SCCW Book Club

The Smith College Club of Washington’s Monthly Book Club meets the first Sunday of the month from 2:00 – 4:00pm. The club meets at the National Portrait Gallery (American Art Museum Atrium) – 8th St NW & F St NW, Washington, DC 20001.

If you are interested in joining the book club, please join the Google Group.The SCCW Book Club usergroup on Google is the primary means of communication regarding book club updates. For any questions, recommendations, or concerns, please email the group via or club moderator Corrina Sowden ’07 at

It’s never too late to join!

Below are our next reads:
Sunday, June 2, 2019

Becoming by Michelle Obama (2018) 448 pages

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2011) 381 pages

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance. This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

The Mental Load: A Feminist Comic by Emma (2018) 216 pages

In her first book of comic strips, Emma reflects on social and feminist issues by means of simple line drawings, dissecting the mental load, ie all that invisible and unpaid organizing, list-making and planning women do to manage their lives, and the lives of their family members. Most of us carry some form of mental load–about our work, household responsibilities, financial obligations and personal life; but what makes up that burden and how it’s distributed within households and understood in offices is not always equal or fair. In her strips Emma deals with themes ranging from maternity leave (it is not a vacation!), domestic violence, the clitoris, the violence of the medical world on women during childbirth, and other feminist issues, and she does so in a straightforward way that is both hilarious and deadly serious.. If you’re not laughing, you’re probably crying in recognition. Emma’s comics also address the everyday outrages and absurdities of immigrant rights, income equality, and police violence.

Sunday, September 8, 2019 (Note, this is the second Sunday because of Labor Day)

Science and the City: The Mechanics Behind the Metropolis by Laurie Winkless (2016) 304 pages

Science and the City starts at your front door and guides you through the technology of everyday city life: how new approaches to building materials help to construct the tallest skyscrapers in Dubai, how New Yorkers use light to treat their drinking water, how Tokyo commuters’ footsteps power gates in train stations. Uncovering the science and engineering that shapes our cities, Laurie Winkless reveals how technology will help us meet the challenges of a soaring world population–from an ever-increasing demand for power, water, and internet access, to simply how to get about in a megacity of tens of millions of people.

Sunday, October 6, 2019 (Tentative Book Talk with Author)

How We Win: How Cutting-Edge Entrepreneurs, Political Visionaries, Enlightened Business Leaders, and Social Media Mavens Can Defeat the Extremist Threat by Farah Pandith Smith Alumna (528 Pages)

We actually possess the means right now to inoculate communities against extremist ideologies. In How We Win, Farah Pandith presents a revolutionary new analysis of global extremism as well as powerful but seldom-used strategies for vanquishing it. Drawing on her visits to eighty countries, the hundreds of interviews and focus groups she’s conducted around the world, and her high-level experience in the Bush and Obama administrations, Pandith argues for a paradigm shift in our approach to combat extremism, one that mobilizes the expertise and resources of diplomats, corporate leaders, mental health experts, social scientists, entrepreneurs, local communities, and, most of all, global youth themselves.

There is a war being fought, and we can win it. This is how.

Past Reading Lists

  • Sunday, August 5, 2018 – Spies in the Family: An American Spymaster, His Russian Crown Jewel, and the Friendship That Helped End the Cold War by Eva Dillon
  • Sunday, May 6, 2018 – The Grace of Silence: A Family Memoir by Michele Norris
  • Sunday, April 8, 2018 – LaRose by Louise Erdrich
  • Sunday, March 3, 2018 – A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle (Class of 1941)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Sunday, May 4th
  • Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life by Helen Czerski, Sunday, June 4th
  • Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World by Linda Hirshman, Sunday, July 9th
  • The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert, Sunday, April 2nd
  • My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem (Smith College alum), Sunday, March 5th
  • Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott, Sunday, February 5th
  • Between You and Me, Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris – meets January 8th (2nd Sunday because of New Year’s Day)
  • Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly – meets December 3, 2017
  • Ada’s Algorithm: How Lord Byron’s Daughter Ada Lovelace Launched the Digital Age by James Essinger – meets November 6, 2016
  • Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg – October 2016
  • A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (Smithie) – meets September 2016
  • Romaine Brooks: A Life by Cassandra Langer – meets August 2016
  • All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – July 2016
  • Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik – June 2016
  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – May 1, 2016
  • The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan – April 2015
  • My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante – March 2015
  • The Red Tent by Anita Diamant – February 2015
  • Americana by Chimamanda Ngonzi Adichie – December 2015
  • The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd – November 2015
  • Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman – October 2015
  • Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore – September 2015
  • The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd – August 2015
  • Marie Curie and Her Daughters by Shelley Emling – October 2014
  • Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland, 2011, 450 pages – November 2014
  • Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir by Roz Chast, 228 pages – December 2014
  • The Goldfinch: A Novel by Donna Tartt, 750 pages – February 2015
  • All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West, 174 pages – March 2015
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling), 455 pages – April 2015
  • To The Heart of the Nile: Lady Florence Baker and the Exploration of Central Africa by Pat Shipman – May 2015
  • The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg, 369 pages – June 2015
  • Furious Improvisation: How the WPA and a Cast of Thousands Made Art out of Desperate Times by Susan Quinn – July 2015
  • The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow – October 6, 2013
  • Orphan Train by Christina Bakerline – November 3, 2013
  • Destiny of the Republic by Constance Millard – December 8, 2013
  • Hungry Tide by Amitar Ghosh – January 5, 2014
  • Honor by Elif Shafak – February 2, 2014
  • Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier – March 2, 2014
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce – April 6, 2014
  • The Nazi Officer’s Wife by Edith Hahn Beer – May 4, 2014
  • The Best of Us by Sarah Pekkanen – June 1, 2014
  • What I Loved by Siri Hustvedi– July 13, 2014
  • Marie Curie and Her Daughters by Shelley Emling – August 3, 2014
  • My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor – September 7, 2014
  • Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – October 2, 2011
  • Company of Liars by Karen Maitland – November 6, 2011
  • Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard – December 4, 2011
  • Pearl Buck in China: Journey to The Good Earth by Hilary Spurling – January 8, 2012
  • Midwives by Chris Bohjalian – February 5, 2012
  • When We Were Strangers by Pamela Schoenewaldt – March 4, 2012
  • The Seamstress by Frances de Pontes Peebles – April 1, 2012
  • Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver – May 6, 2012
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – June 3, 2012
  • Caleb’s Crossing:  by Geraldine Brooks – July 1, 2012
  • The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew – August 5, 2012
  • Nothing Daunted:  The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls
  • In the West by Dorothy Wickenden – September 9, 2012