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.


1 | 2
Displaying 11 - 19 of 19 comments
Graham wrote
at 11:10pm on Friday, 20th March 2020
Books not considered any more for the short list

„The Goldfinch“ from Donna Tartt (too long - 881p) 2014

„Where the crawdads sing“ from Delia Owens 2018 384 p bad reviews

Joel Dickers: The truth about the Harry Quebert affair (too long - 640 p)

Essentialism by Greg McKeown 272 pages non-fiction

Just another self-help book written by an executive who is not like us - who has the ability to say "no I'm not going to do that."

Try doing that as a low level manager, or better yet an employee. As a manager, I had to read this. It was painful. As a manager, if you can't multi task you're out of a job. Instead of trying to tell people how to focus on the one thing, it should be how to focus on the most important while giving time to the rest. At the end of the book he even says most essentialists aren't and non-essentialists are essentialists. Making the point that it's all BS anyways. Living as a "essentialist" is fairy tail. It can't happen, well not unless you own your own company or you're a stay at home mom/dad and the other adult doesn't care what you do.

I read this every year to keep my balance. But honestly, this has become my go-to book whenever I feel overwhelmed with life. It helps me simplify - but so much more than just that. It helps me analyze my current projects and focus on the 2-3 that will 1) help the most people, 2) have the greatest impact, and 3) be the kind of work I want to be known for. I just published my own book tonight and then I decided to pay it forward by reviewing the books that have helped me focus and get this book done after 3.5 years. Two weeks ago I went to read Essentialism again (I was feeling overwhelmed with publishing stress) and then realized I have already read it twice this year. :) What can I say, it's become a staple book in my reading diet.
Graham wrote
at 10:47pm on Friday, 20th March 2020
Books from our list in January, edited

Lauren Groff "Fates and Furies 400 p (2015)

“The Hare with Amber eyes” we read in 2016(?) great book

Ulrike and 2 other votes, non-fiction
“fascism – a warning” by Madeline Albright 304 pages

Essentialism by Greg McKeown 272 pages non-fiction

Science fiction and fantasy I have not considered further - a general dislike even though we three men like them (Serge Dimitri Graham)
Terry Pratchett
Isaac Assimov

Liu Cixin

Mary - Rasputin 368 pages

„The Goldfinch“ from Donna Tart
„Where the crawdads sing“ from Delia Owens
„To kill a mockingbird“ from Harper Lee
Graham wrote
at 10:16pm on Friday, 20th March 2020
ANother proposal:
Amin Maalouf "Samarkand"
"Historical fiction at its best. Amin Maalouf is a rare writer. His novels work so well not only because he writes with such beauty and clarity, but creates such wonderful stories. One can learn a great deal about the time period in which he writes, but you will find that his characters face fortune and tragedy in equal amounts. To say that he is merely cultivated is to underrepresent his sensitive and humane writing."
The first half of the story is set in Persia (present day Iran) and Central Asia in the 11th century, and revolves around the scientist, philosopher, and poet Omar Khayyám. It recounts the creation of his Rubaiyat throughout the history of the Seljuk Empire, his interactions with historical figures such as Vizir Nizam al-Mulk and Hassan al-Sabbah of the order of the Assassins, and his love affair with a female poet of the Samarkand court. The second half of the story documents the efforts of a fictional American named Benjamin Omar Lesage to obtain the (fictional) original copy of the Rubaiyat, witnessing Persian history throughout the Persian Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1907, only to lose this manuscript in the sinking of the RMS Titanic.

About the Lebanese / Paris author Amin Maalouf:
He left journalism to focus on novels, but continued to travel back to Lebanon, across the region and around the world. Migration has often been a theme of his novels, in which characters travel between lands, languages and religions – often based on historic characters or inspired by historical events.

“It’s the relationship I have with the world: always trying to escape from reality. I’m a daydreamer; I don’t feel in harmony with my epoch or the societies I live in,” he once described his work.

His literary work, written mainly in French and translated into more than 40 languages, includes more than 10 novels, numerous essays, articles and four opera librettos. Maalouf’s writing is made universal by themes of identity, self-­reflection, origins, migration and loss, voyages – sometimes historical, sometimes fictional, with characters and settings that span across cultures and continents – and an exploration of the East and West, cultural tolerance, bridging and breaking barriers, humanity and its struggles.

“A life spent writing has taught me to be wary of words. Those that seem clearest are often the most treacherous,” he lamented of his writing.

Maalouf, who has a degree in sociology and economics, is a master storyteller, something he may have inherited through a long family tradition of storytelling, poetry, writing and journalism. His father, Ruchdi, was a poet, scholar and journalist who would tell his children classical Arab stories and poetry from the greats such as the 10th-century Arab poet Al Mutanabbi, the 11th-century Persian poet Omar Khayyam, and Antara ibn Shaddad, the sixth-century pre-Islamic poet who was a slave who earned his freedom through bravery in battle, and became a model for the warrior poet.

“All of these stories ­influenced me greatly,” Maalouf told the writers’ association Pen ­International, something that is evident in his work.
Maalouf’s first book, "The Crusades Through Arab Eyes", published in 1983, garnered international interest for his take on an important chapter in history as experienced by the Arab community. The book revealed his fundamental interests: history and narrative writing. Back then, the Crusades were a central theme in French historical studies, and many literary texts were historically based, but they were rarely presented from an Arab perspective. More than a story of religious war, The ­Crusades Through Arab Eyes explores the cultural clashes that he says planted the seeds of mistrust between the East and West that remain today.

"Samarkand is a beautifully and skillfully told tale told between two times. The first in the time of Omar al khayyam the persian scientist, astrologist and poet, the second about the American Benjamin Omar Lesage an american journalist and adventure. Both driven by love and curiosity."
Graham wrote
at 10:05pm on Friday, 20th March 2020
Peter Francopan, The Silk Roads
Easily available.

But because it is so long, maybe we can just look at the documentaries on Abenteuer Seidenstrasse on Arte

But we would miss on Francopan's backgrounds, history etc. So I don't know what to do.
Graham wrote
at 11:45pm on Wednesday, 18th March 2020
The general consensus seems to be Skype for an online meeting, because many members have used it. It does not have to be used with video.

However we do not really want a new communication channel. We have already:
this site
Yahoo group mail to

I will check out Skype with other groups: Toastmasters already, and BernAgora.

Another alternative is a better discussion forum than It must allow multiple threads of discussion and be easy to use. I am looking at and some others, but no hurry.
Graham wrote
at 11:45pm on Tuesday, 17th March 2020
We may find an online method, like Skype, for the meeting

Graham wrote
at 2:17am on Wednesday, 4th March 2020
in March we read "Remembering Babylon" by David Malouf


Malouf's narrative voice is at once scattered and singular, skipping between perspectives on the same events, and forcing the reader to pay close attention to each character's rendering in order to arrive at the wholest truth possible. The magical realism theme is cultivated in the exaggerated response of all the characters to mundane items: Gemmy surrenders to what he knows is a stick instead of a gun, because he attributes Lachlan's aiming it at him as a signal of the wariness of the other settlers. The men of the community are in an uproar over a stone that visiting aborigines (supposedly) pass off to Gemmy for no logical reason—only because they fear whatever knowledge the aborigines have garnered of the land. These settlers are the first whites to live on that soil, and view anything that is not white with an extreme wariness, not only of the physical land but the spiritual sense of the place.


Winner of the IMPAC Award and Booker Prize nominee
In this rich and compelling novel, written in language of astonishing poise and resonance, one of Australia's greatest living writers gives and immensely powerful vision of human differences and eternal divisions. In the mid-1840s a thirteen-year-old British cabin boy, Gemmy Fairley, is cast ashore in the far north of Australia and taken in by aborigines. Sixteen years later he moves back into the world of Europeans, among hopeful yet terrified settlers who are staking out their small patch of home in an alien place. To them, Gemmy stands as a different kind of challenge: he is a force that at once fascinates and repels. His own identity in this new world is as unsettling to him as the knowledge he brings to others of the savage, the aboriginal.

Graham wrote
at 8:50pm on Saturday, 25th January 2020
We are now accepting proposals for the further books to be read this year.

The Crucible by Arthur Miller (reading by Upstage Theater on February 18)

Lauren Groff "Fates and Furies
From 2015. 400 pages.

“The Hare with Amber eyes”

“fascism – a warning” by Madeline Albright 304 pages


Essentialism by Greg McKeown
Comments on it:

Mort by Terry Pratchett (or any of the trilogy or the same world - basic point is analogy between magic & current world)

Foundation (any) by Isaac Assimov

The Three-Body Problem / The Dark Forest / Death's End by Liu Cixin
(The last one,The Death's End, tastes the best after the first 2) 368 pages

I’d like to sugest the following
„The Goldfinch“ from Donna Tart
„Where the crawdads sing“ from Delia Owens
„To kill a mockingbird“ from Harper Lee

From Mary
Graham wrote
at 8:28pm on Saturday, 25th January 2020
We meet at 6 pm atthe Ref. Forum, Länggassestr.41.

Theme: "Becoming" by Michelle Obama.

All welcome who have read the book and want to discuss it



Please to RSVP.

Who's coming? See all

Export to your calendar


online events

By Graham on 31st March

For online meetings, please install Zoom and Skype.

You can talk with others on WhatsApp chats:

Online events!


Join this group or to see this content

International Club of Berne

Powered by GroupSpaces · Terms · Privacy Policy · Cookie Use · Create Your Own Group