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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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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2015-12 Book Club

What: The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

When: 9 December, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

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

The landmark novel of the Sixties – a powerful account of a woman searching for her personal, political and professional identity while facing rejection and betrayal.

In 1950s London, novelist Anna Wulf struggles with writer’s block. Divorced with a young child, and fearful of going mad, Anna records her experiences in four coloured notebooks: black for her writing life, red for political views, yellow for emotions, blue for everyday events. But it is a fifth notebook – the golden notebook – that finally pulls these wayward strands of her life together.

Widely regarded as Doris Lessing’s masterpiece and one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century, ‘The Golden Notebook’ is wry and perceptive, bold and indispensable.

First suggested: February 2015

Supporter(s): Richie, Nadja, Isa, Nela, Jennifer, Uli

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2015-11 Book Club

What: Before I go to sleep by S. J. Watson

When: 11 November, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

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

Memories define us… So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep. Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love - all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story…

First suggested: June 2015

Supporter: Jennifer, Leon, Rene, Nicole

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2015-10 Book Club

What: The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

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

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

I’ve read this book some years back and was thinking that I would like to read it again (even though I don’t normally reread books). Anyways, I thought this book might also be interesting for many of the people, who I’ve met at the club. Contrary to what the title may imply, it’s not a love story, but more about finding yourself and living life. If this book does get choose, as I remember, this is much better as an actual book than an e-book (just as a heads up).

Here’s a short excerpt/description, which I found on Amazon: A long-lost book reappears, mysteriously connecting an old man searching for his son and a girl seeking a cure for her widowed mother’s loneliness. Leo Gursky taps his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbor know he’s still alive. But it wasn’t always like this: in the Polish village of his youth, he fell in love and wrote a book. . . . Sixty years later and half a world away, fourteen-year-old Alma, who was named after a character in that book, undertakes an adventure to find her namesake and save her family. With virtuosic skill and soaring imaginative power, Nicole Krauss gradually draws these stories together toward a climax of “extraordinary depth and beauty” (Newsday)

First suggested: May 2014

Supporter(s): Nadya, Nicole, Karina, Leon

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2015-09 Book Club

What: Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out by Mo Yan

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

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

I recently got this book recommended by a friend and think the description looks interesting..

Today’s most revered, feared, and controversial Chinese novelist offers a tour de force in which the real, the absurd, the comical, and the tragic are blended into a fascinating read. The hero-or antihero-of Mo Yan’s novel is Ximen Nao, a landowner known for his generosity and kindness and benevolence to his peasants. However, during Mao’s Land Reform Movement of 1948, he is not only stripped of his land and worldly possessions but cruelly executed, despite his protestations of innocence.

The novel opens in Hell, where Lord Yama, king of the underworld, has Ximen Nao tortured endlessly in order to force a confession of guilt from him. When his efforts remain fruitless, Lord Yama allows Ximen Nao to return to earth, where he is reborn not as a human, but first as a donkey, then a horse, a pig, a monkey, and, finally, the big-headed boy Lan Qiansui. Through the eyes of animal and boy, Ximen Nao takes us on a deliriously unique journey through fifty years of peasant history in China, right to the edge of the new millennium. Here is an absolutely riveting tale that reveals the author’s love of a homeland beset by ills inevitable, political, and traditional.

First suggested: August 2014

Supporter(s): Richie, Ronel, Uli, Isa

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2015-08 Book Club

What: The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing

When: 12 August, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

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

The Nobel Prize-winner Doris Lessing’s first novel is a taut and tragic portrayal of a crumbling marriage, set in Rhodesia during the years of Apartheid. ‘The Grass is Singing’ tells the story of Dick Turner, a failed white farmer and his wife, Mary, a town girl who hates the bush and viciously abuses the black South Africans who work on their farm. But after many years, trapped by poverty, sapped by the heat of their tiny house, the lonely and frightened Mary turns to Moses, the black cook, for kindness and understanding.

A masterpiece of realism, ‘The Grass is Singing’ is a superb evocation of Africa’s majestic beauty, an intense psychological portrait of lives in confusion and, most of all, a fearless exploration of the ideology of white supremacy.

First suggested: February 2015

Supporter(s): Richie, Nela, Patrycja, Isa, Rene, Nicole

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2015-07 Book Club

What: The Tin Drum by Günter Grass

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

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

On his third birthday Oskar decides to stop growing. Haunted by the deaths of his parents and wielding his tin drum Oskar recounts the events of his extraordinary life; from the long nightmare of the Nazi era to his anarchic adventures is post-war Germany.

First suggested: February 2015

Supporter(s): Richie, Uli, Nicole, Patrycja, Karina

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2015-06 Book Club

What: Stone Junction by Jim Dodge

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

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

A while ago, this book was recommended to me – and reading it was a pleasure. It is full of witty, beautiful and clever language (an appropriate example that comes to my mind: “do you understand what i’m messing up saying?”). Though I must confess it is quite dated and thus might seem a bit aged. But it was never a problem while reading it - which in my humble view marks it as being a candidate for a classic …

From Amazon: “Starting with his mother’s ‘roundhouse’ right to a nun’s jaw, Stone Junction is a modern odyssey of one man’s quest for knowledge and understanding in a world where revenge, betrayal, revolution, mind-bending chemicals, magic and murder are the norm. With jaw-dropping scope, a stiletto-sharp wit and an array of utterly bizarre characters, Jim Dodge has woven a mesmerising and age-defining tale. Like a river constantly changing direction, Stone Junction is both stomach-clutching hilarious and heart-rendingly sad - but always utterly compelling. Prepare to step into a world where nothing is ever as it seems.”

First suggested: March 2015

Supporter(s): Leon, Uli, Nicole Dominik, Karina

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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’.

Note: This book appears hard to get in English. A recent German translation is much more readily available, from bookstores as well as libraries.

First suggested: March 2014

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

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