The Roycroft Book Club

"Pure literature and good books are meat and drink.
They are the silos that feed the mind, nourishing and energizing it.” – Elbert Hubbard

 

Join the Roycroft Campus as we follow in the footsteps of Elbert Hubbard and immerse ourselves in the love of literature. Throughout the year we will read contemporary bestsellers, historical non-fiction, and perhaps even a little Hubbard himself culminating in a discussion at the Roycroft Power House.

2017 Book Titles

JANUARY 2017

CommonwealthBOOK DISCUSSION - Wednesday, January 25th at 7:00pm

Commonwealth - By Ann Patchett

The acclaimed, bestselling author—winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize—tells the enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families’ lives. One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.

Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another. Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together.

 

MARCH 2017

Underground AirlinesBOOK DISCUSSION - Wednesday, March 29th at 7:00pm

Underground Airlines - By Ben Winters

It is the present-day, and the world is as we know it: smartphones, social networking and Happy Meals. Save for one thing: the Civil War never occurred.

A gifted young black man calling himself Victor has struck a bargain with federal law enforcement, working as a bounty hunter for the US Marshall Service. He's got plenty of work. In this version of America, slavery continues in four states called "the Hard Four." On the trail of a runaway known as Jackdaw, Victor arrives in Indianapolis knowing that something isn't right--with the case file, with his work, and with the country itself.

A mystery to himself, Victor suppresses his memories of his childhood on a plantation, and works to infiltrate the local cell of a abolitionist movement called the Underground Airlines. Tracking Jackdaw through the back rooms of churches, empty parking garages, hotels, and medical offices, Victor believes he's hot on the trail. But his strange, increasingly uncanny pursuit is complicated by a boss who won't reveal the extraordinary stakes of Jackdaw's case, as well as by a heartbreaking young woman and her child who may be Victor's salvation. Victor himself may be the biggest obstacle of all--though his true self remains buried, it threatens to surface.

Victor believes himself to be a good man doing bad work, unwilling to give up the freedom he has worked so hard to earn. But in pursuing Jackdaw, Victor discovers secrets at the core of the country's arrangement with the Hard Four, secrets the government will preserve at any cost. Underground Airlines is a ground-breaking novel, a wickedly imaginative thriller, and a story of an America that is more like our own than we'd like to believe.

 

MAY 2017

Book of SpeculationBOOK DISCUSSION - Wednesday, May 17th at 7:00pm

The Book of Speculation - By Erika Swyler

Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone in a house that is slowly crumbling toward the Long Island Sound. His parents are long dead. His mother, a circus mermaid who made her living by holding her breath, drowned in the very water his house overlooks. His younger sister, Enola, ran off six years ago and now reads tarot cards for a traveling carnival.

One June day, an old book arrives on Simon's doorstep, sent by an antiquarian bookseller who purchased it on speculation. Fragile and water damaged, the book is a log from the owner of a traveling carnival in the 1700s, who reports strange and magical things, including the drowning death of a circus mermaid. Since then, generations of "mermaids" in Simon's family have drowned--always on July 24, which is only weeks away.

As his friend Alice looks on with alarm, Simon becomes increasingly worried about his sister. Could there be a curse on Simon's family? What does it have to do with the book, and can he get to the heart of the mystery in time to save Enola?

In the tradition of Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, and Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian, The Book of Speculation--with two-color illustrations by the author--is Erika Swyler's moving debut novel about the power of books, family, and magic.

 

June 2017

BOOK DISCUSSION - Wednesday, June 21st at 7:00pmLeaving Before the Rains Come

Leaving Before the Rains Come - By Alexandra Fuller

A child of the Rhodesian wars and of two deeply complicated parents, Alexandra Fuller is no stranger to pain. But the disintegration of Fuller’s own marriage leaves her shattered. Looking to pick up the pieces of her life, she confronts tough questions about her past, about the American man she married, and about the family she left behind in Africa. Fuller soon realizes that what is missing from her life is something that was always there: the brash and uncompromising ways of her father. “Tim Fuller of No Fixed Abode”—familiar to readers from Alexandra Fuller’s New York Times–bestselling memoir Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight—was a man who regretted nothing and wanted less, even after fighting harder and losing more than most men could bear.
 
Leaving Before the Rains Come showcases Fuller at the peak of her abilities, threading panoramic vistas with her deepest revelations as a fully grown woman and mother. Fuller reveals how—after spending a lifetime fearfully waiting for someone to show up and save her—she discovered that, in the end, we all simply have to save ourselves.
 
An unforgettable book, Leaving Before the Rains Come is a story of sorrow grounded in the tragic grandeur and rueful joy only to be found in Fuller’s Africa.

 

SEPTEMBER 2017

Grandma Gatewoods WalkBOOK DISCUSSION - Wednesday, September 27th at 7:00pm

Grandma Gatewood's Walk - By Ben Montgomery

Emma Gatewood told her family she was going on a walk and left her small Ohio hometown with a change of clothes and less than two hundred dollars. The next anybody heard from her, this genteel, farm-reared, sixty-seven-year-old great-grandmother had walked 800 miles along the 2,050-mile Appalachian Trail. By September 1955 she stood atop Maine’s Mount Katahdin, sang “America, the Beautiful,” and proclaimed, “I said I’ll do it, and I’ve done it.”

Driven by a painful marriage, Grandma Gatewood not only hiked the trail alone, she was the first person—man or woman—to walk it twice and three times. At age seventy-one, she hiked the 2,000-mile Oregon Trail. Gatewood became a hiking celebrity, and appeared on TV with Groucho Marx and Art Linkletter. The public attention she brought to the trail was unprecedented. Her vocal criticism of the lousy, difficult stretches led to bolstered maintenance, and very likely saved the trail from extinction.

Author Ben Montgomery interviewed surviving family members and hikers Gatewood met along the trail, unearthed historic newspaper and magazine articles, and was given full access to Gatewood’s own diaries, trail journals, and correspondence. Grandma Gatewood’s Walk shines a fresh light on one of America’s most celebrated hikers.

 

NOVEMBER 2017

Lady in GoldBOOK DISCUSSION - Wednesday, November 15th at 7:00pm

The Lady in Gold - Anne-Marie O'Conner

Contributor to the Washington Post Anne-Marie O’Connor brilliantly regales us with the galvanizing story of Gustav Klimt’s 1907 masterpiece—the breathtaking portrait of a Viennese Jewish socialite, Adele Bloch-Bauer. The celebrated painting, stolen by Nazis during World War II, subsequently became the subject of a decade-long dispute between her heirs and the Austrian government.

When the U.S. Supreme Court became involved in the case, its decision had profound ramifications in the art world. Expertly researched, masterfully told, The Lady in Gold is at once a stunning depiction of fin-de siècle Vienna, a riveting tale of Nazi war crimes, and a fascinating glimpse into the high-stakes workings of the contemporary art world.

The true story that inspired the movie Woman in Gold starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds. One of the Best Books of the Year: The Huffington Post, The Christian Science Monitor. Winner of the Marfield National Award for Arts Writing. Winner of a California Book Award.

 

 2018 Book Titles

JANUARY 2018

WonderBOOK DISCUSSION - Wednesday, January 10th at 7:00pm

The Wonder - By Emma Donoghue

Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O'Donnell, who is said to be living without food, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale's Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl. As Anna's life ebbs away, Lib finds herself responsible not just for the care of a child but for that child's very survival. Haunting and magnetic, The Wonder is a searing examination of doubt, faith, and what nourishes us, body and soul. Written with all the propulsive tension that made Donoghue’s Room a huge bestseller, it works beautifully on many levels -- an intimate tale of two strangers who transform each other's lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a spellbinding story of love pitted against evil.

 

 

MARCH 2018

Electrifying Fall of Rainbow CityBOOK DISCUSSION - Wednesday, March 7th at 7:00pm

The Electrifying Fall of Rainbow City: Spectacle and Assassination at the 1901 World's Fair - By Margaret Creighton

In 1901, Buffalo, New York, the eighth biggest city in America, wanted to launch the new century with the Pan American Exposition. It would showcase the Western hemisphere and bring millions of people to western New York. With Niagara Falls as a drawing card and with stunning colors and electric lights, promoters believed it would be bigger, better, and literally more brilliant than Chicago's White City of 1893. Weaving together narratives of both notorious and forgotten figures, Margaret Creighton unveils the fair's big tragedy and its lesser-known scandals. From a deranged laborer who stalked and shot President William McKinley to a sixty-year-old woman who rode a barrel over Niagara Falls, to two astonishing acts, a little person and an elephant who turned the tables on their duplicitous manager, Creighton reveals the myriad power struggles that would personify modern America. The Buffalo fair announced the new century, but in ways nobody expected.

 

MAY 2018

Handmaids TaleBOOK DISCUSSION - Wednesday, May 9th at 7:00pm

The Handmaid's Tale - By Margaret Atwood

The story is told through the eyes of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order. In condensed but eloquent prose, by turns cool-eyed, tender, despairing, passionate, and wry, she reveals to us the dark corners behind the establishment’s calm facade, as certain tendencies now in existence are carried to their logical conclusions. The Handmaid's Tale is funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and a tour de force. It is Margaret Atwood at her best.

 

 

 

June 2018

BOOK DISCUSSION - Wednesday, June 20th at 7:00pmStoried Life of AJFikry

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry - By Gabrielle Zevin

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. He lives alone, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over--and see everything anew.

 

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER 2018

Killers of the Flower MoonBOOK DISCUSSION - Wednesday, September 12th at 7:00pm

Killers of the Flower Moon - By David Grann

In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, they rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe. Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. As the death toll climbed to more than twenty-four, the FBI took up the case. It was one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations and the bureau badly bungled the case. Author David Grann revisits a shocking series of crimes in which dozens of people were murdered in cold blood. Based on years of research and startling new evidence, the book is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, as each step in the investigation reveals a series of sinister secrets and reversals. But more than that, it is a searing indictment of the callousness and prejudice toward American Indians that allowed the murderers to operate with impunity for so long.

 

 

NOVEMBER 2018

What She AteBOOK DISCUSSION - Wednesday, November 14th at 7:00pm

What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories - By Laura Shaparo

Everyone eats, and food touches on every aspect of our lives—social and cultural, personal and political. Yet most biographers pay little attention to people’s attitudes toward food, as if the great and notable never bothered to think about what was on the plate in front of them. Once we ask how somebody relates to food, we find a whole world of different and provocative ways to understand her. Food stories can be as intimate and revealing as stories of love, work, or coming-of-age. Each of the six women in this entertaining group portrait was famous in her time, and most are still famous in ours; but until now, nobody has told their lives from the point of view of the kitchen and the table. They include Dorothy Wordsworth, whose food story transforms our picture of the life she shared with her famous poet brother; Rosa Lewis, the Edwardian-era Cockney caterer who cooked her way up the social ladder; Eleanor Roosevelt,  First Lady and rigorous protector of the worst cook in White House history; Eva Braun, Hitler’s mistress, who challenges our warm associations of food, family, and table; Barbara Pym, whose witty books upend a host of stereotypes about postwar British cuisine; and Helen Gurley Brown, the editor of Cosmopolitan, whose commitment to “having it all” meant having almost nothing on the plate except a supersized portion of diet gelatin.

 

 

Past Books

2017

Commonwealth - By Ann Patchett

Underground Airlines - By Ben Winters

The Book of Speculation - By Erika Swyler

Leaving Before the Rains Come - By Alexandra Fuller

Grandma Gatewood's Walk - By Ben Montgomery

The Lady in Gold - Anne-Marie O'Conner

2016

All the Light We Can Not See - By Anthony Doerr

West with the Night - By Beryl Markham

Shop Class as Soul Craft - By Matthew B. Crawford

The Alchemist - By Paulo Coelho

Station Eleven - By Emily St. John Mandel

A Fierce Radiance - By Lauren Belfer

 2015

Two in the Far North - By Margaret Murie

The Secret History of Wonder Woman - By Jill Lepore

Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy - By Diana Preston

Legendary Locals of East Aurora - By Rob Goller

Let the Great World Spin - By Colum McCann

2014

And the Mountains Echoed - By Khaled Hosseini

The Red Badge of Courage - By Stephen Crane

In the Garden of Beasts - By Erik Larson

Thomas Jefferson:The Art of Power - By Jon Meacham and Little Journeys:Thomas Jefferson - By Elbert Hubbard

 

 
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