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! 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.

2016-09 Book Club

What: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

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

Where: Restaurant Werdguet (tbc)

From Books.ch: Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick. What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

First suggested: November 2015

Supporter: Nela, Jennifer, Nicole, Karina, Tanya

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2016-08 Book Club

What: Invisible by Paul Auster

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

Where: Restaurant Werdguet (tbc)

From Amazon: Sinuously constructed in four interlocking parts, Paul Auster’s fifteenth novel opens in New York City in the spring of 1967, when twenty-year-old Adam Walker, an aspiring poet and student at Columbia University, meets the enigmatic Frenchman Rudolf Born and his silent and seductive girfriend, Margot. Before long, Walker finds himself caught in a perverse triangle that leads to a sudden, shocking act of violence that will alter the course of his life.

Three different narrators tell the story of Invisible, a novel that travels in time from 1967 to 2007 and moves from Morningside Heights to the Left Bank of Paris to a remote island in the Caribbean. It is a book of youthful rage, unbridled sexual hunger, and a relentless quest for justice. With uncompromising insight, Auster takes us into the shadowy borderland between truth and memory, between authorship and identity, to produce a work of unforgettable power that confirms his reputation as “one of America’s most spectacularly inventive writers.”

First suggested: November 2015

Supporter: Rene, Uli, Karina, Nicole

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2016-07 Book Club

What: Fault Lines by Nancy Huston

When: 13 July, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Restaurant Werdguet (tbc)

An incredibly funny to read beginning grips the readers attention, drawing into a contemporary story that reaches back to the second world war. It describes a line in a family’s history from the perspectives of young children in that family, each one contributing its limited view of why the grown ups behave as they do. And wondering about it, not understanding many aspects, while these young kids think that they know about the world … Going back in history reveals that there is a lot more than what meets the eye. The author excels at keeping a very humorous tone while describing even the most drastic events. All the while keeping the delicate balance between narrating a good story and leaving room for the readers imagination. I thoroughly enjoyed reading that book (so far, at more than 50%), found myself laughing time and again, learned some very interesting facts along the way and could hardly put it out of my hands.

Supporter: Leon, Barbara, Nela, Karina, Rene

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2016-06 Book Club

What: Small is Beautiful by E.F. Schumacher

When: 15 June, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Restaurant Werdguet (tbc)

So apparently there was a “Small is Beautiful” movement that started in the U.S. in the 1950s, and this book, though published only in 1973, seems to have come to embody it. It questioned the mantra of economic growth above everything, of happiness through material wealth, centralisation of political decision making as well as economic power, and the sustainability of it all. Instead of me rambling on further – here’s a Guardian article about the book and the ideas behind it. I’ll admit that I’d never heard of the book or the movement before but when I did come across it, I thought here’s something we could use now as much as ever. I suspect the book will read a bit dated, but would love to give it a try.

Amazon synopsis: Small is Beautiful is E. F. Schumacher’s stimulating and controversial study of economics and its purpose. This remarkable book examines our modern economic system – its use of resources and impact on how we live – questioning whether they reflect what we truly care about. The revolutionary ideas are as pertinent, inspirational and thought-provoking today as when they were first published in 1973.

If you don’t mind reading on screen – the book is available in full here: http://www.ditext.com/schumacher/small/small.html (though it seems to have been scanned from paper, and I’m not entirely sure about the license there :-)

First suggested: November 2015

Supporters: Uli, Nela, Leon

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2016-05 Book Club

What: Mend the living by Maylis de Kerangal

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

Where: TBD; most likely Restaurant Werdguet

Just stumbled upon a promising review of this book. Originally published in French, the German translation is now out – but the English one is apparently still pending, scheduled to be released in paperback in February 2016.

The book describes the 24 hours between a young man’s fatal accident and the moment when he finally dies – by the machines keeping him alive being turned off. In between, all the decisions in regard to donating his organs are illustrated, together with what it means for all the involved people: doctors, his parents, recipients …

It seems, the author has managed to find the right mix of touching language and good research to let the reader take part in something which hopefully none of us will ever have to experience in real life.

First suggested: July 2015

Supporter: Leon, Richie, Jennifer, Nela

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2016-04 Book Club

What: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

When: 13 April, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

New location! Restaurant Werdguet, Morgartenstr. 30 (tram 9 or 14 ‘Werd’, or 5 minutes’ walk from Stauffacher)

From Goodreads.com: The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior—to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

From Amazon.com: One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, served as the basis for an enormously popular motion picture, and was voted one of the best novels of the twentieth century by librarians across the country. A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father—a crusading local lawyer—risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.

First suggested: August 2015

Supporter: Rene, Jennifer, Uli

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2016-03b Book Club

What: Guter Mann im Mittelfeld by Andrei Mihailescu

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

New location! Restaurant Werdguet, Morgartenstr. 30 (tram 9 or 14 ‘Werd’, or 5 minutes’ walk from Stauffacher)

Notes:

  • The date is a Tuesday!
  • The author will join us for this special evening
  • The discussion will be in English as usual, even though the book is only available in German up to now.

But the fact that it was written by one of our members might already be reason enough. Aside from that, it appears to circle around topics which are of a timeless nature and, more importantly, have relevance in all our lives: the question whom to trust and how to behave under difficult circumstances …

First suggested: September 2015

Supporter: Leon, Rene

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2016-03 Book Club

What: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari, Eric Klinenberg

When: 16 March, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

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

Non-fiction month :)

From Goodreads.com:

A hilarious, thoughtful, and in-depth exploration of the pleasures and perils of modern romance from one of this generation’s sharpest comedic voices

At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

Some of our problems are unique to our time. “Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” “Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos?!” “My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who’s Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?”

But the transformation of our romantic lives can’t be explained by technology alone. In a short period of time, the whole culture of finding love has changed dramatically. A few decades ago, people would find a decent person who lived in their neighborhood. Their families would meet and, after deciding neither party seemed like a murderer, they would get married and soon have a kid, all by the time they were twenty-four. Today, people marry later than ever and spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.

For years, Aziz Ansari has been aiming his comic insight at modern romance, but for Modern Romance, the book, he decided he needed to take things to another level. He teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. They analyzed behavioral data and surveys and created their own online research forum on Reddit, which drew thousands of messages. They enlisted the world’s leading social scientists, including Andrew Cherlin, Eli Finkel, Helen Fisher, Sheena Iyengar, Barry Schwartz, Sherry Turkle, and Robb Willer. The result is unlike any social science or humor book we’ve seen before.

In Modern Romance, Ansari combines his irreverent humor with cutting-edge social science to give us an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world.

First suggested: December 2015

Supporter: Nela, Nicole, Leon

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2016-02 Book Club

What: Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

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

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

From Wikipedia: “The novel is the story of a girl caught in the throes of war on the island of Bougainville. It is through the guidance of her devoted but strict Christian mother and teacher that Matilda survives but, more importantly, through her connection with Pip, a fictional creation in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. Pip helps Matilda maintain a desire to live, especially after her mother, the wise Mr Watts, and her island home cease to exist.”

And from Amazon: “In a novel that is at once intense, beautiful, and fablelike, Lloyd Jones weaves a transcendent story that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the power of narrative to transform our lives.

On a copper-rich tropical island shattered by war, where the teachers have fled with most everyone else, only one white man chooses to stay behind: the eccentric Mr. Watts, object of much curiosity and scorn, who sweeps out the ruined schoolhouse and begins to read to the children each day from Charles Dickens’s classic Great Expectations.

So begins this rare, original story about the abiding strength that imagination, once ignited, can provide. As artillery echoes in the mountains, thirteen-year-old Matilda and her peers are riveted by the adventures of a young orphan named Pip in a city called London, a city whose contours soon become more real than their own blighted landscape. As Mr. Watts says, “A person entranced by a book simply forgets to breathe.” Soon come the rest of the villagers, initially threatened, finally inspired to share tales of their own that bring alive the rich mythology of their past. But in a ravaged place where even children are forced to live by their wits and daily survival is the only objective, imagination can be a dangerous thing.”

First suggested: November 2015

Supporter: Wendy, Leon, Nela

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2016-01 Book Club

What: The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

When: 13 January, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

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

Why should anyone care about solving the mysteries surrounding a suicide turned murder case in the face of an asteroid about to extinguish all life on earth? The “last policeman” finds himself asking questions that go beyond the actual case … about what makes us do what we do, even when it seems that there is no point to it.

First suggested: July 2015

Supporters: Leon, Uli, Rene, Nela

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