A Murder of Quality by John Le Carré

Fall 2017 – March 2018

Monday, December 18 – A Murder of Quality by John Le Carré
Thursday, January 25, 2018 – Arc of Justice by Kevin Boyle
Thursday, February 22 – Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance
Thursday, March 22 – A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Book Group Readings

Selections are available at Emma Clark Library (limited number of copies) and/or abebooks.com or amazon.com.

Meetings will be in the church parlor at 7:30pm and refreshments will be served.  All are welcome.

The SPC Book Group is taking suggestions for readings for future meetings.  Selections and dates are subject to change.


Book Group History 2001-2017


Thursday, September 28, 2017 – Ordinary Grace by William Kent Kreuger
Thursday, October 26 – Waking Up White by Debby Irving
Thursday, November 16 – A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman


Wed., Sep. 28, Heat and Light by Jennifer Haigh
Wed., Oct. 26, Evicted by Matthew Desmond
Thu., Nov. 17, Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Thu., Dec. 15, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Wed., Jan. 25, 2017, A Higher Call by Adam Makos
Wed., Feb. 22, A Mercy by Toni Morrison
Wed., Mar. 22, Middle Passage by Charles Johnson
Wed., Apr. 26, An American Requiem by James Carroll
Wed., May 24, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah


Wed. Sept. 23 – All the Light We Cannot See   – by Anthony Doerr
Wed. Oct. 28 – Fifth Business – by Robertson Davies
Mon. Nov. 23 – The Assistant – by Bernard Malamud
Thurs. Dec. 17 – Grace (Eventually)  – by Anne Lamott
Wed. Jan. 27 – Mudbound  – by Hillary Jordan
Wed. Feb. 24 – Life Times  – by Nadine Gordimer “Which New Era Would That Be?”,”A Chip of Glass Ruby”, “The Ultimate Safari”
Wed., March 30, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Wed., April 27, Lila by Marilynne Robinson
Wed., May 25, Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout
Wed., June 22, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee


Wednesday, Sept. 24: George Washington’s Secret Six by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yeager
Wednesday, October 22: The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
Thursday, November 20: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Thursday, December 18: Dear Life by Alice Munro (3 stories:  Leaving Maverley, In Sight of the Lake, and Dolly)
Monday, February 23: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Monday, March 23: Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
Tuesday, April 21: Out of the Deep I Cry by Julia Spencer-Fleming
Tuesday, May 26: Defending Jacob by William Landay
Monday, June 15: Life Times by Nadine Gordimer, three stories: “The Soft Voice of the Serpent”, “The Smell of Death and Flowers”, and “Through Time and Distance”.


Wednesday Sept. 25 – Listening for God: Contemporary Literature and the Life of Faith, Vol. 1, edited by Paula Carlson and Peter Hawkins, ISBN #0-8066-2715-8, Introduction (p. 7-14) and selections by Frederick Buechner and Raymond Carver.
Monday Oct. 21 – The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.
Monday Nov. 18 – Lucky You by Carl Hiaasen.
Thursday Dec. 12 – Listening for God, Vol. 1 (as above) – selections by Patricia Hempl and Richard Rodriguez.
Wednesday Jan. 29 – Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver.
Thursday Feb. 27 – Listening for God, Vol. 1, the story “Revelation” by Flannery O’Connor
Thursday Mar. 26 – In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming
Wednesday Apr 30 – The Returned by Jason Mott
Thursday May 29 – Dear Life by Alice Munro (selected stories)


September: Listening for God (Vol 4): first three stories
October: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
November: Age of Wonder, by Anne Patchett
December and January: selections from Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary, by Kathleen Norris
February: Listening for God (Vol. 4) last three stories by Butler, Dark, and Goodman.
March: selections from Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary, by Kathleen Norris
April: The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
May: Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo


Wed. Sept.7, 7:30pm: Listening for God:Contemporary Literature and the Life of Faith, Vol.2, ISBN number 0806628448; the first 3 stories, by John Updike, Anne Tyler, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Thurs, Oct 13, 7:30pm: The Alchemist, by Paolo Coehlo.
Tues. Nov. 15, 7:30pm: Abide with Me, by Elizabeth Strout.
Mon. Dec. 5, 7:30pm: Listening for God Vol.2, the next 3 stories, by Tobias Wolff, Carol Bly, and Gail Godwin.
Mon, Jan 2, 2012, 7:30pm, the last two authors in Listening for God Vol.2, by K. Norris (essays “Seeing” and “Getting to Hope” from Dakota: A Spiritual Geography) and A. DeBus, “A Father’s Story”.
Thur., Feb 9, 7:30pm, the first two stories in Listening for God Vol.3, (Ed. Paula Carlson, ISBN 0806639628), by John Cheever and Mary Gordon.
Tue., March 20, 7:30pm, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.
Thur., April 26, 7:30pm, the third and fourth stories in Listening for God Vol.3, (Ed. Paula Carlson, ISBN 0806639628), by Wendell Berry and Oscar Hijuelos
Thur., May 24, 7:30pm, the last three stories in Listening for God Vol.3, (Ed. Paula Carlson, ISBN 0806639628). We only discussed two: “Satan: Hijacker of Planets” by Louise Erdlich and “The Woman Who Prayed” by Tess Gallagher.

2010 – 2011

Leading Lives That Matter: What We Should Do and Who We Should Be, edited by Mark R. Schwehn and Dorothy C. Bass
An anthology with mostly short selections, but a wide range of reading from non-fiction to poetry.
There is a study guide.

2009 – 2010


In Andy Catlett: Early Travels: A Novel, Wendell Berry suggests that the great question to ponder at the end of one’s life is if you “have been grateful enough for love received and given.” This love is expressed in family, friendship, a sense of belonging to (and responsibility for) a particular place, and the exercise of good work. Such love entails coming to terms with hope, loss, and grief. The short stories and book selections this year explore what it takes to cultivate this kind of life worth living. The first discussion on Wendell Berry’s short story “The Boundary” took place in the manse on Thursday, Sept. 17. After that, the book group tried to meet in members’ homes on the second or third Thursday of each month.

“The Boundary” by Wendell Berry (Sept. 17)
One of Berry’s most famous short stories. Wendell Berry (farmer, poet, novelist, and social critic) introduces us to the fictional town of Port William, Kentucky. Well known for its presentation of natural mysticism, Berry’s story introduces all the themes we will take up this year.
Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner (Oct. 8)
Can a novel depict the intertwined lives of two couples without relying on the ordinary devices of betrayal, conflict or sex which move a plot along? Pulitzer Prize winning author Wallace Stegner explores what it takes to sustain friendship through many years, difficulty and difference. A suspenseful read to the last page.
The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade by Thomas Lynch (Nov. 12)
Poet Thomas Lynch is the only undertaker in the small town of Milford, Michigan. His reflections on death and dying, as well as what it means to care for the dead are touching and surprisingly funny. Ultimately a book about life, The Undertaking was a National Book Award Finalist.
“The Door in the Wall” by H.G. Wells (Dec. 10)
This very short story is a surprising gem for the Advent season. Can be read in about 15 minutes, but is worth an evening discussion as we attend to the invitation of Christ.
A Place on Earth by Wendell Berry (Jan. 14)
This deeply moving novel charts the depth and variety of grief, and the incredibly complex process of grieving undertaken by Matt Feltner as he seeks to come to terms with the loss of his son Virgil during the First World War. Berry’s writing highlights the necessity of community to the grieving process.
Home by Marilynne Robinson (Mar. 11 — postponed from Feb. 11 due to snow)
A companion volume to Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel Gilead, this book covers that same period of time, but from the perspective of a minor character in the previous telling. Robinson is wrestling with the haunted American past in the tradition of Hawthorne and Melville. Her novels bear repeated readings.
Storming Heaven by Denise Giardina (probably postponed until another time)
West Virginia author Denise Giardina describes not only the pleasure of living on the land, falling in love and raising a family, but the exploitation of that same land by the coal mines of eastern Kentucky and West Virginia and the workers’ struggle for labor justice. Based on the historical Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921, Giardina enlarges our understanding of community and sustainability.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (Apr. 15)
The author of The Poisonwood Bible moves her family to a farm in Eastern Kentucky in order to feed them solely on what can be grown locally, organically, and sustainably. Kingsolver introduces us to the dilemmas of the industrial food system, and in the process provides seasonal recipes for our kitchen. Will provoke memories of the world in which our distant childhood lived.
The Port William Novels by Wendell Berry (June 10)
Berry has written thirteen novels about the fictional Port William, and has featured the town in several collections of his poetry. Having already read A Place on Earth, readers may choose any of the remaining novels to read in preparation for the discussion. Readers should come prepared to broadly describe their book and fit it into the “big story” we will tell this night.
Thanks to Jeff Geary for moderating our discussions and for growing our appreciation and understanding of these works and authors.
Nathan Coulter, Remembering, and A World Lost may be found in Three Short Novels.
The collections of short stories in The Wild Birds, Fidelity, and Watch With Me… can be chosen. Also listed is That Distant Land for the stories which are not included in the above three collections (from Two More Stories from the Port William Membership). There is more information on the web on the Wendell Berry wikipedia entry and an unofficial list of works by Br. Tom Murphy.



Digging to America, Anne Tyler (Oct)
Led by Alfreda James, SPC member and PhD. in History
The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett (Nov)
Led by Joel Rosenthal, Professor of Medieval History, SUNY Stony Brook
A Burial at Thebes: A Version of Sophocles’ Antigone, Seamus Heaney (Jan)
Led by Cynthia Porter, Adjunct Lecturer of Humanities Arts and Science, Dowling College (but it was snowed out)
Silence, Shusaku Endo (Feb)
The Home and the World, Rabindranath Tagore (Mar)
The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene (Apr)
Jayber Crow: A Novel of Port William, Wendell Berry (May)



Paradise Lost, John Milton
The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman
Movie: The Golden Compass: The Movie
The Subtle Knife, Philip Pullman
The Amber Spyglass, Philip Pullman
Movie: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
Movie: Prince Caspian
Good Omens, Terry Pratchet and Neil Gaiman



Jesus, The Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church, Jack Rogers
An Enemy of the People, Arthur Miller, adapting a play by Henrik Ibsen
A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
Bread and Wine, by Ignazio Silone
The Year of Wonder, by Geraldine Brooks
The Known World, Edward P. Jones
Theology for Liberal Presbyterians and Other Endangered Species, by Douglas Ottati



The Life of Pi, by Yann Martell
The Kite Runner, by Kaled Husseini
Death Comes to the Archbishop, Willa Cather
Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Autobiography of My Mother, Jamaica Kincaid
Ignorance, Milan Kundera
Gilead, Marilynne Robinson



Ishmael, Daniel Quinn
Cain, Lord Byron
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
Demian, Herman Hesse
The Secret Sharer, Joseph Conrad
Billy Bud, Herman Melville
Abel Sanchez, Miguel Unamuno



Pilgrim at Tinker Creek: A Memoir, Annie Dillard
Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, Kathleen Norris
Eyes of the Heart: A Memoir, Frederick Buechner
Miriam’s Kitchen: A Memoir, Elisabeth Ehrlich
Innocent Darkness: A Modern Day Saint Francis, Edward Sheehan
Saints and Villains, Denise Giardina



Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind, Ann Ross
In The Beauty of the Lilies, John Updike
The Sacrifice of Isaac, Neal
The Storm, Frederick Buechner
Saint Maybe, Ann Tyler
The Guide, R.K. Narayan



Son of Laughter, Frederick Buechner
The Red Tent, Anita Diamant
Moses, Man of the Mountain, Zora Neal Hurston
God Knows, Joseph Heller
Jesus: A Life, Shusaku Endo
The Gospel of Gabriel, Edward Hays