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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:

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2014-08 Book Club

What: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

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

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

Paris in the twenties: Pernod, parties and expatriate Americans, loose-living on money from home. Jake is wildly in love with Brett Ashley, aristocratic and irresistibly beautiful, but with an abandoned, sensuous nature that she cannot change. When the couple drifts to Spain to the dazzle of the fiesta and the heady atmosphere of the bullfight, their affair is strained by new passions, new jealousies, and Jake must finally learn that he will never possess the woman he loves. Powerful, intense, visually magnificent, Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises is the novel which established Ernest Hemingway as a writer of genius.

First suggested: September 2013

Supporter(s): Nela, Richie, Nicole, Matteo

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2014-07 Book Club

What: Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro

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

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

It should really be Richie suggesting something from the newest Nobel Prize winner… “…a sort of magic” is how Ali Smith describes Munro’s stories on the jacket of my edition. From Amazon: These are beguiling, provocative stories about manipulative men and the women who outwit them, about destructive marriages and curdled friendships, about mothers and sons, about moments which change or haunt a life. Alice Munro’s stories surprise and delight, turning lives into art, expanding our world and shedding light on the strange workings of the human heart.

First suggested: March 2014

Supporter(s): Dominique, Richie :-), Leon

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2014-06 Book Club

What: What Money Can't Buy by Michael J. Sandel

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

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

Michael J. Sandel teaches political philosophy at Harvard and in this book he looks at how market values have become common in a lot of different aspects of life. It sounds like a very tedious lecture, but it’s actually very easy to read because Sandel illustrates his philosophical ideas with a lot of different examples. Might be something different for the book club, but it’s worth reading (and very easy to read). From Amazon: ‘What Money Can’t Buy is the Top Ten Sunday Times Bestseller from ‘the superstar philosopher’, Michael Sandel. Should we financially reward children for good marks? Is it ethical to pay people to donate organs? What about hiring mercenaries to fight our wars, outsourcing inmates to for-profit prisons or selling citizenship? In recent decades, market values have impinged on almost every aspect of life - medicine, education, government, law, even family life. We have drifted from having a market economy to being a market society. In What Money Can’t Buy Michael Sandel asks: Isn’t there something wrong with a world in which everything is for sale? And how do we protect the things that really matter?’

First suggested: November 2013

Supporter(s): Christoph, Richie, Leon, Rene, Nadya

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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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Referrers: Bookclub meet in Zurich - English Forum Switzerland