The Knox Book Group meets in Fellowship Hall after Worship, Fellowship, and Adult Learning for Life at about 12:30 pm once every 5 weeks, depending on other activities and holy days. The Knox Book Group discusses both fiction and non-fiction books. All are welcome, whether or not you have read the book. Future books are suggested and selected by the group members.
Materials on loan from the local library are available for those who don’t want to purchase the book.
Book Group Schedule 2016-2017
All book descriptions freely stolen from Amazon.com. Copies indicated are the number available in the Fairfax County library system, unless otherwise noted.
The Death of Ivan Ilyich – Leo Tolstoy
May 22, 2016 Discussion – Eric
One of the most perfect works by the author of War and Peace, The Death of Ivan Ilych is one of Leo Tolstoy’s most celebrated pieces of late fiction. Dealing with the tyranny of the bourgeois niceties, the weakness in the human heart, living without meaning and death. Ivan Ilych Golovin has spent his life chasing after wealth and status to the deliration while ignoring his family. After a minor accident Ivan isn’t going to recover and it is clear that he is going to die. Contemplating his life Ivan Ilych realizes that he has lived an empty existence as he finds himself totally alone. 122 pages 35 copies (some include other stories)
Brooklyn – Colm Toibin
June 26, 2016 Discussion – Linda
Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the hard years following World War Two. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers to sponsor Eilis in America, she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind.
Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, who loves the Dodgers and his big Italian family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future. 288 pages 45 copies
Thinking in Pictures – Temple Grandin
July 31, 3017 Discussion – Patty Webb
Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is a gifted animal scientist who has designed one third of all the livestock-handling facilities in the United States. She also lectures widely on autism—because Temple Grandin is autistic, a woman who thinks, feels, and experiences the world in ways that are incomprehensible to the rest of us.
In this unprecedented book, Grandin delivers a report from the country of autism. 270 pages 11 copies
Clever Girl – Tessa Hadley
Aug. 28, 2016 Discussion – Mary
Clever Girl is an indelible story of one woman’s life, unfolded in a series of beautifully sculpted episodes that illuminate an era, moving from the 1960s to today, from one of Britain’s leading literary lights—Tessa Hadley—the author of the New York Times Notable Books Married Love and The London Train. Tessa Hadley brilliantly captures the beauty, innocence, and irony of ordinary lives—an ability to transform the mundane into the sublime that elevates domestic fiction to literary art. 288 pages – 8 copies available Fx libraries
Being Mortal – Atul Gawande
Oct. 2 and Oct. 9, 2016 Discussion – Eric
Special event, hosted by Book Group, during Learning for Life, asking members of the congregation concerned with care-giving and medical professionals to help with presentation.
Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession’s ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person’s last weeks or months may be rich and dignified. Full of eye-opening research and riveting storytelling, Being Mortal asserts that medicine can comfort and enhance our experience even to the end. 304 pages 91 copies
The Museum of Extraordinary Things – Alice Hoffman
Nov. 6, 2016 Discussion – Barbara
Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island freak show that thrills the masses. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man taking pictures of moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River. The dashing photographer is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his community and his job as a tailor’s apprentice. When Eddie photographs the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the mystery behind a young woman’s disappearance. And he ignites the heart of Coralie. 384 pages 30 copies
When Books Went to War – Molly Guptill Manning
Dec. 11, 2016 Discussion – Nick
When America entered World War II in 1941, we faced an enemy that had banned and burned 100 million books. Outraged librarians launched a campaign to send free books to American troops and gathered 20 million hardcover donations. In 1943, the War Department and the publishing industry stepped in with an extraordinary program: 120 million small, lightweight paperbacks for troops to carry in their pockets and rucksacks in every theater of war. 304 pages 12 copies available
The Geography of Bliss – Eric Weiner
Feb. 19, 2017 Jan. 15, 2017 Discussion –
Part foreign affairs discourse, part humor, and part twisted self-help guide, The Geography of Bliss takes the reader from America to Iceland to India in search of happiness, or, in the crabby author’s case, moments of “un-unhappiness.” The book uses a beguiling mixture of travel, psychology, science and humor to investigate not what happiness is, but where it is. 345 pages 18 copies
The Good Lord Bird- James McBride
March 26, 2017 Feb. 19, 2017 Discussion – Dorothy
Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry’s master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town—with Brown, who believes he’s a girl. Over the ensuing months, Henry—whom Brown nicknames Little Onion—conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive. Eventually Little Onion finds himself with Brown at the historic raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859—one of the great catalysts for the Civil War. An absorbing mixture of history and imagination, and told with McBride’s meticulous eye for detail and character, The Good Lord Bird is both a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival. 480 pages 30 copies
Morality Play – Barry Unsworth
May 7, 2017 Discussion – Linda
The time is the fourteenth century. The place is a small town in rural England, and the setting a snow-laden winter. A small troupe of actors accompanied by Nicholas Barber, a young renegade priest, prepare to play the drama of their lives. Breaking the longstanding tradition of only performing religious plays, the group’s leader, Martin, wants them to enact the murder that is foremost in the townspeoples’ minds.. As members of the troupe delve deeper into the circumstances of the murder, they find themselves entering a political and class feud that may undo them .206 pages 6 copies
The Piano Tuner – Daniel Mason
June 4, 2017 April 30, 2017 Discussion – Lois
In 1886 a shy, middle-aged piano tuner named Edgar Drake receives an unusual commission from the British War Office: to travel to the remote jungles of northeast Burma and there repair a rare piano belonging to an eccentric army surgeon who has proven mysteriously indispensable to the imperial design. 336 pages 16 copies
The Boys in the Boat – Daniel James Brown
July 9, 2017 June 4, 2017 Discussion –
Out of the depths of the Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant.
It was an unlikely quest from the start. With a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew team was never expected to defeat the elite teams of the East Coast and Great Britain…416 pages 105 copies
Desirable Daughters – Bharati Mukherjee
Aug. 13, 2017 July 9, 2017 Discussion – Mary
Mukherjee follows the diverging paths taken by three extraordinary Calcutta-born sisters as they come of age in a changing world. Moving effortlessly between generations, she weaves together fascinating stories of the sisters’ ancestors, childhood memories, and dramatic scenes from India’s history. 320 pages 10 copies
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce
Aug. 13, 2017 September 2017 Discussion – Lois
Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does.. Then one morning a letter arrives, addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl, from a woman he hasn’t heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye. But before Harold mails off a quick reply, a chance encounter convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. In his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold Fry embarks on an urgent quest. Determined to walk six hundred miles to the hospice, Harold believes that as long as he walks, Queenie will live. 384 pages 25 copies available
These were listed as maybes:
All the Light We Cannot See-Anthony Doerr
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. 531 pages 247 copies
A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway’s classic memoir of Paris in the 1920s, Published posthumously in 1964, A Moveable Feast remains one of Ernest Hemingway’s most enduring works.. 256 pages 27 copies
The Little Bookstore at Big Stone Gap – Wendy Welch
An inspiring true story about losing your place, finding your purpose, and building a community one book at a time. Wendy Welch and her husband had always dreamed of owning a bookstore, so when they left their high-octane jobs for a simpler life in an Appalachian coal town, they seized an unexpected opportunity to pursue their dream. The only problems? A declining U.S. economy, a small town with no industry, and the advent of the e-book. They also had no idea how to run a bookstore. Against all odds, but with optimism, the help of their Virginian mountain community, and an abiding love for books, they succeeded in establishing more than a thriving business – they built a community. 304 pages 4 copies