International Club of Berne

Sophie Book Group

  • Wednesday, 24th January 2018 at 7pm
  • Thursday, 22nd February 2018 at 7pm
  • Wednesday, 28th March 2018 at 7:15pm
  • Wednesday, 23rd May 2018 at 7:15pm
  • Wednesday, 27th June 2018 at 6pm
  • Wednesday, 29th August 2018 at 6pm
  • Wednesday, 26th September 2018 at 7:15pm
  • Wednesday, 24th October 2018 at 7:15pm
  • Wednesday, 21st November 2018 at 7:15pm

Location: to be notified

This event is in the past.

Dates planned for 2018 are 24.1, 21.2 changed to 22.2, 21.3 changed to 28.3, 25.4, 23.5, 20.6, 22.8, 19.9, 17.10, 21.11

  • 19:00 on January 24, 2018 - We choose 8 to 10 books on 24 January, and in addition we discuss the short stories by Isaac Asimov: "The Last Question" (1956) and "The Last Answer" (1980)
  • 19:00 on February 22, 2018 - Nadine Gordimer, The Conservationist
  • 19:15 on March 28, 2018 - Sun-Mi Hwang, The Hen who Dreamed She Could Fly
  • 19:15 on April 25 CANCELLED
  • 19:15 on May 23, NEW - Daniel Kehlman, Measuring the World
  • 19:00 on June 27, NEW DATE - Jonas Luscher, Barbarian Spring
  • 18:00 on August 22 NEW DATE - Pascal Merrcier, Lea
  • 19:15 on September 26 no book - delay one month. Discussion.
  • 19:15 on October 24 The History of Bees by Maja Lunde
  • 19:15 on November 21 The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  • in December no meeting - Sometimes we have a "literary dinner"

You are welcome to join any meeting for whichever books you wish to read and discuss. You must have read the book before the meeting!


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Displaying 21 - 30 of 34 comments
Graham wrote
at 10:11pm on Tuesday, 23rd January 2018
From Ruramisai

My suggestions are two fiction and two nonfiction books, all of which I have linked to Amazon (sorry independent booksellers):

Jenny Erpenbeck (trans. Susan Bernofsky), Go Gone, Went (fiction)
The novel tells the tale of Richard, a retired professor who lives in Berlin. His wife has died, and he lives a routine existence until one day he spies some African refugees staging a hunger strike. Curiosity turns to compassion and an inner transformation, as he visits their shelter, interviews them, and becomes embroiled in their harrowing fates
A thoughtful, touching, painful, real story of refugees caught in limbo. It unfolds naturally so you meet and get to know the Africans as Richard does, so you see the levels of complexity and humanity in the refugee experiences.
• Paperback: 320 pages
• Publisher: New Directions; Reprint edition (September 26, 2017)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 0811225941
• ISBN-13: 978-0811225946

Souad Mekhennet, I was Told to Come Alone (nonfiction)
In this compelling and evocative memoir, we accompany Mekhennet as she journeys behind the lines of jihad, starting in the German neighborhoods where the 9/11 plotters were radicalized and the Iraqi neighborhoods where Sunnis and Shia turned against one another, to the Turkish/Syrian border region where ISIS is a daily presence. In her travels across the Middle East and North Africa, she documents her chilling run-ins with various intelligence services and shows why the Arab Spring never lived up to its promise.
• Hardcover: 368 pages
• Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (June 13, 2017)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 1627798978
• ISBN-13: 978-1627798976

Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers (nonfiction)
the gap between the haves and have-nots in India is staggering to behold. This first book by a New Yorker staff writer (and Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter for the Washington Post) jolts the reader’s consciousness with the opposing realities of poverty and wealth in a searing visit to the Annawaldi settlement, a new slum in the west of the gigantic city of Mumbai
• Paperback: 288 pages
• Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (April 8, 2014)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 081297932X
• ISBN-13: 978-0812979329

Nadine Gordimer, The Conservationist (fiction)
This is yet another beautifully crafted novel from Nadine Gordimer, framed within the early pre-revolt period of the Apartheid era in her native South Africa. Through Gordimer's craft in use of language, she provides for the reader a visual masterpiece of the land and the people as they live together and separately during that period.
Mehring is rich. He has all the privileges and possessions that South Africa has to offer, but his possessions refuse to remain objects. His wife, son, and mistress leave him; his foreman and workers become increasingly indifferent to his stewardship; even the land rises up, as drought, then flood, destroy his farm.
• Paperback: 272 pages
• Publisher: Penguin Books; Reissue edition (February 24, 1983)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 0140047166
• ISBN-13: 978-0140047165

Graham wrote
at 9:48pm on Tuesday, 23rd January 2018
? Mine (Melinda) were
Heat and Light by Jennifer Haigh
"Acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Haigh returns to the Pennsylvania town at the center of her iconic novel Baker Towers in this ambitious, achingly human story of modern America and the conflicting forces at its heart—a bold, moving drama of hope and desperation, greed and power, big business and small-town families.
Forty years ago, Bakerton coal fueled the country. Then the mines closed, and the town wore away like a bar of soap. Now Bakerton has been granted a surprise third act: it sits squarely atop the Marcellus Shale, a massive deposit of natural gas."
• Hardcover: 448 pages
• Publisher: Ecco; First Edition edition (May 3, 2016)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 0061763292
• ISBN-13: 978-0061763298
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
"#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • With richly layered characters and a gripping moral dilemma that will lead readers to question everything they know about privilege, power, and race, the stunning new page-turner from Jodi Picoult." Quotes are from Amazon.
• Hardcover: 480 pages
• Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (October 11, 2016)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 0345544951
• ISBN-13: 978-0345544957

As these may be too long for our group, shorter ones follow:


Between the World and Me by Ta Nehisi-Coates
In a series of essays, written as a letter to his son, Coates confronts the notion of race in America and how it has shaped American history, many times at the cost of black bodies and lives.
• Hardcover: 176 pages
• Publisher: Spiegel & Grau; 1 edition (July 14, 2015)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 0812993543
• ISBN-13: 978-0812993547

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
• Paperback: 227 pages
• Publisher: Harper Perennial (4 Sept. 2006)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 0007216858
• ISBN-13: 978-0007216857
Graham wrote
at 9:45pm on Tuesday, 23rd January 2018
Measuring the World
Die Vermessung der Welt by German author Daniel Kehlmann, 2005

Alexander von Humboldt and Carl Friedrich Gauss are both great mathematicians of the late 18th and early 19th Centuries in Germany. Humboldt journeys across Europe, crosses the Atlantic to South America and maps the Orinoco River, measuring every geographical feature, and even social features, that can be measured or counted, making huge volumes of notes. Gauss measures the universe from his desk, but does depart to do his own measurements across Prussia and Russia. But all the math is wrapped most humorously in the astounding events and comic relationships, the contrasts and ironies surrounding their separate tales. There was a political tragedy befalling persons close to them, not to mention diseases and the stresses involved with travel and adventure in the world of 1800. Kehlmann’s sense of humor intertwines with his keen appreciation for hardship and mathematical genius throughout the narrative.

Paperback: 272 pages
ISBN-10: 0307277399
ISBN-13: 978-0307277398

Other material
Two hour movie:

Graham wrote
at 9:44pm on Tuesday, 23rd January 2018
The History of Bees - Maja Lunde
Following a simple premise—what would happen if bees disappeared?—Lunde’s novel, originally released in Norwegian in 2015, jumps back and forth, across time, between the stories of three beekeepers. There’s William, a British biologist in the mid-1800s; George, a farmer in the contemporary Midwest; and Tao, a young Chinese mother in a bee-less 2098 who spends hours performing manual labor in the fields to make up for the lack of apiformes. All three are dealing with personal problems brought about by the existence—or lack—of bees in their life. But the novel smartly relies limitedly on its ecological-disaster framework and instead gains its best footing in the quiet and intimate relationships it depicts between its characters. At times, it’s easy to forget you’re reading a novel exploring the consequences of a species extinction—instead, you’ve become invested in the lives of the people whose stories it follows.
In Deutschland wurde ein Roman über Bienen zum «Buch des Jahres» gekürt
The Secret Life of Bees is a 2008 American drama film, adapted from the novel The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.
Graham wrote
at 9:41pm on Tuesday, 23rd January 2018
Barbarian Spring by Jonas Lüscher.
On a business trip to Tunisia, Preising, a leading Swiss industrialist, is invited to spend the week with the daughter of a local gangster. He accompanies her to the wedding of two London city traders at a desert luxury resort that was once the site of an old Berber oasis. With the wedding party in full swing and the bride riding up the aisle on a camel, no one is aware that the global financial system stands on the brink of collapse. As the wedding guests nurse their hangovers, they learn that the British pound has depreciated tenfold, and their world begins to crumble around them.
So begins Barbarian Spring, the debut novel from Jonas Lüscher, a major emerging voice in European fiction. In this delightfully bizarre and cynical novel, it should be noted that the wedding guests are all newly-rich, hotshot traders at leading British banks and that the world which crumbles around them has left their credit cards worthless. They are stuck high and dry in a posh resort in the Tunisian desert facing 'the natives' with nothing left of their wealth and power. It is a story of attempted survival. The book was written in German and was on the short list for the Swiss Book Prize two years ago.
• Paperback: 192 pages
• Publisher: Haus Publishing; 1st UK Edition 1st Printing edition (March 15, 2015)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 1908323833
• ISBN-13: 978-1908323835
Graham wrote
at 9:40pm on Tuesday, 23rd January 2018
Founded in 2003, Words Without Borders is an organization that promotes cultural understanding through the translation, and publication of contemporary international literature. Every month the group publishes eight to twelve new works by international writers, including Nobel Prize laureates and new writers. To date Words Without Borders has published more than 2,400 pieces from 132 countries and 112 languages.
Kathleen Kelly Janus' Books to Make the World Better

The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change
by Adam Braun
"In this gripping story, Braun recounts how one interaction on a study abroad trip completely transformed his life. This book is an inspiring guide for how to transform serendipity into action."
Good Minds Suggest: Kathleen Kelly Janus' Books to Make the World Better

The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change by Adam Braun
"In this gripping story, Braun recounts how one interaction on a study abroad trip completely transformed his life. This book is an inspiring guide for how to transform serendipity into action."

The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity
by Nadine Burke Harris
"A remarkable account of Dr. Burke Harris' journey to find a cure for toxic stress in children and a compelling case for how we can all be advocates for the rights of children."

I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
"An extraordinary story about a girl who took a stand for what was right and inspired a generation of women and girls globally by her actions."
The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Povertyby Peter Singer
4.05 avg rating — 2,577 ratings published 2009
Using ethical arguments, provocative thought experiments, illuminating examples, and case studies of charitable giving, philosopher Peter Singer shows that our current response to world poverty is not ...more
The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer
"Peter Singer reminds us that eradicating world poverty is within our reach and makes a strong case for why we should all be doing more for those who are suffering most in our world."
Graham wrote
at 9:39pm on Tuesday, 23rd January 2018
More suggestions:

I Heard the Owl Call My Name is a best-selling 1967 book by Margaret Craven. The book tells the story of a young Anglican vicar named Mark Brian who has not long to live, and also who learns about the meaning of life when he is to be sent to a First Nations (native Canadian) parish in British Columbia.

Again Calls the Owl. is a 1983 book, 120 pages

"The Hen who dreamed she could fly" from Sun-Mi Hwang.
• Paperback: 144 pages
• Publisher: Penguin Books (November 26, 2013)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 0143123203
• ISBN-13: 978-0143123200

Graham wrote
at 11:38am on Tuesday, 16th January 2018
Meeting on Wednesday, 24 January at 19:00
will NOT be at the Ref. Forum but at a nearby restaurant.
Graham wrote
at 4:21pm on Thursday, 4th January 2018
Sophie Book Group
When Wednesday, 24 January at 19:00
Where Ref. Forum, Länggassstrasse 41
Contact Graham Tritt
Deadline Please register by the Monday before
We review all proposals of works for reading in 2018. We plan to pick a total of eight books. Members are welcome to attend any meetings – you can choose to attend only those sessions covering the books you are interested in.
If there is time, we will also discuss the two short stories we could not review in November – The Last Question (12 pages, 1956) and The Last Answer (8 pages, 1980), two philosophical stories by renowned science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. These texts can be read online at and
Graham wrote
at 9:03pm on Monday, 18th December 2017
Some books which are being read by a ZUrich book group

The author Yuval Noah Harari

Two major non-fiction books
"Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind"
"Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow"

Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century—from overcoming death to creating artificial life.

"21 Lessons for the 21st Century" only 112 pages, about the present

"One Day I Will Write About This Place" by Binyavanga Wainaina
The book is a comic refutation of the premise that this is how you write about Africa. As such, it reads like nothing I have read before, crackling with the energy of a writer who delights in revealing the multi-cultural, multi-national, multi-ethnic world of his middle-class Kenyan upbringing.” – Magnus Taylor, African Arguments

"Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley

"M. Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran" by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt

"The Rosie Project" by Graeme Simsion
An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love. The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.

Who's coming? See all

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By Graham 6 days ago

Come to the Upstage Theater.

Twelve jurors argue about the fate of a young man accused of violently killing his father. If found guilty, he faces a death sentence. This classic courtroom drama is a study of ordinary men and womenin an intense situation, as they are forced to question their assumptions and biases in trying to reach a unanimous verdict.

16, 17, 18, 23, 23, 25 May at 19:30 except the last performance, 17:00. You must resereve and buy your own tickets

Friday 17 Wine-Tasting full up

Saturday Museum Night Montreux Vevey Lausanne Neuchatel see other events

Sunday 19 Walk (Thun) cancelled, poor weather.

Saturday International Museum Day Basel Zurich Neuchatel see other events

Tuesday 21 Italian Cafe

Thursday 23  German Stammtisch

Sunday 26 Walk & Talk – Plants from Asia 


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