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The LWVLA Book Club Welcomes All Interested Readers

LWVLA Book Club meets monthly, usually on the last Monday of the month. It is currently meeting at an indoor venue in La Crosse.  Attending members select books in a variety of genres that reflect member interest, the League's mission, and a commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

To join us:

Check the calendar on our home page to find the next time we meet.
Click on the calendar entry for a description of the book, meeting information, and a link to registration for the meeting. Registration is not required, but it is recommended in order to receive a reminder email, as well as any potential updates or changes to meeting information. 

Below you will find a list of the books read over the past six years.  Each book is linked to its entry on Goodreads, a website dedicated to helping individuals find and share books they love.


         Empowering Voters.

  Defending Democracy.

2024 Book Club List

Currently reading for June 10:

Lessons from the Edge

Marie Yovanovitch

Warrior Girl
Angeline Boulley


Poverty, by America
Michael Desmond

The Water Dancer
Ta-Nehisi Coates


The Constitution in Jeopardy:

Russ Feingold and Peter Prindiville

Over the last two decades, a fringe plan to call a convention under the Constitution's amendment mechanism—the nation's first ever—has inched through statehouses. Delegates would exercise nearly unlimited authority to draft changes to our fundamental law. Feingold and Prindiville examine the grave risks inherent in this effort, an approach that is at odds with a cornerstone ideal of the Founding: that the People make constitutional law, directly.


                   Celebrating 100 Years!:

           1924 ~ 2024

          The League of Women Voters
                       of the La Crosse Area

2023 Book Club List

The Personal Librarian
Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
The remarkable, little-known story of Belle da Costa Greene -- J.  P. Moran's personal librarian -- who became one of the most power women in New York despite the dangerous secret she kept.  An African American of lighter complexion, Greene preserves her "white" identity to make her dreams come true in a racist world

What Happened to You?:  Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing
Bruce D. Perry and Oprah Winfrey

Through deeply personal conversations, Oprah Winfrey and renowned brain and trauma expert Dr. Bruce Perry offer a groundbreaking and profound shift from asking “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”  It is an approach to trauma that allows us to understand our pasts in order to clear a path to our future.


Their Eyes Were Watching God 
Zora Neale Hurston

Fair and long-legged, independent and articulate, Janie Crawford sets out to be her own person -- no mean feat for a black woman in the '30s. Janie's quest for identity takes her through three marriages and into a journey back to her roots.  


Nomad Century: How Climate Migration Will Reshape Our World
Gaia Vince

Not enough of us are confronting one of climate change's biggest and most present consequences: a total reshaping of the earth's human geography.  As Vince points out, global migration has doubled in the past decade, on track to see literal billions displaced in the coming decades.  She tells us how the changes already in play will transform our food, our cities, our politics, and much more.  Her findings are answers we all need, now more than ever.  


Octavia E. Butler

Dana, a modern Black woman, is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him.  Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time is more dangerous, until it is uncertain whether Dana's life will end. 



South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation
Imani Perry

This is the story of a Black woman and native Alabaman returning to the region she has always called home and considering it with fresh eyes. She renders Southerners from all walks of life with sensitivity and honesty, sharing her thoughts about a troubling history and the ritual humiliations and joys that characterize so much of Southern life. Weaving together stories of immigrant communities, contemporary artists, exploitative opportunists, enslaved peoples, unsung heroes, her own ancestors, and her lived experiences, Imani Perry crafts a tapestry unlike any other.

As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock
Dino Gilio-Whittaker

Through the unique lens of "Indigenized environmental justice," Indigenous researcher and activist Dina Gilio-Whitaker explores the fraught history of treaty violations, struggles for food and water security, and protection of sacred sites, while highlighting the important leadership of Indigenous women in this centuries-long struggle. T
he Standing Rock protest put a national spotlight on Indigenous activists. Ultimately, she argues, modern environmentalists must look to the history of Indigenous resistance for wisdom and inspiration in our common fight for a just and sustainable future.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
Marjane Satrapi

In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity.

The  Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times
Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams

In a world that seems so troubled, how do we hold on to hope? In The Book of Hope, Jane focuses on her “Four Reasons for Hope”: The Amazing Human Intellect, The Resilience of Nature, The Power of Young People, and The Indomitable Human Spirit. Filled with engaging dialogue and pictures from Jane’s storied career, The Book of Hope is a deeply personal conversation with one of the most beloved figures in today’s world.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane
Lisa See
In their remote mountain village, Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. When Li-yan has a baby out of wedlock she leaves her, wrapped in a blanket with a tea cake tucked in its folds, near an orphanage in a nearby city. Her daughter, Haley, is raised in California by loving adoptive parents. Over the course of years, each searches for meaning in the study of Pu’er, the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for centuries.
The Island of Sea Women
Lisa See
Set on the Korean island of Jeju, The Island of Sea Women follow Mi-ja and Young-sook as they work in the sea with their village's all-female diving collective. Over many decades, including the Japanese colonialism of the 1930s and 1940s, World War II, and the Korean War, forces outsides their control push their relationship to the breaking point. 


Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty
Patrick Radden Keefe

The Sackler name adorns the walls of many storied institutions: Harvard, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Oxford, the Louvre. They are one of the richest families in the world, known for their lavish donations to the arts and sciences. The source of the family fortune was vague, however, until it emerged that the Sacklers were responsible for making and marketing OxyContin, a blockbuster painkiller that was a catalyst for the opioid crisis. Empire of Pain is a compelling masterpiece of narrative reporting and writing.


2022 Book Club List


Dinners with Ruth: A Memoir on the Power of Friendships
Nina Totenberg 

Celebrated NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg delivers an extraordinary memoir of her personal successes, struggles, and life-affirming relationships, including her beautiful friendship of nearly fifty years with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Tastes Like War 

Grace M. Cho

Cho grew up as the daughter of a white American merchant marine and the Korean bar hostess he met abroad. They were one of few immigrants in a xenophobic small town during the Cold War. When Grace was fifteen, her dynamic mother experienced the onset of schizophrenia, a condition that would evolve for the rest of her life. Part food memoir, part sociological investigation, Tastes Like War is a hybrid text about a daughter’s search through intimate and global history for the roots of her mother’s schizophrenia, learning to cook dishes from her parent’s childhood in order to invite the past into the present. 


The Seed Keeper
Diane Wilson

Rosalie Iron Wing has grown up in the woods with her father, Ray, a former science teacher who tells her stories of the Dakota people. One morning, Ray doesn't return from checking his traps. Told she has no family, Rosalie is sent to live with a foster family in nearby Mankato.  After spending 28 years on her white husband's farm which had been threatened by drought and a predatory chemical company, she returns to her childhood home as a widow. The Seed Keeper weaves together the voices of four indelible women who have protected their families, their traditions, and a precious cache of seeds through generations of hardship and loss, through war and the insidious trauma of boarding schools.

July and August:
The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story
Nikole Hannah-Jones

In late August 1619, a ship arrived in the British colony of Virginia bearing a cargo of twenty to thirty enslaved people from Africa, the start of an American chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years, and the source of so much that still defines the United States.
The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story builds on The New York Times Magazine’s award-winning “1619 Project." It weaves together eighteen essays along with poems and fiction that reveal a new origin story for the United States, one that helps explain not only the persistence of anti-Black racism and inequality in American life today, but also the roots of what makes the country unique.


The Ungrateful Refugee
Dina Nayeri

To be a refugee is to grapple with your place in society in a new, unfamiliar home, all while bearing the burden of gratitude in your host nation. Aged eight, Dina Nayeri fled Iran along with her mother and brother, eventually gaining asylum in America. She offers a new understanding of refugee life, calling attention to the harmful way in which Western governments privilege certain dangers over others. Here are real stories of what it is like to be forced to flee your home, and to journey across borders in the hope of starting afresh.

The History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: a Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of the Planet
Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore 

Nature, money, work, care, food, energy, and lives: these are the seven things that have made our world and will shape its future.  Bringing the latest ecological research together with the histories of colonialism, indigenous struggles, slave revolts, and other uprisings, Patel and Moore propose a way of understanding and reclaiming the planet in the turbulent twenty-first century.

The Girl with the Louding Voice
Abi Dare' 

The unforgettable inspiring story of a teenage girl growing up in a rural Nigerian village who longs to get an education so that she can find her "louding voice" and speak up for herself, The Girl with the Louding Voice is a simultaneously heartbreaking and triumphant tale about the power of fighting for your dreams.   

Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil
Deborah Rodriguez 

Soon after the fall of the Taliban, in 2001, Deborah Rodriguez went to Afghanistan as part of a group offering humanitarian aid. A hairdresser and mother of two from Michigan, Rodriguez was eagerly sought out by Westerners for good haircuts by Afghan women. with a long and proud tradition of running their own beauty salons. With the help of sponsors, the Kabul Beauty School is born, an extraordinary community of women who come together and learn the arts of perms, friendship, and freedom.

Justice on the Brink: The Death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Rise of Amy Coney Barrett, and Twelve Months that Transformed the Supreme Court
Linda Greenhouse

At the end of the Supreme Court's 2019-20 term, the center was holding. By the end of the 2020-21 term, the right-wing supermajority had cemented Donald Trump's legacy on American jurisprudence. Greenhouse, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her Supreme Court coverage, gives us unique insight into a court under stress, providing the brilliant analysis readers of her work in The New York Times have come to expect. Ultimately, she asks a fundamental question: Is this still John Roberts's Supreme Court, or does it now belong to Donald Trump?

Our Time Is Now
Stacey Abrams

Celebrated national leader and bestselling author Stacey Abrams offers a blueprint to end voter suppression, empower our citizens, and take back our country. Abrams chronicles a chilling account of how the right to vote and the principle of democracy have been and continue to be under attack. Abrams would have been the first African American woman governor, but experienced these effects firsthand, despite running the most innovative race in modern politics as the Democratic nominee in Georgia. The book compellingly argues for the importance of robust voter protections, an elevation of identity politics, engagement in the census, and a return to moral international leadership.

2021 Book Club List

Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality
Danielle Allen

Allen finds new meaning in Jefferson's understanding of equality, detailing the Declaration’s case that freedom rests on equality. The contradictions between ideals and reality in a document that perpetuated slavery are also brilliantly tackled by Allen, whose cogently written and beautifully designed book “is must-reading for all who care about the future as well as the origins of America’s democracy” (David M. Kennedy).

American Dirt

Jeanine Cummins

Lydia Quixano Perez runs a bookstore in Acapulco, living a relatively comfortable life with her son Luca and journalist husband. One day charming and erudite Javier browses at the store.  But Javier is the jefe of a gruesome local drug cartel, and when her husband's tell-all profile of Javier is published, Lydia and Luca find themselves making their way toward the United States to escape Javier's reach. But what exactly are they running to?

The Burning: Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921
by Tim Madigan

On the morning of June 1, 1921, a white mob of thousands marched across the railroad tracks in Tulsa, Oklahoma and obliterated a black community then celebrated as one of America's most prosperous. 34 square blocks of Tulsa's Greenwood community, known then as the Negro Wall Street of America, were reduced to smoldering rubble.

Killers of the Flower Moon:  The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
by David Gann

In the 1920s, the oil-rich members of the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma began to be killed off one by one.  After an investigation was bungled by the newly-created and corrupt F.B.I., one agent led an undercover team to expose one of the most sinister conspiracies in American history.

The Night Watchman

by Louise Erdrich

Based on the extraordinary life of National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich's grandfather who worked as a night watchman and carried the fight against Native dispossession from rural North Dakota all the way to Washington, D.C.

The Soul of a Woman
by Isabel Allende

What do women want? For Allende, who became a "feminist in kindergarten," it is to be safe, to be valued, to live in peace, to be connected, to have control over their bodies and lives, and to be loved.   

Culture Warlords: My Journey into the Dark Web of White Supremacy  
by Talia Lavin 

Talia Lavin is every skinhead's worst nightmare: a loud and unapologetic Jewish woman, acerbic, smart, and profoundly antiracist, with the investigative chops to expose the tactics and ideologies of online hatemongers. Lavin, a frequent target of extremist trolls, dove into a byzantine online culture of hate and learned the intricacies of how white supremacy proliferates online. 

The Politics Industry: How Political Innovations Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy
by Katherine Gehl and Michael R. Porter

Gehl and Porter show how the political system functions just as every other competitive industry does, and how the duopoly has led to the devastating outcomes we see today.  Using this competition lens, they identify the most powerful lever for change -- a strategy comprised of a clear set of choices in two key areas: how our elections work and how we make our laws. 

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants
by Robin Wall Kimmerer

As a botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Kimmerer brings these two lenses together to show that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. 

Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics
by Tim Marshall

Shining a light on the unavoidable physical realities that shape the complex geo-political strategies of key parts of the globe, Prisoners of Geography is the critical guide to one of the major (and most often overlooked) determining factors in world history.  

2020 Book Club List

Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World
by Fareed Zakaria
In the form of ten straightforward “lessons,” covering topics from globalization and threat-preparedness to inequality and technological advancement, Zakaria creates a structure for readers to begin thinking beyond the immediate impacts of COVID-19.

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent 
by Isabel Wilkerson

The Pulitzer Prize–winning, bestselling author of The Warmth of Other Suns examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.

by Bryan Stevenson

Winner of the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction • Winner of the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction • Winner of a Books for a Better Life Award • Finalist for the Los Angeles TimesBook Prize • Finalist for the Kirkus Reviews Prize • An American Library Association Notable Book

“Every bit as moving as To Kill a Mockingbird, and in some ways more so . . . a searing indictment of American criminal justice and a stirring testament to the salvation that fighting for the vulnerable sometimes yields.”

From one of the world’s leading experts on unconscious racial bias come stories, science, and strategies to address one of the central controversies of our time

Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield
by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

"Much as she did in her bestselling 'The Dressmaker of Khair Khana,' Lemmon transports readers to a world they previously had no idea existed: a community of women called to fulfill the military's mission to "win hearts and minds" and bound together by danger, valor, and determination. 

by Jacqueline Battalora

" exploration of a moment in time when 'white people,' as a separate and distinct group of humanity, were invented through legislation and the enactment of laws."

"A gripping story of psychological defeat and resilience" (Bob Woodward, The Washington Post)

" intimate account of the fallout from the closing of a General Motors assembly plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, and a larger story of the hollowing of the American middle class."


2019 Book Club List

by Michael Lewis 

Lewis discusses the complexity of our federal government and lauds the highly professional, dedicated employees found throughout its various agencies. He also laments the inept management of many current appointees who know little and seem uninterested in learning about the mission of their agencies. 

The Senator Next Door: A Memoir from the Heartland
by Amy Klobuchar

The Senator Next Door, Sen. Klobuchar chronicles her remarkable heartland journey, from her immigrant grandparents to her middle-class suburban upbringing to her rise in American politics.Optimistic, plainspoken and often very funny, The Senator Next Door is a story about how the girl next door decided to enter the fray and make a difference.

by Lee McIntyre

In this volume in the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series, Lee McIntyre traces the development of the post-truth phenomenon from science denial through the rise of "fake news," from our psychological blind spots to the public's retreat into "information silos....McIntyre argues that we can fight post-truth, and that the first step in fighting post-truth is to understand it."

Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America
by Nancy MacLean
  • Winner of the Lillian Smith Book Award
  • Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
  • Finalist for the National Book Award
  • The Nation's "Most Valuable Book"
For the Common Good: A History of Women's Roles in La Crosse County, 1920-1980
by our own Margaret Larson, LWVLA

Many of us have read parts of Margaret's book, or maybe all of it. Since this is the centennial year celebration, our book club group thought we should read it  again or for the first time.

The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World

by Melinda Gates

In this moving and compelling book, Melinda shares lessons she's learned from the inspiring people she's met during her work and travels around the world. 

Mrs. Ambassador: The Life and Politics of Eugenie Anderson 
by Mary Dupont

No history of US diplomacy and national and Minnesota politics is complete without understanding Ambassador Eugenie Anderson's considerable influence. This book shines a well-deserved light on this remarkable pioneer and her steadfast commitment to our democratic ideals. We can all learn a lot from Eugenie--and how she kept her place 'in the room where it happens' throughout her incredible career.

Educated: A Memoir
by Tara Westover
"#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University."                    
2018 Book Club List

World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech

Franklin Foer reveals the existential threat posed by big tech, and in his brilliant polemic gives us the toolkit to fight their pervasive influence. 

One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet
by  ,  

A call to action from three of Washington's premier political scholar-journalists, One Nation After Trump offers the definitive work on the threat posed by the Trump presidency and how to counter it.

The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote


The nail-biting climax of one of the greatest political victories in American history: the down and dirty campaign to get the last state to ratify the 19th amendment, granting women the right to vote.

Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race

Waking Up White is the book Irving wishes someone had handed her decades ago. By sharing her sometimes cringe-worthy struggle to understand racism and racial tensions, she offers a fresh perspective on bias, stereotypes, manners, and tolerance. 

Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion

The ten brilliant women who are the focus of Sharp came from different backgrounds and had vastly divergent political and artistic opinions. But they all made a significant contribution to the cultural and intellectual history of America and ultimately changed the course of the twentieth century, in spite of the men who often undervalued or dismissed their work.

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes—Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario, and Superior—hold 20 percent of the world’s supply of surface fresh water and provide sustenance, work, and recreation for tens of millions of Americans. But they are under threat as never before, and their problems are spreading across the continent.

Sing, Unburied, Sing

In Jesmyn Ward’s first novel since her National Book Award–winning Salvage the Bones, this singular American writer brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first-century America.

Fascism: A Warning


A personal and urgent examination of Fascism in the twentieth century and how its legacy shapes today’s world, written by one of America’s most admired public servants, the first woman to serve as U.S. secretary of state.