Young alumni reading book

UM Alumni Book Club

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UM Book Club ambassador

  • Chancellor Anne Mahon

    UM's 14th Chancellor, Anne Mahon [BHEcol/87]

  • Chancellor Mahon, an alumna, celebrated author, volunteer and philanthropist, is our UM Alumni Book Club ambassador.

    We’re excited to announce that we will be reading Britt Bennett’s The Vanishing Half, starting Aug 6. This historical fiction novel considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person's decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

How it works

  • The book club will connect you through a private online forum where members can discuss the current book and network with each other. The group will spend two months on each book, so you'll have plenty of time to read.

    Thanks to the generous support of the UM Alumni Association, there is no cost to participate – you just have to get a copy of the book to enjoy.

    Why you should join

    By connecting with fellow UM alumni and friends, you’ll become part of a community of lifelong learners and book lovers and, we can all agree that reading is good for you!

Current book

The Vanishing Half

  • The Vanishing Half is a historical fiction novel by American author Brit Bennett. It is her second novel and was published by Riverhead Books in 2020. The novel debuted at number one on The New York Times fiction best-seller list. The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape.

  • The Vanishing Half

You can purchase or borrow a copy of the book online at:

Upcoming reading periods

2021 Reading Periods

The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennet: August 6, 2021 to October 8, 2021

Reading Period 6: October 15, 2021 to December 17, 2021

Previous books

The Break by Katherena Vermette

The Break book cover

When Stella, a young Métis mother, looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break — a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house — she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime.

In a series of shifting narratives, people who are connected, both directly and indirectly, with the victim — police, family, and friends — tell their personal stories leading up to that fateful night. Lou, a social worker, grapples with the departure of her live-in boyfriend. Cheryl, an artist, mourns the premature death of her sister Rain. Paulina, a single mother, struggles to trust her new partner. Phoenix, a homeless teenager, is released from a youth detention centre. Officer Scott, a Métis policeman, feels caught between two worlds as he patrols the city. Through their various perspectives a larger, more comprehensive story about lives of the residents in Winnipeg’s North End is exposed.

A powerful intergenerational family saga, The Break showcases Vermette’s abundant writing talent and positions her as an exciting new voice in Canadian literature.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle book cover OBC

Chancellor Mahon selected The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls, as the inaugural book -- a great summer read! The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette's brilliant and charismatic father captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn't want the responsibility of raising a family.

Ridgerunner by Gil Adamson

Ridgerunner book cover

Ridgerunner, is populated with unforgettable characters that demand our attention. Focusing on several different characters throughout her entire book and their relationships to one another, Gil Adamson gives us much to discuss about the characters’ stories and their more intricate individual psychologies.

Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere book cover

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood--and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster. In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned--from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Medicine Walk

Medicine Walk

Medicine Walk by Canadian First Nations author Richard Wagamese. The novel relates the journey of 16-year-old Franklin Starlight and his dying, alcoholic father Eldon Starlight to find a burial site for Eldon at a place deep in the forest he remembers fondly from his youth.

The Beauty in Breaking

The Beauty in Breaking book cover

The Beauty in Breaking is the poignant true story of Harper’s journey toward self-healing. Each of the patients Harper writes about taught her something important about recuperation and recovery. How to let go of fear even when the future is murky: How to tell the truth when it’s simpler to overlook it. How to understand that compassion isn’t the same as justice. As she shines a light on the systemic disenfranchisement of the patients she treats as they struggle to maintain their health and dignity, Harper comes to understand the importance of allowing ourselves to make peace with the past as we draw support from the present. In this hopeful, moving, and beautiful book, she passes along the precious, necessary lessons that she has learned as a daughter, a woman, and a physician.

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The University of Manitoba (UM) uses PBC Guru, a third party service provider hosted outside of Canada (specifically in the USA), in order to provide the UM Alumni Book Club as a service to our alumni and friends. The University of Manitoba (UM) makes PBC Guru available to you for your personal use on a voluntary basis. PBC Guru is primarily responsible for the book club’s operations and administration. By clicking to join the book club, you will be leaving the UM website and going to the PBC Guru website.

During the registration process, PBC Guru will collect your name, e-mail address, the year you graduated from UM, and the program of study in which you graduated. PBC Guru may ask you for additional personal information, such as personal preferences to allow you to customize your user session profile, or to subscribe you to notifications, etc. It is your choice whether or not to provide this additional information, and you are solely responsible for ensuring you have read and understood PBC Guru’s privacy policy in regards to any information you have chosen to provide them.

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Your personal information is being collected under the authority of The University of Manitoba Act for the purpose of participating in the book club, updating our records and assessing interest and engagement in alumni programming.  Your personal information will not be used or disclosed for other purposes, unless permitted by The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). 

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UM Alumni Association

The book club will be managed and moderated by PBC Guru to support the member experience. Please email info@pbc.guru with any questions. For more information, visit http://www.pbc.guru.