Items tagged with Book clubs

History Book Discussion: "Washington: A Life"

Please see full event listing for date.

Amateur historian and Westporter J. Bruce McGuirk leads a discussion of Ron Chernow’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of George Washington, Washington: A Life. Ron Chernow was this year's BOOKED for the evening honoree.

Based on massive research, Chernow shatters forever the stereotype of George Washington as a stolid, unemotional figure and brings to vivid life a dashing, passionate man of fiery opinions and many moods. Booklist starred review says, "With so much that can be said—and said positively—about this magisterial biography, it is difficult not to write a review as long as the book itself. ... Our first president is thought of as more marble statue than living, hurting, loving human; however, Chernow’s Washington stands not in the opposite corner as hot-blooded and animated. Washington spent a lifetime practicing control of his passions and emotions; his innate virtues, undenied and even celebrated here, were sharpened and focused by the man’s suppression of a natural volatility. “His gift of silence” and of “inspired simplicity,” as the author so aptly terms Washington’s strongest suits, supported his consequent leadership as general and as president."

For copies of the book, phone 203.291.4821.

Weeks Seminar Room
Book Groups

PageTurners Book Discussion: American Dervish

Please see full event listing for date.

 

Join PageTurners for a discussion of American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar, the story of a young Pakistani-American boy growing up in the American Midwest and his struggle with his identity and religion. Don Rebar, Associate Director of Marketing for the Westport Country Playhouse, will lead the discussions. In partnership with the Westport Country Playhouse production of The Invisible Hand by Ayad Akhtar.

"A compelling debut with a family drama centered on questions of religious and ethnic identity.... Akhtar, himself a first-generation Pakistani-American from Milwaukee, perfectly balances a moving exploration of the understanding and serenity Islam imparts to an unhappy preteen with an unsparing portrait of fundamentalist bigotry and cruelty.... His well-written, strongly plotted narrative is essentially a conventional tale of family conflict and adolescent angst, strikingly individualized by its Muslim fabric. Hayat's father is in many ways the most complex and intriguing character, but Mina and Nathan achieve a tragic nobility that goes beyond their plot function as instruments of the boy's moral awakening.... Engaging and accessible, thoughtful without being daunting: This may be the novel that brings Muslim-American fiction into the commercial mainstream."―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

For copies of the book, phone 203.291.4821. New participants always welcome. 

Information on more Library book groups.

Sheffer Reading Room
Book Groups

PageTurners Book Discussion: American Dervish

Please see full event listing for date.

 

Join PageTurners for a discussion of American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar, the story of a young Pakistani-American boy growing up in the American Midwest and his struggle with his identity and religion. Don Rebar, Associate Director of Marketing for the Westport Country Playhouse, will lead the discussions. In partnership with the Westport Country Playhouse production of The Invisible Hand by Ayad Akhtar.

"A compelling debut with a family drama centered on questions of religious and ethnic identity.... Akhtar, himself a first-generation Pakistani-American from Milwaukee, perfectly balances a moving exploration of the understanding and serenity Islam imparts to an unhappy preteen with an unsparing portrait of fundamentalist bigotry and cruelty.... His well-written, strongly plotted narrative is essentially a conventional tale of family conflict and adolescent angst, strikingly individualized by its Muslim fabric. Hayat's father is in many ways the most complex and intriguing character, but Mina and Nathan achieve a tragic nobility that goes beyond their plot function as instruments of the boy's moral awakening.... Engaging and accessible, thoughtful without being daunting: This may be the novel that brings Muslim-American fiction into the commercial mainstream."―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

For copies of the book, phone 203.291.4821. New participants always welcome. 

Information on more Library book groups.

Sheffer Reading Room
Book Groups

History Book Discussion: "Alexander Hamilton"

Please see full event listing for date.

hamiltonAmateur historian and Westporter J. Bruce McGuirk leads a discussion of Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton, the inspiration for the hit Broadway musical Hamilton! Ron Chernow is this year's BOOKED for the evening honoree on Thursday, May 26.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow presents a landmark biography of Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who galvanized, inspired, scandalized, and shaped the newborn nation. In this New York Times bestseller, the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, Ron Chernow tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire and scandalize the newborn America. According to historian Joseph Ellis, Alexander Hamilton is “a robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all.”

For copies of the book, phone 203.291.4821.

McManus Room
Book Groups

Sybil Steinberg's New Book Picks for Summer Reading

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Sybil Steinberg
Get ready for your summer reading when Westporter Sybil Steinberg, contributing editor and former book review section editor for Publishers Weekly, returns with her ever-popular talk on the best new reads.

McManus Room
Talks & Readings

Adults Read YA Fiction

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All the Bright Places Are you an adult who loves to read YA? Join a discussion of All the Bright Places by Jennifer Nivan. When Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school—both teetering on the edge--it's the beginning of an unlikely relationship.

This book group meets on the last Tuesday of the month and celebrates the best new young adult literature. Copies of the book are available at the main circulation desk. NOTE meeting location: Harvest Wine Bar (36 Railroad Place). 

Other
Book Groups

A Year of Reading Jane Austen: Discuss "Persuasion"

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As a part of a year of reading Jane Austen, join a discussion of Persuasion, presented by Dr. Susan Ostorv Weisser, a professor of English at Adelphi University. She is the author of A Craving Vacancy: Women and Sexual Love in the British Novel 1740–1880 and The Glass Slipper: Women and Love Stories. She is the editor of Women and Romance: A Reader as well as three scholarly editions of classic novels by Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë and D. H. Lawrence.

Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen's most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret. When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne's family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love?

In Persuasion, as in such novels as Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Emma, Austen limned the plight of young women who could escape the constraints of family life only by marrying, and suggest the foolishness of women who believed they were free and not dependent on the financial and social resources of men. At the same time, Persuasion offers an ironic and subtle paean to the true love that enables one woman to rise above straitened economic circumstances and the stifling social conventions that restricted women to narrowly circumscribed lives in the common sitting room.

Susan Ostrov Weisser earned her Ph.D. in English Literature from Columbia University and is presently Professor of English at Adelphi University in New York, specializing in nineteenth century novels and women's studies. She has published articles and books on women and romance, including A Craving Vacancy: Women and Sexual Love in the British Novel, 1740-1880, Women and Romance: A Reader, and most recently, The Glass Slipper: Women and Love Stories (2013). In addition, she has edited three novels, Jane Austen's Persuasion, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, and D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover. 

In partnership with the Jane Austen Society North America, CT Region.

Detailed guide compiled by Westport Library reference librarians.

Dates for discussions of the rest of novels of Jane Austen are:

July 30: Persuasion
TBD: Pride and Prejudice
TBD: Emma

McManus Room
Book Groups

A Year of Reading Jane Austen: Discuss "Mansfield Park" with English Professor Dr. Pamela Buck

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jane austenMansfield ParkAs a part of a year of reading Jane Austen, Sacred Heart University English professor Dr. Pamela Buck leads a discussion of Mansfield Park. Taken from the poverty of her parents' home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally. When Fanny's uncle is absent in Antigua, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in the neighbourhood, bringing with them London glamour and a reckless taste for flirtation. As her female cousins vie for Henry's attention, and even Edmund falls for Mary's dazzling charms, only Fanny remains doubtful about the Crawfords' influence and finds herself more isolated than ever. A subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austen's most profound works.

In partnership with the Jane Austen Society North America, CT Region.

Detailed guide compiled by Westport Library reference librarians.

dr. pamela buckPamela Buck, Ph.D. teaches British literature courses and a seminar entitled Jane Austen's Guide to Dating. Her research focuses on British Romantic women writers and material culture during the French Revolution and Napoleonic period. Her book in progress explores how women travel writers use the souvenir, an object of memory and exchange, to circulate revolutionary ideas and affect political thought in Britain. Her most recent project examines material connections between East and West in global Romantic women's writing. She received her B.A. magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Wellesley College, her M.A. from the University of Chicago, and her Ph.D. from Tufts University.

July 30: Dr. Susan Ostrov Weisser, professor of English at Adelphi U., leads a discussion of Persuasion.

McManus Room
Book Groups

A Year of Reading Jane Austen: Discuss "Sense and Sensibility" with Dr. Mark Schenker

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jane austensense and sensibilityAs a part of the Westport Library program "A Year of Reading Jane Austen," join a discussion of Sense and Sensibility, led by Dr. Mark Schenker, Associate Dean at Yale College. This novel has entered its third century without losing any of its freshness. Dean Schenker has frequently lectured on the works of Jane Austen; in the summer of 2013 he was the featured speaker at a conference of the CT chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America. One of his two talks there was “Sensibility and Sense: How the 18th Century Meets the 19th in Jane Austen’s Novels."

The first of Jane Austen’s works to appear, Sense and Sensibility (1811) is the reworking of an epistolary novel entitled Elinor and Marianne, which the author began at the age of 20. Published anonymously (“By A Lady”), the novel sold steadily through its first edition and required a second edition in 1813. With it, Austen saw her first profits as an author, found her voice and her audience.

In partnership with the Jane Austen Society North America, CT Region.

Detailed guide compiled by Westport Library reference librarians.

Mark J. Schenker has been at Yale College since 1990. He is currently a senior associate dean of the College and dean of academic affairs. Born and raised in New York City, he received his Ph.D. in English Literature from Columbia University and has taught at Columbia, New York University, and Trinity College (Hartford). Dean Schenker has led book discussion series in public libraries and other venues in Connecticut for over 30 years and lectures frequently on literature and film for public audiences. He was the recipient of the 2001 Wilbur Cross Award for Outstanding Humanities Scholar, presented by the Connecticut Humanities Council. 

Dates for discussions of the rest of novels of Jane Austen are:

February 27: Kick-Off & Discussion of Northanger Abbey
April 9: Sense and Sensibility with a discussion led by Dr. Mark Schenker, Associate Dean at Yale College.
May 21: Mansfield Park
July 23: Persuasion
August 27: Pride and Prejudice
September 24: Emma

McManus Room
Book Groups

PageTurners Book Discussion: Nora Webster

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Nora Webster Join PageTurners for a discussion of Nora Webster: A Novel by Colm Toibin. Set in Wexford, Ireland, Tóibín’s seventh novel introduces the formidable, memorable and deeply moving Nora Webster. Widowed at forty, with four children and not enough money, Nora has lost the love of her life, Maurice, the man who rescued her from the stifling world to which she was born. And now she fears she may be drawn back into it. Wounded, strong-willed, clinging to secrecy in a tiny community where everyone knows your business, Nora is drowning in her own sorrow and blind to the suffering of her young sons, who have lost their father. Yet she has moments of stunning empathy and kindness, and when she begins to sing again, after decades, she finds solace, engagement, a haven—herself.

Nora Webster is a masterpiece in character study by a writer at the zenith of his career, “beautiful and daring” (The New York Times Book Review) and able to “sneak up on readers and capture their imaginations” (USA TODAY). In Nora Webster, Tóibín has created a character as iconic, engaging and memorable as Madame Bovary or Hedda Gabler.

For copies of the book, phone 203.291.4821. New participants always welcome. 

Information on more Library book groups.

Sheffer Reading Room
Book Groups