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BookClub

BookClub Feed This page serves as a starting point for our English book club in Zürich, Switzerland.

We have a Meetup page!

To help pick books for future meetings, check our List of Open Books and add your opinions or propose your own. Go there, add books, and vote! We’re all set until September but time flies …

To edit a book meeting page:

  1. click on the title of the meeting below
  2. click on Edit this page or Diese Seite bearbeiten at the very bottom of the page

There is no login required, just pick any username you like when saving.

2014-05 Book Club

What: No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre

When: 14 May, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Bistro Lochergut (tram 2+3 ‘Lochergut’)

From Wikipedia:

No Exit (original: Huis Clos) is a 1944 existentialist French play by Jean-Paul Sartre. The original title is the French equivalent of the legal term in camera, referring to a private discussion behind closed doors; English translations have also been performed under the titles In Camera, No Way Out, Vicious Circle, Behind Closed Doors, and Dead End. The play was first performed at the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier in May 1944.

The play is a depiction of the afterlife in which three deceased characters are punished by being locked into a room together for eternity. It is the source of Sartre’s especially famous and often misinterpreted quotation “L’enfer, c’est les autres” or “Hell is other people”, a reference to Sartre’s ideas about the Look and the perpetual ontological struggle of being caused to see oneself as an object in the world of another consciousness.

First suggested: February 2014

Supporter(s): Nicole, Leon

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2014-04 Book Club

What: I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

When: 23 April, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Bistro Lochergut (tram 2+3 ‘Lochergut’)

This book looks like excellent reading, has one of the funniest begins in world literature and is full of surprises. It won among others the “Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis 2007, Kategorie Preis der Jugendjury”.

From Goodreads.com:
protect the diamonds
survive the clubs
dig deep through the spades
feel the hearts

Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He’s pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.

That’s when the first ace arrives in the mail.
That’s when Ed becomes the messenger.

Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary) until only one question remains: Who’s behind Ed’s mission?

First Suggested: September 2013

Supporter(s): Andrei, Rene, Richie, Matteo, Nadya

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2014-03 Book Club

What: The Circle by Dave Eggers

When: 19 March, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Bistro Lochergut (tram 2+3 ‘Lochergut’)

So. Another attempt of establishing to read more in the area of speculative fiction … ;-) But this one closing in on today’s tendency towards all-encompassing openness on the web - and the consequences which this might lead to. Sounds fun to read and could give rise to very interesting discussions afterwards.

From Amazon: “When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.”

First suggested: October 2013

Supporter(s): Leon, Nicole, Rene, Jessy, Matteo

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2014-02 Book Club

What: Post Office by Charles Bukowski

When: 19 February, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Bistro Lochergut (tram 2+3 ‘Lochergut’)

“It began as a mistake.” By middle age, Henry Chinaski has lost more than twelve years of his life to the U.S. Postal Service. In a world where his three true, bitter pleasures are women, booze, and racetrack betting, he somehow drags his hangover out of bed every dawn to lug waterlogged mailbags up mud-soaked mountains, outsmart vicious guard dogs, and pray to survive the day-to-day trials of sadistic bosses and certifiable coworkers. This classic 1971 novel—the one that catapulted its author to national fame—is the perfect introduction to the grimly hysterical world of legendary writer, poet, and Dirty Old Man Charles Bukowski and his fictional alter ego, Chinaski. (Source: amazon.com)

I suggest adding this as an optional book. Two reasons: 1) It’s really short. 2) It’s not “fine” literature. It’s raw, it’s explicit, it might offend people’s sense for aesthetics. But in my opinion it’s a most entertaining, well drawn picture of an existing part of american society - now and then. Personally, I will read the other Chinaski books as well. Chinaski is so unlike myself, but Bukowski succeeds in making me feel with Chinaski every minute of his life and even liking him a bit from time to time.

First suggested: November 2013 (Simon)

No online votes – this one was a quick decision at the last meeting, let’s see how we like it!

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2014-01 Book Club

What: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

When: 29 January, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Bistro Lochergut (tram 2+3 ‘Lochergut’)

Just in case we really want to go the science fiction route for a change but still read a “classic” … I really liked the book for it’s predictiveness, given the time it was written. And for us book addicts, this is a really nice topic, especially with its solution for book survival in the described society. Lovely. Looking forward to having a great discussion about it with you guys.

From Amazon: “Ray Bradburys internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of twentieth-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future.

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.

Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television family. But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didnt live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.

When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.”

First suggested: June 2013

Supporter(s): Leon, Nicole, Rene, Dani, Uli

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2013-12 Book Club

What: Dear Tom by Tom Courtenay

When: 18 December, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Bistro Lochergut (tram 2+3 ‘Lochergut’)

Description by Amazon: When Tom Courtenay left his home in Hull to study in London his mother Annie wrote him letters every week. In them she would observe the world on her doorstep. A world of second-hand shoes and pawnshops, where all the men worked “on Dock” and Saturday nights were spent down the Club. It was a world in which Annie often felt misplaced. Having always longed to write, the letters to her son gave Annie a creative means of escape. “It’s after tea now, your father is examining the bath, I’m awaiting Ann and outside it’s India”. Like his mother, the young Courtenay also felt he was supposed to be elsewhere. Unlike his mother, he was given the opportunity to educate himself and chase his dream. In Dear Tom: Letters From Home Courtenay intersperses recollections of his days as a student actor in the early 1960s with his mother’s engaging and enchanting correspondence. Raw but real, her prose not only paints a graphic and gritty picture of everyday drudge, it displays an inquisitive insight into a life that denied a fishwife her dreams. In a world where working-class women learnt to make do, Annie felt at odds with her artistic aspirations. “Just lately I have had the feeling that I am more than one me. It is very strange. There’s the me that goes careering off writing, thinking, Then there is the ordinary me that mocks the writing me and thinks she is silly and a boring fool”.

After his mother’s untimely death, her letters became Tom Courtenay’s most treasured possessions. Dear Tom: Letters From Home is a memoir of a mother’s love that pays posthumous homage to a creative spirit stifled by circumstance. “What magic if, after all these years, people read her letters and are affected by them”, writes Courtenay. It would be impossible not to be. A beautiful book that won’t fail to touch. – Christopher Kelly – This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

First suggested: May 2013 (Richie)

Supporter(s): Richie, Rene, Dani

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2013-11 Book Club

What: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

When: 20 November, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Bistro Lochergut (tram 2+3 ‘Lochergut’)

In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs – yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.

See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_in_the_Time_of_Cholera

First suggested: June 2013

Supporter(s): Naomi, Nela, Richie, Dominique, Raffaella, Tom, Tim, Yvonne

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2013-10 Book Club

What: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

When: 23 October, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Bistro Lochergut (tram 2+3 ‘Lochergut’)

In 1922, F Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write “something new – something extraordinary and beautiful and simple, intricately patterned”. That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned and, above all, simple novel became

The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald’s finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author’s generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald’s – and his country’s – most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed and the promise of new beginnings. “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther… And one fine morning – “ Gatsby’s rise to glory and eventual fall from grace be comes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.

It’s also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby’s quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means--and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. “Her voice is full of money,” Gatsby says admiringly, in one of the novel’s more famous descriptions. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy’s patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties and waits for her to appear. When s he does, events unfold with all the tragic inevitability of a Greek drama, with detached, cynical neighbour Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout. Spare, elegantly plotted and written in crystalline prose, The Great Gatsby is as perfectly satisfying as the best kind of poem. Credit: Perry Freeman, Amazon.com

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2013-09 Book Club

What: The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

When: 25 September, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Bistro Lochergut (tram 2+3 ‘Lochergut’)

There was a review of this book in the paper these days which sounded weird enough in a good way (or good enough in a weird way?) to attract my attention – and a quick search tells me that it just won the 2013 Pulitzer prize as well, so it’s not just our reviewer here. The protagonist grows up as an orphan in North Korea, and is dragged through all the hardship and all the absurdity the author, an American, could come up with to describe a not-so-ordinary life there. Sounds dreary but obiously isn’t: “What we have here are the ingredients of an across-the-board smash hit: sympathetic characters, an exotic, unknowable setting and a plot that will carry you along more convincingly than any of the fictions used by the Democratic People’™s Republic of Korea.” (The Telegraph). Anyone else intrigued?

More reviews: bookish.com, or for something slightly weird in itself, threeguysonebook.com.

First suggested: May 2013

Supporter(s): Uli, Rene, Naomi, Richie, Patty, Dani

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2013-08 Book Club

What: Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee

When: 21 August, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Bistro Lochergut (tram 2+3 ‘Lochergut’)

I happened to read this book recently and very much enjoyed the story, the style and the complexity of South Africa as a nation. Later learnt that the author won a Nobel prize for literature.

Description by Amazon: After years teaching Romantic poetry at the Technical University of Cape Town, David Lurie, middle-aged and twice divorced, has an impulsive affair with a student. The affair sours; he is denounced and summoned before a committee of inquiry. Willing to admit his guilt, but refusing to yield to pressure to repent publicly, he resigns and retreats to his daughter Lucy’s isolated smallholding.

For a time, his daughter’s influence and the natural rhythms of the farm promise to harmonise his discordant life. But the balance of power in the country is shifting. He and Lucy become victims of a savage and disturbing attack which brings into relief all the faultlines in their relationship.

First suggested: May 2013 (Richie)

Supporter(s): Richie, Nela, Adrian, Nicole, Patty, Ruby

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Referrers: Bookclub meet in Zurich - English Forum Switzerland

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