Gracie Book Club

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“New York City is defined by the many immigrant groups that have sought refuge here from across the globe, as well as the beautiful languages, values and traditions that they have brought with them. We are proud to continue to use Gracie Mansion to shine new light on the often untold stories of our city’s diverse communities with the Gracie Book Club.”
— First Lady Chirlane McCray

The Gracie Book Club is a new collaborative effort between the Gracie Mansion Conservancy and First Lady Chirlane McCray to both foster conversation on a
curated selection of literary works and make Gracie Mansion, the People’s House, more accessible to more New Yorkers.

For the Gracie Book Club’s 2016-17 inaugural season, First Lady McCray and three Gracie Book Club moderators – authors James Hannaham, Jacqueline Woodson and A.M. Homes – will select six books to read and discuss with fellow New
Yorkers over the next year. The theme of this season’s selections is “Envisioning Distant Neighbors,” which aims to open dialogue on New York City’s diversity and rich immigrant community.

Thank you to all those who joined us in person and virtually for our final
inaugurial Gracie Book Club featuring Mia Alvar’s In the Country at the Harlem Library. For those who have missed it, watch it on FLO NYC.

We thank you all for making our debut Gracie Book Club a success. Please stay tuned for new information about our plans for 2017.

For information on topics and alerts on the next book selections, please sign up for the Gracie Book Club. If you have any questions regarding the Gracie Book Club, please call the Gracie Mansion Conservancy at 212-676-3060 or email
gracieinfo@cityhall.nyc.gov.

Featured Book Selections

“For the second season of the Gracie Mansion Book Club, we are excited to dive into one of the many fascinating periods of NYC’s history – the 1940s. Our newest selection of books offers a taste of our city’s jambalaya – highlighting the spicy mix of people, a multitude of journeys and rich traditions.”
— First Lady Chirlane McCray

As part of our ongoing commitment to literacy and New York’s diverse cultural well-being, I am pleased to announce the second season of the Gracie Book Club. Members like you are the Club’s cornerstone and we are eager that you hear the news first.

This season the First Lady and the board of advisers have selected four
distinguished books of both fiction and nonfiction that together explore the
history, the people, and the culture of New York in the 1940s, when the La Guardia family moved into Gracie Mansion as its first official residents.

They did so in the shadow of global conflict and economic recovery. This time period was one of era-shifting change and social progress that continues both to inform and motivate New Yorkers today. Focus of athe Gracie Book Club in this round explores how the past can inform the promise of our shared future. Once again there will be a series of live gatherings shared online as we partner with libraries, colleges, and cultural institutions as host venues.

Our first book club will take place on Monday, October 16, 2017 at Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture featuring Ann Petry’s under-known
masterpiece novel, The Street.

Featured Book Selections

“This season the Gracie Book Club explores the pervasive culture of shame that surrounds mental illness. The books we will read together offer an opportunity for each of us to challenge our biases and stereotypes about mental health care through the power of storytelling. Readers can use this knowledge to become stewards of their own mental health and healers in their community.”
— First Lady Chirlane McCray

As part of our ongoing commitment to literacy and New York’s diverse cultural well-being, I am pleased to announce the third season of the Gracie Book Club. Members like you are the Club’s cornerstone and we are eager that you hear the news first.

This season the First Lady and the board of advisers have selected four distinguished books of both fiction and nonfiction that together explore mental health awareness and bring stigma out of the shadows while continuing to deliver relevant arts and cultural programming to New Yorkers.

Our first book club will take place at Gracie Mansion on Thursday, December 6, 2018 featuring Andrew Solomon’s The Noonday Demon. Reservation portal will be up the last week of November. Stay tuned!

For information on topics and alerts on the next book selections, please sign up for the Gracie Book Club. If you have any questions regarding the Gracie Book Club, please call the Gracie Mansion Conservancy at 212-676-3060 or email
gracieinfo@cityhall.nyc.gov.

Featured Book Selections

Additional Featured Selections

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Deborah Blau
The Hours by Michael Cunningham
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
Faces in the Water by Janet Frame
Ordinary People by Judith Guest
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (aka Victoria Lucas)
The Snake Pit by Mary Jane Ward
Disturbing the Peace by John C. Wilder
Lowboy by John Wray

Books on Mental Heath: ThriveNYC*

FICTION
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath 
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
Faces in the Water by Janet Frame
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
Disturbing the Peace by John C. Wilder
Lowboy by John Wray

MEMOIRS/BIOGRAPHY
Manic: A Memoir by Terri Cheney
Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey through Depression
by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah
Lucky by Alice Sebold
Darkness Visible by William Styron
The Quiet Room by Amanda Bennett and Lori Schiller
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
Unholy Ghost (an anthology of 22 authors’ essays) Edited by Neil Casey
Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia by Marya Hornbacher
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison
Girl Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
Musical Chairs by Jan Knox
Blue Genes by Christopher Lukas
Trouble in My Mind by Matholde Monaque
Loud in the House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange Girl by Stacy Pershall
Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel

NONFICTION/HISTORY/ RESEARCH/ PUBLIC POLICY BLUEPRINTS
The Savage God: A Study of Suicide by A. Alvarez
Lay My Burden Down: Unraveling Suicide and the Mental Health Crisis among African-Americans by Amy Alexander and Alvin Francis Poussaint
Gracefully Insane: The Rise and Fall of America’s Premier Mental Hospital by Alex Beam
The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic by Darby Penney (et al.)
Is There No Place on Earth For Me? by Susan Sheehan
The Man Who Couldn’t Stop: OCD, and the True Story of A Life Lost in Thought by David Adam
In and Out of Our Right Minds: The Mental Health of African-American Women; Edited by Diane Brown and Verna Keith
African Americans and Depression: Signs, Awareness, and Interventions by Julia Hastings, Lani Jones, and Pamela Martin
Standing in the Shadows: Understanding and Overcoming Depression in Black Men by John Head
Saving Our Last Nerve: The Black Woman’s Path to Mental Health by Marilyn Martin
Insane: America’s Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness by Alisa Roth
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks
Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine by Andrew Scull
Madness in Civilization: A Cultural History of Insanity, from the Bible to Freud, from the Madhouse to Modern Medicine by Andrew Scull
My Age of Anxiety : Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind by Scott Stossel
American Psychosis: How the Federal Government Destroyed the Mental Illness Treatment System by E. Fuller Torrey
Asian Americans: Personality Patterns, Identity , and Mental Health by Laura Uba
Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill by Robert Whitaker

 

As part of our ongoing commitment to literacy and New York’s diverse cultural well-being, I am pleased to announce the Conservancy’s Gracie Book Club. Members like you are the Club’s cornerstone and we are eager that you hear the news first.
First Lady of New York City, Chirlane McCray, March 2016

The Conservancy-sponsored Gracie Book Club is presently on hold due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and the need to reopen in safe, gradual ways. The intent remains to proceed with a fourth season, which will feature books about the pursuit of social justice across the historical American landscape until the present day. This is tied to the present exhibition, CATALYST: Art and Social Justice. The final selections will eventually be drawn from the bibliography featured below, though we welcome other social justice-related recommendations from our current and new Gracie Book Club members.

For information on topics and alerts on the next book selections, please sign up for the Gracie Book Club via email at gracieinfo@cityhall.nyc.gov or by phone at 212-676-3060.

Paul Gunther
Executive Director of the Gracie Mansion Conservancy June 2020

Featured Book Selections

Until the Gracie Book Club re-starts, we provide this list of books corresponding to the seven social justice themes of the CATALYST: Art & Social Justice exhibit.

Featured Books

AFFIRMING SELF
Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
Stonewall: The Definitive Story of the LGBTQ Rights Uprising that Changed America by Martin Duberman
The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
Threading My Prayer Rug: One Woman’s Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim by Sabeeha Rehman
New York before Chinatown: Orientalism and the Shaping of American Culture, 1776-1882 by John Kuo Wei Tchen, Ph.D.

CONCEPTS OF JUSTICE
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
Another Country by James Baldwin
How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore
It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis
Common Sense by Thomas Paine

E PLURIBUS UNUM / OUT OF MANY, ONE
City of Dreams: The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York by Tyler Anbinder
The Other Half: The Life of Jacob Riis and the World of Immigrant America by Tom Buk-Swienty
The Origin of Others (The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures) by Toni Morrison with foreword by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America by Russell Shorto

THE HABITABLE EARTH
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells

HEALTH, WELLNESS, AND UNIVERSAL ACCESS
Nothing About Us Without Us: Disability Oppression and Empowerment by James I. Charlton
Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxanne Gay
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon

A LIVABLE CITY
Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks by editors Donald Albrecht, Andrew Dolkart, and Seri Worden, photographer Iwan Baan, and foreword by Susan Henshaw Jones
Magnetic City: A Walking Companion to New York by Justin Davidson
The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
La Vida: A Puerto Rican Family in the Culture of Poverty–San Juan and New York by Oscar Lewis
Street Fight: Handbook For An Urban Revolution by Janette Sadik-Khan and Seth Solomonow
How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York by Jacob Riis

PURSUIT OF EQUALITY
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
Letter From the Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Thunder in the Mountains: Chief Joseph, Oliver Otis Howard, and the Nez Perce War by Daniel J. Sharfstein
The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine Weiss

Additional Selections

The Age of Reform by Richard Hofstader
Beloved by Toni Morrison 
Black Boy/American Anger by Richard Wright
The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority by Ellen Wu
The Constitution of the United States of America The Constitutional Convention 1787 (revised 1992)
Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville
The Essential Gandhi: An Anthology of His Writings on His Life, Work, and Ideas Edited by Louis Fischer
Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World (1890-1940) by George Chauncey
The Gay Revolution: Story of Struggle by Lillian Faderman 2016
Islam and the Challenge of Democracy by Khaled Abou El Fadl
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
La Vida: A Puerto Rican Family in the Culture of Poverty-San Juan and New York by Oscar Lewis
Legends of Our Time by Elie Wiesel
Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
Native Speaker by Chang-rae Lee
Notes of A Native Son by James Baldwin
The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America by Louis Menand
My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
My New Gender Workbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving World Peace through Gender Anarchy and Sex Positivity by Kate Bronstein
The Myth of the Model Minority: Asian Americans Facing Racism by Rosalind S. Chou and Joe R. Feagin
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglas
The Power Broker: Robert Moses by Robert Caro
Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy and Ted Sorensen
A Queer History of the United States by Michael Bronski
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky
A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools by Jonathan Kozol
Shaking the System: What I Learned from the Great American Reform Movements by Tim Stafford
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead