Campus book clubs bond while discussing important issues

Pet book club cover

Book clubs on University of the Pacific’s Stockton Campus are becoming more popular as students, faculty and staff tackle important and sensitive issues brought forth in literature.

Tiger Book Clubs, hosted by the William Knox Holt Memorial Library and Learning Center, recently concluded for the fall semester. Participants were pleased with the open, accepting environment the clubs created, which allowed for productive discussion of race, social justice and more.

Michele Gibney, head of publishing and scholarship support for the library, and Chris Goff, director of general education, led a Tiger Book Club focused on LGBTQIA fiction. LGBTQIA stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex and Asexual.

Veronica Wells, the head of library research and learning, was the facilitator for the self-care-oriented book club. The other library book clubs focused on sport and social justice in society and race in fiction.

“We planned each of the books clubs around a diversity, equity and inclusion lens,” Gibney said. “All the books chosen were either by or about BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color). For the LGBTQIA club pick, “Pet” by Akwaeke Emezi, we specifically chose one that was by a queer, Black author and included a Black, transgender main character who primarily communicates thru ASL (American Sign Language).”

Jocelyn Quach ’23, a pharmacy student and participant in the LGBTQIA fiction book club, enjoyed her first experience in a book club. “What I liked was that everyone was really friendly and welcoming,” Quach said. “This made for a casual, open environment where people were free to discuss their ideas and opinions.”

“Reading can be such a great way for us to de-stress. During this time when we are all looking for ways in which we could be better citizens and support those who are different from us, I think it’s great to read titles about things that make us a little uncomfortable,” Wells added. Her group read “Self-Care: Yoga for Healing” by Tatiana Forero Puerta.

Gibney and Wells are hoping to host another session of Tiger Book Clubs in the spring semester.

Center for Teaching and Learning book club

Pacific’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is hosting an online book club, open to staff and faculty. Leslie Bayers, who has directed the CTL Book Club since 2015, transitioned the club to online in fall semester.

CTL has emphasized tailoring Pacific education for historically underrepresented and first-generation students.   

“We are deeply committed to promoting inclusive, antiracist pedagogy. That has been a foundation of CTL since (starting in) 2015 and we have only deepened that commitment,” said Bayers, CTL associate director.

“Our book club started as a way to build faculty community. We’ve definitely made an explicit effort to include books about how we can be more inclusive in our teaching practices,” Bayers said.

The club is currently reading “Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor” by Layla F. Saad.

The CTL Book Club will continue through the spring semester.

Making lasting connections

Pacific’s book clubs are also a social sphere during the pandemic. Wells ensured her group had “the opportunity to connect with Pacific people throughout the university, based on a common interest we might have. It’s fun to connect in a different mindset.”

Gibney also hoped students were “making some new connections with other students and staff on campus from different backgrounds, but with some shared experiences.

Want to join in?

For students

Wells said that an upcoming diversity, equity and inclusion audit of the library is meant to encourage “just being aware of the kinds of materials we read and the voices that are represented. We were very aware of that as we were selecting the books (for Tiger Book Clubs) and that intention will carry on as we do the audit.” Students are encouraged to participate in the audit. Contact Wells if you are interested.

For students, faculty and staff

·       Pacific Athletic Book Club is reading “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson

Upcoming library events

·       Tiger Haunted Oct. 30, 6 p.m.

·       Wednesday Workshop Series Every Wednesday, 2 p.m.

Upcoming CTL events

·       Staying Grounded in Online Teaching and Learning Oct. 21, 12:30 p.m.

·       Sign up for the CTL Newsletter by emailing