Skip to main content Skip to main navigation Skip to footer content

Office of IDEAS

Fresno State Book Circle 

Book circle group of about 10 participants sitting in a circle in the Levine Reading Room

The Office of Innovation and Digital Excellence for Academic Success (IDEAS), in collaboration with the Office of Organizational Excellence, are pleased to host the Fresno State Book Circle. Our Book Circle is open to all Fresno State employees and fosters opportunities for engagement and thoughtful discussions on campus around common themes of interest. 

The Book Circle involves meeting and discussing each book over a series of sessions. Participants will receive a complimentary copy of the book during the first book circle session with the expectation that they engage and participate in at least one more session for the book.

Please join our mailing list to be notified of future opportunities to participate.

  1. This is an invitation, not an obligation. 

Everyone has many things going on at work and home, and joining a book circle should not be another thing you HAVE to do. We will share a reading schedule for each time we meet, and we hope that most of the time, you will be able to finish the assigned reading. There will be no shaming if you still have a couple of pages left to read, and we still want you to show up for the reading circle. 


  1. Building community through respect and kindness

We want to provide a safe space for people to build community and get inspired by other people’s ideas. Discussions can get heated, but respect and kindness are always at the heart of what we do. 


  1. Speak Up and Share Your Thoughts

Don’t be shy in speaking up and sharing your thoughts. We’re looking forward to engaging in meaningful conversations.


  1. Bring Questions

As you read the book, highlight important points and write down your questions. The book circle facilitator will always prepare some guiding questions, but we encourage participants to bring their questions to the discussion. 


  1. Have fun!

And most importantly, let’s have some fun too! Through our book circles, we want to offer you a space for personal enrichment and professional development, but also a place where you come to disconnect from the day-to-day activities and find some inspiration. 

Fall 2023 Book Circle

Selected Reading: Living with Intent by Mallika Chopra

Facilitator: Dr. Veena Howard, Professor of Asian Religious Traditions and Director of the M.K. Gandhi Center: Inner Peace & Sarvodaya

Register Now

As a mom, wife, and social media entrepreneur, Mallika Chopra frequently wondered how she could possibly do one more thing. Like so many, she was taking lousy care of herself and having a difficult time finding richer meaning and purpose in each day, even though that was her business’s mission. Living with Intent is a practical yet deeply personal look at her year-long journey to discover some workable answers. Along the way, she sat down with Andrew Weil, Eckhart Tolle, Marianne Williamson, Daniel Siegel, and others, who shared their valuable input and insight.

living with intent book cover

Meeting Dates & Times
  • Monday, September 11 at noon
  • Monday, October 2 at noon
  • Wednesday, Ocotber 18 at 5pm (Public Talk w/ the author)
  • Monday, November 6 at noon
Meeting Location: Library 2124 Levine Reading Room

Facilitator: Veena Howard, Ph.D. Professor of Asian Religious Traditions

Book Circle Insights

Grit book

“After reading the was a natural next step to share the wealth of this book with the campus and our community. ‘Grit’ is the foundational lecture because I see it as an inherent characteristic of our students – very well reflected in the spirit and ethos of our Valley communities.” ”

-Saúl Jimenez Sandoval, President

Our initial Book Circle read the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Dr. Angela Duckworth, selected after Duckworth joined the Fresno State community as a featued speaker in the President's Lecture Series. We had engaging conversations about the Grit scale, fluctutations in personal grit over time, whether the professional success of the book's "Paragons of Grit" came at a personal cost, the difference between natural "talent" and skill developed over time through effort, and whether it would be worth studying the grit scores of incoming students to determine if it was a meaningful predictor of persistence and success at Fresno State among other interesting insights.

Atlas of the Heart book cover

Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown is a book I normally would not have picked up, but thanks to The Book Circle, I am so glad I did. Brown’s book is a guide to understanding our feelings, and being able to share our feelings is paramount to communication. In the Book Circle, Dr. Cronin provided a safe place for colleagues from a wide range of departments to explore our experiences and emotions. Time well spent.  Thank you!

- Ingrid Fellows, Ph.D., Lecturer in Chemistry & Biochemistry

Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience was selected for the Book Circle and facilitated by Dr. Travis Cronin, Assistant Professor of Social Work. Travis led the group on wide-ranging and deep conversations about emotional granularity, developing more precise language for the very human journeys through envy, joy, anguish, self-esteem, humiliation, empathy, compassion, and more and the ways that layers of emotions develop from our various contexts and reveal themselves across our lives and work. 

Travis also innovated the format of the book circle this term, opting to have the participants read the introduction and conclusion first, to set a context for the rest of the book material, inviting participants to "choose their own adventure" through the book.


Some related resources shared during the circle discussions are below:

About Atlas of the Heart

If we want to find the way back to ourselves and one another, we need language and the grounded confidence to both tell our stories and to be stewards of the stories that we hear. In Atlas of the Heart, we explore eighty-seven of the emotions and experiences that define what it means to be human and walk through a new framework for cultivating meaningful connection. This is for the mapmakers and travelers in all of us.



Crying in H-Mart book cover

I so enjoyed this book circle on so many levels. First of all the book, but more importantly, the sharing of our personal stories that went on in our groups, creating a safe space to honor our losses…I am glad for the time we all spent together this summer. Thank you for creating this space to build our circle on campus.

- Lisa Bell, University Public Information Officer

Crying in H-Mart was selected for the Book Circle and facilitated by Georgianna Negron-Long, Health Educator in the Student Health and Counseling Center. Georgianna led the group in highly reflective conversations about identity, grief, family, traditions and food and the ways that these aspects of life connect us to each other and ourselves.

As the book focused much on the associations we make between people, memories, and food, we concluded the summer book circle with a day of sharing in which each participant brought a food item to share that resonated with their own personal experience to share with the group.

8 participants sitting on couches in the background as 1 participant looks over the various food items in the foreground

About Atlas of the Heart

In this often wistful memoir, Michelle Zauner describes life as a rebellious youth trying to reconcile her Asian heritage in a very white Eugene, Oregon.As she grew up, moving to the East Coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, and performing gigs with her fledgling band—and meeting the man who would become her husband—her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live. It was her mother's diagnosis of terminal cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her.