"Judaism has never been solely a religion to me. It’s a people, a culture, and a religion, kind of like a state of being. It helps me locate myself in the world."
Circle Book Group
The Circle Book Group reads both fiction and non-fiction, and meets monthly on Sunday mornings for collegial and provocative discussion. Book selections are chosen by participants at least one month in advance of meetings.
MEETING LOCATIONS DO NOT ALTERNATE EVERY TIME, SO PLEASE READ THE PLACE OF MEETING CAREFULLY.
Meetings are at Betsy’s and Marie’s (near Inman Sq. in Cambridge). We meet from 10:15am-12:15pm. Bagels, coffee, and socializing at 10:15 (suggested $2 donation). At Marie's there's one cat who is out of the way during the meeting.
Email Marie to get on the Book Group mailing list.
Sunday, November 16 -- Betsy Groban’s -- (617) 492-8634 -- email@example.com -- Contact Betsy for the address.
BOOK: Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza by Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole
This novel covers very little territory geographically, but its human characters stretch from the shtetl to Caribbean isles and beyond. These denizens of New York's Lower East Side come from Germany, Italy, Poland, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. Mashed together on very little land, lives collide and combine in a maelstrom of languages, customs, foods, addictions, and violence. The beginnings of neighborhood gentrification foreshadow imminent change. Kurlansky's apt description of all this is meshugaloo, a combination of Yiddish and Spanish words that points to a sort of radical craziness. (Booklist review)
Sunday, December 14 -- Marie Ariel’s -- (617) 492-2765 -- firstname.lastname@example.org – 41 Amory St., Cambridge
BOOK: Peony by Pearl Buck
Young Peony is sold into a rich Chinese household as a bondmaid -- an awkward role in which she is more than a servant, but less than a daughter. As she grows into a lovely, provocative young woman, Peony falls in love with the family's only son. However, tradition forbids them to wed. How she resolves her love for him and her devotion to her adoptive family unfolds in this profound tale, based on true events in China over a century ago. The conflicts inherent in the Chinese and Jewish temperament are delicately and intricately traced with profound wisdom and delicate understanding in this tale... This is an enchanting story, the theme of which is tolerance. Highly recommended. --Library Journal
January 2015: Date to be decided
BOOK: World's Fair by E.L. Doctorow
The 1930s was a turbulent time for America: the Great Depression, left-wing politics and the growing concern over the rise of Hitler in Europe. As seen through the eyes of nine-year-old Edgar Altshuler, these events provide a backdrop for the more intimate story of his own family and how they coped while living in the Bronx. They serve a symbolic purpose as well as a historical one. On his first visit to the fair, Edgar is enthralled by industry's vision of the future—safe, secure and prosperous cities, speedy and cheap transportation and modern invention to make life easier. On his second visit, he sees that the exhibits are constructed of gypsum whose paint is peeling and that the displays are really toys. Reality has altered Edgar's perceptionshe is growing up. Edgar's chapters are randomly interspersed with his mother Rose's recollections and a few by his older brother Donald to give a seemingly simplistic view of life that is actually a rich narrative of history, political and personal values and points for discussion. A remarkable book for perceptive readers. –School Library Journal
Past Circle Book Group reading selections have included:
Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue: A Novel of Pastry, Guilt, and Music by Mark Kurlansky
The Family: three journeys into the heart of the twentieth century
The Jew in the lotus : a poet’s rediscovery of Jewish identity in Buddhist India by Rodger Kamenetz.
Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
Scenes From Village Life by Amos Oz
The Bookie’s Son by Andrew Goldstein
Bech, a book by John Updike
Einstein : his life and universe by Walter Isaacson
Not the Israel my parents promised me by Harvey Pekar and JT Waldman; epilogue written by Joyce Brabner; lettering by Charles Pritchett.
Amerika : the missing person : a new translation, based on the restored text by Franz Kafka; translated and with a preface by Mark Hofmann, 2002.
Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood
The Difficult Saint by Sharan Newman.
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Eric Larson.
The Cross and the Pear Tree : a Sephardic Journey by Victor Perera
The Sacrifice of Isaac by Noah Gordon
The adventures of Mottel: the cantor’s son by Sholem Aleichem
My father's paradise : a son's search for his Jewish past in Kurdish Iraq by Ariel Sabar
The end of the Jews : a novel by Adam Mansbach
The story of Yiddish : how a mish-mosh of languages saved the Jews by Neal Karlen
Beyond the Pale : a novel by Elana Dykewomon (also known as Nachman/Dykewomon)
The Merchant of Venice: modern version side-by-side with full original text, edited and rendered into modern English by Alan Durband
Escape to Shanghai: a Jewish Community in China by James R. Ross
The Assistant by Bernard Malamud
Scoundrel Time by Lillian Hellman
Heading South, Looking North by Ariel Dorfman
The Invisible Wall: A Love Story That Broke Barriers by Harry Bernstein
He, She and It by Marge Piercy
Loyalties: A Son’s Memoir by Carl Bernstein
Seize the Day by Saul Bellow
Foreskin’s Lament by Shalom Auslander
The Harlot by the Side of the Road by Jonathan Kirsch
Rashi’s Daughters, Book I: Joheved by Maggie Anton
The life of Glückel of Hameln, 1646-1724, written by herself / Translated from the original Yiddish
A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz
Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer