ALI Book Club

The ALI Book Club is a free program that aims to help international students practice their English reading and conversation skills. These informal 80 minute groups are led by native English-speaking USC students, are first come first served, and capped at 5 students per session.

This semester, we will read five different short stories, generally one story every two weeks of the program. In the first 30 minutes of each session, the group will read the text together, then they will discuss the writing for the remaining 50 minutes. Students who have already read the text prior to the meeting can join the group at the beginning of the discussion section of the meeting.

Free PDF versions of all the Spring 2023 short stories are available HERE! PDF hard copies are also available the ALI front desk.

To register for an upcoming Book Club, click HERE.

Please note that registration for any session will only become available one hour before the session begins. Registration does not guarantee a spot in the session. In an effort to keep group sizes small, the leader will only take the first 5 students who registered and arrived at the meeting location. For in person sessions, all attendees and leaders are required to wear a mask.

Spring 2023 Schedule

Running January 23 to April 21st

Monday12:00 pmBelisPSD 106B
Tuesday3:30 pmDreyaPSD 106B
Thursday3:30 pmBelisPSD 106B

Spring 2023 Book Club Reading Schedule

For the best experience, read the short stories before you join a session! However, for those who do not read the story beforehand, the first 30 minutes of each session will be dedicated to reading the text.

  1. Week 1 & 2
    • Jan. 23 – Jan. 27
    • Jan. 30 – Feb. 3
    • The Lady, or the Tiger?, written by Frank R. Stockton
    • 6 pages
    • Written in 1882, this story tells of a king and his methods of carrying out justice in his land. With many fantastical elements, this story reads like a fairytale. Ultimately, the reader decides which way the story should go.
  2. Week 3 & 4
    • Feb. 6 – Feb. 10
    • Feb. 13 – Feb. 17
    • The Sentinel, written by Arthur C. Clarke
    • 6 pages
    • Written in 1951, this short story revolves around the discovery of a lunar artifact and its mysterious origins. The story highlights the theme of the unknown, with the possibility of other intelligent species out in the universe that could either benefit or destroy Earth.
  3. Week 5 & 6
    • Feb. 20 – Feb. 24
    • Feb. 27 – Feb. Mar. 3
    • A Wake for Susan, written by Cormac McCarthy
    • 5 pages
    • A story from the early 1959, this piece follows Wes, the adolescent protagonist , who daydreaming about courting a girl named Susan, someone he’s never met and who has been dead for over 20 years.
  4. Week 7 & 8
    • Mar. 6 – Mar. 10
    • Mar. 20 – Mar. 24
    • The Paper Menagerie, written by Ken Liu
    • 18 pages
    • Written in 2011, this story is about Jack, a half America, half Chinese boy who lives in Connecticut and likes to play with the origami animals his mother would make and bring to life. As Jack grows older, he struggles to fit in with his American friends and rejects his Chinese culture until a tragedy forces him to reconnect with his past.
  5. Week 9 & 10
    • Mar. 27 – Mar. 31
    • April 3 – April 7
    • The Bear, written by Anton Chekhov
    • 11 pages
    • Written in 1881 by the well-known Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, this comedic one-act play centers on a widow, Elena Ivanovna Popova, and her late husband’s creditor, Gregory Stepanovitch Smirnov. Gregory interrupts Elena’s mourning to settle his debt and the interaction is nothing short of silly and ridiculous. The themes that play out during the course of their battle include gender, love, and grief.
  6. Week 11 & 12
    • April 10 – April 14
    • April 17 – April 21
    • The Fun They Had, written by Isaac Asimov
    • 3 pages
    • Written in 1951, this VERY short story is set more than 100 years in the future where technology has replaced most things. A boy named Tommy tells his friend Margie about finding a real paper book that explains what school was like in the past. Margie finds this way of school life strange but somehow more fun than the way it currently is.


If a session is cancelled, the word “CANCELLED” will be displayed by the session time. Sessions may be cancelled last minute and without warning so please check the calendar below to see these updates in real time..

If a group is not specified as cancelled but the group leader is late or absent, please call 213-740-0079 to report the absence.