A Gentleman in Moscow book laying on a wooden table.

UM Alumni Book Club

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January 6 to March 10, 2022 Current reading period

A Gentleman in Moscow

  • In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

    Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

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  • A Gentleman in Moscow book cover

Why you should join

  • Creating interesting and long-lasting connections with fellow UM grads around the world is easier than ever by joining our online UM Alumni Book Club. You’ll do more than read a variety of great books. You’ll meet an online community of over 900 alumni, hear from UM faculty (and sometimes the authors themselves!) through exclusive book club chats, and participate in engaging conversation. 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.

    Book Club is the perfect way to stay connected with UM, the friends you’ve made, and learn something new at the same time all from the comfort of your home!

Previous books

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.

- Reading period began: June 15, 2020

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.

- Reading period began: August 6, 2020

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.

- Reading period began: October 15, 2020

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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.

- Reading period began: January 14, 2021

Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese

Medicine Walk

Medicine Walk 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.

- Reading period began: March 18, 2021

The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper

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.

- Reading period began: May 27, 2021

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet

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.

- Reading period began: August 6, 2021

From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle

From the Ashes book cover

In this extraordinary and inspiring debut memoir, Jesse Thistle, once a high school dropout and now a rising Indigenous scholar, chronicles his life on the streets and how he overcame trauma and addiction to discover the truth about who he is. If I can just make it to the next minute...then I might have a chance to live; I might have a chance to be something more than just a struggling crackhead. From the Ashes is a remarkable memoir about hope and resilience, and a revelatory look into the life of a Métis-Cree man who refused to give up.

Upcoming reading periods

2022 Reading Periods

January 6 – March 10, 2022

March 17 – May 19, 2022

May 26 – July 28, 2022

August 4 – October 6, 2022

October 13 – December 15, 2022

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

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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.

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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.

Proudly sponsored by:

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.