Novel Theology

Novel Theology meets throughout the year on the 4th Tuesday of the month at 7pm in the Foster Room—earlier weeks in November and December. Everyone and anyone is invited to attend. The only rule is you must read the book for that month. Come and bring your friends and acquaintances. We have lively discussions.

Blurbs compliments of Wikipedia and/or Amazon.com

2017 Book List

January 24 –  We Need New Names by Noviolet Bulawayo: A coming-of-age story which tells the life of a young girl named Darling, first as a 10-year-old in Zimbabwe, navigating a world of chaos and degradation with her friends, and later as a teenager in the Midwestern United States, where a better future seems about to unfold when she goes to join an aunt working there. Led by Nancy Armstrong.

February 28 –  The Vegetarian by Han Kang: A book about Yeong-Hye, a woman who decides one day to stop eating meat. She gives no reason for her abrupt decision, just tells her husband Mr. Cheong that she had a dream. She doesn’t go into the details to explain herself to her baffled husband, for whom she has no real affection, but readers know that the dream was filled with violence and aggression. The Vegetarian starts with a dream and ends with Yeong-Hye being checked into a mental hospital. Led by Patricia Devitt.

March 28 –  The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars by Dava Sobel (Non-Fiction): “The author soars higher than ever before…[continuing] her streak of luminous science writing with this fascinating, witty, and most elegant history…The Glass Universe is a feast for those eager to absorb forgotten stories of resolute American women who expanded human knowledge.” (Booklist). Led by Sally James.

April 25 –  The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin: A groundbreaking work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of a lone human emissary’s mission to Winter, an unknown alien world whose inhabitants can choose—and change—their gender. His goal is to facilitate Winter’s inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture he encounters. Exploring questions of psychology, society, and human emotion in an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement in the annals of science fiction. Led by David Gray.

May 23 –  Don’t Point That Thing At Me by Kyril Bonfiglioli: This cult classic (the first of a trilogy), about louche, sybaritic Charlie Mortdecai, an art dealer largely untroubled by conscience, draws readers into its unpolitically comic world and keeps them there. The plot concerns Mortdecai’s efforts to keep one step ahead of nemesis Martland, a policeman vested with the power to work outside the law, and to deliver a stolen Goya he has concealed in the headliner of his Rolls Royce Silver Ghost. The plot takes him to America (where is he much bemused by the locals, and they by him) and back again, ending in a most intriguing predicament. Wry and dry, picaresque and profane… Led by Tom Tucker.

June 27 –  Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart tells two intertwining stories, both centering on Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first, a powerful fable of the immemorial conflict between the individual and society, traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace within the tribal world. The second, as modern as the first is ancient, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo’s world with the arrival of aggressive European missionaries. These perfectly harmonized twin dramas are informed by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul. Led by John Lane.

July 25 –  The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House has unnerved readers since its original publication in 1959. A tale of subtle, psychological terror, it has earned its place as one of the significant haunted house stories of the ages. Led by Michael Cuevas.

August 22 –  Saving Grace by Lee Smith: Florida Grace Shepard, named for the state in which she was born and for the grace of God, is the daughter of a charismatic serpent-handling preacher. She is content with her early life in Scrabble Creek, North Carolina, no easy task when her family moves whenever her father is arrested for conducting services with live snakes. She even finds a friend. With Southern style, Smith takes Grace from a young girl struggling with her own identity, though marriage, motherhood, and an adulterous affair that changes her very way of life. Led by Jean Miller.

September 26 –  Say Nothing by Brad Parks: Living in Staunton, Judge Scott Sampson doesn’t brag about having a perfect life, but the evidence is clear: A prestigious job. A beloved family. On an ordinary Wednesday afternoon, he is about to pick up his six-year-old twins to go swimming when his wife, Alison, texts him that she’ll get the kids from school instead. It’s not until she gets home later that Scott realizes she doesn’t have the children. And she never sent the text. Then the phone rings, and every parent’s most chilling nightmare begins. Led by Carrie Tucker.

October 24 –  Here I Am: A Novel by Jonathan Safran Foer: In the book of Genesis, when God calls out, “Abraham!” before ordering him to sacrifice his son, Isaac, Abraham responds, “Here I am.” Later, when Isaac calls out, “My father!” before asking him why there is no animal to slaughter, Abraham responds, “Here I am.” How do we fulfill our conflicting duties as father, husband, and son; wife and mother; child and adult? Jew and American? How can we claim our own identities when our lives are linked so closely to others’? These are the questions at the heart of Jonathan Safran Foer’s first novel in eleven years―a work of extraordinary scope and heartbreaking intimacy. Led by Bill Bigelow.

November 14 –  Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera: This is one of the most arresting novels to be published in Spanish in the last ten years. Yuri Herrera does not simply write about the border between Mexico and the United States and those who cross it. He explores the crossings and translations people make in their minds and language as they move from one country to another, especially when there’s no going back. Led by Oakley Pearson.

December 19 —  A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas: This gem of lyric prose has enchanted both young and old for over half a century and is now a modern classic. Dylan Thomas (1914–1953), one of the greatest poets and storytellers of the twentieth century, captures a child’s-eye view and an adult’s fond memories of a magical time of presents, aunts and uncles, the frozen sea, and in the best of circumstances, newly fallen snow. Led by Carol Kipp.

Blurbs taken from Amazon, Wikipedia, and publishers.