Book Clubs Spark Community and Inspiration

Book in Spring Grass photo

Coast to coast, Phi Beta Kappa associations continue to host monthly book group meetings, offering members a chance to dive into classics, new favorites, and topics of the day through a historical lens. 

The New York Association is currently reading Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond, while the Delaware Valley Association will read Heartland by Sarah Smarsh in April.

The Oregon Association recently chose Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents in February, which the Atlanta Association and the Chicago Association also discussed in early March. 

“Our monthly sessions are not only an opportunity to gain new insights into our collective readings, but they continue to foster friendships, many of long-standing duration,” remarked Geraldine Piorkowski, who leads the Chicago Association’s monthly book group. 

Colorado Association members recently enjoyed Phi Beta Kappa 2021 book award winner The Sirens of Mars: Searching for Life on Another World by Sarah Stewart, and Boston Association members picked up Energy: A Human History by Richard Rhodes. Indiana ΦBK recently chose The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich, and the Detroit Association selected The Ground Breaking: An American City and Its Search for Justice by University of Michigan professor and historian Scott Ellsworth. The D.C. Association has read titles ranging from Homer’s Odyssey to Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower

Every book up for discussion is chosen by each individual association. Many of these books have been featured on Phi Beta Kappa book lists, such as the annual Summer Reading List or the annual list of what freshmen are reading on college campuses. 

Our What First-Years Read list is compiled each year based on common reading choices for incoming first-year students on our 293 chapter campuses. These works, ranging from graphic novels to memoirs to scientific nonfiction books, showcase the diverse voices who will inspire new students at the beginning of their arts and sciences journeys. These books are often chosen on our chapter campuses because of the lively and engaged discussions they inspire, which is the same spirit that can be found in our association book clubs. 

To explore the most recent What First-Years Read list from 2021, visit

If you resolved to read more in 2022, be sure to check our website at to see if there is a book-group meeting in your area or gathering virtually. There is always room for one more to add to the lively discussion!