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Register Now for the 2011-2012 FOL Book Discussions

This year we celebrate ten years of the faculty-led Friends of the UNCG Libraries Book Discussions. Please join us as we peruse a history of Islam, a comic academic novel, an account of a brief life and immortal cells, a Victorian classic, a new analysis of cities, and a "story of stuff." Come for one; come for all--register today at

Schedule of Discussions
all discussions will be held in the Hodges Reading Room on the second floor of Jackson Library

Monday, September 26 at 4:00 pm
Dr. Omar Ali, African American Studies, selected No God But God by Reza Aslan, because it provides a comprehensive and highly readable overview of the history of Islam. As Booklist notes, "Beginning with an exploration of the religious climate in the years before the Prophet's Revelation, Aslan traces the story of Islam from the Prophet's life and the so-called golden age of the first four caliphs all the way through European colonization and subsequent independence. Aslan sees religion as a story, and he tells it that way, bringing each successive century to life with the kind of vivid details and like-you-were-there, present-tense narration that makes popular history popular.

Monday, October 24 at 7:00 pm
Dr. Richard Barton, history, thinks that Richard Russo's Straight Man is one of the funniest novels about academe. The novel follows the exploits of William Henry Devereaux, Jr., the grudging chair of the English department at a poorly-funded Pennsylvania college:

"In the course of a single week, Devereaux will have his nose mangled by an angry colleague, imagine his wife is having an affair with his dean, wonder if a curvaceous adjunct is trying to seduce him with peach pits, and threaten to execute a goose on local television. All this while coming to terms with his philandering father, the dereliction of his youthful promise, and the ominous failure of certain vital body functions" (from the publisher's description).

Monday, December 5 at 7:00 pm
Several Friends members requested that the book group read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the non-fiction account by Rebecca Skloot of an impoverished African American woman who died of cancer in the 1950s and whose cells were used in remarkable medical breakthroughs. As Skloot notes, "It’s a story inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we’re made of." Dr. Matina Kalcounis-Rueppell, biology, was delighted that we asked her to lead the discussion of the book, as it's one she is eager to re-read. Last Spring, the biology department presented copies of the book to the recipients of the Dr. Bruce Eberhart award. The award, established in 1997, honors "the memory and many contributions of Dr. Eberhart, a cancer victim, to the Biology Department and the community by honoring the students who are contributing to the department and the community in ways that were typical of him." The Immortal Life was selected because "The issues about medical and scientific ethics raised by this book are definitely what Dr. Eberhart would have been concerned about."

Monday, February 6 at 4:00 pm
Did you know that February 7, 2012 marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens's birth? We thought we would get a jump on the celebration by discussing Great Expectations the afternoon before, and we promise that if we serve cake, it won't be Miss Havisham's. Dr. Hephzibah Roskelly, English, who introduced the Friends to another Victorian classic last year, will lead the discussion. If you have read Great Expectations before, it's well worth re-reading. And if you haven't, join us as we follow the progress of the orphan Pip, a quintessential Dickens hero, as he stumbles across an escaped convict in a cemetery, falls in love, and finds himself possessed of a mysterious fortune.

Monday, March 26 at 7:00 pm
Professor Ken Snowden, economics, selected Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier, written by renowned economist Edward Glaeser. As the publisher describes, Glaeser proves that "cities are actually the healthiest, greenest, and richest (in cultural and economic terms) places to live. . . . More than half of American's income is earned in twenty-two metropolitan areas. And city dwellers use, on average, 40% less energy than suburbanites. . . . Even the worst cities--Kinshasa, Kolkata, Lagos--confer surprising benefits on the people who flock to them, including better health and more jobs than the rural areas that surround them."

Monday, April 23 at 7:00 pm
Rather than a book that became a movie, The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession With Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health--And a Vision for Change began as an Internet film. And it was on the Internet that discussion leader Dr. Spoma Jovanovic, communication studies, first encountered this work. In the book, author Annie Leonard "tracks the life of the Stuff we use everyday-- where our cotton T-shirts, laptop computers, and aluminum cans come from, how they are produced, distributed, and consumed, and where they go when we throw them out" (from the book flap).