BookClub

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! It’s what makes our reading fun and diverse …

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2019-06 Book Club

What: ”Dracula” by Bram Stoker

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

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

During a business visit to Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania, a young English solicitor finds himself at the center of a series of horrifying incidents. Jonathan Harker is attacked by three phantom women, observes the Count’s transformation from human to bat form, and discovers puncture wounds on his own neck that seem to have been made by teeth. Harker returns home upon his escape from Dracula’s grim fortress, but a friend’s strange malady — involving sleepwalking, inexplicable blood loss, and mysterious throat wounds — initiates a frantic vampire hunt.

The popularity of Bram Stoker’s 1897 horror romance is as deathless as any vampire. Its supernatural appeal has spawned a host of film and stage adaptations, and more than a century after its initial publication, it continues to hold readers spellbound.

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2019-05 Book Club

What: ”Mrs. Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf

When: 29 May, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional 😉)

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

In this vivid portrait of one day in a woman’s life, Clarissa Dalloway is preoccupied with the last-minute details of party preparation while in her mind she is much more than a perfect society hostess. As she readies her house, she is flooded with far-away remembrances. And, met with the realities of the present, Clarissa reexamines the choices she has made, hesitantly looking ahead to growing old.

Published in 1925 – Virginia Woolf was an English writer, considered one of the most important modernist 20th-century authors and a pioneer in the use of stream of consciousness as a narrative device.

Pitched by: Wendy

First suggested: February 2019

Supporter(s): Wendy, Alexander, Nora, Leon

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2019-04 Book Club

What: ”The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon

When: 24 Apr, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional 😉)

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

From … somewhere on the web: Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructed universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.

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2019-03 Book Club

What: "Magdas Apokalypse" by Chloe Vollmer-Lo, Carole Maurel

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

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

From Amazon: “Was, wenn morgen die Welt untergeht? Gut, dann kann man ein Apfelbäumchen pflanzen und ansonsten froh sein, dass einem nicht mehr allzu viel Zeit bleibt, sich darüber Gedanken zu machen. Was aber, wenn die Apokalypse noch ein Jahr auf sich warten lässt und man wie Magda gerade erst seinen 13. Geburtstag feiert? Sie fühlt sich um ihre Zukunft betrogen und beschließt, sich das Leben, das ihr vorenthalten bleiben soll, mit aller Macht selber anzueignen. In einer Welt um sie herum, die zunehmend aus den Fugen gerät, ist zum Zaudern, Zögern, Warten keine Zeit mehr. Umso mehr ist nun Magda verstört – kann es sein, dass sie mit 14 ihr Leben schon hinter sich hat? Eine mitreißende, aufwühlende Erzählung über das Heranwachsen, mit all seinen Risiken und Nebenwirkungen – und einem fatalen Fluchtpunkt.”

First of all: sorry, this graphic novel book appears to be available only in its original publishing language French and the German translation. I haven’t found an English version. But. With a stage set very similarly to our past reading of “The last Policeman”, I found it very intriguing to head for a story from an entirely different perspective while facing the same fate. Also, the form of a graphic novel might be a nice change for our group - just to try something new. So, maybe, despite the lack of an English version, enough of us find the outset interesting enough to deal with the German translation anyway and enjoy a good discussion afterwards.

Pitch text by: Leon

First suggested: February 2018

Supporter(s): Leon, Nela, Guido, Billy

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2019-02 Book Club

What: "The Bone Clocks" by David Mitchell

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

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

Following a scalding row with her mother, fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her old life. But Holly is no typical teenage runaway: a sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as “the radio people,” Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. Now, as she wanders deeper into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life.

For Holly has caught the attention of a cabal of dangerous mystics—and their enemies. But her lost weekend is merely the prelude to a shocking disappearance that leaves her family irrevocably scarred. This unsolved mystery will echo through every decade of Holly’s life, affecting all the people Holly loves—even the ones who are not yet born.

A Cambridge scholarship boy grooming himself for wealth and influence, a conflicted father who feels alive only while reporting from occupied Iraq, a middle-aged writer mourning his exile from the bestseller list—all have a part to play in this surreal, invisible war on the margins of our world. From the medieval Swiss Alps to the nineteenth-century Australian bush, from a hotel in Shanghai to a Manhattan townhouse in the near future, their stories come together in moments of everyday grace and extraordinary wonder.

Pitch text by: goodreads.com

Pitched by: Rene

First suggested: November 2018

Supporter(s): Rene, Alex, Hung

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2019-01 Book Club

What: "Anna Goeldin - The Last Witch" by Eveline Hasler

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

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

From Amazon: The last witchcraft trial in German-speaking countries was held in 1782 in Eveline Hasler’s home canton of Glarus in Switzerland. A servant woman, Anna Goeldin, was accused of having bewitched a child of the physician household in which she worked, making it crippled and spit pins. The accused confessed under torture, was sentenced by the city council and executed. Sources show that the trial provoked great controversy in Europe even at the time. The courts in Glarus were ridiculed and criticized by more enlightened cities in Switzerland and Germany. In her novel with its beautiful simple language, Hasler tells Anna Goeldin’s story and trial. With the means of fiction, Hasler attempts to explain how a witchcraft trial could come to take place in the heart of Europe during the heyday of the Enlightenment. The novel was first published in 1982 and also draws parallels to women’s fight for equal rights two hundred years later. This novel is a bestseller in German-speaking countries, has been translated into several languages, and made into a feature film by Gertrud Pinkus. The translation by Mary Bryant has won an Arts and Humanities Initiative Award at the University of Iowa. Eveline Hasler (born in 1933) was trained as a teacher of History and turned to writing children’s books, fiction, and historical fiction. She is the recipient of many awards, among them the Switzerland Award for Juvenile Fiction (1978), Honors by the City of Zurich (1988), Schubart Award (1989), Droste Award (1994), and Justinus Kerner Award (1999).

Comment: I wanted to suggest a different book by Eveline Hasler that I wanted to read (”Die Wachsflügelfrau”), but could not find a translation. This one sounds interesting too. I was at a reading of her recently and found her very fascinating as a person. Also, I liked the combination of an interesting writing style and her being a historian.

Pitch text by: Karina

First suggested: December 2017

Supporter(s): Karina, Alisa, Wendy, Daniel

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2018-12 Book Club

What: "Asymmetry" by Lisa Halliday

When: 12 Dec, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

From Goodreads:

Told in three distinct and uniquely compelling sections, Asymmetry explores the imbalances that spark and sustain many of our most dramatic human relations: inequities in age, power, talent, wealth, fame, geography, and justice. The first section, “Folly,” tells the story of Alice, a young American editor, and her relationship with the famous and much older writer Ezra Blazer. A tender and exquisite account of an unexpected romance that takes place in New York during the early years of the Iraq War, “Folly” also suggests an aspiring novelist’s coming-of-age. By contrast, “Madness” is narrated by Amar, an Iraqi-American man who, on his way to visit his brother in Kurdistan, is detained by immigration officers and spends the last weekend of 2008 in a holding room in Heathrow. These two seemingly disparate stories gain resonance as their perspectives interact and overlap, with yet new implications for their relationship revealed in an unexpected coda.

A stunning debut from a rising literary star, Asymmetry is an urgent, important, and truly original work that will captivate any reader while also posing arresting questions about the very nature of fiction itself.

First suggested: October 2018

Supporter(s): Rene

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2018-11 Book Club

What: "Melnitz" by Charles Lewinsky

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

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

1871 - Cattle-dealer Solomon Meijer has made a reputation for himself as one of the few honest Jews in Endingen, a rare Swiss town in which Jews are allowed to reside. He leads a largely untroubled life, rewarded by his work and comforted at home by his wife and two daughters. But all of this is set to end when he answers a knock at the door in the middle of the night. On the doorstep stands his young distant cousin, Janki, half-dead and begging for refuge. The pitiful figure is invited in and given a coveted place in the bosom of the family, but when Janki recovers and regains his ambition and his fine-looks, he will change the Meijer family’s lives for generations to come...

In the tradition of the great family romances of the nineteenth century, Melnitz is the saga of the Swiss-Jewish Meijer family, spanning five generations from the Franco-Prussian War to World War II. It is a novel of fate, fortune and great falls; a homage to the sunken world of yiddish culture and a celebration of the enduring spirit of biting Jewish humour.

Pitch text by: Goodreads.com

First suggested: May 2018

Supporter(s): Haaike, Zhou, Marit, Nora, Daniel

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2018-10 Book Club

What: "Candide" by Voltaire

When: 17 Oct, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

Brought up in the household of a powerful Baron, Candide is an open-minded young man, whose tutor, Pangloss, has instilled in him the belief that ’all is for the best’. But when his love for the Baron’s rosy-cheeked daughter is discovered, Candide is cast out to make his own way in the world.

And so he and his various companions begin a breathless tour of Europe, South America and Asia, as an outrageous series of disasters befall them - earthquakes, syphilis, a brush with the Inquisition, murder - sorely testing the young hero’s optimism.

Pitch text by: Goodreads.com

First suggested: May 2018

Supporter(s): Haaike, Uli, Zhou, Nora

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2018-09 Book Club

What: "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" by Richard Feynman

When: 12 Sep, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

Richard Feynman (1918-1988), winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, thrived on outrageous adventures. Here he recounts in his inimitable voice his experience trading ideas on atomic physics with Einstein and Bohr and ideas on gambling with Nick the Greek; cracking the uncrackable safes guarding the most deeply held nuclear secrets; painting a naked female toreador - and much else of an eyebrow-raising nature.

Pitch text from: goodreads.com

Pitch by: Alexander

First Suggested: Feb 2018

Supporter(s): Alexander, Uli, Billy, Haaike, Nora

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