Something to Talk About: Princess

9780967673745_p0_v2_s260x420 (1)The inaugural Common Book Initiative brings books out of the classroom and into the hands of Ursuline’s entire freshman class. The second ‘Chew and Chat’ is scheduled for noon to 1:30 PM Wednesday, Dec. 4 in the Mullen Commuter Lounge. Students, faculty and staff are invited to bring a copy of their book and discuss their thoughts about Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia.

Book clubs are an ever-growing phenomenon. Whether it’s Oprah’s Book Club, one at your local library branch, or an online forum like Good Reads, you can easily find a club to nurture your interests.

The College now has its very own book club. Ursuline Studies Program Director and Associate English Professor, Mary Frances (Mimi) Pipino, along with Tina Roan Lining, Assistant Dean of Inclusion, Equity and Multicultural Affairs, launched The Common Book Initiative at the start of the Fall 2013 semester.

The inaugural book chosen was Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia by New York Times Bestselling Author Jean Sasson.

Every freshman student was given the book as a gift during orientation and is being discussed in first year Ursuline Studies Program courses. Copies were also available for any faculty or staff member interested in taking part in the initiative.

“We started the Common Book Initiative to grow community and start a discussion on campus about books outside of the classrooms,” Pipino said.

“The guiding principle for the initiative was to choose books about women’s experiences and women’s issues. It does not matter whether the author is a man or woman.”

The book served to welcome new students to the campus community and to remind them why they are on campus – to learn and grown to be successful leaders in their field of study. By featuring books written by women or that focus on women’s experience, the College conveys to incoming freshmen Ursuline’s commitment to their women-focused mission.

The Ursuline Studies Program and the Office of Inclusion, Equity and Multicultural Affairs hosted the first “Chew and Chat” October 9. Students, faculty and staff attended and discussed Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia. The second is set for this Wednesday, Dec. 4, from noon to 1:30 PM in the Mullen Commuter Lounge. Students, faculty and staff are invited to bring a copy of their book and discuss their thoughts about Princess.

Pipino joined Ursuline’s faculty in August 2012 when she became Director of the Ursuline Studies Program. She earned her doctorate from the University of Cincinnati in 1996, specializing in ethnic American women’s literature, feminist theory and literary criticism and the Victorian novel.  She was previously Dean of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and Associate Professor of English at Lake Erie College in Painesville.

“The main character in Princess tries to challenge the norms of her culture,” Pipino said.

“We [North Americans] often think of Arabic and Islamic women as these timid, cowed people who have no voice. This book shows how these women are, in really brave ways, trying to challenge the things that oppress them in spite of really awful consequences.”

The next book in line to read will be launched at the beginning of 2014. All participants are given a complimentary copy each book.

If you would like to be a part of the book club, contact Mimi at


A version of this article will be published in the upcoming issue of VOICES Magazine which will be released in January 2014.

Brittney Teasdale Edelman is Ursuline’s Marketing Specialist and Social Media Coordinator.

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