in turn-of-the-century Mexico became a best-selling phenomenon with its winning blend of poignant romance and bittersweet wit.


  • Faces of Love: Hafez and the Poets of Shiraz by Hafez, Jahan Malek Khatun, Obayd-e Zakani and Dick Davis
    Together, Hafez, a giant of world literature; Jahan Malek Khatun, an eloquent princess; and Obayd-e Zakani, a dissolute satirist, represent one of the most remarkable literary flowerings of any era. In this collection, Davis presents a diverse selection of some of the best poems by these world-renowned authors and shows us the spiritual and secular aspects of love, in varieties embracing every aspect of the human heart.
  • The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013 by Derek Walcott
    This book draws from every stage of the poet’s storied career, throughout which he grappled with the themes that defined his work as they defined his life. 
  • The Major Works by Gerard Manley Hopkins
    One of the most innovative of nineteenth-century poets. During his tragically short life, he strove to reconcile his religious and artistic vocations, and this edition demonstrates the range of his interests. This collection includes excerpts from Hopkins’s journals, letters, and spiritual writings.
  • The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes by Langston Hughes
    A resident of International House of Chicago in 1949. Hughes made the African-American experience the subject of his writings and was an important figure in the Harlem Renaissance, as well as reflecting and engaging with the Black Panther Party.
  • The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks by Gwendolyn Brooks
    One of the most highly regarded, influential, and widely read poets of 20th-century America. 
  • Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith
    An award-winning poet who is a groundbreaking force, celebrated for deft lyrics, urgent subjects, and performative power. This is their second book, an acclaimed collection of poems on the killing of black men by the police, desire, mortality, and living with HIV, among other themes.
  • Directed by Desire by June Jordan
    A poet, playwright, and essayist who was known for her fierce commitment to human rights and political activism. This book is the definitive overview of June Jordan’s poetry, which overflows with intimate lyricism, elegance, fury, meditative solos, and dazzling vernacular riffs.
  • Cronopios and Famas by Julio Cortázar
    One of the greatest of Latin American novelists. As the content of his work travels on the border between the real and the fantastic, it is often placed within the genres of magical realism and surrealism.
  • Crave Radiance:New and Selected Poems 1990-2010 by Elizabeth Alexander
    Alexander’s selection as the inaugural poet by President Barack Obama confirmed her as one of the indispensable voices of our time. This book gathers twenty pages of new poetry, along with generous selections from her previous work. The result is the definitive volume to date by this American master.
  • The Essential Neruda by Pablo Neruda
    Chilean poet and Nobel Laureate for Literature. This bilingual collection draws from the entire breadth and width of Neruda’s various styles and themes.
  • The Collected Poems of Li He by Li He
    The bad-boy poet of the late Tang dynasty. This the only comprehensive selection of his surviving work; most of his poems were reputedly burned by his cousin after his death, for the honor of the family. 
  • Eclogues and Other Poems by Miklós Radnóti
    A 1935 graduate of the University of Szeged. This book contains new translations of a selection of poems by the modern magyar poet.
Short Stories
  • One Minute Stories by István Örkény, a Hungarian writer and a Holocaust survivor whose plays and novels often featured grotesque situations.​​​​​​
  • Russian Disco by Wladimir Kaminer, the Moscow-born author. This series of short and comic autobiographical vignettes describe life in the explosive multi-cultural atmosphere of 90s Berlin where Kaminer emigrated to at just twenty-two years old.
  • Breaking Knees by Zakaria Tamer, one of the most important and most widely read Arabic writers. The general theme of Breaking Knees, as of much of Tamer’s work, is repression: of the individual by the institutions of state and religion and of individuals by each other, particularly women by men.
  • The Richer, the Poorer by Dorothy West, American writer during the time of the Harlem Renaissance. This collection of short stories and autobiographical writings of the last survivor of the Harlem Renaissance of the twenties and thirties describes growing up in Boston’s black middle class, her relationship with Langston Hughes, and other subjects.
  • Sawn-Off Tales by David Gaffney. Each story goes off like a tiny depth charge in the mind, leaving you with the trace memory of some new urban myth – comic, absurd, and disturbingly true.
  • The Things We Don’t Do by Andrés Neuman, a Spanish-Argentine writer, poet, translator, columnist and blogger. This collection of short stories consider love, lechery, history, mortality, family secrets, therapy, Borges, mysterious underwear, translators, and storytelling itself.
  • The Complete Stories by Franz Kafka With the exception of his three novels, the whole of Kafka’s narrative work is included in this volume.
  • Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Davis, world-renowned activist and scholar. In these newly collected essays, interviews, and speeches, the world-renowned activist and scholar illuminates the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughout history and around the world.

Myths & Origin Stories

  • The Sea-Ringed World by author María García Esperón and illustrator Amanda Mijangos, both from Mexico, and Mexican-American translator David Bowles.  Their talents have woven this collection of stories from nations and cultures across our two continents—The Sea-Ringed World, as the Aztecs called it—from the edge of Argentina all the way up to Alaska.
  • The Poetic Edda: Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes by Jackson Crawford. These amazing texts from a 13th-century Icelandic manuscript are of huge historical, mythological and literary importance, containing the lion’s share of information that survives today about the gods and heroes of pre-Christian Scandinavians, their unique vision of the beginning and end of the world.
  • Myths from Mesopotamia by Stephanie Dalley. The myths collected in this book, originally written in cuneiform on clay tablets, include parallels with the biblical stories of the Creation and the Flood, and the famous Epic of Gilgamesh, the tale of a man of great strength, whose heroic quest for immortality is dashed through one moment of weakness.
  • African Myths of Origin by Stephen Belcher
    Gathering a wide range of traditional African myths, this compelling new collection offers tales of heroes battling mighty serpents and monstrous birds, brutal family conflict and vengeance, and desperate migrations across vast and alien lands.


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