Veterans Book Group

Veterans Book Group events in 2023 will be mostly in-person. Please see below for details.

Maryland’s veterans connect through humanities discussion

After a successful launch nine years ago, Veterans Book Groups return for 2023.

At Maryland Humanities, we know that the humanities can play an important role in articulating the unique issues and concerns faced by veterans. Using literature to discuss service fosters connection, reduces feelings of isolation, and provides a safe context in which to explore issues regarding military service.

Veterans Book Groups aim to bring veterans of all eras together to talk about military experiences and returning to civilian life while providing an informal, supportive environment for discussion.

Readings range from classics to contemporaries – that means Herman Melville to Khaled Hosseini and everywhere in between! Syllabi vary, but all groups read the full gamut of literature including memoirs, novels, poetry, short stories, and essays.

Here’s a selection of titles, some of which are read by our Veterans Book Groups.

Groups gather regularly in Baltimore, Harford, Howard, Prince George’s, and St. Mary’s Counties.

Check below for details on discussions near you!

  • Baltimore County - Towson Library

    Fourth Mondays of the month (except March), January to May 2023
    January 23, February 27, March 20, April 24, and May 22, 2023
    6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

    In-person at:
    Baltimore County Public Library, Towson Branch
    320 York Road 
    Towson, MD 21204

    Led by Dr. Karen Arnold, former visiting professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, this book group is open to current service members and veterans from all eras. Participants should plan to attend all five sessions. Dinner and materials are provided. Registration is required.

    Registration begins Monday, December 12, 2022: Please email towson@bcpl.net or call 410-887-6166 to register.

    PREVIEW THE SYLLABUS   Get Directions

  • Harford County - Bel Air Library

    Second Wednesdays of the Month, January to May 2023
    January 11, February 8, March 8, April 12, and May 10, 2023
    6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

    In-person at:
    Harford County Public Library, Bel Air Branch
    100 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
    Bel Air, MD 21014

    Led by Dr. Karen Arnold, former visiting professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, this book group is open to current service members and veterans from all eras. Dinner and materials are provided. Registration is required and information will be posted here as soon as it’s available.

    PREVIEW THE SYLLABUS   GET DIRECTIONS

  • Howard County - Central Branch

    First Sundays of the Month from February to June 2023

    February 5, March 5, April 2, May 7, and June 4, 2023
    1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

    The Howard County Veterans Book Group will be virtual. 

    Led by David Owens, United States Naval Academy, Class of 1994, this book group is open to current service members and veterans of all eras. Participants should plan to attend all five sessions. Materials are provided. Registration is required.

    Register here

    PREVIEW THE SYLLABUS    GET DIRECTIONS

  • Prince George's County - Montpelier Arts Center

    Third Tuesdays of the Month, January to May 2023
    January 17, February 21, March 21, April 18, and May 16, 2023
    7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

    The Prince George’s County Veterans Book Group will be held in person at:
    Montpelier Arts Center
    9652 Muirkirk Road
    Laurel, MD 20708

    Led by Dr. Karen Arnold, former visiting professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, this book group is open to current service members and veterans from all eras. Materials are provided. Participants should plan to attend all five sessions. Registration is required.

    Register by January 9, 2023: Please email Montpelierarts@pgparks.com or call 301-377-7800 to register. An Eventbrite link will be provided soon.

    PREVIEW THE SYLLABUS   GET DIRECTIONS

  • St. Mary's County - Lexington Park Library

    First Saturdays of the Month, February to June 2023
    February 4, March 4, April 1, May 6, and June 3, 2023
    2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

    The St. Mary’s County Veterans Book Group will be held at:
    St. Mary’s County Library, Lexington Park Library
    21677 Franklin Delano Roosevelt Blvd.
    Lexington Park, MD 20653

    It will also be held virtually via Zoom.  

    Led by Vietnam Veteran, Author, and College of Southern Maryland Professor, Wayne Karlin, this book group is open to current service members and veterans from all eras, as well as their spouses, children, and other family members. Participants should plan to attend all five sessions. Materials are provided. Registration is required.

    Register here

    Preview the Syllabus   Get Directions

Veterans Book Group is coordinated statewide by Maryland Humanities and presented locally in partnership with the Baltimore, Harford, Howard, and St. Mary’s County public libraries and Montpelier Arts Center. The program was created by the Maine Humanities Council to promote understanding of the military experience and to support returning veterans.

Veterans Book Group is supported in part statewide by Lockheed Martin, David Bruce Smith, and The Wawa Foundation, with additional support for Baltimore County from the Citizens of Baltimore County via the Baltimore County Commission on the Arts & Sciences.

 

Baltimore County Commission on the Arts & Sciences logo
Logo of The Wawa Foundation
  • “[In Veterans Book Group,] I learned a different way to explain combat experience to one who has never been in the service.”

    Veterans Book Group participant
  • “Again it was a wonderful experience with your students and a great project for them. To see and talk to real Vietnam vets is important to get real stories. You have a lot of work to do but it is a really worthwhile experience for the students “as well” as us Vietnam vets.”

    ​Standing Together: Veterans Oral History Project, veteran participant
  • “The enthusiasm, and preparedness of your students was impressive. I have spoken about them at different forums, as the leaders of a new generation of Americans, who will study the past, so, not to repeat the mistakes.”

    ​Standing Together: Veterans Oral History Project, veteran participant
  • I thought it was a very good learning experience. We actually got to talk to someone who took place in the Vietnam War.

    Standing Together: Veterans Oral History Project, student participant
  • I just wanted to tell you, I really enjoyed the visit…Your students were wonderful and the questions were fair and good. I enjoyed the experience and hope it will helpful to your classroom experience…I like it when students ask questions on things they may have wondered about. Again it was a wonderful experience with your students and a great project for them. To see and talk to real Vietnam vets is important to get real stories…it is a really worthwhile experience for the students “as well” as us Vietnam vets.

    Standing Together: Veterans Oral History Project, veteran participant
  • “[Veterans Book Group] was better than expected! [I got] a feeling of connection and pride with the other member [and] I’d love to participate again in any future book clubs—I enjoyed the stimulation.”

    Veterans Book Group participant
  • I enjoyed it as much as the students.

    Standing Together: Veterans Oral History Project, veteran participant
  • We were enabled to go into the community and get information from real people. Also, the assignment was pretty subjective so we were able to take it in any way we liked. We led the projects and each one is so different from the next.

    Standing Together: Veterans Oral History Project, student participant
  • It was an interesting thing to do. The process of digging through photos, souvenirs, copies of old orders, and other memorabilia was meaningful after 43 years…I was impressed with all of the students I met.

    Standing Together: Veterans Oral History Project, veteran participant
  • “[In Veterans Book Group,] I considered other perspectives both of other service members and others who did not serve.”

    Veterans Book Group participant
  • In history class you always read books written by people who didn’t experience it so it was nice to get an actual view on it. It was different because you got actual stories from history that many people don’t learn. I would like to thank you for giving me this experience in my freshman year.

    Standing Together: Veterans Oral History Project, student participant
  • “Being a part of the group provided me with a safe area to revisit my thoughts and feelings on my experience during the war.”

    Veterans Book Group participant
  • “Talking with students also helps those of us who have said little about our combat experiences because, in a sense, we feel guilty about why others died and not us/me? So, to be able to talk about it helps the veterans. The opportunity you provided to both students and veterans is wonderful and I do hope that our messages are meaningful to students.”

    ​Standing Together: Veterans Oral History Project, veteran participant
  • “[In Veterans Book Group,] I made connections with other vets.”

    Veterans Book Group participant
  • Good way to make learning real world. I learned first-hand what it was like in Vietnam, I learned a lot from this and enjoyed the experience.

    Standing Together: Veterans Oral History Project, student participant
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Maryland Humanities is a statewide, educational nonprofit organization that creates and supports bold experiences that explore and elevate our shared stories to connect people, enhance lives, and enrich communities.
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(410) 685-0095
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info@mdhumanities.org
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