Interest Groups

The Ann Arbor Branch’s interest groups cover a wide range of topics and activities.  Members who would like more information about schedules, programs, and contacts can find it in the Members-only area here.  If you have questions, please contact the President Elect. 

Most groups meet monthly from fall to spring.

Click here to see a general calendar showing when all the interest groups meet.

Afternoon Book Reviews: 1st Monday, noon

AAUW book lovers meet for lunch in a private room at a local bistro. A member reviews a book of her choice. Q & A follows and members decide if they wish to read the book.  Recent books have included:

•  The Farm by Tom Rob Smith
•  The Year 1000, What Life Was Like at the Turn of the Millennium by Danny Danzinger
•  Vinegar Girl by Ann Tyler
•  In Search of the Trojan War by Michael Wood
•  The Road to Character by David Brooks
•  Victoria by A.N. Wilson
•  Teacher Man by Frank McCourt•

Afternoon Mystery Readers: 3rd Tuesday, 1:00 pm

Mysteries with a light-hearted twist.  Prior to the meeting, members read one or more books of their choice by the month’s author, and one member does a presentation on that author.  This group meets year-round.  Recent authors have included:

•  Louise Penny (Armand Gamache series)
•  Margery Allingham (Albert Campion series)
•  Miranda James (Cat in the Stacks series)
•  Martin Walker (Bruno series)
•  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (non-Sherlock Holmes stories)
•  John Grisham (the stand-alone books)
•  Dana Stabenow (Alaska series)
•  Katherine Hall Page (Faith Fairchild series)
•  Barry Maitland (Brock and Kolla series)
•  Laurien Berenson (dog-related mysteries)

Americana: 4th Monday, 7:30 pm

Members present programs on American arts, culture, and/or history, with (usually) a field trip in May.  Americana is celebrating its 54th anniversary in 2018.  This year’s theme is “Interesting American Women.”  Recent subjects included:

•  Gardens in Phoenix, Arizona
•  Alice Beeman
•  Georgia O’Keefe
•  Ruther Bader Ginsberg
•  Julia Morgan
•  Gwen Frostic
•  Anne Lindberg

American Heritage: 2nd Wednesday, 1 pm

This is a Michigan and national history group with member presentations and usually a tour at the end of the year.  This year’s theme is “Pioneering Women.”  Recent subjects included:

•  Waterfalls of the Upper Peninsula
•  The Hoover Dam
•  Etta Jones, pioneering nurse and teacher in Alaska
•  Elizabeth Cady Stanton, leading figure of the early women’s rights movement
•  Isabella Bird and other Rocky Mountain women
•  Victoria Woodhull, first female Presidential candidate
•  Nelly Bly, journalist who traveled around the world in 72 days
•  Margaret Sanger, who opened the first birth control clinic in the United States
•  Jean Rio and other women who made the trek to Utah

Bibliomaniacs: 4th Thursday, 9:30 am

Bibliomaniacs Service Project

This group is interested in any topic related to books: creating, reading, collecting, housing, and selling. Programs consist of presentations by members or guest authors, or field trips associated with books or libraries. 

Recent topics included:

•  Book Illustrator Cathy Gendron
•  The Library of Congress
•  YA author Kristin Lenz, The Art of Holding On and Letting Go
•  On Writing Plays by Colby Halloran, playwright
•  Art Shenanigans & Forgeries
•  Author Stephen Mack Jones, speaking on his Detroit mystery August Snow
•  Author Patrick Flores-Scott, speaking on his YA novel Jumped In
•  Shaping Memoir by Cynthia Furlong Reynolds
•  Homes of English Authors:  Beatrix Potter, A.A. Milne and Rudyard Kipling
•  Art Heists: The Woman in Gold & Others
•  Tour of the Toledo Museum of Art and the Glass Pavilion

Book Exchanges: No Meetings

Each member purchases a recently published hardcover fiction or non-fiction book. Books are exchanged according to a pre-arranged schedule divided by geographical locations (east and west Ann Arbor).

Classic Books: 4th Wednesday, 1 pm

Classic BooksAll readings are suggested by The Great Books Foundation. This year’s theme is selections from the Short Story Omnibus published by The Great Books Foundation.  Last year’s theme drew from Great Conversations 4.  Recent topics have included:

•  “The Wall” by Jean Paul Sartre
•  “Indian Camp” by Ernest Hemingway
•  “The Real Thing” by Henry James
•  “A Lady with a Dog” by Anton Chekhov
•  “The Necklace” and “The Diver” by V.S. Pritchett
•  “Her First Ball” and “Bliss” by Katherine Mansfield
•  “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
•  The Odyssey by Homer (Translated by Robert Fagles)
•  “Gimpel the Fool” by Isaac Bashevis Singer

Couples Gourmet: 1st weekend, Sept-May

Couples meet in subgroups of 8-12 to share meals in the homes of hosting couples four times a year.  Members bring designated portions of the meal, often based on a specific theme.  Meetings may be dinners or brunch.

Creative Arts: 2nd and 4th Tuesday, 1 pm

Members bring handwork of their choice to “sit & stitch.” Interests range from cross-stitch to beading, knitting, and needlepoint. We share techniques, patterns, and skills. Those who wish to do so knit lap robes for veterans at the VA Hospital and helmet liners for soldiers in Afghanistan as service projects. 

Recent field trips have included:

 •  Artisan Knitworks, Chelsea

Eclectic Gourmands: 2nd Monday, 12:30 pm

Field Trip - Eastern Market

This lunch group meets in members’ homes and restaurants to explore various cuisines. A talk on the cuisine and culture accompanies each meal. Members take turns planning, preparing, and researching the foods. 

Recent themes included:

•  An English Lunch
•  Lunch out at Chia Shiang
•  Middle Eastern Cuisine
•  Eating Out: Governor Crosswell Tea Room in Adrian
•  Colombian Food Exchange
•  Elegant Food at the Turn of the Century
•  Fustini’s Class on Small Plates Preparation
•  Two Fat Ladies Cook
•  Sharing Favorite Cookbooks
•  Salad Potluck
•  Eating Out:  Miss Kim in Kerrytown
•  Philippine Cuisine
•  All Wrapped Up
•  Christmas Tea and Goodie Exchange

Evening Book Discussion: 3rd Monday 7:30 pm

Discuss modern fiction and non-fiction.  Recent topics include:

•  Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
•  A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
•  Middlemarch by George Eliot
•  The Oregon Trail by Rinker Buck
•  Night Over Water by Ken FolletT
•  The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
•  The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moiarty
•  A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman
•  Princess:  A True Story Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia by Jean Sasson
•  The Big Short by Michael Lewis
•  $2 a Day by K Edin and H.L. Shaefer
•  Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
•  The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson Cooper & Gloria Vanderbilt
•  The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
•  Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
•  Discussion of At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier
•  Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
•  The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarain Bivald

Evening Gourmet: 2nd Tuesday, 6:30 pm

Exploration of foods of all kinds. Each month, a team of 4 cooks prepares meals.  Themes have included:

•  Mardi Gras

Gardening: 1st Wednesday, 7:30 pm

A relaxed, informal group co-occurring with the Ann Arbor Garden Club meeting at Matthaei Botanical Gardens.  This group welcomes anyone with an interest in gardens and has a $20 yearly fee.  Parking fees at the Gardens are $1.60/hour.  Members also get together to take field trips to local nurseries and attend local garden walks. Recent topics include:

•  Craft projects
•  Composting With a Twist
•  Winter Seed Planting
•  Dutch Spring Gardens
•  Greens Workshop

Genealogy: 2nd Friday, 1 pm

Share knowledge and resources in pursuit of family history. For beginners & advanced researchers.  Recent topics include:

•  Naturalization & Border Crossings
•  What I learned during the summer
•  Share a memory from your writings
•  DNA and health issues
•  Bring a photo of an Ancestor and his/her impact on your family
•  Free web sites
•  Uncommon Sources
•  Conversations with Generalogists

Golf Beginner: Tuesdays, Thursdays at 4:00

Meets May through September on Tuesdays at Georgetown Country Club, a par 3 course, and on Thursdays at various regulation courses. Tee times are usually in early afternoon during the cooler months and in the morning when the days get hotter. All levels of golfers are welcome in this supportive and fun group.

Gourmet Arts: 1st Wednesday, 12:30 pm

Members host and prepare theme luncheons. Two or three events for couples are scheduled during the year.

Great Decisions: 3rd Monday, 1:30 pm

Discussions of foreign policy issues as presented in the Foreign Policy Association’s Briefing Book. Participants read the Foreign Policy Association’s materials and come prepared to discuss the monthly topic.  Recent topics have included:

•  U.S. Global Engagement & the Military
•  Nuclear Security
•  The Future of Europe: Coping with Crisis
•  Trade, Jobs and Politics
•  Conflict in the South China Sea
•  Saudi Arabia in Transition
•  U.S. Foreign Policy and Petroleum
•  Latin America’s Political Pendulum
•  Prospects for Afghanistan and Pakistan
•  Nuclear Security: The Enduring Challenge of Nuclear Weapons

Healthy Appetites: 3rd Thursday, 11:45 am

Healthy Shopping Trip

This group’s focus is on cooking and eating using healthy ingredients. We meet in members’ homes for lunch; the hostess and co-hostess plan the menu using healthy recipes, which are discussed and shared. We also take advantage of culinary workshops and cooking demonstrations. Healthy food seasoned with lots of laughter. Non-hostesses contribute $5-$10 to defray meal preparation costs. 

Recent topics include:

•  Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras
•  Gourmet Veggie Buffet
•  Harvest Season Favorites
•  Buffet of Mexican Favorites

History Book Discussion: 2nd Wednesday, 10 am

Books are chosen with an emphasis on history and politics, with possible selections from science, the economy, and other fields. Choices range across world regions [including the U.S.] and include a biography.  Recent topics include:

•  Invisible Nation: How the Kurds’ Quest for Statehood is Shaping Iraq and the Middle East by Quil Lawrence
•  Lost to the West:  The Forgotten Byzantine Empire that Rescued Western Civilization by Lars Brownworth
•  The Long Way Home: An American Journey from Ellis Island to the Great War by David Laskin
•  The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero by Timothy Egan
•  Bent’s Fort: A Historical Account of the Adobe Empire That Shaped the Destiny of the American Southwest by David Lavendar
•  Lost to the West:  The Forgotten Byzantine Empire that Rescued Western Civilization by Lars Brownworth
•  Invisible Nation:  How the Kurds’ Quest for Statehood is Shaping Iraq and the Middle East by Quil Lawrence
•  Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World by David Brion Davis
•  Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back by Janice Nimura
•  The Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
•  Plutarch’s Lives Volume 1
•  Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China by Jung Chang
•  City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas by Roger Crowley
•  Women of the Raj: the Mothers, Wives and Daughters of the British Empire in India by Margaret MacMillan

International Dining Out: 2nd Wednesday, 6 pm

The group experiences ethnic cuisine at a different local restaurant each month.  Recent restaurants included:

•  Everest Sherpa restaurant
•  Dalat Vietnamese restaurant
•  Hana Korean restaurant
•  Mikette Bistro (French)
•  aMa Bistro (Albanian)
•  KouZina, Greek street food
•  Palm Palace (Mediterranean)
•  Tio’s Mexican restaurant
•  Miss Kim Korean restaurant
•  Jamaican Jerk Pit
•  Yee Siang Dumpling restaurant

Local Issues: 1st Friday, 1:30 pm

Senate candidate Michelle Dietrich discusses government issues

This group follows a wide variety of issues in  Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Washtenaw County, and the State of Michigan.  Meetings involve outside experts and usually consist of a short talk followed by Q&A from members.

Recent speakers included:

•  Nick Hutchinson, Engineer, City of Ann Arbor
•  Jeff Irwin, State Senate candidate
•  Michelle Detrich, State Senate candidate
•  Sue Smith, League of Women Voters Redistricting Director
•  Zachary Hayward, office of Congresswoman Debbie Dingell
•  Laura Rubin, Huron Watershed Council
•  Jeff Irwin, Michigan State Representative
•  Jerry Clayton, Washtenaw County Sheriff
•  Ellen Ramsburgh, Ann Arbor Historic District Commission
•  Jillian Rosen & Elizabeth Vanderpool, the Coordinated Funding Project (health care)
•  Christopher Taylor, Ann Arbor Mayor

Mah-jongg:
Red Dragons meet 1st and 3rd Fridays, 10 am; Green Dragons meet 4th Friday, 1 pm

Ancient Chinese parlor game played with tiles engraved with traditional Chinese drawings and calligraphy. For Long Rules, click here and be patient; for short rules then click here.

Mystery Readers: 2nd Thursday, 7:30 pm

Each member is encouraged to read a book of her choice by the designated author and the group then discusses the books at the monthly meetings.  Authors included:

•  Andrew Taylor
•  Christopher Brookmyre
•  Gladys Mitchell
•  Denise Mina
•  Elly Griffiths
•  Kerry Greenwood
•  Faye Kellerman
•  S.J. Rozan
•  Amanda Cross
•  Elizabeth George
•  Julia Spencer-Fleming
•  Dana Stabenow

Scrabble Afternoon: 4th Monday, 1 pm

Only friendly games. Learn new words. New players always welcome.  Locations may be homes or restaurants.

 

 

 

 

Scrabble Evening: 3rd Thursday, 7:30 pm

Friendly games. New players are always welcome for fun evenings.  Locations may be homes or restaurants.

Smart Money: 1st Thursday, 4 pm

Assembling Insurance Packets

This group is about making sound personal finance decisions as well as understanding finance in  general.  Outside speakers are often used.

Recent topics included:

•  Timely Travel Trips
•  The Importance of Local Banks
•  Travel Tips from a Travel Agent
•  Emergency Student Funding at Washtenaw Community College
•  Local Produce and Meat
•  Downsizing and Moving
•  Money-Saving Tips
•  Funding College Scholarships
•  College Savings Accounts
•  In-Home Care and Senior Residences

Travelogue: 1st Monday, 7:30 pm

Members share their travel experiences from the United States and abroad with the help of any of the following: computer, slides, pictures, artifacts, videos, brochures, and commentary.  Recent topics included:

•  From Rome to Sicily
•  Iceland
•  Sweden & Copenhagen
•  Holland & Belgium: A River Cruise
•  Indonesia
•  Sicily and Malta
•  The National Parks Centennial
•  China
•  Machu Picchu
•  The Queen Mary: England & Norway
•  The Lewis & Clark Trail

Writing Prompts: 1st Tuesday, 1 pm

Writer-members are given a one word prompt and write individually for approximately forty-five minutes, then share their writing verbally.  This is followed by a brief group discussion with some critiquing.