Alumni Book Club

Alumni Book Club

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

Front cover of Lessons

March - May 2024

Lessons by Ian McEwan

When the world is still counting the cost of the Second World War and the Iron Curtain has closed, eleven-year-old Roland Baines's life is turned upside down. Two thousand miles from his mother's protective love, stranded at an unusual boarding school, his vulnerability attracts piano teacher Miss Miriam Cornell, leaving scars as well as a memory of love that will never fade.

Now, when his wife vanishes, leaving him alone with his tiny son, Roland is forced to confront the reality of his restless existence. As the radiation from Chernobyl spreads across Europe, he begins a search for answers that looks deep into his family history and will last for the rest of his life.

Suggested Reading Schedule

  • On March 15th, visit Before the Book in our forum and begin reading Lessons
  • By March 29th, finish reading through Chapter 3
  • By April 5th, finish reading through Chapter 5
  • By April 12th, finish reading through Chapter 8
  • By April 26th, finish reading through Chapter 10
  • By May 3rd, finish reading the book and join our After the Book forum discussion

Past reads

The Bell by Iris Murdoch (Newnham 1947)

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O'Farrell (Murray Edwards 1990)

The Anarchy by William Dalrymple (Trinity College 1984)

The Reading List: A Novel by Sara Nisha Adams

Honor by Thrity Umrigar

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell (Murray Edwards 1990)

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

The Old Way by Robert Macfarlane (Pembroke 1994)

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue (Girton 1990)

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (Homerton 2008)

Packinko by Min Jin Lee

Educated by Tara Westover (Trinity 2008)

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.

Alumni are responsible for sourcing their own books.

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

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.

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. 

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.

Participation is free for Cambridge alumni.

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

Feel free to send an email to and we'd be happy to help. 

CAMCard discounts

Get up to 20% off when you use your CAMCard in selected book shops!