Tough Topics Book Club

Cover of Tara Westover's book EducatedAdults 18+ | Virtual (Zoom) | Wednesday, January 19 | 7–8:30 p.m. | FREE

Educated by Tara Westover

A recent Cambridge University doctorate debuts with a wrenching account of her childhood and youth in a strict Mormon family in a remote region of Idaho. It’s difficult to imagine a young woman who, in her teens, hadn’t heard of the World Trade Center, the Holocaust, and virtually everything having to do with arts and popular culture. But so it was, as Westover chronicles here in fairly chronological fashion. In some ways, the author’s father was a classic anti-government paranoiac—when Y2K failed to bring the end of the world, as he’d predicted, he was briefly humbled. Her mother, though supportive at times, remained true to her beliefs about the subordinate roles of women. One brother was horrendously abusive to the author and a sister, but the parents didn’t do much about it. Westover didn’t go to public school and never received professional medical care or vaccinations. She worked in a junkyard with her father, whose fortunes rose and fell and rose again when his wife struck it rich selling homeopathic remedies. She remained profoundly ignorant about most things, but she liked to read. A brother went to Brigham Young University, and the author eventually did, too. Then, with the encouragement of professors, she ended up at Cambridge and Harvard, where she excelled—though she includes a stark account of her near breakdown while working on her doctoral dissertation. We learn about a third of the way through the book  that she kept journals, but she is a bit vague about a few things. How, for example, did her family pay for the professional medical treatment of severe injuries that several of them experienced? And—with some justification—she is quick to praise herself and to quote the praise of others. An astonishing account of deprivation, confusion, survival, and success. (Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2017)

Registration will be limited to 12 participants. Copies of this title are available in the MORE system. Please visit to request yours as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please contact Information & Reference staff at 715-839-5004.

We hope you will be able to join the discussion. Please remember that self-care is essential when engaging in difficult subjects. We encourage you to take breaks and utilize self-care throughout this program. If at any point you wish not to continue for your own well-being, that is ok, we are all at different points on our journey. Please feel free to reach out if you would like to talk or find more resources, but in case of a more urgent issue here are some crisis lines and supports:

Upcoming Titles

2022 dates and titles

March 16

Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do (2019) by Jennifer Eberhardt Description: A leading expert on unconscious racial bias examines the manifestations of automatic racism in contemporary society and how they influence race relations and criminal justice.

May 18

Crying in H Mart (2021) by Michelle Zauner Description: The Japanese Breakfast indie pop star presents a full-length account of her viral New Yorker essay to share poignant reflections on her experiences of growing up Korean-American, becoming a professional musician and caring for her terminally ill mother.

July 20

Demystifying Disability” What to Know, What to Say, and How to be an Ally (2021) by Emily Ladau Description: A guide for how to be a thoughtful, informed ally to disabled people, with actionable steps for what to say and do (and what not to do) and how you can help make the world a more accessible place”–|Provided by publisher.

September 21

What Happened to You (2021) by Bruce Duncan Perry Description: Through deeply personal conversation, Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Perry explore how what happens to us in early childhood influences the people we become. They challenge us to shift from focusing on, “What’s wrong with you?” or “Why are you behaving that way?,” to asking, “What happened to you?”

November 16

Still Alice (2009) by Lisa Genova Description: Feeling at the top of her game when she is suddenly diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease, Harvard psychologist Alice Howland struggles to find meaning and purpose in her life as her concept of self gradually slips away.

Register for Tough Topics Book Club

Wednesday, January 19, 2022 | 7–8:30 p.m. | Virtual (Zoom) | FREE

Please register using the form below.

Registration for this program is full. Please look for future Tough Topics Book Clubs in our events calendar.