Human Rights Book Club 2021
11 years! That’s how long the Human Rights Book Club has been a part of Rediscovered Books. Founded by Marilyn Shuler, Lisa Uhlmann, and myself, this club has been reading and talking about human rights, history, and current events. 2021 has been a year of great books and conversations.
We read six books a year and meet in January, March, May, July, September, and November. In person as much as we can, but virtually when that is prudent. Human Rights Book Club meets on the second Thursday of the meeting month at 7 p.m. MST.
By far and away, the most impactful book from this year is Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause. Each of us came away with a deeper understanding of history, racism, and the actions we need to take in our lives. We are pleased to share that Ty Seidule will be coming to Boise to speak in person in January 2022. Full details will be released soon.
Paper Bullets is a biography of Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe who resisted the Nazi’s through subversive art. It is a history of lesbian partners, avant garde art, love and ultimately kindness. We had a great discussion on the impacts of art and acts of rebellion.
Laureen Nussbaum, author of Shedding our Stars, joined the club for the discussion of her book. Laureen's her mother was saved by Hans Calmeyer who changed the records of her heritage, and the family was close to the Franks in Amsterdam. With Laureen as our guide, the club learned more of her family’s story, Hans Calmeyer, and the generational impacts of trauma.
Each year we read a book designed for young adults and/or children, and this year's book was the powerhouse novel We Are Not Free by Traci Chee. As Publisher’s Weekly said, "Inspired by Chee’s family history, the book powerfully depicts, as an author’s note states, “a mere fraction of what this generation went through.” This is an essential contribution to the understanding of the wide-ranging experiences impacting people of Japanese ancestry in the U.S. during WWII." —Publishers Weekly, STARRED review. This event was even better because Micki Kawakami from the JACL came and talked about her work changing the names of streets, geographical features, and monuments that contain racial slurs, and the experiences of Japanese Americans in Idaho and Eastern Oregon.
Infinite Country by Patricia Engel took us into immigration policy. Rebecca G describes this book as “Infinite Country is beautifully and painfully written. Following an all too familiar tale of family separation, cultural displacement, and a search for "home", this book takes us on the internal and external journey of the characters as they fight to find their way to one another in a world structured to keep them apart.”
In November, we are discussing Life in the City of Dirty Water , a book that explores the impact of how we treat our environment and native peoples. Clayton Thomas-Muller talks about how these two attitudes are inextricable and if we are going to have healthy environments, then we must treat people with as much respect as the environment and support connections between them.
We start 2022 with Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson. Colleen and Rich Gundersen are raising their young son, Chub, on the rugged California coast. It’s 1977, and life in this Pacific Northwest logging town isn’t what it used to be. For generations, the community has lived and breathed timber; now that way of life is threatened. Told in prose as clear as a spring-fed creek, Damnation Spring is an intimate, compassionate portrait of a family whose bonds are tested and a community clinging to a vanishing way of life. An extraordinary story of the transcendent, enduring power of love—between husband and wife, mother and child, and longtime neighbors. An essential novel for our times.
Below is an audio excerpt of Damnation Spring so that you can hear the power of her prose.
I hope we see you there, or if you can’t make it, I hope you enjoy these books.
-Co-Owner, Rediscovered Books