How it works:

The Joy of History Book Club convenes once a month via Zoom. Each meeting is limited to 20 people to allow for an intimate, highly interactive, participatory experience. The Summer series is currently scheduled:

  • second Saturdays of the month, from 1–3 PM
  • (June 12,  July 10, September 11)

Scroll below to take a look at what we’ll be reading. Purchase the books you want to read from the vendors of your choosing. Or check them out at your local library!

At The Joy of History, there is never any requirement to read the book. Come to the meeting anyway and be enriched by the discussion!

Summer Series: Wests, Westering & Westerners:

The Place, The Process, The People

In this series you'll meet, among others, three influential couples: war hero Shoe Boots & Doll and their Afro-Cherokee family; President James K. Polk and first lady Sarah Childress Polk; and explorer John C. Frémont and Jesse Benton Frémont, all westerners, who contributed to the western expansion of the United States and experienced it. They inhabited different Wests – from Indian Country to the frontiers of Tennessee and Kentucky to the far West of California. And their lives intersected with major events in American history: from slavery and the Trail of Tears to the Mexican-American War & Civil War.

Summer Books:

Sat: June 12, 1-3 pm
Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom by Tiya Miles (2nd Edition, 2015)

In the late 1790s, Shoe Boots, a famed Cherokee warrior, acquired an African slave named Doll. Over the next thirty years, Shoe Boots and Doll lived together as master and slave and also as lifelong partners. This is the award-winning story of their lives, in slavery and in freedom.

Sat: July 10, 1-3 pm
A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico by Amy S. Greenberg (2013)

In this definitive history and riveting account of the U.S. Mexican War learn about the false starts, memorable men and women, and daring back channel negotiations that defined this American war for empire through which the U.S. acquired much of the territory we now think of as the American West.

Sat: September 11, 1-3 pm
Imperfect Union: How Jesse and John Fremont Mapped the West, Invented Celebrity, and Helped Cause the Civil War by Steve Inskeep (2020) 

John and Jessie Fremont hitched their joint ambitions and talents to three major national movements: western expansion, women's rights, and the opposition to slavery. They were westerners whose lives and love intertwined with the major issues and events of the United States in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Register for the option that suits you:

The series runs on the second Saturdays of June, July, and September. If you have to miss a meeting for the day you signed up for, recordings of each meeting will be made available (privately) for one week.

Attend individual monthly meetings in a series — $29.99 for 1 meeting
This is a great way to try out The Joy of History Book Club.
Attend this full 3-month series — $69.99
It will take you deep inside these topics and themes through multiple perspectives.

Sneak Peek: coming next!

See what’s on the reading list for the Fall Series 2021...

Fall series:
California Dreamin’

Sat: Oct 9
Buddha In the Attic by Julie Otsuka (2012)
Sat: Nov 13
Mad at the World: A Life of John Steinbeck by William Souder (2020)
Sat: Dec 11
The Entertainer: Movies, Magic and My Father’s Twentieth Century by Margaret Talbot (2013)


If your schedule doesn’t permit you to join an event right now, sign up to get notified when new TJOH Book Clubs and other opportunities are launched.

The Joy of History (logo)
Using the Past to Empower Your Present
Barbara Berglund Sokolov, PhD started The Joy of History in 2020 to foster a community of learning in these historic times we find ourselves living in. She is a native San Franciscan and a scholar of California and the American West. Read more about her here.