Veterans Book Groups

Veterans Book Group events in 2024 will be mostly in-person. Please see below for details.

Maryland’s veterans connect through humanities discussion

After a successful launch ten years ago, Veterans Book Groups return for 2024.

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, January to May 2024
    January 22, February 26, March 25, April 22, and May 20, 2024
    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: 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 2024
    January 10, February 14, March 13, April 10, and May 8, 2024
    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.

    Register here: https://programs.hcplonline.org/event/9574861

    PREVIEW THE SYLLABUS   GET DIRECTIONS

  • Howard County - Central Branch

    First Sundays of the Month from February to June 2024

    February 4, March 3, April 7, May 5, and June 2, 2024
    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: https://bit.ly/VbgHCLS-2024

    PREVIEW THE SYLLABUS    GET DIRECTIONS

  • Prince George's County - Montpelier Arts Center

    Third Tuesdays of the Month, January to May 2024
    January 16, February 20, March 19, April 16, and May 21, 2024
    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 calling 301-377-7800. Registration closes 1/8/2024.

    PREVIEW THE SYLLABUS   GET DIRECTIONS

  • St. Mary's County - Lexington Park Library

    First Saturdays of the Month, February to June 2024
    February 3, March 2, April 6, May 4, and June 1, 2024
    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

    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: https://stmalib.libnet.info/event/9276250?registration=true

    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 this year by TowerCares Foundation, Andrews Federal Credit Union, and The Wawa Foundation.

 

Logo of The Wawa Foundation
  • “I met some great people, read books I might never have otherwise, [and] had great discussion.”

    Veterans Book Group 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’m so glad I did the interview and would do it again. Now I realize just how much history affects people.

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

    Veterans Book Group participant
  • We were really moved by the testimony of the veterans and impressed by the professionalism and dedication of the students.

    Standing Together: Veterans Oral History Project, parent
  • “[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
  • “I feel more connected to history.”

    ​Standing Together: Veterans Oral History Project, student participant
  • “It was an amazing experience to meet and talk to a veteran.”

    ​Standing Together: Veterans Oral History Project, student 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
  • “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
  • “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
  • Thank you once again for the opportunity for me to share with your students a little about my Vietnam experiences. What you are doing is very special and I hope you will be able to continue this fine effort.

    Standing Together: Veterans Oral History Project, veteran participant
  • “This oral history experience was amazing. I learned so much and will never forget this. I LOVED IT, I was super skeptical at first. I felt like we had a lack of planning but I think everything went so great.”

    ​Standing Together: Veterans Oral History Project, student participant
  • I enjoyed it as much as the students.

    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
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