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:

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2017-08 Book Club

What: A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

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

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

I think, this would be a great follow-up book to “the games people play”, as it delves into the psychology and human nature. I had this book on my “to read” list for a while. I guess, I was kind of putting it off, because the whole “24hrs in a life of an ordinary man” didn’t really appeal to me, but I ended up really enjoying the book. What I especially liked about it, was the story that was built in to present these thought provoking human characteristics. It was a relatively quick read, with only about 180 pages. I was very pleasantly surprised about the descriptive writing, which I usually don’t like, but this author did a very good job at it.

Here’s the excerpt from goodreads:”When A Single Man was originally published, it shocked many by its frank, sympathetic, and moving portrayal of a gay man in midlife. George, the protagonist, is adjusting to life on his own after the sudden death of his partner, and determines to persist in the routines of his daily life: the course of A Single Man spans twenty-four hours in an ordinary day. An Englishman and a professor living in suburban Southern California, he is an outsider in every way, and his internal reflections and interactions with others reveal a man who loves being alive despite everyday injustices and loneliness. Wry, suddenly manic, constantly funny, surprisingly sad, this novel catches the texture of life itself.”

First suggested: November 2016

Supporter(s): Nadya, Andrei, Uli, Nicole

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2017-07 Book Club

What: When Rain Clouds Gather by Bessie Head

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

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

I must confess I have a faible for authors in danger to be forgotten (and faultlessly so). One of them is Bessie Head. Her biography alone is remarkable: the daughter of a rich white lady from South Africa and a black man who was a servant or worker of some kind, born at a time when this was totally not accepted (1937). As an adult she fled to Botswana and became, as a woman, the most prominent writer of that country. All her life she has been quite poor and she died when not even 50.

I discovered her writing long time ago in a collection of short stories called “Perlen Afrikas”, where a story from her book “Tales of Tenderness and Power” was included. This one and one by Charles Mungoshi took my breath away. Sadly “Tales of Tenderness and Power” is very hard to get nowadays, so I suggest her first - and one of her best known - novels, “When Rain Clouds Gather”, which was reprinted recently, so should be easy to buy.

So vote for this and you’ll be able to impress all those who have never read anything by a Botswana author :-).

First suggested: July 2016

Supporter(s): Andrei, Nadya, Karina, Nela

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2017-06 Book Club

What: The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal

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

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

Boualem Sansal is an Algerian writer who is very famous right now in France for his books and also for being a courageous critic of religious fanatism. Because of this he seems to not be able to return to Algeria right now. This book won him the Grand prix RTL-Lire in 2008, and he won other important prizes with his newer books. I have a good feeling about this short volume which seems to be about violence, guilt and shame and I intend to read it anyway. There are tons of books about terrorism from a military point of view, and I expect this one focus on the human aspect.

First suggested: June 2016

Supporter(s): Andrei, Nadya, Karina, Wendy

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2017-05 Book Club

What: Bazaar of bad dreams by Stephen King

When: 24 May, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

Even though most people think of horror stories and gore when thinking of Stephen King, this collection of short stories offers more. These are not (only) horror stories. True enough, some can be classified as typical Stephen King from the 80’s, but most of the stories in this collection focus on human behaviour given certain circumstances.

I really enjoyed this book. But then again, I am biased towards this author.

Pitch text by: Rene

First suggested: November 2016

Supporter(s): Rene, Nicole, Dominik, Wendy

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2017-04 Book Club

What: Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje

When: 26 April, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

From Amazon:

Anil’s Ghost transports us to Sri Lanka, a country steeped in centuries of tradition, now forced into the late twentieth century by the ravages of a bloody civil war. Enter Anil Tissera, a young woman and forensic anthropologist born in Sri Lanka but educted in the West, sent by an international human rights group to identify the victims of the murder campaigns sweeping the island.

When Anil discovers that the bones found in an ancient burial site are in fact those of a much more recent victim, her search for the terrible truth hidden in her homeland begins. What follows is a story about love, about family, about identity - a story driven by a riventing mystery.

First suggested: April 2016

Supporter(s): Karina, Andrei, Wendy, Nela

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2017-03 Book Club

What: Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson

When: 22 March, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

From Goodreads.com

These brand new stories from Johnson are typically comic and tender, absurd and totally universal. In post-Katrina Louisiana, a young man and his new girlfriend search for the mother of his son. In Palo Alto, a computer programmer whose wife has a rare disease finds solace in a digital copy of the recently assassinated President. In contemporary Berlin a former Stasi agent ponders his past.

And in “Interesting Facts”, a woman with cancer rages against the idea of her family without her.

Hugely inventive and endlessly energetic, this is a heart wrenching, surprising collection of stories that show Johnson at the top of his form.

First suggested: November 2015

Supporter: Nela, Nicole, Nadya, Jennifer

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2017-02 Book Club

What: Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish

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

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

From Goodreads.com

Zou Lei, orphan of the desert, migrates to work in America and finds herself slaving in New York’s kitchens. She falls in love with a young man whose heart has been broken in another desert. A new life may be possible if together they can survive homelessness, lockup, and the young man’s nightmares, which may be more prophecy than madness.

First suggested: November 2015

Supporter: Nela, Karina, Andrei, Jennifer

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2017-01 Book Club

What: All the Light We cannot See by Anthony Doerr

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

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

From the back of the book:

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

First suggested: November 2016

Supporter(s): Rene, Nela, Wendy, Karina

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2016-12 Book Club

What: Games People Play by Eric Berne

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

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

We think we’re relating to other people–but actually we’re all playing games.

Forty years ago, Games People Play revolutionized our understanding of what really goes on during our most basic social interactions. More than five million copies later, Dr. Eric Berne’s classic is as astonishing–and revealing–as it was on the day it was first published. We play games all the time–sexual games, marital games, power games with our bosses, and competitive games with our friends. Detailing status contests like “Martini” (I know a better way), to lethal couples combat like “If It Weren’t For You” and “Uproar,” to flirtation favorites like “The Stocking Game” and “Let’s You and Him Fight,” Dr. Berne exposes the secret ploys and unconscious maneuvers that rule our intimate lives. Explosive when it first appeared, Games People Play is now widely recognized as the most original and influential popular psychology book of our time. It’s as powerful and eye-opening as ever.

First suggested: ???

Supporter(s): ???

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2016-11 Book Club

What: The Bricks that Built the Houses by Kate Tempest

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

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

Well, I read a promising book review, praising the passionate language of this debut novel. Learning that the author is a known slam poet too, the internet turned up some captivating performances of her, most notably this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32i5zfcFt8g

an hour of poetry which shows not only her love for words and their power, but also for what is important in life and how a lot of people lose track of it nowadays ...

Don’t know when I will get to read it - but figured that our group of language lovers might well be interested :-)

About the book’s story: well, that’s secondary in my perception, you’ll find a synopsis here: http://katetempest.co.uk/. The main reason to read the book would be to find joy in strong and passionate feelings again while reading.

First suggested: May 2016

Supporter(s): Leon, Rene, Nicole, Nela

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