Read, share ideas, and discuss books from the comforts of your home

By Kelly Montoya

Read, share ideas, and discuss books from the comforts of your home

By Kelly Montoya
The University of Miami partners with the University of Colorado Boulder's Center for Humanities and the Arts in presenting a virtual book club.

Entertainment, in the current state of the world, is different for everyone. If you are looking to pass the time by picking up a book, but can’t decide which one, you can now turn to the University of Miami’s newly launched virtual book club for inspiration.

Meghan Homer, assistant director of the Center for the Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Miami, partnered with Professor Jennifer Ho, director of the Center for Humanities and the Arts at University of Colorado Boulder, to evaluate thought-provoking literature for everyone to enjoy from the comfort and safety of their homes.

Meghan Homer

“We’ve been fortunate to connect with many directors across the globe through the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes, resulting in productive conversations and the exchange of ideas,” said Homer. “We’re grateful to Professor Ho and her Boulder colleagues for proposing this idea and making this partnership possible,” she added.  

“Even as we shelter in place, apart from one another, we can still read the same novel, essay, poem. We can still laugh together, cry together, and share in the discussion of any given work,” she pointed out. “Despite the challenges we face in crises, the community offered through literature endures.”  

The first book up for discussion is Ross Gay's essay collection, “The Book of Delights” (Algonquin Books 2019). It was selected as the book club’s inaugural book after Ho and Homer saw it featured on “This American Life.’’

According to the publisher, “‘The Book of Delights’ is a genre-defying book of essays—some as short as a paragraph, some as long as five pages—that record the small joys that occurred in one year, from birthday to birthday, and that we often overlook in our busy lives.”

“We felt Ross Gay’s ‘The Book of Delights’ was a timely choice given the author’s intriguing mission to reflect on small joys every day for a year. During a time when we are bombarded with sobering news and faced with frightening realities, Ross Gay offers poignant examples of how to find those small delights daily, while still acknowledging life’s complexities,” noted Homer.

The Center for the Humanities at the University of Miami is committed to engaging the University and South Florida community in intellectually stimulating conversations. 

“In the midst of this health crisis, we are reminded that the center has served as a gathering place, as a hub for those dedicated to lifelong learning and humanistic study. As we’ve been compelled to cancel numerous signature events, frequently attended by local community members, we recognize that a void has resulted, and we are motivated to fill that void by creative means,” Homer explained. “Despite the logistical challenges presented by COVID-19, we are excited to pursue innovative programming and to partner with other institutions.”  

The goal of the virtual book club is to provide an opportunity for the community and friends across the globe to connect with one another and to participate in a common experience. 

“During a time when it’s easy to feel isolated and separated, this virtual book club offers a venue to engage with others and discuss ideas. The book club enables us to participate in a shared experience, which can be a very powerful thing,” Homer said.

The virtual book club is free and open to the public. Participants are encouraged to sign up and registrants will receive a follow-up email with information on how to discuss the book and exchange ideas via a messaging system and how to meet for scheduled online discussions via Zoom. Complete information, including the link to register and how to obtain the book, can be found here.

University students, faculty, and staff are able to view the book online through UM Libraries. 

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