Virtual Read Dangerously Book Club
"Literature can help rescue us in times of trauma...In an era when America has never been so divided and when onetime adversaries have become actual enemies, fiction, with its tendency toward empathy, understanding, and nuance, offers a path forward toward genuine engagement. To keep our democracy, Nafisi argues, the role of literature is vital. In the great writers of our time--from Toni Morrison to David Grossman to Ta-Nehisi Coates--she finds a tonic for a political environment with 'too much ideology and not enough discourse.'" (Taken from the front flap of Read Dangerously)
I have wanted to pave a way toward building bridges in our community and I believe this book club is one step in that direction. We all grew up with a certain set of beliefs, but how often are we willing to take a wider view and read outside our comfort zone? This book club aims to do just that, and we don't want to just present one way of looking at issues, either. All voices are welcome.
(You need only register once)
2023 READING SCHEDULE
JANUARY – Ordinary Equality: The Fearless Women and Queer People Who Shaped the U.S. Constitution and the Equal Rights Amendment by Kate Kelly (2022-Gibbs Smith) | 256 pages | $27.99 – Ordinary Equality digs into the fascinating and little-known history of the ERA and the lives of the incredible—and often overlooked—women and queer people who have helped shape the U.S. Constitution for more than 200 years. The author will be joining us for this discussion.
FEBRUARY – Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi (2003) | 356 pages | $18.00 – “Anyone who has ever belonged to a book group must read this book. Azar Nafisi takes us into the vivid lives of eight women who must meet in secret to explore the forbidden fiction of the West. It is at once a celebration of the power of the novel and a cry of outrage at the reality in which these women are trapped. The ayatollahs don' t know it, but Nafisi is one of the heroes of the Islamic Republic." --Geraldine Brooks, author of Nine Parts of Desire. (Includes a readers’ guide and list of suggested reading.)
MARCH – Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times by Azar Nafisi (2022-HC) | 240 pages | $26.99 – What is the role of literature in an era when one political party wages continual war on writers and the press? What is the connection between political strife in our daily lives, and the way we meet our enemies on the page in fiction? How can literature, through its free exchange, affect politics? In this ... guide to literature as resistance, Nafisi seeks to answer these questions. Drawing on her experiences as a woman and voracious reader living in the Islamic Republic of Iran, her life as an immigrant in the United States, and her role as literature professor in both countries, she crafts an argument for why, in a genuine democracy, we must engage with the enemy, and how literature can be a vehicle for doing so. (Again, includes a list of suggested reading.)
APRIL – The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (2008) | 576 pages | $19.00 – A hijacked jetliner explodes above the English Channel. Through the falling debris, Gibreel Farishta, the biggest star in India, and Saladin Chamcha, an expatriate, plummet from the sky, and proceed through a series of metamorphoses, dreams, and revelations.
MAY – Eve Bites Back: An Alternative History of English Literature by Anna Beer (2022-PRH) | 304 pages | $28.95 – From the fourteenth century through to the present day, women who write have been understood as mad, undisciplined or dangerous. Female writers have always had to find ways to overcome or challenge these beliefs. Some were cautious and discreet, some didn't give a damn, but all lived complex, eventful and often controversial lives. Eve Bites Back places the female contemporaries of Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton center stage in the history of literature in English, uncovering stories of dangerous liaisons and daring adventures. From Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe, Aemilia Lanyer and Anne Bradstreet, to Aphra Behn, Mary Wortley Montagu, Jane Austen and Mary Elizabeth Braddon, these are the women who dared to write.
JUNE – The Trial by Franz Kafka (9780805209990) (1999-PRH) | 304 pages | $15.95 - The terrifying tale of Josef K., a respectable bank officer who is suddenly and inexplicably arrested and must defend himself against a charge about which he can get no information. Whether read as an existential tale, a parable, or a prophecy of the excesses of modern bureaucracy wedded to the madness of totalitarianism, Kafka's nightmare has resonated with chilling truth for generations of readers.
JULY – Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (2012-S&S) | 256 pages | $17.00 – A book burner in a future fascist state finds out books are a vital part of a culture he never knew. He clandestinely pursues reading, until he is betrayed.
AUGUST – To the End of the Land by David Grossman (2011-PRH) | 672 pages | $19.00 – A stunning novel that tells the powerful story of Ora, an Israeli mother, and her extraordinary love for her son, Ofer, in a haunting meditation on war and family. Just before his release from service in the Israeli army, Ora's son is sent back to the front for a major offensive. In a fit of preemptive grief and magical thinking, so that no bad news can reach her, Ora sets out on an epic hike in the Galilee. She is joined by an unlikely companion--Avram, a former friend and lover with a troubled past—and as they sleep out in the hills, Ora begins to conjure her son. Ofer's story, as told by Ora, becomes a surprising balm both for her and for Avram.
SEPTEMBER – The Republic by Plato (2013-PRH) | 496 pages | $13.00 – The Republic is Plato's masterwork. It was written 2,400 years ago and remains one of the most widely read books in the world, famous for both the richness of its ideas and the virtuosity of its writing. Presented as a dialogue between Plato's teacher Socrates and various interlocutors, it is an exhortation to study philosophy, inviting its readers to reflect on the choices we must make if we are to live the best life available to us. This complex, dynamic work creates a picture of an ideal society governed not money, power, or fame, but by philosophy, wisdom, and justice.
OCTOBER – The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (2007-PRH) | 224 pages | $16.00 – In Morrison's acclaimed first novel, Pecola Breedlove—an 11-year-old Black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others—prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different. This is the story of the nightmare at the heart of her yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment.
NOVEMBER – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1998-PRH) | 336 pages | $15.95 – In the world of the near future, who will control women's bodies? Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now....
DECEMBER – Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (2006-HC) | 272 pages | $17.99 – Hurston's beloved classic—one of the most important American novels of the 20th century—follows the fortunes of Janie Crawford, a woman who was married three times and had been tried for the murder of one of her husbands in the black town of Eaton, Florida.
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