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 …

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2015-05 Book Club

What: Orient Express by John Dos Passos

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

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

Work doesn’t permit me to travel half as much as I’d like, but how about another piece of travel literature? This one is from a 1921 trip that took the author from Istanbul to Damascus, by way of Anatolia, the Caucasus, Persia and Mesopotamia (or Iran and Irak, respectively) – and from before the author was made famous by Manhattan Transfer. It sounds like a beautiful way to read about a region that nowadays only ever seems to appear in public view together with ‘crisis’ or ‘war’.

First suggested: March 2014

Supporter(s): Uli, Richie, Jessy, Michaela

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2015-04 Book Club

What: Stoner by John Williams

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

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

The Greatest American Novel You’ve Never Heard Of

… the New Yorker calls it. And goes on to say “In one of those few gratifying instances of belated artistic justice, John Williams’s “Stoner” has become an unexpected bestseller in Europe after being translated and championed by the French writer Anna Gavalda. Once every decade or so, someone like me tries to do the same service for it in the U.S., writing an essay arguing that “Stoner” is a great, chronically underappreciated American novel. (The latest of these, which also lists several previous such essays, is Morris Dickstein’s for the Times.) And yet it goes on being largely undiscovered in its own country, passed around and praised only among a bookish cognoscenti, and its author, John Williams, consigned to that unenviable category inhabited by such august company as Richard Yates and James Salter: the writer’s writer.”

Makes one curious!

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2015-03 Book Club

What: Lies of Silence by Brian Moore

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

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

Lies of Silence by Brian Moore

“The plot revolves around the protagonist, Michael Dillon, and his wife, Moira Dillon, who are held hostage in their house by terrorists that are members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). The men force Dillon, an apolitical hotel manager, to drive his bomb-laden car to the hotel he manages in order to kill a leading Protestant reverend, members of the Orange Order, and militant Protestants, all of whom are attending the same function.” (from Wikipedia)

Review from the New York Times

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2015-02 Book Club

What: Archangel by Andrea Barrett

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

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

Looking at a review of a different book, I came across this one that’s also in a sense historical fiction, though with an approach that had me intrigued: Five long short stories, not on the people at the forefront of discovery but how their contemporaries try to reconcile the new theories with their existing view of the world. From said review:

“In her new book, Archangel, Barrett—who has already written a number of superb fictions involving the history of science, among them Ship Fever, The Voyage of the Narwhal, and The Air We Breathe —here offers a group of interconnected stories that take place in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, each of which centers around an event or moment in the history of science and technology. “The Investigators” gives us the 1908 flight of an airplane made by Glenn H. Curtiss, as seen through the eyes of a twelve-year-old boy. In 1920, in “The Ether of Space,” astronomers argue about the implications of Einstein’s theory of relativity; in “The Particles,” geneticists returning from a contentious conference in Edinburgh in 1939 are bombed by a German U-boat and forced into even closer quarters on a rescue ship. “The Island” concerns a young woman on a Cape Cod summer study program led by Louis Agassiz in 1873, when he began what later became the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. And “Archangel,” set in northern Russia in 1919, concerns medical science, as an X-ray technician copes with the implications of her work in a war that inexplicably drags on.

(…) Because Agassiz was such an important and serious scientist, the scene is as sad as it is funny. The resistance to new theories, the pain of change, is one of Barrett’s central themes. Like Henrietta, who eventually recovers, we see creatures in a new way—implicitly—as products of natural selection. While we do not regret the knowledge, we also know that every gain is also a loss, here the loss of the certainty that everything makes sense because it is all from the mind of the creator, arising from a single cause. Moreover, profound uncertainties about love, and about the possibility of happiness, beset the characters in these stories even as they search for clarity in new knowledge and understanding of science. Like Darwin, and Einstein, and all her other heroes, Barrett the storyteller pulls us relentlessly away from false comforts, into the dazzling, often chaotic, world as it really is.” (New York Review of Books)

First suggested: March 2014

Supporter(s): Uli, Rene, Leon, Ronel, Michaela

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2015-01 Book Club

What: Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

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

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

I got this book also from a list of a 100 books to read in your lifetime. The last one “Life after Life”, I took down, after finishing it on my own and not enjoying it very much. However this books sounds different. I started the first couple pages and there were already points in the introduction, which I enjoyed that made me put the book on this list to discuss with the club :).

Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia: Man’s Search for Meaning is a 1946 book by Viktor Frankl chronicling his experiences as an Auschwitz concentration camp inmate during World War II, and describing his psychotherapeutic method, which involved identifying a purpose in life to feel positively about, and then immersively imagining that outcome. According to Frankl, the way a prisoner imagined the future affected his longevity. The book intends to answer the question “How was everyday life in a concentration camp reflected in the mind of the average prisoner?” Part One constitutes Frankl’s analysis of his experiences in the concentration camps, while Part Two introduces his ideas of meaning and his theory called logotherapy.

According to a survey conducted by the Book-of-the-Month Club and the Library of Congress, Man’s Search For Meaning belongs to a list of “the ten most influential books in the United States.” At the time of the author’s death in 1997, the book had sold over 10 million copies and had been translated into 24 languages

First suggested: May 2014

Supporter(s): Nadya, Richie, Nela

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2014-12 Book Club

What: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

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

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

If you believe Wikipedia, “The Prophet is one of the best-selling books of all time.”


Kahlil Gibran’s masterpiece, The Prophet, is one of the most beloved classics of our time. Published in 1923, it has been translated into more than twenty languages, and the American editions alone have sold more than nine million copies.

The Prophet is a collection of poetic essays that are philosophical, spiritual, and, above all, inspirational. Gibran’s musings are divided into twenty-eight chapters covering such sprawling topics as love, marriage, children, giving, eating and drinking, work, joy and sorrow, housing, clothes, buying and selling, crime and punishment, laws, freedom, reason and passion, pain, self-knowledge, teaching, friendship, talking, time, good and evil, prayer, pleasure, beauty, religion, and death.(less)

First suggested: August 2014

Supporter(s): Adl

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2014-11 Book Club

What: The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith

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

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

The authors, a pair of brothers, were comic actors in late 19th century London; George played the lead character in a series of Gilbert and Sullivan pieces. I guess we may expect some light entertainment!

Synopsis from Wikipedia: The Diary of a Nobody originated as an intermittent serial in Punch magazine in 1888–89 and first appeared in book form, with extended text and added illustrations, in 1892. The Diary records the daily events in the lives of a London clerk, Charles Pooter, his wife Carrie, his son Lupin, and numerous friends and acquaintances over a period of 15 months.

First suggested: Well, seems to have popped up spontaneously during the October meeting …

Supporter(s): Nela “The Dictator” D

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2014-10 Book Club

What: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

New date: 22 October, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

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

We’ve read two previous novels (Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun) by the same author before in this book club and most of us liked both of them a lot, so I’d like to propose her latest book for reading here.

From the Guardian review: There are some novels that tell a great story and others that make you change the way you look at the world. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah is a book that manages to do both. It is ostensibly a love story – the tale of childhood sweethearts at school in Nigeria whose lives take different paths when they seek their fortunes in America and England – but it is also a brilliant dissection of modern attitudes to race, spanning three continents and touching on issues of identity, loss and loneliness. This is Adichie’s third and most ambitious novel – her first, Purple Hibiscus, was longlisted for the Booker prize and her second, Half a Yellow Sun, won the Orange prize. A highly acclaimed 2009 collection of short stories, The Thing Around Your Neck, cemented her position as one of the most promising African writers of her generation.

First suggested: June 2014

Supporter(s): Uli, Jessy, Richie, Nicole, Nela

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2014-09 Book Club

What: The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twang Eng

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

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

Synopsis from the Guardian: Self-exiled from imperial Japan after a dispute with his employer Emperor Hirohito, Aritomo settles in the hilltops of Malaya and begins to build Yugiri, a “garden of evening mists”. Into his life comes independent Yun Ling, daughter of a prosperous Chinese Malaysian family, and the sole survivor of a prisoner-of-war camp. It is 1951, and she is a prosecutor of war criminals and a hater of all things Japanese – except one. Her request to Aritomo is simple: build a garden for her sister who perished in the camp, and who loved the gardens of Kyoto. The taciturn Aritomo is not in the habit of pleasing anyone or apologising for his country’s crimes. Instead he offers to teach Yun Ling the art of Japanese gardening, for two years. Almost against herself, she becomes his apprentice, then his lover, and finally, the canvas for his masterpiece: horimono, a full-body Japanese tattoo. The chapters in which this redemptive relationship unfolds through the rich metaphors of gardening, tattooing, tea-ceremonies, and Zen philosophy are the psychological core of the novel.

First suggested: March 2014

Supporter(s): Dominique, Uli, Richie

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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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Referrers: Bookclub meet in Zurich - Page 2 - English Forum Switzerland