Houston Montrose Great Books

The Houston Montrose Great Books discussion group is affiliated with Great Books and meets at 6pm on the first Thursday of every month at the Houston Freed Montrose Library.

We usually finish up by closing time at 8pm (sometimes a little sooner) and those who want to socialize adjourn to the Black Lab restaurant which is adjacent to the library and which doesn't require members to move their cars.

Our new/old  location is at The Houston Freed-Montrose Public Library at 4100 Montrose Boulevard, one black south of Richmond in the same shopping center as The Black Lab Restaurant.

Parking for attendees is available in a parking garage behind the Library.  You may have to take a ticket when you enter the garage but the attendant leaves at 7pm so you don't need to pay on your way out.

We love to have new members. We ask that you read the book if you want to participate in the discussion but everyone is welcome to attend and listen whether they have read the selection or not. Call or email me if you would like more info.

Hope to see you soon!


Our main website info is at:
Our blog is at:
An archive of previous meeting reminders (and such) is at:
We are affiliated with Houston Great Books as reflected at:
And here is a guide to Shared Inquiry which is basically how we try to conduct the discussion.


    Feb 2 - ADVENTURES OF AUGIE MARCH by Saul Bellow (publ 1953) 608 pages
    Bellow has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the National Medal of Arts. According to Salman Rushdie "If there's a candidate for the Great American Novel, I think this is it."
    Blends street language with literary elegance to tell the story of a poor Chicago boy growing up during the Great Depression. A true adventure story that not only takes you through a man's life and everything that happens to him, but of his own discovery of who he is and what he wants to be in the world.
      --Jean leading discussion

    Mar 1 - DARKNESS AT NOON by Art Koestler (publ 2006) 288 pages
    Ranked by the Modern Library as eighth on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.
    The tale of Rubashov, an Old Bolshevik who is cast out, imprisoned, and tried for treason against the very Soviet Union he once helped to create. "...it is a powerful meditation on good and evil, and the extent to which we allow the latter in the short term because we believe it will somehow help us get the former in the long term."
      --Jim leading discussion

    Apr 5 - LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov (publ 1959) 315 pages
    Considered Nabokov's best work and ranked 4th on the Modern Library's List of the best novels in English literature,
    Lolita is the story of a middle-aged college professor's obsession for a pubescent girl. A controversial story of a civilized European colliding with the barbarism of postwar America, it is a meditation on love--love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.
      --Charles leading discussion

    May 3 - LETTERS FROM THE EARTH by Mark Twain (1st publ 1962) 22 pages or 51 pages - depending on source
    A collection of anti-religious essays reputed to be highly inflammatory - our discussion will cover the PROLOGUE to LETTERS FROM THE EARTH, SATAN'S LETTER, LETTER II, LETTER III, LETTER IV, LETTER V, LETTER VI, LETTER VII, LETTER VIII, LETTER IX, LETTER X, and LETTER XI. There are texts titled LETTERS FROM THE EARTH that may include more than specified above but essays in addition to those specified above will not be included in our discussion. This collection in numerous forms is available online and from Amazon. I purchased a copy but it has sense increased in cost at: http://www.amazon.com/Letters-Earth-Publisher-Greenbook-Publications/dp/B004OKY4O0/ref=sr_1_13?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1325270552&sr=1-13 . Online, these essays specified above are available from: http://www.sacred-texts.com/aor/twain/letearth.htm and also from: http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/twainlfe.htm and probably other places. Just be sure to check the table of contents and make sure the essays specified above are included.
    [Next months book is extra long - this month's reading is relatively short to allow for us to start reading next book in advance.]
      --Lin leading discussion

    Jun 7 -HOUSE FOR MR. BISWAS by V. S. Naipaul [publ 1961] 576 pages
    2001 Nobel Prize laureate as well as winner of numerous major literary awards -- book was ranked no. 72 on the list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.
    This novel is the story of Mr Mohun Biswas, an Indo-Trinidadian who continually strives for success and mostly fails, who marries into the Tulsi family only to find himself dominated by it, and who finally sets the goal of owning his own house. Drawing some elements from the life of Naipaul's father, the work is primarily a sharply-drawn look at life that uses postcolonial perspectives to view a vanished colonial world. [Long Book category: paired with shorter work assigned to previous month's discussion so we can start reading early]
      --Jim leading discussion

  Jul 5 - THE SENSE OF AN ENDING by Julian Barnes (hardcover publ 2011) 176 pages
    Booker Prize winner for 2011 and included in NYTimes list of best books of 2011. Author has written ten novels as well as collections of short stories and journalistic essays and won numerous awards and been translated into more than 30 languages.
    This story is narrated by a middle-aged man named Tony Webster, who recalls how he and his clique met Adrian Finn at school and vowed to remain friends for life. When the past catches up with Tony, he reflects on the paths he and his friends have taken.
      --David leading discussion

    Aug 2 - THE CONFIDENCE MAN by Herman Melville [publ 1857] 336 pages
    The novel's title refers to its central character, an ambiguous figure who sneaks aboard a Mississippi steamboat and attempts to test the confidence of the passengers, whose varied reactions constitute the bulk of the text. In this work Melville is at his best illustrating the human masquerade. Each person including the reader is forced to confront that in which he places his trust.
      --Will leading discussion

Join or login to comment.

  • Alice A.

    Though I was very critical of the book, I did enjoy the discussion. And Jean did an excellent job of leading.

    February 9, 2012

  • Michele C.

    It was a fun and very educational evening. I'd give it six stars if that were an option!

    February 3, 2012

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