Monday, November 19, 2007

Book club discusses Maus

15 members of the Alexandria Campus Book Club (including our youngest member -- who has not yet attained her first birthday!) gathered at the Matt Todd's apartment in Washington DC's Glover Park.

Discussion ranged from the American Indian Museum to Selling the Holocaust, to the graphic novel/ comic genre to the the symbolism of anthropormorphic animals. We also drank some wine.

Read more about Spiegelman on his website or vist the comicpedia.

Suggestions are welcome for our next title.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Alexandria Book Club reads Maus I & Maus II

The Book club tackles the Graphic novel for the second book of the year, reading Art Spiegelman's Maus.

The book club is all about breaking new ground: not only have we branched into the graphic novel genre, we've branched right out of Virginia! The November 16th book club will meet at Matt Todd's house in Washington DC.

(why are the Nazis portrayed as cats? Hmmm...)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

First Meeting of the Year Waffles

No, we didn't waffle over our opinion of The Road (see below) but we did enjoy pecan & blueberry waffles at Visual & Performing Arts & Public Services Dean Tony Stanzo's house. After enjoying made-to-order waffles from Chef Stanzo, we got down to a interesting and wide-ranging discussion of the The Road which no one seemed to like exactly but everyone found very interesting, thought-provoking or engaging.

The Book Club's next book(s) will be Art Spiegelman’s Maus 1: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History and Maus 2: A Survivor’s Tale: And Here My Troubles Began. There are two copies of each on Reserve for the Book Club in the Library, and two more sets on order. This graphic novel won a Pulitzer Prize Special Award in 1992.

Next Meeting: Friday 16 November.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Atonement on the Big Screen

In 2003 we read Ian McEwen's Atonement. Next month the film version will come to a cinema near you.

The Sunday Times loved the book. It gave mixed reviews to the film.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What We're Reading Now

The Alexandria Campus Book Club resumes on 5 October. We'll be reading Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

"The searing, postapocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy's masterpiece.A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food-—and each other.The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, "each the other's world entire," are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation."

Join us on October 5th for a discussion. Copies of the novel are available for check out in the Library.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What We've Been Saying

Four years of reading and discussing books has produced both heat and light, mirth and controversy. The one conclusion we can draw is that the Alexandria Campus Faculty and Staff are an opinionated bunch. Our first book, Atonement generated much interest -- some readers loved it while others loathed it. One member compared Ian McEwen to Jane Austen. Another member found the novel futile and depressing. General favorites included the inspiring Untouchables (which we discussed over Indian food) and the creepy Never Let Me Go (which didn't lend itself to any tasty treats!).

The discussion of A Hole in the Earth was enlivened by the presence of the author, Robert Bausch (at left), who teaches at the Woodbridge Campus.

Occasionally we stumble across a theme -- such as when our discussion of Reading Lolita in Tehran led to the adoption of Nabakov's Lolita for a future discussion.

We've courted controversy: in 2006 we read Annie Proulx's short story Brokeback Mountain and many of us watched the "gay cowboy movie". In 2004 we tackled the disurbing and controversial The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things even as questions began to surface in the press about the identity of the author JT Leroy (or Laura Albert).

Nonfiction has not been ignored. We delved into pedagogy with The Peaceable Classroom (is it significant that the only book we read about teaching drew the smallest attendance?). Food proved popular as we followed the food chain in Omnivore's Dilema and considered the world of restaurant reviews in Garlic and Sapphires.

Some discussions led to interesting revelations -- like the faculty member who said "I hated reading this book! This must be how my students feel when they have to read books I assign them that they don't like!" Others expressed appreciation for finding the time and impetus to read books they wouldn't otherwise have read. And almost all of our readers report enjoying getting to know Alexandria colleagues from other discplines. Book club members have included mathemeticians, librarians, deans, English teachers, ESL teachers, biologists, counselors, business and marketing folks, communication teachers and more.

Monday, September 17, 2007

What We've Been Reading

The book club begins its fifth year in 2007-08. Here's what we've read so far:


Never Let Me Go, by Kauzo Ishiguro

Untouchables: My Family’s Triumphant Journey Out of the Caste System in Modern India, by Narendra Jadhav

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, by Michael Pollan

The History Boys: A Play, by Alan Bennett


A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx


A Hole in the Earth, by Robert Bausch (Woodbridge Campus)

The Peacable Classroom, by Mary Rose O’Reilley

The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, by J. T. LeRoy

Conclave, by Robert Pazzi


Atonement, by Ian McEwen

Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi

Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri