2021 Book Club Reads

Online Optimism’s book club, On the Same Page, gives Optimists an opportunity to gather and discuss books that focus on critical social topics. This book club is one of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives and is designed to help our team build a shared vocabulary for discussing social issues that impact our work together. 

On The Same Page reads three books per year. We read one book per Specialist term, so that our interns all have the opportunity to participate in this club and complete at least one book.

The Yellow House

The Yellow House is a memoir by Sarah M. Broom about her life growing up in New Orleans East. The story follows Broom’s family over the course of a century, up to the destruction of her childhood home during Hurricane Katrina. The Yellow House poignantly tackles race, class, and family and its New Orleans setting is critical to the memoir. It was awarded the 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction.

The Complete Maus:  A Survivor’s Tale

Maus is a graphic novel written and drawn by Art Spiegelman, an editor and artist for The New Yorker. The novel depicts Spiegelman’s father’s experience as a Polish Holocaust survivor, based on the interviews Spiegelman recorded with him. Originally published as a serialized strip in the magazine Raw, the book was later compiled into the volume we now know as The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale. Maus is the first and only graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize.  

While reading this book, we accompanied our reading with a relevant movie. We watched the 2017 film The Zookeeper’s Wife, which tells the true story of a man and his wife who hid Jewish people from the Nazis during World War II.

The House on Mango Street

The House on Mango Street is a novel told in a series of vignettes by Sandra Cisneros. The book follows a young Latina girl named Esperanza and her experiences growing up on Mango Street in Chicago. It’s a story about the sometimes joyous, sometimes painful process of growing up, and the unfortunate and devastating realities of racism and domestic violence. 

Alongside The House on Mango Street, we watched the movie Mosquita y Mari. Written and directed by Aurora Guerrero, the film is an understated exploration of the relationship between two Chicana high school students in Los Angeles.

We’re in the process of selecting our next book. Let us know what you think we should read and why. And remember to support local bookstores and libraries when picking out your reading material!