Women’s Center book club brings students together

For those looking to dive into a good book and even better discussions, Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Women’s Center, located in Centennial Student Union 218, is hosting a book club from Feb. 14 to March 15. 

Bell Hooks’ “All About Love” is the featured title, and students are invited to obtain a copy from the Women’s Center up until the last day, on which they will be hosting a Zoom discussion about the novel.

Women’s Center Director Liz Steinborn-Gourley mentioned that this isn’t the first time that the Women’s Center has hosted a book club event.  

“We did a series on Islamic feminism last year that was a smaller cohort of involved parties,” said Steinborn-Gourley. “Access to literature is great, so the fact that we can do book clubs with our Student Government supported funding is awesome.”

Steinborn-Gourley has a particularly close connection with the title chosen for the book club, as it was the first book she ever read about feminism. 

“After I got out of grad school, I was handing out copies of “Feminism is for Everybody” to every student like, ‘this is going to blow your mind,’” said Steinborn-Gourley. “Her work was exceedingly transformative for me.”

Steinborn-Gourley chose this book as it not only aligned with the Women’s Center’s goals, but it was fitting for both Black History Month and Women’s History month.

“I was heartbroken when [Hooks] passed because this iconic visionary for equity, love, and justice has left us, but she’s left a legacy of incredible work,” shared Steinborn-Gourley. “In the Women’s Center, we try to always consider people’s many and multiple identities, so it felt like a really fantastic fit.”

Both the provided reading guide and discussion are facilitated by Zara Houston, director of the “Read a F****** Book” program based out of Illinois. Houston and Steinborn-Gourley have worked together before and Steinborn-Gourley expressed her excitement to have Houston’s input on this project. 

“Having someone to come in and facilitate beyond basic discussion, especially for an important work, where we are thinking about social justice and equity was really important to me,” said Steinborn-Gourley.

The discussion for the book will be over Zoom at 7 p.m. on March 15. Steinborn-Gourley mentioned the discussion questions in the provided reading guide will help direct the conversation.

“I’m just excited because people are going to learn so much from [Houston] and still have space to contribute their voice as well,” said Steinborn-Gourley.

MSU senior Krestiane Abshir knew the book club was something she wanted to participate in since the first time she heard about the club. 

“Whenever I read books, I think and analyze a lot. I see how I can apply different things to my life, or how I can relate to certain situations,” said Abshir. “Being in a book club gives you the opportunity to see many perspectives other than your own. It helps you understand things that you wouldn’t have understood otherwise.”

Abshir encourages those to read the book to gain insight on a variety of perspectives on the topic of love.

“It highlights how important love is, whether it’s romantic or platonic, and how critical it is that we know how to practice love as a society,” said Abshir. “I’ve learned a lot about love from the book so far, and how [there are] so many definitions.”

While this is the final book club for this semester, the Women’s Center has plans to pick a reading for the summer to discuss in September, along with a few book clubs over breaks during the year. 

“It’s not going to go away, it’s just a matter of when. We’re also open to title suggestions,” said Steinborn-Gourley.

There are still books available at the Women’s Center, along with the reading guides. Students are encouraged to pick up a copy to enjoy over spring break or even just a reading guide to absorb the book’s main ideas.

Header Photo: Grad Assistant Erin Kotten holds “all about love” by Bell Hooks, the selected book club book from the Women’s Center. The book club discussion will be held over Zoom March 15 at 7 p.m. (Dylan Engel/ The Reporter)

Write to: Syd Berggren at sydney.berggren@mnsu.edu

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