Adult Lit Club
The Library has sponsored a Lit Club for adults for more than twenty years. Initiated by parents who had experience facilitating Lit Clubs for students, a heterogeneous group of current and alumni parents, staff, and friends meet monthly during the school year to do what we teach our students to do: to read for pleasure and discuss literature. We believe in a balance between the intellectual and the social.
We meet at 8 pm in the Library around the fireplace. Hope to see you there!
September 27 – Night Circus by Erin Morganstern
November 8 – Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
December 6 – Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
January 10 – God’s Hotel by Victoria Sweet
February14 – Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker
March 21 – Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante
April 18 – A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
May 23 − (potluck dinner) – In One Person by John Irving
Proposed Adult Lit Club Titles for 2012-13
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. “The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called "Le Cirque des Reves," and it is only open at night. But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences.”
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. “A novel so compelling that it begs to be read in a single setting, The Sense of an Ending has the psychological and emotional depth and sophistication of Henry James at his best… This intense novel follows Tony Webster, a middle-aged man, as he contends with a past he never thought much about — until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance: one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present… When he is presented with a mysterious legacy, he is forced to revise his estimation of his own nature and place in the world.”
Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga. “At the heart of this novel are two equally compelling men, poised for a showdown. Real estate developer Dharmen Shah rose from nothing to create an empire and hopes to seal his legacy with a building named the Shanghai… But he meets his match in a retired schoolteacher called Masterji. Shah offers Masterji and his neighbors -- the residents of Vishram Society’s Tower A, a once respectable, now crumbling apartment building on whose site Shah’s luxury high-rise would be built -- a generous buyout. Here is a richly told, suspense-fueled story of ordinary people pushed to their limits in a place that knows none: the new India as only Aravind Adiga could explore -- and expose -- it. Vivid, visceral, told with both humor and poignancy, Last Man in Tower is his most stunning work yet.”
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. “Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.”
Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante. “A New York Times bestseller, Turn of Mind is a literary thriller about a retired orthopedic surgeon suffering from dementia and accused of killing her best friend. With unmatched patience and a pulsating intensity, Alice LaPlante's debut novel brings us deep into a brilliant woman’s deteriorating mind, where the impossibility of recognizing reality can be both a blessing and a curse… Dr. Jennifer White’s best friend, Amanda, has been killed, and four fingers surgically removed from her hand. Dr. White is the prime suspect and she herself doesn’t know whether she did it… A startling portrait of a disintegrating mind clinging to reality through anger, frustration, shame, and unspeakable loss, Turn of Mind examines the deception and frailty of memory and how it defines our very existence.”
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. “Adichie illuminates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra's impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in southeastern Nigeria during the late 1960s. We experience this tumultuous decade alongside five unforgettable characters: Ugwu, a thirteen-year-old houseboy who works for Odenigbo, a university professor full of revolutionary zeal; Olanna, the professor’s beautiful young mistress who has abandoned her life in Lagos for a dusty town and her lover’s charm; and Richard, a shy young Englishman infatuated with Olanna’s willful twin sister Kainene. Half of a Yellow Sun is a tremendously evocative novel of the promise, hope, and disappointment of the Biafran war.”
Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabriella Hamilton. “Before Gabrielle Hamilton opened her acclaimed New York restaurant Prune, she spent twenty hard-living years trying to find purpose and meaning in her life. Blood, Bones & Butter follows an unconventional journey through the many kitchens Hamilton has inhabited through the years: the rural kitchen of her childhood, where her adored mother stood over the six-burner with an oily wooden spoon in hand; the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, where she was often fed by complete strangers and learned the essence of hospitality; Hamilton’s own kitchen at Prune, with its many unexpected challenges; and the kitchen of her Italian mother-in-law, who serves as the link between Hamilton’s idyllic past and her own future family -- the result of a prickly marriage that nonetheless yields lasting dividends. By turns epic and intimate, Gabrielle Hamilton’s story is told with uncommon honesty, grit, humor, and passion.”
The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker. “A poignant and inspirational love story set in Burma, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats spans the decades between the 1950s and the present. When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might be… until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman they have never heard of. Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived. There she uncovers a tale of unimaginable hardship, resilience, and passion that will reaffirm the reader’s belief in the power of love to move mountains.”
Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue. “To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world... It's where he was born, it's where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits. Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it's the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But with Jack's curiosity building alongside her own desperation, she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.”
The Art of Fielding: A Novel by Chad Harbach. “At Westish College, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league until a routine throw goes disastrously off course. In the aftermath of his error, the fates of five people are upended. Henry's fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future. College president Guert Affenlight has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Owen Dunne becomes caught up in a dangerous affair. Mike Schwartz realizes he has guided Henry's career at the expense of his own. And Pella Affenlight returns to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life. As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets… The Art of Fielding is mere baseball fiction the way Moby Dick is just a fish story" (Nicholas Dawidoff).”
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. “In his first novel since The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has given us an epic of contemporary love and marriage. Freedom comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty: the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire. In charting the mistakes and joys of Walter and Patty Berglund as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world, Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time.”
Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry. “We are in the head and the journal of 100-year-old “mad” Roseanne McNulty, locked up for decades in an asylum in rural west Ireland. She has begun writing her life story, hiding it nightly beneath her bedroom’s creaking floorboards. Simultaneously, her putative therapist, Dr. Grene, who barely knows her, much less her history or prognosis, begins an observation journal about her. The asylum is to be downsized, and he must determine whether she is sane enough to live on her own. He attempts to reconstruct the reasons for her imprisonment, and that pitches the novel into the dark depths of Ireland’s civil war … Barry weaves together Grene’s and Roseanne’s stories, which are ultimately the same story, masterfully and with intense emotionality … An unforgettable portrait of mid-twentieth-century Ireland.”
The Lion is In by Delia Ephron. "Quirky tale of three women: one a runaway bride and kleptomaniac, one a recovering alcoholic, an done a minister’s wife desperate to escape her marriage. The three take off on a road trip which winds up with their car breaking down and come by a shelter in an abandoned nightclub where they find a lion in a cage -- a former circus performer. Then everything changes!"
Mudwoman by Joyce Carol Oates. "A riveting novel that explores the high price of success in the life of one woman -- the first female president of a lauded ivy league institution -- and her hold upon her self-identity in the face of personal and professional demons, from Joyce Carol Oates, author of the New York Times bestseller A Widow’s Story. Mudgirl is a child abandoned by her mother in the silty flats of the Black Snake River. Cast aside, Mudgirl survives by an accident of fate -- or destiny. After her rescue, the well-meaning couple who adopt Mudgirl quarantine her poisonous history behind the barrier of their middle-class values, seemingly sealing it off forever. But the bulwark of the present proves surprisingly vulnerable to the agents of the past."
Defending Jacob by William Landay. "Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student. Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own -- between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive. Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis—a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control."
Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden. "Former Washington Post reporter tells the harrowing story of a young man born in a North Korean prison. He was fated to spend his life imprisoned for being a “bad seed” because his father’s brothers had fled to South Korea during the war. He eventually escaped to China and to South Korea. The book analyzes the role of the prisons in terrorizing the population and keeping the ruling family in power."
In One Person by John Irving. “A compelling novel of desire, secrecy, and sexual identity, In One Person is a story of unfulfilled love -- tormented, funny, and affecting -- and an impassioned embrace of our sexual differences. Billy, the bisexual narrator and main character of In One Person, tells the tragicomic story (lasting more than half a century) of his life as a “sexual suspect,” a phrase first used by John Irving in 1978 in his landmark novel of “terminal cases,” The World According to Garp… His most political novel since The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving’s In One Person is a poignant tribute to Billy’s friends and lovers -- a theatrical cast of characters who defy category and convention. Not least, In One Person is an intimate and unforgettable portrait of the solitariness of a bisexual man who is dedicated to making himself “worthwhile.”
God’s Hotel by Victoria Sweet. "A profoundly moving account of a remarkable hospital and the people who inhabit it, "God's Hotel" reveals intimate knowledge of the shift in modern medicine, from personal tending to industrialized 'health care.' Author and physician Victoria Sweet embodies the traits of a persevering and compassionate doctor, while conveying the wisdom of a philosopher, and the instincts of a born storyteller." Biographical Note: Victoria Sweet has been a physician at San Francisco's Laguna Honda Hospital for more than twenty years. An associate clinical professor of medicine at University of California, San Francisco, she also holds a Ph.D. in history and social medicine.