2017 Book Selections
Thursday, January 19 : The Heart is a Lonely Hunter - Carson McCullers
At 23, Carson McCullers became a literary sensation when The Heart is a Lonely Hunter was first published in 1940. McCullers tells a haunting story that gives voice to people that are often rejected and mistreated. According to the New York Times Book Review, “her art suggests a Van Gogh painting peopled with Faulkner figures.”
Thursday, February 16 : Eligible - Curtis Sittenfeld
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a good story bears endless retellings and interpretations. Join us for a discussion of Curtis Sittenfeld’s take on Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice. Liz and Jane Bennet and their younger sisters hail from modern day Cincinnati, where their family faces economic ruin due to medical bills and second mortgages. Now they are looking for love in what is both an homage to and a spoof of Austen’s original.
Thursday, March 16 : 1984 - George Orwell
Although first published in 1949, and even though the year 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s prophetic, dystopian vision of the future seems timelier than ever. Big Brother is watching!
Thursday, April 20 : Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel
In a post-pandemic America, a former Hollywood child star tours the settlements of survivors with a group of actors, putting on shows for anyone who is left. At one stop, they meet The Prophet, a violent and threatening cult leader who threatens to dig the graves of anyone trying to escape. How do you survive the end of the world?
Thursday, May 18 : For Whom the Bell Tolls - Ernest Hemingway
Regarded by many as Hemingway’s best work, For Whom the Bell Tolls tells the story of Robert Jordan, an American dynamiter fighting with the republican guerillas in the Spanish Civil War in 1939.
Thursday, June 15 : Bottomland - Michelle Hoover
Bottomland follows the Hess family in Iowa in the years after World War I as they attempt to rid themselves of the Anti-German sentiment that left a stain on their name. When the youngest two daughters vanish in the middle of the night, the family must piece together what happened. Bottomland is this year’s All Iowa Reads selection.
Thursday, July 20 : Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
A young, college-educated black man struggles to survive and succeed in a divided society that refuses to see him as a real human being. When published in 1952, Ellison’s novel received instantaneous acclaim, winning the National Book Award.
Thursday, August 17 : The Sympathizer - Viet Thanh Nguyen
The Sympathizer of the title is a half-French, half-Vietnamese army captain who comes to Los Angeles after the fall of Saigon. Half of him falls in love and builds a new life in the US. The other half is still reporting back to the communist regime in Vietnam. Nguyen’s novel won six awards, including the Pulitzer Prize.
Thursday, September 21 : The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
Dorian Gray, the subject of an oil painting by the artist Basil Hallward, wishes that the painting age instead of him. Dorian gets his wish, but the portrait becomes a mirror of his true self, which begins to grow ugly and cruel. Many people considered Wilde’s novel indecent when first published in 1890.
Thursday, October 19 : The Butterfly Mosque - G. Wilow Wilson
Journalist G. Willow Wilson relates the remarkable story of her conversion to Islam and her marriage to an Egyptian man in a volatile post –9/11 world in this year’s One Community, One Book Selection. Wilson will speak at Hancher on October 8 at 2 pm as part of the Iowa City Book Festival. One Community, One Book is a project of the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights.
Thursday, November 16 : One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The 1967 magical realistic novel by Marquez is one of the most widely acclaimed of his novels, having sold over 30 million copies and been translated into 37 languages. The story follows seven generations of the Buendia family, who are unable or unwilling to escape their cyclic, extraordinary, and unusual fortunes.
Thursday, December 21 : Another Brooklyn - Jacqueline Woodson
August is grown now and far from the Brooklyn where she grew up, but a chance encounter takes her back to the 1970s, when she and her friends grew up in a Brooklyn that was at once full of possibility and full of terror. Woodson is the author of the National Book Award winning memoir Brown Girl Dreaming.
Novel Conversations meets on the third Thursday of each month at 7 pm in the Library Board Room. Everyone is welcome!