International Club of Berne

Sophie Book Group

  • Wednesday, 29th January 2020 at TBD
  • Wednesday, 26th February 2020 at 5pm
  • Wednesday, 25th March 2020 at 5pm
  • Wednesday, 29th April 2020 at 5pm

Location: Time and place to be determined

When     A Wednesday, towards the end of each month except July and December.

Where    Time and place to be determined

Contact   Graham Tritt

Deadline Please register by the Monday before

We review proposals of works for reading in 2020. We plan to pick a total of eight to ten books for our 2020 meetings.

January: Becoming by Michelle Obama

February: The Physicist, Die Physiker, Friedrich Dürrenmatt

March: Remembering Babylon by Amin Malouf

April: to be decided

Members are welcome to attend any meetings – you can choose to attend only those sessions covering the books you are interested in.


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Displaying 1 - 10 of 19 comments
Graham wrote
at 11:31pm on Thursday, 9th April 2020
Graham wrote
at 8:13pm on Thursday, 9th April 2020
Bookriot also has great links 15 sites
I listened to one of Ray Bradbury here, Kaleidoscope, 31 minutes. It was enjoyable but I don't want to spend my ife listening to audio books


Graham wrote
at 9:33am on Thursday, 9th April 2020
In Gutenberg there is a list of the most popular books or authors ( = the most often downloaded recently), see

You can select the HTML fie to read online. Sometimes there is an audio version, or a version for kindle or ebook. If desired, I can produce a Word or PDF version and send it to you for printing.

Some criteria for a choice include: around 200 pages, clear English, interesting for many club members.

The Gutenberg files don't give a page length, for more information it is best to look on or


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1553)
I would like this: fantasy, logical puzzles.
We all know it, but perhaps not as an adult!


Anything by Jack London


A Journal of the Plague Year 1665 by Daniel Defoe
(95000 words = 240 pages?)
We had no such thing as printed newspapers in those days to
spread rumours and reports of things, and to improve them by the
invention of men, as I have lived to see practised since. But
such things as these were gathered from the letters of merchants
and others who corresponded abroad, and from them was handed
about by word of mouth only; so that things did not spread
instantly over the whole nation, as they do now. But it seems
that the Government had a true account of it, and several
councils were held about ways to prevent its coming over; but all
was kept very private. Hence it was that this rumour died off
again, and people began to forget it as a thing we were very
little concerned in, and that we hoped was not true; till the
latter end of November or the beginning of December 1664 when two
men, said to be Frenchmen, died of the plague in Long Acre, or
rather at the upper end of Drury Lane.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
There are 12 adventures: which one do we read?


Moby Dick; Or, The Whale by Herman Melville (1012)


The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
6200 words, 19 pages, I can print it and mail


Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
I think we have read this some years ago, in German and English


The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran


Thus Spake Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche (English version 250 pages)
Classic work by the German philologist, philosopher and author. Hard to categorize, the work is a treatise on philosophy, a highly praised work of literature, and in parts a collection of poetry and in others a parody of and amendment to the Bible. Consisting largely of speeches by the book's tragic hero and prophet Zarathustra, the work's content extends across a vast range of styles and subject matter.
Perhaps someone who knows it can make a selection for us

Graham wrote
at 4:25am on Thursday, 9th April 2020
Classic mystery stories

The top 100 books in various lists

Graham wrote
at 3:46am on Thursday, 9th April 2020
We have not chosen books for May and June. During Corona time, when it may be difficult to find copies, perhaps we can choose a book which we can find online.

So let us look at Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is a library of over 60,000 free eBooks. Choose among free epub and Kindle eBooks, download them or read them online. You will find the world's great literature here, with focus on older works for which U.S. copyright has expired. Thousands of volunteers digitized and diligently proofread the eBooks, for enjoyment and education.

Looking for something to read? Project Gutenberg eBooks are mostly older literary works. Most were published before 1924, with some published in the decades after. Use one of the Search methods on this page, or try using the Bookshelves to browse by genre, age group, and topic:

Everything from Project Gutenberg is gratis, libre, and completely without cost to readers. Project Gutenberg eBooks require no special apps to read, just the regular Web browsers or eBook readers that are included with computers and mobile devices

Graham wrote
at 9:06pm on Wednesday, 8th April 2020
We still have to meet to discuss "Remembering Babylon" by David Malouf. We plan an online Zoom meeting.

Please install the software from and test if by joining a meeting.


The story begins with a strange man walking out of the Australian wilderness, or bush, into an English settlement in the early 1860's. The settlers are suspicious of the visitor. Even though he proves he is in fact, English, he was raised by black natives and is therefore viewed by some as untrustworthy. The man, Gemmy, speaks limited English and makes some notable friends in the settlement.

The McIvor family decides to take in the visitor. The father, Jock, although reluctant at first, does grow to like Gemmy. The oldest daughter Janet also has a strong bond with him. The "adopted" cousin, Lachlan, who does not get along well with Janet, also has a friendship with Gemmy and acts as his protector.

The minister, Mr. Frazer, finds that Gemmy's knowledge is invaluable in his botany work and they work to categorize the various kinds of plants and fruits in the area. Gemmy shows him what uses the different plants have and which ones are edible. Mr. Frazer uses the information to write a report showing how the colonists can make use of the native crops. Eventually he presents the information he has gathered to the governor, but is rebuffed.

Several other settlers don't like Gemmy and see him as a "white black" and therefore a threat to their livelihood. In keeping a close watch on him, they see a meeting between Gemmy and some natives. Their interpretation of this is that Gemmy is a spy for the natives. This event puts a serious strain between the McIvors and especially Jock, who protects Gemmy, and the rest of the settlers. Eventually Gemmy is attacked and is rescued by Jock. For his own safety, Gemmy moves further out of town to live..

Gemmy believes that the papers used to record his story upon initially entering the village contain his magic and must be returned to him. He feels his energy slipping by being so far away from his native home. He gets back the papers he believes to be his, and walks back into the bush.

Years later, Janet and Lachlan reminisce about their times in the settlement and reflect how much Gemmy brought to their lives.
Graham wrote
at 11:31pm on Sunday, 5th April 2020
Kipper's Game by Barbara Ehrenreich
400p, 1993.

From Graham - Bitter social commentary about a decomposing US society, and the use of AI techniques for changing people (?)

An Amazon review
Barbara Ehrenreich's novel, KIPPER'S GAME is an incisive and complex, but, ultimately, bleak, thought experiment. The world she creates in this thoughtful technological thriller is intriguing and credible. In particular, Ehrenreich captures effectively the experience of the main character, Della, whose search for her son drives the narrative. Della's quest is more than just a plot device, however. She is at a cross-roads in her life caused by seemingly tragic circumstances that allow her the chance to flourish, if she can ask the right questions of herself. This character's personal challenge adds human depth to an otherwise grim social commentary about environmental and political ruin. Overall, Ehrenreich raises important issues and poses interesting problems. However, the scope of the novel is too ambitious and the resolution too unsatisfying to strongly recommend it. Fans of techno thrillers who prefer a philosophical bent to their plots are the best audience for this novel.


Barbara Ehrenreich has written plenty about social and technological problems
Graham wrote
at 11:21pm on Sunday, 5th April 2020
ZERO. They know, what you will do next
BLACKOUT. Tomorrow will be too late
HELIX. They will replace us

Interesting links for the books Zero (in German)

Some in English
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world.
Graham wrote
at 3:04pm on Saturday, 21st March 2020
I have created a new book group site.
Could anyone please test it?
Graham wrote
at 11:55pm on Friday, 20th March 2020
Other books on the short list and some links

Zadie Smith On Beauty 473 p 2006
After a bad start, I'm enjoying this more.
Perhaps Smith has written a shorter one which is set in the U.K.
She has several books of short stories.

David Lodge is similarly humorous
We read before one or more of his "Campus Novels"
1. Changing Places (1975)
2. Small World (1984)
3. Nice Work (1988)Changing Places and Nice Work
I would recommend "Thinks"

„To kill a mockingbird“ from Harper Lee 1960 384 p
Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus--three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Though her story explores big themes, Harper Lee chooses to tell it through the eyes of a child. The result is a tough and tender novel of race, class, justice, and the pain of growing up.


Nick Hornby State of the Union: A Marriage in Ten Parts (TV series) 144 p 2019
Review: "It feels like reading a play. If you're a fan of Hornby's banter, you'll enjoy the book. But it is a very quick read: one night."

Tom and Louise are having marital therapy. The state of their marriage is the result of a number of things including, but not limited to, “a spot of infidelity”. Tom is an unemployed music critic; Louise is a gerontologist; they meet at the pub across the road from the counsellor’s rooms before each session.

Over an ale (Tom) or a white wine (Louise), they talk about what they will or won’t be discussing with their therapist, Kenyon; they examine their marriage and wonder if therapy can repair the damage; they talk about what went on in the previous session; and, as they watch them exit the rooms and sometimes enter the pub, they speculate on the lives of the couple whose session precedes theirs. Each of the ten chapters covers one such encounter at the pub.

Some readers may find this little book difficult to read. The problem won’t be the issues raised, although they can be thought-provoking. Rather, it’s that the reader will often be laughing so much that tears fill the eyes, and make it hard to focus on the print. Thus the standard warning about reading the book in the Quiet Carriage on Public Transport, where other commuters may be disturbed by readers rolling on the floor laughing. Those with continence issues should also consider themselves forewarned.

But for all that humour, there's wisdom and insight too. Much of the conversation between Tom and Louise will instantly strike a chord with married couples of a certain vintage. Tom manages to tie himself into several conversational knots. Brexit somehow gets in there, as does the possible gender bias of the counsellor, the offending lover, a fake cast, online dating, crosswords, sex, Rupert Murdoch and imaginary future partners. Apparently it's now a TV series: it would definitely translate well to the screen, so that is worth researching. A very entertaining read.


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