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Topic-based Book Discussion: Medieval Europe

This will be a unique book discussion group because we will each choose our own book to read from any genre within that topic.  This way, we bring multiple perspectives, stories, and historical knowledge to each topic we choose.

*There is a Poll open (under the More menu) that lists future topics you can rate per your interests.  Topics are chosen from this list based on the most ratings.

For Medieval Ages, a list of rated books can be found at the Good Reads website: Medieval Fiction & Non-Fiction.

Here are some suggestions for the Medieval topic:

Biography/Autobiography:  Charlemagne

Poetry:   The Song of Roland

Fiction:  The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Non-Fiction:  The Viking Age

Art/Architecture: Cathedrals in Europe

Politics:   The Hundred Years' War

Religion/Spirituality/Mythology: a book on The Crusades

Philosophy:  Thomas Aquinas

Science (medicine, nature, astronomy, etc):  The Black Death plague

& any other genre!  Let your imagination be the limit!

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Our discussion will start with each person spending 1-3 minutes introducing the book/article that he or she has read (or has mostly read).  You can mention what the book was about, what you found interesting about it, and one or two facts to share.

Then we will open up the topic's discussion based on the content from our books.  It is a free-flow conversation, so it can cover many different ideas, opinions, historical subjects, and emotion-arousing dialogue.  You can just sit back and listen to the conversation, or participate - no pressure either way.  No matter what is discussed, everyone's input should be respectful and respected.

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Location of meeting: Barefoot Coffee in Los Gatos, who is a sponsor of our the AiH Book Club and gives us 20% off of any drink. :-)


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  • Noelle

    I forgot to mention another good book, about Heretics(Cathars) in early 1300s Southern France. Historian used original transcripts from inquisition trials of the villagers--Emmanuel LeRoy Ladurie wrote the book: Montaillou. It really gives you a good depiction of everyday life of this time.

    1 · May 22, 2014

  • sheryl

    Fun tv show Middle Ages
    called Supersizers
    http://www.hulu.com/watch/430672#i0,p5,d0

    1 · May 17, 2014

    • Charissa K.

      Thank you again Sheryl for telling us about this! It sounds like a fun show for foodies and history lovers!

      1 · May 18, 2014

  • lorraine

    sorry I misses also..I am not clear if I am supposed to be reading a certain or any book to discuss. Lorraine

    May 18, 2014

    • Charissa K.

      Hi Lorraine. You can read any book on the topic. The next topic is ancient Greece, so you can read any book from any topic as long as it is related to ancient Greece. I'll be sending out some examples in the formal announcement.

      May 18, 2014

  • Sharon

    I enjoyed our discussion and was glad we all read different books! There was a lot of different perspectives! The only down was the noise of the coffee machine, made it difficult to hear everyone.

    1 · May 18, 2014

    • Charissa K.

      I agree that the coffee machine was a nuisance. We'll sit in the front next time or outside - especially since the weather is getting better! Glad you enjoyed the discussion!

      May 18, 2014

  • Charles

    I'm sorry I missed this discussion. For some reason I thought it was in Berkeley and by the time I figured out it was Los Gatos it was too late. Looking forward to the next one

    May 18, 2014

  • Randi

    Hello Everyone, I'm planning to bring "The Rise of the Tudors" all about Henry VII and his amazing journey from an exile to victory over Richard III. Hopefully I will be able to attend as I've been looking forward to this book discussion for weeks but just found out the wedding of my dearest friend's son is Sunday instead of Saturday like I'd thought. Still waiting on details. I'll let you know Charissa.

    May 15, 2014

  • Lia

    Hi, my apologies- I was looking forward to this meeting but let myself get overextended. Since there are some folks waiting, I'm going to withdraw for this time and give my spot to one of them. Hope its a great meeting and I would love to make it for the next one!

    May 15, 2014

  • Rosemary

    Life gets in the way of having fun sometimes...sorry I have to bow out. :-(

    May 15, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sorry I cannot be at this meetup after all - hope you all have fun.

    May 15, 2014

  • Christi

    Bummed to have to miss this, but I have been so busy at work that I haven't had the chance to read/skim a book, and I don't think I can even do justice to the 'read the first paragraph' suggestion. I would love to see a list of all the books that have been read though so I can add some to my Goodreads list!

    May 13, 2014

    • Charissa K.

      Hi Christi. No worries, life happens! I will definitely be posting the list of books in our discussion page afterwards.

      1 · May 14, 2014

  • Lou Chiaramonte, J.

    FYI: National Geographic has a special book out entitled "Inside the Medieval World"--I found it in the magazine section of a local pharmacy. The maps in it are great (one for each of the ten centuries covered). However, I can't figure out why the text is so darn sparse! Well, I bought it for the maps, so I'm happy enough :)

    2 · May 14, 2014

  • Jeannie

    Sounds like fun, but I will have to miss it.

    May 12, 2014

  • Mike A.

    Hi all, I posted a document with my thoughts on the book I selected based on the theme. Chaucer and the City by Ardis Buttersfield.

    April 5, 2014

  • Noelle

    Memoirs of a Medieval Woman is good, in case anyone needs suggestion for a book. Based on The Book of Margery Kempe, which I read for medieval history class I mentioned below.

    1 · April 3, 2014

  • Charissa K.

    I found this interesting article about new info on the Medieval Black Plague - I believe Sharon is reading a book (or two!) on the plague as well. (I'll post it on the AiH Facebook page too):http://bit.ly/1dQ2V8A

    April 1, 2014

  • Noelle

    speaking of Medieval period:medieval blogging today. Margery Kempe's book I read in a medieval history class. see this:
    http://houseoffame.blogspot.com/2007/01/margerye-kempe-at-feest-of-mla.html

    April 1, 2014

    • Charissa K.

      Wow! That was quite a blog. I like the humor she added! The glossary was very helpful. Without it, reading the blog would bring on woodnesse. ;-)

      April 1, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I'll be bringing an excerpt from the Canterbury Tales in Middle English to discuss the language transitions of Chaucer's time

    1 · March 28, 2014

    • Charissa K.

      Looking forward to that!!!

      1 · March 28, 2014

    • Noelle

      you would like this blog, see my link to it above!

      April 1, 2014

  • Noelle

    I'm reading book by my medieval history prof years ago at Cal. Two Churches by Robert Brentano. I've had it on shelf for years and didn't get around to reading it until now.

    1 · April 1, 2014

  • Sharon

    Strangely enough I wanted to find out more about the bubonic plague and downloaded the following to read: The Black Death, The Dancing Mania by J.F.C. Henry Morley, B. G. Babington, Pestilence: A Medieval Tale of Plague by Jeani Rector and Black Death by Robert S. Gottfried. So got a little non-fiction and fiction going on here.

    March 31, 2014

    • Charissa K.

      I'm looking forward to hearing about it. I remember driving out of London across what looked like acres of a grass-only park, but found out it was the mass graves of the plague victims. Nice to get the fiction/non-fiction perspectives.

      March 31, 2014

  • Mike A.

    My book is called Chaucer and the City by Ardis Butterfield. The essays address the centrality of the city in Chaucer's work, and of Chaucer to a literature and a language of the city. Contributors explore the spatial extent of the city, imaginatively and geographically; the diverse and sometimes violent relationships between communities, and the use of language to identify and speak for communities; the worlds of commerce, the aristocracy, law, and public order. A final section considers the longer history and memory of the medieval city beyond the devastations of the Great Fire and into the Victorian period.

    March 28, 2014

    • Charissa K.

      Wow, that is thorough! Sounds very interesting!

      1 · March 28, 2014

  • Charissa K.

    Just got my book for the topic! The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer. It is written like a tour book for that time period. Which books are you all thinking about reading?

    March 28, 2014

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