Literary Salons

Our literary salons for grownups offer members the intellectual stimulation and satisfaction of university courses without the stress of homework or assignments. Connecting with our books, with each other, and with the world at large, we develop our literary knowledge while exploring a wide variety of genres each season.

THE LIST for this 2022/2023 Season is posted below, and you can view our Past Literary Salons for titles from previous seasons!

Before our meeting you will receive “Points to Ponder,” which may help you view that month’s selection in a new way. At the meeting you’ll enjoy a short presentation that will enhance your appreciation of the book, and then you will partake in a riveting discussion. Your trained facilitator will ensure that you ‘dig deep’ into both craft and story elements of that month’s literary treasure.

Literary Masters Salons: THE LIST 2022-2023 Season

As always, we reserve the right to change any title during the season. We always have your best reading in mind!

Book 1: Horse by Geraldine Brooks

Real-life legendary racehorse Lexington serves as the inspiration for the trio of plot lines in Pulitzer Prize winner Brooks’ latest novel. While a commentary on the realities of ongoing racism and the historic fallout of slavery in America, this beautifully written book is also a compelling read giving insights into hidden corners of horse racing in Civil War Kentucky, the contemporary art world in mid-20th century New York, and the operations of the Smithsonian Museum in present-day Washington DC.

Book 2: Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Author Emily St. John Mandel manages to hopscotch between the 20th, 21st, 23rd and 25th centuries while creating characters and worlds that one will recognize and care about. Readers will empathize with the longing and loneliness felt by Mandel’s characters, whether they be an author traveling between Earth and Moon colonies on a seemingly endless book tour, or a young aristocrat journeying from England to Canada in the early 1900s as punishment following a family dust-up. How does it all tie together and what is the meaning of these far-flung narratives? We’ll soon find out!

Book 3: The Return of Faraz Ali by Aamina Ahmad

This book will transport you to a world we’re guessing you haven’t been before. Our protagonist Faraz returns to his birthplace in the labyrinth streets of Mohalla (aka the red light district) in Pakistan to investigate and quickly cover up the murder of a young girl. Soon Faraz, now installed as the head of the local police, discovers an even trickier maze–how will he find the path to the truth? And what, if anything, is owed to the dead girl and her family of prostitutes and pimps? Exploring themes of identity, family, story-telling, personal agency, and more, this debut novel for the season is sure to generate fascinating discussions!

Book 4: Joan is Okay by Weike Wang

Being the other – whether as a woman in a male-dominated profession, being ethnically Chinese while growing up in a white neighborhood, or as a contented introvert in a society that celebrates those who put themselves out there, our protagonist Joan is staunchly herself and frequently very, very funny. Beneath the humor, this poignant novel explores serious questions about stereotypes and expectations, the assumptions we make about others, and how much room there is to be yourself when that very self may not be what others demand of you.

Book 5: Tell Me Everything by Erika Krouse

In a chance encounter, Erika Krouse bumps into a lawyer who cannot help but tell her his deepest truths within minutes of meeting her. It sets her on an unexpected path into a new career as a legal investigator. Despite her own history as a survivor of sexual abuse, Krouse accepts an assignment working to uncover the truth behind a sexual assault accusation against student athletes at the local football-obsessed university. The scandal explodes onto the national stage, engulfing individuals throughout the university and becoming a landmark civil rights case, all while forcing Krouse to reckon with her past in order to reclaim her own mental health. Can a person be too empathetic and listen too well? We’ll talk about it!

Book 6: What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad

Fleeing from a myriad of different horrors in their own homelands, a mix of nationalities, personalities, and beliefs are crammed aboard a decrepit “ship,” desperate to arrive in a land of safety and welcome. This beautifully written and moving story opens with the aftermath: the ship has sunk and there is only one survivor–nine year old Amir. As we readers journey with Amir in this strange new place, we are also taken back to the ship to see how it all came about. ‘Why does this happen’ and ‘what is one to do’ are just some of the questions posed by this timely and important book. Winner of the prestigious Canadian Giller Prize, this novel is sure to garner more awards!

Book 7: A Calling for Charlie Barnes by Joshua Ferris

So, we all need a ‘calling,’ right? To keep us on the right path? Poor Charlie Barnes is having a rough time. His marriages haven’t gone well, and his career is in tatters. The Great Depression has set in, and now even his own body is betraying him as he is diagnosed with cancer. It all looks pretty bleak until, wait! here comes a second chance! Charlie finally finds his true calling and is able to turn his entire life around. Best of all, his author son is there to write it all down. Exploring the father/son relationship, the American Dream, story-telling and who gets to tell whose story, this novel is by turns deeply moving and seriously hilarious. We can’t wait for the discussions!

Book 8: The Trees by Percival Everett

Every book by Percival Everett is unique in style and content, but one thing is always certain: we readers are in masterful hands. His latest novel has landed on the Booker Prize long list, and we won’t be surprised if it wins the award. The story revolves around a very dark period of American history, when lynchings were a regular occurrence in the deep south and other parts of the country. Now it’s happening again, but the players have all changed roles. Who is doing the lynching, and why is there always an extra body found, the body of the killer himself? Simultaneously thought-provoking, horrifying, and hilarious, this story looks directly at historical and present-day violence and asks important questions. It’s a page-turner, a literary mystery, social commentary, and historical storytelling–with a hefty dose of magical realism thrown in. We know these discussions are going to be off the charts!