Alumni Book Club

Alumni Book Club

  • Pile of colourful books

Read and connect with your fellow alumni

Join Cambridge alumni for stimulating conversations about our bimonthly book selection. Discussions will be moderated by a dedicated group leader, who will share additional content and ask questions to prompt debate.

Join the Club

American Dirt front cover

October - December 2021

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy―two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Suggested Reading Schedule

  • On October 14th, we’ll officially start the reading period.
  • By October 28th, finish reading Chapters 1-7
  • By November 4th, finish reading Chapters 8-14
  • By November 10th, finish reading Chapters 15-21
  • By November 25th, finish reading Chapters 22-28
  • By December 9th, finish the book and get ready for our end-of-book discussion

How are books selected?

Alumni Book Club members vote during each reading period to choose the next book. The selection of books on which you vote is usually based on participants’ interests, member recommendations and Cambridge authors. The very first book in June 2020 was pre-selected to get the group started.

How do I get hold of the books?

Alumni are responsible for sourcing their own books.

Participants can either buy, borrow or download a copy of the chosen book.

Will the book club meet in person?

No, the book club will be entirely online. The advantage of this is that alumni living all over the world can participate, meaning we will get diverse perspectives on the texts we read.

How do book discussions work?

Our book club will have a dedicated moderator who manages the forum where discussions occur online. The moderator will pose questions to the group, share relevant articles, and facilitate conversation about topics in the book. Members will be encouraged to post and share as well. This format allows for ongoing conversation and makes it easy for alumni to connect with each other. 

How often will books be read and what is the time commitment?

Books will be read every two months.

If you have on average 30 minutes a week to read you should be fine. There is no required level of participation in group discussions; if don’t have time to read one of the books that's okay. The goal of the club is to make connections with other alumni through reading, so if you don’t have time to read one of the books, that’s ok.

Is there a cost to participate?

Participation is free for Cambridge alumni.

Readers are responsible for buying, borrowing or downloading the texts we read.

What if my question isn’t answered here?

Feel free to send an email to contact@alumni.cam.ac.uk and we'd be happy to help.