Monday Books 2020-2021

Chairs: Ruth Dean and Gretchen Knowlton

Enjoy discussions led by Waynflete faculty and staff on books they have chosen. Monday Books is open to the entire Waynflete adult community. Gatherings will be held online from 6:00-7:30 p.m. for 2020-2021. Check the Veracross calendar or the Weekly for the Zoom link.

The titles are available to borrow at the Library or may be purchased at online or in-store at Print: A Bookstore

Book descriptions below are courtesy of Print: A Bookstore. This year's selections have been added to the Library's Sora Digital Library, a collection of ebooks selected by Waynflete librarians for the Waynflete community. To use the Digital Library you must have an account. Please contact Laurel Daly ( or Emily Graham ( to set one up. 

>>View/print Monday Books flyer

2020-2021 Dates

November 16, 2020

Discussion Leader: Cassie Pruyn, English Faculty

Book: Inland by Téa Obreht

In the lawless, drought-ridden lands of the Arizona Territory in 1893, two extraordinary lives unfold. Nora is an unflinching frontierswoman awaiting the return of the men in her life—her husband, who has gone in search of water for the parched household, and her elder sons, who have vanished after an explosive argument. Nora is biding her time with her youngest son, who is convinced that a mysterious beast is stalking the land around their home.

Meanwhile, Lurie is a former outlaw and a man haunted by ghosts. He sees lost souls who want something from him, and he finds reprieve from their longing in an unexpected relationship that inspires a momentous expedition across the West. The way in which Lurie’s death-defying trek at last intersects with Nora’s plight is the surprise and suspense of this brilliant novel.

Mythical, lyrical, and sweeping in scope, Inland is grounded in true but little-known history. It showcases all of Téa Obreht’s talents as a writer, as she subverts and reimagines the myths of the American West, making them entirely—and unforgettably—her own.

Click here to order or read reviews.

January 4, 2021

Discussion Leader: Jim Millard, English Faculty

Book: The Tradition by Jericho Brown

Jericho Brown's daring new book The Tradition details the normalization of evil and its history at the intersection of the past and the personal. Brown's poetic concerns are both broad and intimate, and at their very core a distillation of the incredibly human: What is safety? Who is this nation? Where does freedom truly lie? Brown makes mythical pastorals to question the terrors to which we've become accustomed, and to celebrate how we survive. Poems of fatherhood, legacy, blackness, queerness, worship, and trauma are propelled into stunning clarity by Brown's mastery, and his invention of the duplex--a combination of the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues--is testament to his formal skill. The Tradition is a cutting and necessary collection, relentless in its quest for survival while reveling in a celebration of contradiction.

Click here to order or read reviews.


February 1, 2021

Discussion Leader: Emily Graham, Library Director

Book: Second Nature by Michael Pollan

In his articles and in best-selling books such as The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan has established himself as one of our most important and beloved writers on modern man's place in the natural world. A new literary classic, Second Nature has become a manifesto not just for gardeners but for environmentalists everywhere. As delicious a meditation on one man's relationships with the Earth as any you are likely to come upon (The New York Times Book Review), Second Nature captures the rhythms of our everyday engagement with the outdoors in all its glory and exasperation. With chapters ranging from a reconsideration of the Great American Lawn, a dispatch from one man's war with a woodchuck, to an essay about the sexual politics of roses, Pollan has created a passionate and eloquent argument for reconceiving our relationship with nature.

Click here to order or read reviews.

March 1, 2021

Discussion Leader: Tiki Fuhro, Performing Arts and Drama

Book: Appropriate by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

Every estranged member of the Lafayette clan has descended upon the crumbling Arkansas homestead to settle the accounts of the newly-dead patriarch. As his three adult children sort through a lifetime of hoarded mementos and junk, they collide over clutter, debt, and a contentious family history. But after a disturbing discovery surfaces among their father’s possessions, the reunion takes a turn for the explosive, unleashing a series of crackling surprises and confrontations.

Winner of the 2014–2015 Obie Award for Best New American Play. “…very fine, subversively original… [Jacobs-Jenkins] honors the time-tested recipes of those who have gone before him, combining them into a crafty narrative… But he also brings a culinary self-consciousness to the mix that makes you savor the ingredients anew, while pondering why they have dominated American theater for so long… APPROPRIATE is piercingly clear, with carefully drawn characters who speak in crisp and fluid dialogue. [Jacobs-Jenkins] enjoys his quarrelsome characters, and he has achieved the difficult feat of making them all both unlovable and impossible not to identify with…remarkable and devious.” —NY Times. “…prodigiously gifted… [Branden Jacobs-Jenkins] effortlessly and believably taps into a white family’s dysfunction, infuses the script with unforced, viperish humor… APPROPRIATE is an uncommonly deft dramatic and technical achievement.” —Entertainment Weekly. “…an exceptionally brilliant piece of writing…gut-punchingly honest work.” —Time Out (Chicago). “…biliously funny… Jacobs-Jenkins [is] a witty provocateur and a dramatist on whom to keep your eye… What distinguishes [APPROPRIATE] is the playwright’s gift for drawing his characters into an escalating conflict and sustaining, with humor and craft, our curiosity about how they digest the terrible information thrown at them.” —Washington Post.

Click here to order. (Note, this title is not available through Waynflete's Sora Digital Library.) 


April 5, 2021

Discussion Leader: Kim Simmons (parent and faculty member at USM, teaching Women and Gender Studies)

Book: Thick by Tressie McMillan Cottom

In eight highly praised treatises on beauty, media, money, and more, Tressie McMillan Cottom--award-winning professor and acclaimed author of Lower Ed--is unapologetically "thick": deemed "thick where I should have been thin, more where I should have been less," McMillan Cottom refuses to shy away from blending the personal with the political, from bringing her full self and voice to the fore of her analytical work. Thick "transforms narrative moments into analyses of whiteness, black misogyny, and status-signaling as means of survival for black women" (Los Angeles Review of Books) with "writing that is as deft as it is amusing" (Darnell L. Moore).

This "transgressive, provocative, and brilliant" (Roxane Gay) collection cements McMillan Cottom's position as a public thinker capable of shedding new light on what the "personal essay" can do. She turns her chosen form into a showcase for her critical dexterity, investigating everything from Saturday Night Live, LinkedIn, and BBQ Becky to sexual violence, infant mortality, and Trump rallies.

Collected in an indispensable volume that speaks to the everywoman and the erudite alike, these unforgettable essays never fail to be "painfully honest and gloriously affirming" and hold "a mirror to your soul and to that of America" (Dorothy Roberts).