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 …

To edit a book meeting page:

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2020-09 Book Club

”The Testaments” by Margaret Atwood

When: 23 September, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional 😉)

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

We read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood in June 2018. This book picks up the story 15 years after the events in the first book. As far as I know, it is the verbal testament of three people from the time of The Handmaid’s Tale.

Further information at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42975172-the-testaments

Page count: 422

Pitch text from: Rene

Pitch by: Rene

First Suggested: November 2019

Supporter(s): Rene, Martin, Janine, Nicole M., Katja

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2020-08 Book Club

”A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles

When: 26 August, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional 😉)

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

Blurb from the author’s web site:

With his breakout debut novel, Rules of Civility, Amor Towles established himself as a master of absorbing, sophisticated fiction, bringing late 1930s Manhattan to life with splendid atmosphere and a flawless command of style. Readers and critics were enchanted; as NPR commented, “Towles writes with grace and verve about the mores and manners of a society on the cusp of radical change.”

A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

Chosen spontaneously at the July meeting

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2020-07 Book Club

”10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World” by Elif Shafak

When: 22 July, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional 😉)

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

Description from Goodreads:

’In the first minute following her death, Tequila Leila’s consciousness began to ebb, slowly and steadily, like a tide receding from the shore. Her brain cells, having run out of blood, were now completely deprived of oxygen. But they did not shut down. Not right away…’

For Leila, each minute after her death brings a sensuous memory: the taste of spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son; the sight of bubbling vats of lemon and sugar which the women use to wax their legs while the men attend mosque; the scent of cardamom coffee that Leila shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works. Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life – friends who are now desperately trying to find her…

Pitch text from: Goodreads

Chosen spontaneously at the June meeting

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2020-06 Book Club

”Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee

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

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

Pachinko is the second novel by Korean-American author Min Jin Lee. Published in 2017, Pachinko is an epic historical novel following a Korean family who eventually migrates to Japan, it is the first novel written for an adult, English-speaking audience about Japanese–Korean culture. (...) Pachinko takes place between the years of 1910 and 1989, a period that included the Japanese occupation of Korea and World War II. As an historical novel, these events play a central role (...) influencing the characters’ decisions. (...) The character-driven tale features a large ensemble of characters who become subjected to issues of racism and stereotypes, among other events with historical origins in the 20th-century Korean experiences with Japan.”

Page count: 450

Pitch text from: Wikipedia

Pitch by: Bozena

First Suggested: August 2019

Supporter(s): Bozena, Nicole M., Nela, Nadya, Uli, Mo, Katie, Martin, Janine

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2020-05 Book Club

”Freedom or Death” by Nikos Kazantzakis (Original greek title: Captain Michaelis)

When: 27 May, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional 😉)

Where: Restaurant Werdguet – wouldn’t that be nice? But perhaps not yet …

Freedom or Death by Nikos Kazantzakis is a novel on the heroic or epic scale about the rebellion of the Greek Christians against the Turks on the island of Crete, where Kazantzakis was from. The story follows the exploits of a Greek: Captain Michalis and his blood brother, Nurey Bey, a Turk, through war, love , friendship, hatred and a backdrop of the island of Crete with all its beauty, drama, joy and sadness. This book was unanimously praised by critics worldwide as the work of a master with characters that come to life and destined to live forever.

Pitch text: goodreads.com

Pitched by: Alexander

First suggested: March 2019

Supporter(s): Alexander, Martin, Bozena, Nela, Janine

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2020-04 Book Club

”Madame” by Antoni Libera

When: 22 April, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup to get Zoom call details 😉

Where: Online meeting via Zoom, details see Meetup

Madame is an unexpected gem: a novel about Poland during the grim years of Soviet-controlled mediocrity, which nonetheless sparkles with light and warmth. (...) Our young narrator-hero is suffering through the regulated boredom of high school when he is transfixed by a new teacher - an elegant “older woman” (she is thirty-two) who bewitches him with her glacial beauty and her strict intelligence. He resolves to learn everything he can about her and to win her heart. In a sequence of marvelously funny but sobering maneuvers, he learns much more than he expected to – about politics, Poland, the Spanish Civil War, and his own passion for theater and art – all while his loved one continues to elude him.”

Pitch text from: goodreads.com

Pitch by: Bozena

First Suggested: August 2019

Supporter(s): Bozena, Nela, Uli, Nico, Katie, Martin, Janine

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2020-03 Book Club

”Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee

No meetup in March; moved to 24 June

Pachinko is the second novel by Korean-American author Min Jin Lee. Published in 2017, Pachinko is an epic historical novel following a Korean family who eventually migrates to Japan, it is the first novel written for an adult, English-speaking audience about Japanese–Korean culture. (...) Pachinko takes place between the years of 1910 and 1989, a period that included the Japanese occupation of Korea and World War II. As an historical novel, these events play a central role (...) influencing the characters’ decisions. (...) The character-driven tale features a large ensemble of characters who become subjected to issues of racism and stereotypes, among other events with historical origins in the 20th-century Korean experiences with Japan.”

Page count: 450

Pitch text from: Wikipedia

Pitch by: Bozena

First Suggested: August 2019

Supporter(s): Bozena, Nicole M., Nela, Nadya, Uli, Mo, Katie, Martin, Janine

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2020-02 Book Club

”The Why Cafe” by John P. Strelecky

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

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

The inspirational #1 Bestseller by John P. Strelecky. Now translated into twenty-one languages and read by more than a million readers worldwide. In a small cafe at a location so remote it sits in the middle of the middle of nowhere, John--a man in a hurry--is at a crossroads. Intent only on refueling before moving along on his road trip, he finds sustenance of an entirely different kind. In addition to the specials of the day, the cafe menu lists three questions all diners are encourage to consider. Why are you here?

Do you fear death? Are you fulfilled.

With this food for thought and the guidance of three people he meets at the cafe, John embarks on a journey of self-discovery that takes him from the executive suites of the advertising world to the surf of Hawaii’s coastline. Along the way he discovers a new way to look at life, himself, and just how much you can learn from a green sea turtle.

Page count: 144

Pitch text from: Goodreads.com

Pitch by: Rene

First Suggested: November 2019

Supporter(s): Rene, Wendy, Martin, Nicole M.

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2020-01 Book Club

”Jerusalem” by Alan Moore

When: 22 January, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional 😉)

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

Begging comparisons to Tolstoy and Joyce, this “magnificent, sprawling cosmic epic” (Guardian) by Alan Moore—the genre-defying, “groundbreaking, hairy genius of our generation” (NPR)—takes its place among the most notable works of contemporary English literature. In decaying Northampton, eternity loiters between housing projects. Among saints, kings, prostitutes, and derelicts, a timeline unravels: second-century fiends wait in urine-scented stairwells, delinquent specters undermine a century with tunnels, and in upstairs parlors, laborers with golden blood reduce fate to a snooker tournament. Through the labyrinthine streets and pages of Jerusalem tread ghosts singing hymns of wealth and poverty. They celebrate the English language, challenge mortality post-Einstein, and insist upon their slum as Blake’s eternal holy city in “Moore’s apotheosis, a fourth-dimensional symphony” (Entertainment Weekly). This “brilliant . . . monumentally ambitious” tale from the gutter is “a massive literary achievement for our time—and maybe for all times simultaneously” (Washington Post).

Source: www.goodreads.com

Source: http://www.goodreads.com

Chosen ad hoc at June meeting

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2019-12 Book Club

”A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens

When: 11 December, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional 😉)

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

Hi Everyone,

Please remember, December is our book gift exchange month. Wrap up a book you have on your shelf and bring it in as a gift. You will get one in return 🙂

Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly, cold-hearted creditor, continues his stingy, greedy ways on Christmas Eve. He rejects a Christmas dinner invitation, and all the good tidings of the holiday, from his jolly nephew, Fred; he yells at charity workers; and he overworks his employee, Bob Cratchit. At night, Scrooge’s former partner Jacob Marley, dead for seven years, visits him in the form of a ghost. Marley’s spirit has been wandering since he died as punishment for being consumed with business and not with people while alive. He has come to warn Scrooge and perhaps save him from the same fate. He tells him Three Spirits will come to him over the next three nights.

Scrooge falls asleep and wakes up to find the Ghost of Christmas Past, a small, elderly figure. The Ghost shows Scrooge scenes from the past that trace Scrooge’s development from a young boy, lonely but with the potential for happiness, to a young man with the first traces of greed that would deny love in his life. Scrooge shows newfound emotion when revisiting these scenes, often crying from identification with his former neglected self.

Scrooge goes to sleep and is awakened by the Ghost of Christmas Present, a giant with a life span of one day. He shows Scrooge several current scenes of Christmas joy and charity, then shows him the Cratchit household. The Ghost informs Scrooge that unless the future is changed, the Cratchit’s crippled and good-hearted young son, Tiny Tim, will die. He also shows Scrooge the party at Fred’s house. Finally, a ragged boy and girl crawl out from the Ghost’s robes. The Ghost calls them Ignorance and Want and warns Scrooge to beware of Ignorance.

Decided ad hoc at September meeting – seemed a fitting choice!

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