Summer Book Club
Read for fun, engage your friends, nourish your faith.
This is a summer of physical distance, but that fact doesn’t need to diminish the strength and intimacy of Aquinas House.
Around this time, students would return to campus to participate in Dartmouth’s renowned ‘Sophomore Summer,’ a term that brings an entire class year together to enjoy the beauty of the Upper Valley, celebrate their community, and continue their studies. Another gift of summer is the opportunity to do something you wouldn’t during another term. My suggestion? Read for fun!
During my second year of graduate school, my roommates and I were asked to remain at home during a terrible winter storm. Luckily for me, one of my friends was an English major in undergrad who happened to bring many a novel with her to South Bend. That was the beginning of many hours spent reading works from great Catholic writers of the 20th century. Flannery O’Connor and Graham Greene were close companions. I also turned to stories evoking themes of faith, hope, and love, extending my experience of grace beyond the overtly religious.
One of the most important lessons from that time is that I relearned what it was to read simply for the pleasure of it. Years of undergraduate research and graduate writing blurred my memory. I had no idea how much I’d missed reading a book that hadn’t been assigned until that frigid day in January.
And so, AQ is hosting a book club for our students this summer. Below you’ll find the book we’ve chosen to read as a community: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. Additional recommendations will be added by current students, alumni, and staff throughout the summer. I encourage you to look at your local library for resources and copies of Gilead, although I appreciate those who prefer to hold a book in their hand. One should never become unfamiliar with the smell of the pages in a new (or even old) book!
A forum will be hosted for people to post their favorite quotes or share meaningful sections of the book with others. Please feel welcome to make other books recommendations as well. We will also meet periodically over Zoom to discuss the book and to enjoy each other’s company. Those interested in joining us should blitz firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks so much and happy reading!
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson has been on my mind for months now, having been the first book I picked up during quarantine and the source for inspiration when writing our ‘thank you’ to our graduates in this summer’s newsletter. On it’s surface, Gilead is a letter from father to child. It’s a letter of love, one that aches to share the entirety of what this life has to share. More deeply, it is a story dripping in grace. The narrator is abundantly clear that God’s presence is always greater than we could imagine, and that that it exists in unexpected places. For the person willing to shake complacency, to look for the beauty mixed in the suffering of our world, and to open herself more freely to God’s love, this book is a most welcome companion.