Virtual Alumni Book Clubs-Paideia III

Luther College Alumni, Parents and Friends are invited to join one of our Virtual Alumni Book Clubs (aptly named Paideia III)! The clubs were formed to engage our constituents with faculty emeriti and with one another.

Zoom Book Club Meeting

The clubs are free, (You will need to purchase your own book ahead of time at your local book store or online, and you will need a computer capable of joining a Zoom meeting). Each club has a limited enrollment of 40. First-come; first-served.

Book clubs are moderated by volunteer faculty emeriti, Luther staff, and alumni. There are no expectations other than the group will meet at a specified time (for just one hour, or so, per week on Zoom) to discuss a book they have read together. A link to the Zoom meeting will be sent to the 40 participants each week. The book clubs will also have a Facebook group for members of the group (AND ALL OTHERS) to engage with one another and share thoughts and related articles during the days the clubs do not meet. We want to engage as many alumni and friends in meaningful ways as possible.


Interpreter of Maladies

May-June Book Club #3 Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.

Immigrants and Asian Americans have been in the news recently. What do we know of their experiences?

Interpreter of Maladies is a collection of short stories, winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize. Lahiri’s stories explore the interaction of two cultures, American and Indian. The stories chart the emotional journeys of characters seeking love beyond the barriers of nations and generations.

The Namesake is a novel that enriches the themes in Lahiri’s short stories, the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, the conflicts of assimilation and the tangled ties between generations. The book inspired the film by the same name in 2006. 

The Namesake

Lahiri speaks with eloquence to everyone who has ever felt like a foreigner. She also opens the eyes of anyone who has not had to go beyond their own comfort zone.

Alumna Suzanne (Knoll) Hales '65, is a retired English teacher, book discussion leader and book dramatist. "The love of my life is reading good books and sharing ideas with others!"

Professor Emerita of French Ruth Caldwell taught French and Italian language and literature at Luther from 1971 to 2015. Since she can’t travel these days, she has been a volunteer guide for several Luther College Virtual Alumni Book Clubs—Paideia III.

Reading Schedule:

May 4 -  Interpreter of Maladies stories 1, 2, 3
May 11 - stories 4, 5, 6
May 18 - stories 7, 8, 9
May 25 - The Namesake chapters - 1, 2, 3, 4
June 1 - chapters 5, 6, 7, 8
June 8 - chapters 9, 10, 11, 12 and afterward

Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake Book Club will meet on Zoom Tuesdays from 5:00-6:30 p.m. CST beginning on May 4, 2021, and ending on June 8, 2021.

REGISTER FOR the May-June 2021 Book Club #3 HERE!


The Overstory

March-April Book Club #2 The Overstory by Richard Powers

Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, The Overstory is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of—and paean to—the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers’s twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours—vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.

Moderator Team:
Alan Lerstrom, Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies 
Ruth Caldwell, Professor Emerita of French
Paul Gardner,
Professor Emeritus of Political Science
 Wiese, Retired Healthcare Administrator
Nancy St. Clair, Retired English Professor


March 2: p. 3-72 Introduction and first 5 characters

March 9: p. 73-144 Next 3 characters

March 16: p. 145-217 Olivia’s story, end of Roots and start of action

March 23: p. 217-285 Patricia W. frames this section (from author to trial witness)

March 30: p. 286-352 end of Trunk section

April 6: 355-425: 20 years later

April 13: p. 426-End

Flickr Trees Slideshow 

The Overstory Book Club will meet on Zoom Tuesdays from 5:00-6:30 p.m. CST beginning in March, 2021 (March 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, and April 6 [and perhaps] April 13). THE OVERSTORY BOOK CLUB IS CLOSED.

The Decameron

Jan.-Feb. Book Club #1 A Survival Guide for Today: Boccaccio’s Decameron

A deadly plague arrived, affecting men and women alike. Some people thought living moderately would help them resist the disease and they lived in isolation from everyone else. Still others maintained the surest medicine for such an evil disease was to enjoy life's pleasures. The advice of doctors and the power of medicine was challenged. 

Would you be surprised to learn this is a paraphrase of words written nearly 700 years ago? Come along on a virtual book club literary journey as we discuss selected stories from The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio. This 14th century collection of one hundred tales, told over ten nights by ten different people escaping a pandemic, is a classic. It has influenced, among others, Chaucer and Shakespeare. Laugh, cry or be outraged as we explore themes such as love, (mis)fortune, and urban vs, rural values that may resonate with us today.

Alumna Moderator
Michele Minske '84, is a corporate paralegal who enjoys reading, sports and classic television.

Faculty Moderator
Ruth Caldwell taught French and Italian language and literature at Luther from 1971 to 2015. Since she can’t travel these days, she has been a volunteer guide for several Luther College Virtual Alumni Book Clubs—Paideia III.

Note: There are many editions, and we suggest this one: The Decameron, by Giovanni Boccaccio and Wayne A. Rebhorn (Translator). Norton: 2014. Be sure to get the 2014 edition, ISBN-13: 9780393350265... it has over 1,000 pages and all 100 of the stories. Some of the other versions by Rebhorn are abridged! It’s available on hard copy or Kindle. We will not read all the stories together, but the selections are not yet determined.

The Decameron Book Club will meet on Zoom Tuesdays from 5:00-6:30 p.m. CST beginning in January, 2021 (January 5, 12, 19, 26, February 2, 9). THE DECAMERON BOOK CLUB IS COMPLETED.


A number of Luther College alumni own book stores in the Midwest, and we encourage you to purchase your books from your local book store or one of ours!

Luther College Book Shop

The Luther College Book Shop offers discounts to reading group members. The store is owned and operated by Luther College and all proceeds stay on campus to benefit the Luther community.


Dragonfly Books

Dragonfly Books in Decorah offers discounts for organized reading groups and book clubs. The store is owned by Kate (Nelson) Rattenborg '83.


  Cream and Amber

Cream and Amber, a bookstore in Hopkins, Minnesota, offers discounts to Luther alumni purchasing books for the Virtual Alumni Book Clubs. The store is owned by Luther alumnae Kacey Hruby Wyttenhove '11, and Katie Terhune '11.



2020 Book Club #1 EDUCATED, Book Club #2 CHINA MEN, Book Club # 3 GROWING UP DECORAH, Book Club #4 BLACK LIVES MATTER, Book Club #5 PURPLE HIBISCUS, and Book Club #6 CIRCE are completed.

More book club groups and new titles are available for 2021.