Book Club

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CRPCA’s Book Club gatherings are open to all who have read that month’s book. Typically we start out discussing the book, and inevitably someone relates a theme in the book to their own experiences or other readings, so the conversation takes an interesting turn. Our Book Club discusses books of broad interest set in parts of the world in which Peace Corps Volunteers have served, or books which were authored by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs). We discuss fiction and nonfiction works by authors from around the world, and we love author appearances! Between 2010 and 2015, we hosted 18 different authors – in person, by phone, or via Skype. In 2016, authors James Beebe, Tyler McMahon, Edith Mirante, Tim Schell, Kilong Ung, and Ellen Urbani are joining our discussions of their books.


Book club books are announced about three months before the book club meeting date. A complete list of all scheduled books is available to CRPCA members from our book club coordinator using the contact form below. The next three books up for discussion will be:

June 2016 Book Club Selection

Wind in the Bamboo
Mirante, Edith: Wind in the Bamboo: A Journey in Search of Asia’s “Negrito” Indigenous People (2014)

Discussion: Tuesday, June 7, 2016, 7:00-8:30 pm. Location at the home of Carole Beauclerk, 1500 SW Park Ave in Portland. On-street parking in downtown Portland is free beginning at 7:00 pm. Upon arrival, call 503-780-2722 to be buzzed in, then turn right into the building’s lobby and then take an immediate left into the community room. Participating in our discussion–in person–will be Edith Mirante, the book’s author! Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Synopsis: Historically defined as ‘Negrito’ because they physically resemble small Africans, these hunter-gatherers may have the most ancient ancestry in Asia. Nearly exterminated by disease and a cataclysmic volcanic eruption, they now survive in forests of Malaysia, the Philippines and India’s Andaman Islands. Some are armed with spears and blowpipes, a few with mobile phones and graduate degrees. Edith Mirante reveals the story of the ‘Negrito’ peoples through a compelling Chatwinesque narrative of journeys into their remaining lands.

Where to find it:
Libraries: Multnomah Co
Vendors: Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes & Noble



July 2016 Book Club Selection

Full Tilt
Murphy, Dervla: Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle (1965)

Discussion: Tuesday, July 5, 2016, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the home of Jackie Spurlock, 4101 SW Hillsdale Ave in Portland, 503-827-4126. Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Review: © Publishers Weekly: Here is the first American appearance of a book by Irish travel writer Murphy. Originally published in 1965, it is the diary of her bicycle trek from Dunkirk, across Europe, through Iran and Afghanistan, over the Himalayas to Pakistan and India. Murphy’s immediate rapport with the people she alights among is vibrant and appealing and makes her travelogue unique. Venturing alone, accompanied only by her bicycle, which she dubs Rozthe indomitable Murphy not only survives daunting physical rigors but gleans considerable enjoyment in getting to know peoples who were then even more remote than they are now.

Where to find it:
Libraries: Multnomah Co | Washington Co
Vendors: Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


August 2016 Book Club Selection

Golden Leaf
Ung, Kilong: Golden Leaf: A Khmer Rouge Genocide Survivor (2009)

Discussion: Tuesday, August 2, 2016, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the home of Mari Levesque, 1946 SE 22nd Ave in Portland, 503-858-0621. Participating in our discussion–in person–will be Kilong Ung, the book’s author! Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Synopsis: This is a first-hand account of the life of Kilong Ung who grew up in Battambang, Cambodia and whose life dramatically changed in 1975 when the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia. Told from the eyes of the boy that he was, this is an honest, real account that takes the reader through Kilong’s experiences as if one were actually there, without any need for embellishment of the story. This book gives the readers an insight that no history book could. It provides not just an insight into the Khmer Rouge and the terrible extermination of two million people but an insight into humanity, how it is possible for a people to be subjected to mass cruelty and hardship by a ruling power, and yet how an individual against the odds could endure this and do what it took to survive, even as tragedy befell his family. Kilong saw himself as a leaf, a golden leaf, at the mercy of mercurial winds. Yet through fortune and the help of others he survived against the odds, and was able to come to America, penniless and unable to speak English. The tale follows how he adapted to the new culture and made himself a success. The story is filled with humorous incidents as he adapts to American culture as well as poignant emotional times where he grapples with the demons of the past, struggling to overcome the terrible experiences and memories, even as he gains material success in American life. Then when an opportunity for revenge presents itself he is faced with a moral dilemma that will decide his life. Kilong has painstakingly composed a chronicle of his life over countless hours, testing the limits of his emotions. Much of this book was written in an unlikely environment; Starbucks café, whom Kilong publicly thanks for “providing power outlets, public restrooms, soft music, and Americano-inspired recoveries from writing blocks.”

Where to find it:
Libraries: Clackamas Co | Ft Vancouver | Multnomah Co | Washington Co
Vendors: Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Most of our books are selected by an annual survey; stay tuned for our next survey in late 2016. We schedule additional books when an author offers to meet with us. If you are interested in learning more about CRPCA’s book club, upcoming books or author events, please contact our book club coordinator, Bill Stein, at 503-830-0817 or bookclub AT crpca.org or through the form below: