Wolf Willow

For this month we are reading Wallace Stegner’s memoir, Wolf Willow. We will meet next on Thursday, August 9, 8:30 pm. See you all then.


Here is the blurb from Amazon:

Wallace Stegner weaves together fiction and nonfiction, history and impressions, childhood remembrance and adult reflections in this unusual portrait of his boyhood. Set in Cypress Hills in southern Saskatchewan, where Stegner’s family homesteaded from 1914 to 1920, Wolf Willow brings to life both the pioneer community and the magnificent landscape that surrounds it.

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Edward Abbey


This month we are reading Edward Abbey. If you have never read anything by him, I recommend Desert Solitaire. Or if you want fiction, try The Monkey Wrench Gang. He also has a number of essay collections and other novels. Good reading, and a nice compliment to the environmental writings of Wallace Stegner.

We’ll meet next on June 19.

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100 Birds Taught Me to Fly: The Art of Seeking God


Our next selection is Ashley Mae Hoiland’s 100 Birds Taught Me to Fly: The Art of Seeking God. Several of you have personal connections to the author as she graduated from BYU’s English department. We will meet next on Tuesday, May 15, 8:30 pm. Below is the synopsis from Amazon.

This book is for restless souls who desire to know God more deeply. Ashley Mae Hoiland bids us follow her down the hallowed and well-trodden path between the heart and mind, where glimpses of godliness are discovered in rainstorms, bus rides, temples, and mountains. As a Latter-day Saint, Hoiland explores the complexities of faith in everyday life where laughter and creativity matter as much as faith, hope, and charity.


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When We Were Orphans


For this month we are reading Kazuo Ishiguro’s When We Were Orphans.  We will meet next on April 19. Here is the blurb from Amazon.

From the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature and author of the Booker Prize–winning novel The Remains of the Day comes this stunning work of soaring imagination. 
Born in early-twentieth-century Shanghai, Banks was orphaned at the age of nine after the separate disappearances of his parents. Now, more than twenty years later, he is a celebrated figure in London society; yet the investigative expertise that has garnered him fame has done little to illuminate the circumstances of his parents’ alleged kidnappings. Banks travels to the seething, labyrinthine city of his memory in hopes of solving the mystery of his own, painful past, only to find that war is ravaging Shanghai beyond recognition-and that his own recollections are proving as difficult to trust as the people around him. 

Masterful, suspenseful and psychologically acute, When We Were Orphans offers a profound meditation on the shifting quality of memory, and the possibility of avenging one’s past.

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Leaping: Revelations and Epiphanies


For this month we are reading Brian Doyles Leaping: Revelations and Epiphanies. We will meet next on Thursday, March 1, 8:30 pm. Here is the summary from Amazon:

In this spirited collection of essays, Brian Doyle employs his wit, wisdom, and gusto for life as he shares with readers his thoughts on Jesus, the Mass, Birds, Bees, and so much more. What would be a good alternative name for Jesus? What does a honeybee at Mass have to tell us about Christ? What is, after all, the real point of saying prayers when someone is suffering?

Through the good and the bad, the serious and the hilarious, Doyle finds just the right story and just the right words to help us better understand life and love—and to help us see our faith in a whole new light.

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Patrick Madden Thursday night

Just a reminder that we are meeting this coming Thursday evening at 8:30 to discuss the book, Sublime Physick by Patrick Madden. He is a professor in the English Department at Brigham Young University. Bring something good to eat as well. And by the way, I just got word that Pat will be coming to join us on Thursday evening, so come with your questions. It should be good (and I can’t take any credit for him coming).


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Patrick Madden: Sublime Physick


We are reading Sublime Physick, a collection of essays by Patrick Madden. We will meet again on January 18, 8:30 pm. Here is the Amazon summary:

A follow-up to Patrick Madden’s award-winning debut, this introspective and exuberant collection of essays is wide-ranging and wild, following bifurcating paths of thought to surprising connections. In Sublime Physick, Madden seeks what is common and ennobling among seemingly disparate, even divisive, subjects, ruminating on midlife, time, family, forgiveness, loss, originality, a Canadian rock band, and much more, discerning the ways in which the natural world (fisica) transcends and joins the realm of ideas (sublime) through the application of a meditative mind.
In twelve essays that straddle the classical and the contemporary, Madden transmutes the ruder world into a finer one, articulating with subtle humor and playfulness how science and experience abut and intersect with spirituality and everyday life.

For teachers who’d like to adopt this book for their classes, Madden has provided a number of helpful teaching resources, including a 40-minute lecture on his writing process and writing prompts for each of the book’s essays.

And a little about the author:
Patrick Madden is an associate professor at Brigham Young University. His first collection of essays, Quotidiana (Nebraska, 2010), won awards from the Association for Mormon Letters and ForeWord magazine and was a finalist for the 2011 PEN Center USA Literary Award. His essays have appeared in a variety of periodicals as well as in The Best Creative Nonfiction and The Best American Spiritual Writing anthologies. He is coeditor (with David Lazar) of After Montaigne: Contemporary Essayists Cover the Essays. Visit Madden’s website http://www.quotidana.org.
Here is a link to some of his essays on his website.
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