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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2018-05 Book Club

What: By a Slow River by Philippe Claudel

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

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

Philippe Claudel is one my favourite young French authors. He wrote the screenplay for the movie “I’ve Loved You So Long”, which made me cry like a small child. “By a Slow River” is also known by the name “The Grey Souls” and is a crime story settled in France during WW1. I liked it a lot, it has a clever (tragic) ending and a general richness of feelings and images, which makes me expect you’ll like it too. This book won the renowned Prix Renaudot in France.

Pitch text by: Andrei

First suggested: July 2017

Supporter(s): Andrei, Miriam, Haaike, Guido, Wendy

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2018-04 Book Club

What: Kokoro by Natsume Soseki

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

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

“The subject of ’Kokoro,’ which can be translated as ’the heart of things’ or as ’feeling,’ is the delicate matter of the contrast between the meanings the various parties of a relationship attach to it. In the course of this exploration, Soseki brilliantly describes different levels of friendship, family relationships, and the devices by which men attempt to escape from their fundamental loneliness. The novel sustains throughout its length something approaching poetry, and it is rich in understanding and insight. The translation, by Edwin McClellan, is extremely good.”

First suggested: Dec 2017

Supporter(s): Nela, Uli, Guido, Lynn, Wendy, Vera

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2018-03 Book Club

What: Genesis by Bernard Beckett

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

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

The book landed on the table at our pre Christmas book swap and was spontaneously nominated for (originally) January! SciFi by genre but looked interesting and accessible – and short – enough to arouse the curiosity even of those not normally in the habit …

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2018-02 Book Club

What: A Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

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

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life.

Now Tony is retired. He’s had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He’s certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer’s letter is about to prove.

Winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction (Now a major film starring Jim Broadbent and Charlotte Rampling)

Pitch text by: Wendy

First suggested: July 2017

Supporter(s): (Wendy), Miriam, Uli, Karina

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2018-01 Book Club

What: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

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

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

From Goodreads: Yuval Noah Harari, author of the critically-acclaimed New York Times bestseller and international phenomenon Sapiens, returns with an equally original, compelling, and provocative book, turning his focus toward humanity’s future, and our quest to upgrade humans into gods.

Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but, as Harari explains in his trademark style—thorough, yet riveting—famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals put together. The average American is a thousand times more likely to die from binging at McDonalds than from being blown up by Al Qaeda.

What then will replace famine, plague, and war at the top of the human agenda? As the self-made gods of planet earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake? Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century—from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? This is the next stage of evolution. This is Homo Deus.

With the same insight and clarity that made Sapiens an international hit and a New York Times bestseller, Harari maps out our future.

First suggested: December 2016

Supporter(s): Nela, Uli, Nicole, Karina

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2017-12 Book Club

What: One Day I Will Write About This Place by Binyavanga Wainaina

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

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

I came across some reviews for this by accident, and what I saw made me want to read the book – what else can I say? The author is Kenyan, with a Ugandan mother and who studied in South Africa around the end of the Apartheid regime, and as a memoir of his own experience, the book reflects the countries and times he grew up and lives in. An excerpt from the book as well as a few other texts by the author are published online at Granta.

”This is How to Write About Africa: Binyavanga Wainaina is most famous for How to write about Africa – an essay published by Granta in 2005 that formed a cynical guide to all the clichés writers generally employ when writing about the continent. A notable instruction in this piece advises:

’Broad brushstrokes throughout are good. Avoid having the African characters laugh, or struggle to educate their kids, or just make do in mundane circumstances.’

Wainaina’s new (and first) book One Day I Will Write About This Place is a comic refutation of the premise that this is how you write about Africa. As such, it reads like nothing I have read before, crackling with the energy of a writer who delights in revealing the multi-cultural, multi-national, multi-ethnic world of his middle-class Kenyan upbringing.” – Magnus Taylor, African Arguments

First suggested: December 2016

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

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2017-11 Book Club

What: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.

First suggested: May 2016

Supporter(s): Tanya, Rene, Andrei, Haaike

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2017-10 Book Club

What: M. Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt

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

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

A while ago we read “Oscar And The Lady In Pink” by the same author. It is part of a series of books by him which try to capture the essence of each of the big religions we know these days. While Oscar was focusing the core concepts of Christianity, this book now attempts to do the same for Islam. Considering how that religion has been put under public pressure by developments in the recent years, it might be a nice change to focus on the positive attitude of that religion for once. Being a short book it might also fit in well in a time where people don’t seem to find time for reading large volumes ... ;-)

First suggested: June 2016

Supporter(s): Leon, Nicole, Uli, Haaike

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2017-09 Book Club

What: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

When: 27 September, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Restaurant Werdguet

An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.

First suggested: January 2017

Supporter(s): Nela, Nicole, Wendy, Haaike, Miriam

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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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