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Cambridge University Library

The Really Popular Book Club logo

The Really Popular Book Club is the reading group hosted by Cambridge University Libraries. Everyone is invited to join us and our special guests to discuss a really popular book, one that we all know and perhaps or perhaps not love.

Join us for this club meeting where we will be discussing Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin, a book which he was told to burn before publication that has come to be considered a foundational text of gay culture. Themes of freedom, shame and queer space are almost anthemic within LGBTQ+ politics and Giovanni’s Room interrogates them all. The story follows David, an American in Paris whose girlfriend, Hella, has travelled to Spain to consider his proposal of marriage. Alone in Paris, David meets and falls in love with Giovanni who we quickly learn is awaiting execution. David is pulled in many directions and struggles throughout with both the expectations that others have of him and the decisions that he must make as events unfold.

Our special guest for the evening will be Phil Sanger who is an LGBTQ+ artist, educator and life coach whose work explores themes of ‘coming out’, visibility and representation. He is currently researching queer leadership as a fellow of the Clore Leadership Programme.

To get you thinking and to help prepare any comments or questions you might want to share, we have prepared three starter questions:

1. How do you feel about the way the LGBTQ+ community is represented through the characters in the book?

2. What do the spaces in the book say to you, particularly Giovanni’s room, and why?

3. Baldwin offers many reflections on freedom. Which ones stand out for you, and why?

Further information about The Really Popular Book Club, including our FAQs and future book club meetings, can be found here.

Where: Online via Zoom Meetings

Registration: Required, free: REGISTER HERE

Date: Tuesday 27 July 2021