Crack a Book with Colleagues

Join a campus book club or start your own

Amber Pearson, Christian Ferney, Gair McCullough, Jeremy Buotte, Bashar Alubaidi and Erin Miller. Photo courtesy of Scott Peters.
Amber Pearson, Christian Ferney, Gair McCullough, Jeremy Buotte, Bashar Alubaidi and Erin Miller. Photo courtesy of Scott Peters.

The Low Maintenance Book Club hosted by Duke University Libraries has pushed Jodi Psoter outside her literary comfort zone since she joined the group in 2017. 

Psoter, who loves historical fiction and romance novels, is reading plays, short stories and memoirs. Even if she doesn’t love a reading, like the play “Fleabag,” she still appreciates hearing other perspectives. 

Jodi Psoter with the Low Maintenance Book Club's next selection, Broad Band. Photo by Jonathan Black.“I started working at Duke after moving from Massachusetts, so the club has a great way to get to know Duke students and employees,” said Psoter, a librarian for chemistry and statistical science at Perkins Library. “I appreciate that it’s an open space to discuss our opinions and perceptions of what we’re reading.” 

Duke Libraries organizes the Low Maintenance Book Club, which meets two to three times each semester to reflect on short stories, graphic novels and poetry. The club is open to students, staff and faculty. 

Here are ways to grab a book and start reading with colleagues. 

Duke Regional Hospital Book Club

Members of Duke Regional Hospital's book club. (Left to right, back row) Victoria Orto, Jennifer Tomlinson, Deborah Allen and Karla Collins Murphy. (Left to right, front row) Kristi Nyberg and April Dudash. Photo courtesy of Karla Collins Murphy.
Karla Collins Murphy created Duke Regional Hospital’s “Brown Bag Book Club” shortly after starting at Duke in the fall of 2017. 

Murphy, a nursing care assistant, was itching to discuss her reading list after writing and editing book reviews for two years with McClatchy Newspapers, a publishing organization.   

The Brown Bag Book Club meets four to six times per year to discuss one book such as the recent reading, “An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones. Or the group picks a theme such as the classics and reads separate novels to discuss during a meeting. Each participant picked a classic novel to read, like “Dracula,” “Anna Karenina,” “Of Mice and Men” and others. 

“The point isn’t to finish the entire book,” Murphy said. “The most important thing is to make sure you’re having fun and getting to know your coworkers.”

The club meets during the day at Duke Regional Hospital. Contact Karla Collins Murphy at karla.mass@duke.edu if you want to join. 

Kenan Institute for Ethics Book Club 

Amber Pearson, Christian Ferney, Gair McCullough, Jeremy Buotte, Bashar Alubaidi and Erin Miller. Photo courtesy of Scott Peters.
The Kenan Institute for Ethics staff launched a book club in 2013 to read staff favorites and books by authors who visit Duke.  

The club, which meets two to four times over the year at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, is in the process of selecting the club’s next read. But previous selections include “Educated” by Tara Westover and “What We Owe” by Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde. 

“It’s always exciting to hear the different perspectives each staff member has on what we’ve been reading,” said Amber Pearson, a research scholar for the Kenan Institute for Ethics. “We want it to be part of our life at Duke to engage our colleagues in thoughtful discussions.”

Create your own book club

The Duke Undergraduate Admissions Book Club read The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South by Osha Gray Davidson.
The Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke offers a $500 grant to departments that want to form an ethics book club for staff. 

Established in 2015, this program at Kenan has funded 19 book clubs in departments ranging from the Department of Political Science to the Franklin Humanities Institute. 

Duke Undergraduate Admissions, which has its own book club, used the grant to buy books for its first book club meeting. The club selects books about diversity and education such as “The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South” by Osha Gray Davidson. 

“Reading helps the admissions staff understand different perspectives and cultures, which is important because we read applications from students all over the world,” said Sonam Aidasani, admissions officer and book club organizer. “The club exposes us to new ideas and helps our staff bond.”

Contact Jeremy Buotte at jeremy.buotte@duke.edu for more information about starting an ethics book club for staff. Seed funding application and instructions here

Have a story idea or news to share? Share it with Working@Duke.