The Stern Undergraduate Book Club
The Stern Undergraduate Book Club is an opportunity for students to explore new and interesting genres of the written word outside of the classroom. Meet new friends, and engage in thought-provoking discussions with faculty and peers!

Spring 2022 Book Selections

Check out what you could read this semester!
Image of Constitution of Knowledge Book Cover

The Constitution of Knowledge:

A Defense of Truth


Date: February 24th
Time: 12:30-1:45pm
Location:
KMC 8-170

“In what could be the timeliest book of the year, Rauch aims to arm his readers to engage with reason in an age of illiberalism.”
—Newsweek

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

Disinformation. Trolling. Conspiracies. Social media pile-ons. Campus intolerance. On the surface, these recent additions to our daily vocabulary appear to have little in common. But together, they are driving an epistemic crisis: a multi-front challenge to America’s ability to distinguish fact from fiction and elevate truth above falsehood.

In 2016 Russian trolls and bots nearly drowned the truth in a flood of fake news and conspiracy theories, and Donald Trump and his troll armies continued to do the same. Social media companies struggled to keep up with a flood of falsehoods, and too often didn’t even seem to try. Experts and some public officials began wondering if society was losing its grip on truth itself. Meanwhile, another new phenomenon appeared: “cancel culture.” At the push of a button, those armed with a cellphone could gang up by the thousands on anyone who ran afoul of their sanctimony.

In this pathbreaking book, Jonathan Rauch reaches back to the parallel eighteenth-century developments of liberal democracy and science to explain what he calls the “Constitution of Knowledge”—our social system for turning disagreement into truth.

By explicating the Constitution of Knowledge and probing the war on reality, Rauch arms defenders of truth with a clearer understanding of what they must protect, why they must do—and how they can do it. His book is a sweeping and readable description of how every American can help defend objective truth and free inquiry from threats as far away as Russia and as close as the cellphone.
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Image of Interior Chinatown Book Cover
Interior Chinatown
Date: March 30th
Time: 12:30-1:45pm
Location: UC-03
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER  From the infinitely inventive author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, a deeply personal novel about race, pop culture, immigration, assimilation, and escaping the roles we are forced to play.

"One of the funniest books of the year.... A delicious, ambitious Hollywood satire." —The Washington Post


Willis Wu doesn’t perceive himself as the protagonist in his own life: he’s merely Generic Asian Man. Sometimes he gets to be Background Oriental Making a Weird Face or even Disgraced Son, but always he is relegated to a prop. Yet every day, he leaves his tiny room in a Chinatown SRO and enters the Golden Palace restaurant, where Black and White, a procedural cop show, is in perpetual production. He’s a bit player here, too, but he dreams of being Kung Fu Guy—the most respected role that anyone who looks like him can attain. Or is it?

After stumbling into the spotlight, Willis finds himself launched into a wider world than he’s ever known, discovering not only the secret history of Chinatown, but the buried legacy of his own family. Infinitely inventive and deeply personal, exploring the themes of pop culture, assimilation, and immigration—Interior Chinatown is Charles Yu’s most moving, daring, and masterful novel yet.
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Image of Fulfillment Book Cover

Fulfillment: America in the Shadow of Amazon


Date: April 27th
Time: 12:30-1:45pm
Location: KMC 8-170

In 1937, the famed writer and activist Upton Sinclair published a novel bearing the subtitle A Story of Ford-America. He blasted the callousness of a company worth “a billion dollars” that underpaid its workers while forcing them to engage in repetitive and sometimes dangerous assembly-line labor. Eight decades later, the market capitalization of Amazon.com has exceeded $1.5 trillion, while the value of the Ford Motor Company hovers around $30 billion. We have entered the age of one-click America―and as the coronavirus makes Americans more dependent on online shopping, Amazon’s sway will only intensify.

Alec MacGillis’s Fulfillment is not another exposé of our most conspicuously dominant company. Rather, it is a literary investigation of the America that falls within that company’s growing shadow. As MacGillis shows, Amazon’s sprawling network of delivery hubs, data centers, and corporate campuses epitomizes a land where winner and loser cities and regions are drifting steadily apart, the civic fabric is unraveling, and work has become increasingly rudimentary and isolated.

In Seattle, high-paid workers in new office towers displace a historic Black neighborhood. In Ohio, cardboard makers supplant auto manufacturers, and in suburban Virginia, homeowners try to protect their town from the environmental impact of a new data center. When a warehouse replaces a fabled steel plant on the outskirts of Baltimore, a new model of work becomes visible. Fulfillment also shows how Amazon has become a force in Washington, D.C., ushering readers through a revolving door for lobbyists and government contractors and into CEO Jeff Bezos’s Kalorama mansion.

With empathy and breadth, MacGillis demonstrates the hidden human costs of the other inequality―not the growing gap between rich and poor, but the gap between the country’s winning and losing regions. The result is an intimate account of contemporary capitalism: its drive to innovate, its dark, pitiless magic, its remaking of America with every click.
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