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Book Discussion for "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" by Muriel Barbary

This book just barely missed the cut for this quarter's book vote (by one vote!), so I am including it anyway. We'll just have to start our next quarterly round of books in February. I'm excited to read this book because of the purported mixture of philosophy and fiction (Barbary is a professor of philosophy), which I always find to be fun and interesting. Looking forward to seeing what you all think!


The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbary

Renee is the concierge of a grand Parisian apartment building, home to members of the great and the good. Over the years she has maintained her carefully constructed persona as someone reliable but totally uncultivated, in keeping, she feels, with society's expectations of what a concierge should be. But beneath this facade lies the real Renee: passionate about culture and the arts, and more knowledgeable in many ways than her employers with their outwardly successful but emotionally void lives. Down in her lodge, apart from weekly visits by her one friend Manuela, Renee lives resigned to her lonely lot with only her cat for company. Meanwhile, several floors up, twelve-year-old Paloma Josse is determined to avoid the pampered and vacuous future laid out for her, and decides to end her life on her thirteenth birthday. But unknown to them both, the sudden death of one of their privileged neighbours will dramatically alter their lives forever. By turn moving and hilarious, this unusual novel became the top-selling book in France in 2007 with sales of over 900,000 copies to-date.


Now let's get to readin'!

Suggested Donation: $2/attendee

As stated in my profile, I'm a broke-ass grad student, and Meetup groups cost money to run (surprise!), so... if you can contribute a buck or two, please do! This increases the likelihood that I can continue this group despite my rotten budget. If you can't, don't sweat it - it wouldn't really be fair to exclude other broke-asses. If there are extra funds from donations over the year (i.e., if the amount collected exceeds the cost of the Meetup, which is $144/year), then I will use the remaining funds for something fun for the group, like drinks/snacks for a holiday get together at the year's end.

A little note on RSVPs:

If you have to cancel (life happens sometimes), please do so at least 24 hours in advance. That way space can be freed up for others who may wish to attend, but for whom there wasn't enough room. RSVPs cannot be changed after 9:00am on the day of the event, so be sure to change your RSVP well in advance of this! Also, if you are on the waiting list and other's change their RSVP to "no", you will be bumped up on the list, so make sure to check your status the day of the event. If you RSVP "yes" and don't show up 3 times (yes, I will be counting!), you will be excluded from future attendance. This is only fair for others who want to attend the meetings.

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  • Dee

    The Hedgehog french movie trailer is on youtube-interesting to see the casting etc and netflix has the dvd. (It would be fun if the group could watch it together discuss the book and movie after reading the book.)

    February 20, 2014

  • Jennifer

    I have the bug thats going around ( thanks to my students) so I figured I would not "share" it with others. Really bummed because I really liked the book. Have fun.

    February 15, 2014

    • Valerie F.

      Hope you feel better soon Jennifer!

      February 17, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    OK I guess I didn't make it- this wait is thing drag! Looks like you have other great book clubs going- But maybe next time I'll get notified sooner?

    February 16, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sorry to miss! I didn't get the book as I was on the wait list so long...hopefully next time.

    February 16, 2014

  • Lois W.

    Sorry but I hadn't read the book as I was on the wait list. I made other plans. Hopefully next time.

    February 14, 2014

  • Serena M.

    Blargh. I keep having to cancel! One day I'll come back...

    February 14, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I'd love to come- I'll get the book and I'm a crazy fast reader

    February 14, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi, you didn't answer as to whether my hubby can come, so i'll assume he can't and we'll duck out of this one. :-) Sue

    February 14, 2014

  • brian b

    Shouldn't bona fide Japanophiliacs be automatic upgrades--> to attendee?

    February 13, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi, That's great! I was beginning to despair that I would never get to one of these. :-) I think I booked for +1 so my husband can come. Are we both confirmed?

    February 13, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    When does the next selection of books happen?

    January 26, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I am new to the area (Rockridge) and would love to join the group!

    January 22, 2014

  • katie h

    Maybe this is a terrible idea, or has been discussed before, but it seems like with almost 500 people in this group, having one meeting per month is going to always leave a lot of people out. Has anyone thought about having 2 or even 3 different meetings per month talking about the same book, to allow more people to participate? I haven't made it to a group yet, so you probably don't want to start with someone you don't know, but I'd be willing to be the host/facilitator for an additional meeting time another day in Feb. Any thoughts?

    2 · January 15, 2014

    • Valerie F.

      thanks for the offer, but no. i tried having alternate meetings at the beginning of this group and it didn't work so well - only 10-15 people total ever end up showing up for a book, total, regardless of having more space/alternate times. as with a lot of meetups, many members here have joined the group, but never rsvp'd

      January 16, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Darn! I really want this one too. Hope to get in....lol.

    September 15, 2013

    • Valerie F.

      What Xia said! People always change their RSVPs before the date. Get on the waitlist and stay tuned!

      January 15, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      On the waitlist ....we will see. :-0

      January 16, 2014

  • peter r.

    Sorry, out of the country that day

    January 14, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Wow this fills up fast

    January 13, 2014

  • Valerie F.

    something glitchy was going on with the RSVPs - please try again! hope it's fixed - if not, i may have to get help from the meetup folks :o

    January 12, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    This was supposed to open at 7:00 p.m.??????

    January 12, 2014

  • Jennifer

    Did I miss the RSVP window? IT says its closed.

    January 12, 2014

  • Nikolaus H.

    I am almost finished with this book! I normally don't like philosophy all that much but the book has some very enjoyable ruminations on the subject.

    January 11, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I'd like to come to this book club but I'm not sure what is happening with the RSVP as it says it is closed but there are no attendees listed. Is it full already?

    January 2, 2014

    • Valerie F.

      RSVPs open after the prior event. Stay tuned!

      January 3, 2014

  • Valerie F.

    You will get in, you will! :)

    September 15, 2013

  • Bruce B.

    Oops. Sorry. RSVP retracted. For now. :0)

    1 · September 15, 2013

  • Valerie F.

    i see somebody slipped in before i was able to change the rsvp settings! ;)

    September 15, 2013

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