For those looking to immerse themselves in a good book and have even better conversations, Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Women’s Center, located at Centennial Student Union 218, is hosting a book club from February 14 through March 15.
Bell Hooks’ “All About Love” is the featured track, and students are encouraged to pick up a copy from Women’s Center until the last day, during which they will host a Zoom discussion about the novel.
Women’s Center Director Liz Steinborn-Gourley said this isn’t the first time the Women’s Center has hosted a book club event.
“We did a series on Islamic feminism last year that was a smaller cohort of parties involved,” Steinborn-Gourley said. “Access to literature is great, so the fact that we can start book clubs with funding supported by our student government is awesome.”
Steinborn-Gourley has a particularly strong connection to the title chosen for the book club, as it was the first book she had ever read on feminism.
“After I finished graduate school, I was handing out copies of ‘Feminism is for Everybody’ to every student like, ‘This is going to blow your mind,'” Steinborn-Gourley said. “His work has been extremely transformative for me.”
Steinborn-Gourley chose this book because it not only fit the goals of the Women’s Center, but it was appropriate for both Black History Month and Women’s History Month.
“I was heartbroken when [Hooks] past because this iconic visionary of fairness, love and justice has left us, but she left an incredible legacy of work,” Steinborn-Gourley said. “At the Women’s Center, we always try to accommodate people’s many and multiple identities, so that was really fantastic.”
The provided reading guide and discussion are moderated by Zara Houston, director of the Illinois-based Read a F****** Book program. Houston and Steinborn-Gourley have worked together before, and Steinborn-Gourley has expressed excitement about having Houston’s input on this project.
“Having someone to come and moderate beyond the basic discussion, especially for important work, where we’re thinking about social justice and equity, was really important to me,” Steinborn-Gourley said.
The book discussion will end via Zoom at 7 p.m. on March 15. Steinborn-Gourley mentioned that the discussion questions in the provided reading guide will help guide the conversation.
“I’m just excited because people are going to learn so much from [Houston] and still have room to contribute their voice,” Steinborn-Gourley said.
MSU senior Krestiane Abshir knew book club was something she wanted to attend from the first time she heard about the club.
“Whenever I read books, I think and analyze a lot. I see how I can apply different things to my life, or how I can relate to certain situations,” Abshir said. “Being in a club reading gives you the opportunity to see many perspectives other than your own. It helps you understand things you wouldn’t otherwise understand.
Abshir encourages those to read the book to gain insight from a variety of perspectives on the subject of love.
“It shows how important love is, whether romantic or platonic, and how critical it is that we know how to practice love as a society,” Abshir said. “I’ve learned a lot about love from the book so far, and how [there are] so many definitions.
Although this is the last book club this semester, the Women’s Center plans to choose one summer reading to discuss in September, as well as a few book clubs during breaks of the year.
“It’s not going away, it’s just a matter of time. We’re also open to title suggestions,” Steinborn-Gourley said.
There are still books available at the Women’s Center, as well as the reading guides. Students are encouraged to pick up a copy to enjoy during spring break or even just a reading guide to absorb the main ideas of the book.
Header photo: graduate assistant Erin Kotten holds “all about love” from Bell Hooks, the book selected by the Women’s Center Book Club. The book club discussion will take place on Zoom on March 15 at 7 p.m. (Dylan Engel/ The Reporter)
Write to: Syd Berggren at [email protected]