Online Discussion with Dr. J. Larry Allums and Friends

The Dallas Institute’s book groups have a long history and long list of contemporary novels read since 1998 that is climbing steadily toward 200 titles. Some, of course, have been more memorable than others, some have made surprising impacts on us, and a small few are perhaps best forgotten. Throughout our many discussions over the years, we have learned much about cultures and characters depicted by authors from around the world, and also about reading itself. True, reading is a solitary activity, but coming together in conversation, even online, is to participate in the joy of sharing ourselves in an atmosphere of civility and generosity. It’s a good place to be.

Per session: $25, Educator Members $10
Semester: $75, Members $65, Educator Members $30


Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell

Tuesday, April 13
9:00-10:30am CT

Wednesday, April 21
Noon-1:30pm CT

A luminous portrait of a marriage, a shattering evocation of a family ravaged by grief and loss, and a tender and unforgettable re-imagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, and whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays of all time, Hamnet is mesmerizing, seductive, impossible to put down—a magnificent leap forward from one of our most gifted novelists.

Read Dr. Larry's introduction to Hamnet

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Tuesday, May 11
9:00-10:30am CT

Wednesday, May 19
Noon-1:30pm CT

From the bestselling author of Rich and Pretty comes a suspenseful and provocative novel keenly attuned to the complexities of parenthood, race, and class. Leave the World Behind explores how our closest bonds are reshaped—and unexpected new ones are forged—in moments of crisis.

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

Tuesday, February 9
9:00-10:30am CT

RESCHEDULED; Monday, February 22
Noon-1:30pm CT

Elena Ferrante’s writing has been described as “ferocious” and “explosive,” and she herself as one of the greatest novelists of our time. In The Lying Life of Adults, Ferrante illuminates the depths of youthful “soul-making,” to use poet John Keats’ phrase. How can we as “lying adults” not understand that we play key roles in that daily drama?

Read Dr. Larry's February introduction

Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn

Tuesday, March 9
9:00-10:30am CT

Wednesday, March 17
Noon-1:30pm CT

Sharks in the Time of Saviors is a groundbreaking debut novel that folds the legends of Hawaiian gods into an engrossing family saga; a story of exile and the pursuit of salvation from Kawai Strong Washburn.

Read Dr. Larry's February introduction of Sharks in the Time of Saviors


DR. J. LARRY ALLUMS is Executive Director Emeritus of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. Dr. Allums earned his Ph.D. in Literature and Political Philosophy from the University of Dallas. He served as Professor of English and Dean of College of Arts at the University of Mobile for more than 20 years.

Looking for something to read? Try a book enjoyed in past discussions! [PDF download]