Required Reading

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Book discussions are a great way to meet new people and enhance our reading experience, but inevitably we all get to a title that makes us think, “Why are we reading that?” Maybe it’s not a genre that you typically read. Maybe it’s by an author that you’ve tried before who wasn’t really your cup of tea. Maybe the weather is dreary and you just don’t feel like taking a trip to war-torn Chechnya. Whatever the reason, your typically fun social event with fellow book nerds suddenly feels more like a school assignment. The strange thing, though, is that when you push through that initial reluctance, those books can become your absolute favorites. They’re often the books that you can’t stop thinking about, talking about, or convincing others to give a chance. They’re the ones that leave you thinking, “I would never have read that if it wasn’t for book club… and I’m so glad I did.”

 

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

Set during the Chechen war, the characters in this novel face a bleak reality.  Despite the fear and violence that they live through, a glowing light of hope keeps them afloat, and each finds something that is so worth preserving that the vitality of hope and connection becomes his or her strength.

The Double Bind

College student Laura Estabrook’s life is forever changed when she is attacked while riding her bicycle on an isolated Vermont road. After the trauma, she withdraws from the world, spending time only on her photography and her work at a shelter. As Laura begins to explore the fascinating life of a homeless man who recently passed away, she becomes obsessed with his photographs, believing they reveal a dark family secret.

The Gargoyle

A man blessed with beauty, but largely without conscience, is burnt beyond recognition and endurance in a car accident. In the hospital burn unit, he plots his suicide after discharge, until he meets a wildly attractive and unpredictable woman who insists that they were lovers hundreds of years ago in Medieval Germany. As she mesmerizes him with stories of their own shared past and other tales of timeless love from throughout the world and the start of history, the burn victim finds himself gradually pulled back toward life.

Suite Française

Never completed after the author was arrested and deported to Auschwitz, Irène Némirovsky’s novel in two parts explores the lives of ordinary citizens thrown into chaos as they flee Paris ahead of imminent Nazi invasion and later, the increasingly complicated existence of those living in a German-occupied village.

True Grit

A fourteen year old girl enlists the help of a one-eyed U.S. Marshal to pursue her father’s murderer into Indian Territory.