“Sometimes the memory of happiness cannot stay true because it ended unhappily.”

the-reader-bernhard-schlinkThe starkly beautiful prose of Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader served as the focus of the Brown Baggers’ May meeting. Although a short novel, the layered moral issues and character relationships gave the group plenty to discuss.

One reader immediately mentioned how this book reminded her of Lolita, stories by Salinger, and the movie Summer of ‘42. This served as a springboard for discussion of the relationship between Michael and Hanna. While some felt that their age difference made the affair seem unrealistic — teenage Michael’s fantasy come to life — Hanna’s neediness proved to others why the characters were drawn to each other. Other readers pointed out that the upheaval and confusion in Germany at the time left both characters more vulnerable. Continue reading

“Redemption, transformation–God, how she wanted these things. Every day, every minute. Didn’t everyone?”

a-visit-from-the-goon-squadDespite the numerous critical accolades, Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad didn’t prove to be a smash hit for the Brown Baggers. Only a few readers (full disclosure: myself included!) enjoyed the layered narrative that garnered Egan both the National Book Circle Critics Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Continue reading

“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”

The Namesake book cover.Each March, the Brown Baggers join in the Big Read by reading the year’s selected title. Perhaps because it is part of a month-long event, the mood always feels very festive. For this year’s discussion of The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, the Brown Baggers were treated to some delicious Indian food and welcomed a few new faces.

Befitting the book’s title, names were an important keystone of our conversation. Group members discussed the impact a name can have on your life, whether an immigrant or not. Nicknames, the meaning of names, how they are chosen, changing trends — these all can influence how others perceive you or how you may view your place in the world. Continue reading