Upcoming Book Groups

Welcome to Literary Masters, where we’re making literature ‘lit’ again! We hope you enjoyed the Summer Reading list while waiting for our 2018-19 season to kick off! We read furiously all summer long and hope you’ll find THE LIST as stellar as we think it is! Unlike previous seasons, we don’t have a short story collection on THE LIST. Instead, you’ll find a riveting memoir in addition to another jaw-dropping nonfiction title. We have a classic that could have been written this morning, and a mix of other fiction that will get us thinking, talking, and hopefully opening up our minds!

October: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
If you’re intrigued by family dramas full of colorful characters, you’ll love this book.  If you like pondering deep, unanswerable questions, you’ll love this book.  Here’s the big question: How would knowing the date of your death impact how you live your life?  Four siblings from the Gold family find out the dates of their deaths and react in different ways over a span of five decades.  While the story is about the four main characters, there’s no doubt you’ll be wondering “What if I knew? How would I live my life?”


November: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Our classic for the season!  It’s the bicentennial of Frankenstein‘s publication, yet somehow the story seems to be about the times we’re living in now.  No doubt we’ll have some fun–and raucous discussions–as we talk about the Dr. Frankenstein of this book as well as those Frankensteins outside the book!  And we mustn’t forget about his creation, of course.   One of the questions we must ask: Who, really, is the monster?


Our nonfiction title for the season, which we feel certain you will not be able to put down.  A jaw-dropping tale of greed and hubris.  John Carreyrou takes us on a wild ride as he tells the tale of Theranos and its blue-eyed wonder-woman founder Elizabeth Holmes.  Seemingly nothing could stop the rocket ship success of this Silicon Valley start-up that promised to transform the world by revolutionizing the testing of blood.  Note the importance of the word “seemingly” here.  As we ‘dig deep’ into this book, we will employ the skills of critical thinking–something that so many people in this book failed to do.


January: The Golden Legend by Nadeem Aslam
We take a trip to Pakistan this month but perhaps not the Pakistan of tourist brochures.  Illuminating the difficulty those of religious minorities must deal with on a daily basis, our novel doesn’t pull a punch.  What would you do if every day your local religious institution broadcasted the worst secrets of your neighbors for everyone to hear?  This is the situation in the fictional Pakistani city of Zamana, home to Nargis.  She worries her own secrets will be exposed as she mourns the recent death of her husband.  And some secrets are much deadlier than others.  Pakistan does not escape lightly here, and neither does America.  Heavy, yes, but there’s hope and human resilience here as well.


February: Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
The memoir that we couldn’t not put on THE LIST.  This is the story of Tara Westover, born and raised by “survivalist” parents in the wilds of Idaho.  It will open your eyes, break your heart, strain your credulity, and earn your admiration–just some of the emotions you’re sure to experience as you read this un-put-down-able story.  Ironically, it’s difficult to understand how Tara ever even survived her upbringing!  The real astonishment, however, is how far she traveled, both literally and figuratively, away from her home.


March: Less by Andrew Sean Greer
Many critics cite how light and humorous this novel is, but there is more to Less (pun intended) than meets the eye!  This story about Arthur Less–soon to turn 50, newly heart-broken, and feeling like a has-been professionally–who goes on an odyssey around the world, is deeper than it appears.  Who said good literature has to be sad or depressing?  Sometimes, it can be joyous.  Clearly, those folks who award the Pulitzer Prize agree!


April: There There by Tommy Orange
Another and altogether unique look at the Native American experience, it’s hard to believe this is a debut novel.  Twelve characters make their way to the Big Oakland Powwow, each with his or her own reason for going there.   This is an unflinching look at today’s urban Native Americans–who they are, the history that they carry with them, and the identities they simultaneously embrace and reject.  No doubt we’ll explore how we as a nation can ever deal with our present situation without truthfully confronting our past.


May: The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott
When a young Irish immigrant decides to kill himself in his Brooklyn kitchen, he unknowingly leaves his pregnant wife and future daughter in the care of the local nuns.  This is the Catholic church that cares for the sick, the ailing, and the poor, and we see how Annie and Sally adjust to life under the wings of these mostly benevolent (and refreshingly human) nuns.  But the religious life is not for everyone, and Annie and Sally break out of their confines, each in her own way.  A superb storyteller, McDermott doesn’t disappoint in her lyrical prose–this is a gem to treasure.

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