Lit Groups

McLean AAUW hosts morning and evening literature discussion groups for our members. The morning group usually meets on the second Friday of the month at 10:00 a.m.; the evening group on the third Monday of the month at 7:00 p.m. We met via Zoom during the covid pandemic and still do so from time to time when circumstances make it advisable.

The Lit Groups have a tradition of including  books that help us understand the lives of people from cultures or circumstances outside our own typical experience. Among the selections for 2022-23 are stories of Native Americans, black teens in the Jim Crow-era, black women in the South, Indians and undocumented Latinx people living in America, and a woman passing as a man in an earlier era. Many of the books are award winners and were written by women or people of color, from debut authors such as Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, a “dreamer” from Mexico, to Toni Morrison, who needs no introduction.

Branch members wanting to join either or both Lit Groups should contact the coordinators to be added to the email list.

  • Morning Lit Group coordinator: Betsy Reddaway (pbreddaway at
  • Evening Lit Group coordinator: Betsey Schroeder (icu43 at

Even if you can’t join us, we hope you’ll read some of the book selections on your own.

Morning Lit Group: Book Reading List for 2022-23

Book and Author

Discussion Leader
September 9, 2022
Washingon: The Indispensable Man, by James Thomas Flexner
Reed Isbell
October 14, 2022 – via ZOOM
The Undocumented Americans, by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio“
In her captivating and evocative first book, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio aims to tell the full story of what it means to be undocumented in America, in all of its fraughtness and complexity, challenging the usual good and evil categories through a series of memoir-infused reported essays. In doing so, she reveals how her subjects, including her own family members, struggle with vices like adultery and self-harm, even while doing backbreaking, demeaning work to support their families. “Cornejo Villavicencio reveals a fullness of character that feels subversive, simply because of how rare it is.” (NY Times Book Review)
Ruth Nowjack-Raymer
November 18, 2022
Rez Life:  An Indian’s Journey through Reservation Life, by David Treuer
There are over 300 Indian reservations in the U.S. today, some of a few acres, others vast. Rich or poor, all are vibrant, living communities with long and complex histories. Celebrated novelist and historian David Treuer, an Ojibwe from Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota, grew up on the reservation. In Rez Life he draws on his background, storytelling skills, and eye for detail to craft a multifaceted journey into the history of reservations, and a look at what life is like on a rez today. This is history told from the inside out, a rare and captivating story of hardship and resilience.
Carol Mournighan
December 9, 2022
Dr. Thorne
, by Anthony Trollope
Margaret Hines
January 13, 2023
The Shadow Land, by Elizabeth Kostova
 Angela Ehemann
February 10, 2023
The Hare with the Amber Eyes: A Family’s Century of Art and Loss, by Edmund de Waal
English potter Edmund de Waal inherited a collection of 264 netsuke, small delicately carved objects worn on the sash of a Japanese man’s kimono. Tracing their ownership takes the author from a super-rich Jewish family in Odessa, Paris, and Vienna to the loss of everything during WWII.
Betsy Reddaway
March 10, 2023
The Chancellor: The Remarkable Odyssey of Angela Merkel, by Kati Marton
Marge Degnon
April 14, 2023
Klara and the Sun: A Novel, by Kazuo Ishigura
Joanne Field
May 12, 2023
Fresh Water for Flowers, by Valerie Perrin
A No. 1 bestseller in the author’s native France. As the caretaker at a cemetery in Bourgogne, Violette Toussaint invites mourners and other visitors to warm themselves in her lodge, where they share laughter, companionship, and occasional tears as well as coffee. When the local police chief arrives and insists on scattering the ashes of his recently deceased mother on the gravesite of a stranger, the strange gesture turns out to be intertwined with Violette’s own difficult past. This “melancholic and yet ebullient” novel, as one reviewer called it, shows how what might seem a woman’s gloomy and morose life is transformed by nature, food, and drink, friendships, and above all, resilience.
Phyllis Yoshida
June 9, 2023
Book Selection Luncheon for 2023-24 books

Evening Lit Group: Book Reading List for 2022-23

Book and Author
Discussion Leader
September 19, 2022 (via Zoom)           
The Cape Doctor, by E. J. Levy
In what critics have called a “brilliant” novelistic debut, E. J. Levy drew on true events in writing this story that explores the fluidity and complexity of gender in an earlier era. The hero, Dr. Perry, begins life as a penniless girl in Cork, Ireland, but assumes the guise of a man to enter medical school and provide for the family—only to embrace the newfound freedom of living as a man. From brilliant medical student in Edinburgh and London, he rises to the pinnacle of success as a physician and eligible bachelor in Cape Town, until he befriends the aristocratic Cape Governor, leading to public accusations of a homosexual affair that scandalizes the colonies and nearly costs them their lives.
Amina Sarraf
October 17, 2022  (via Zoom)               
South to America: A Journey Below the Mason Dixon Line, by Imani Perry
Native Alabaman Imani Perry argues that the meaning of America is inextricably linked with the South, and that our understanding of its history and culture is the key to understanding the nation as a whole. Returning as a Black woman viewing the region with fresh eyes, she makes a journey full of detours and surprising discoveries as 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.
Cheryl Williams
November 21, 2022
All That She Carried: The Journey Of Ashley’s Sack, A Black Family’s Keepsake, by Tiya Miles
Winner of the National Book Award and a top favorite on many best-of book lists. In 1850s South Carolina, an enslaved woman named Rose faced the imminent sale of her nine-year-old daughter Ashley, so she packed a cotton bag for her with a few items. Decades later, Ashley’s granddaughter Ruth embroidered this family history on the sack. Historian Tiya Miles traces the story through archival records and mementos to show the experience of slavery and the uncertain freedom that came afterward.
Betsy Schroeder
December 12, 2022
Holiday Dinner at Aroona Borpujari’s Home
January 16, 2022                  
Daughters of Yalta: The Churchills, Roosevelts, and Harrimans: A Story of Love and War, by Catherine Grace Katz
Tensions during the Yalta Conference in February 1945 threatened to tear apart the wartime alliance among Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin just as victory was close at hand. The author uncovers the dramatic story of the three remarkable young women— Kathleen Harriman, Sarah Churchill, and Anna Roosevelt—who traveled with their fathers to Yalta, each bound by fierce family loyalty, political savvy, and romances that colored these crucial days in the political maelstrom that marked the transition to a post-war world.
Myrtle Hendricks-Corrales
February 20, 2023               
Trigger Points: Inside the Mission To Stop Mass Shootings, by Mark Follman
For the first time, a story about the specialized teams of forensic psychologists, FBI agents, and other experts who are successfully stopping mass shootings. The hopeful, myth-busting narrative offers major insights by building on new details of infamous attacks, never-before-told accounts from perpetrators and survivors, and real-time immersion in confidential threat cases, casting a whole new light on how to solve a grievous problem.
Anita Booth
March 20, 2023                    
French Braid, by Anne Tyler
A New York Times bestseller, French Braid is classic Anne Tyler: a novel of heartbreak, warmth and hilarity that probes the kindnesses and cruelties of our daily lives, the impossibility of breaking free from those who love us and how close—yet how unknowable—every family is to itself. The story centers on the Garretts, a family in Baltimore who take their first and last vacation together in the summer of 1959. They hardly ever leave home, but in some ways they have never been farther apart. As their lives advance across decades, their influences on one another ripple ineffably but unmistakably through each generation.
Mary Lou Melley
April 17, 2023                     
A Place for Us, by Fatima Farheen Mirza
A New York Times bestseller, National Book Award winner, and favorite on many best-book-of-the-year lists. With an Indian wedding as the backdrop, an Indian couple transplanted to America must confront the choices their children have made. A “tenderhearted novel of identity,” the story traces the beginning of the family’s life, from the bonds that bring them together to the differences that pull them apart, and how the children tread their own way between two cultures, seeking to find their place in the world as well as a path home.
Lynne Glikbarg
May 15, 2023                   
The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. When Elwood Curtis, a black teenager in Jim Crow-era Florida, is unfairly sentenced to a juvenile reformatory, he finds himself in a hellish place known as Nickel Academy. His only salvation is his friendship with a fellow “delinquent” named Turner. As life at the academy becomes ever more perilous, the tension between Elwood’s ideals and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. The author based the story on a real-life facility, the Dozier School, which operated for over a century until an investigation publicized its racist and abusive practices.
Pam Bacher
June 19, 2023                     
The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
In Morrison’s acclaimed first novel, Pecola Breedlove—an 11-year-old Black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others—prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different. This is the story of the nightmare at the heart of her yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment.
Diana Parsell