Next Meetup

Discuss "Perennials," by Julie Cantrell
Please join us in October, when we'll discuss Perrenials, by Julie Cantrell When two estranged sisters reunite for their parents’ 50th anniversary, a family tragedy brings unexpected lessons. Eva grew up in Oxford, MS, surrounded by literary history and her mother's stunning perennial gardens. But her sister blamed her for a fire that changed everything, and no one spoke up on Eva's behalf. At 18, Eva turned down a marriage proposal and fled to Arizona. Her journey home, to the memory garden that’s an anniversary surprise for her mother, becomes one of discovering what it means to live perennially in spite of disappointments and tragedy. Eva thought she wanted to leave her family and the South far behind, but she realizes she hasn't truly been herself since she left. Please RSVP so we know how many to expect. If you can't make it at the last minute, that's OK; just let us know by changing your RSVP on the site. And feel free to bring a guest, but include your guest in the RSVP. (Alexandria Book Circle does not charge for membership or attendance. But with Meetup's recent rate increase -- now $15 a month -- it is necessary to put a collection box on the table at our discussions, for any small and completely voluntary contribution you'd like to make, to help defray the cost. Even the change you get back from buying your meal is appreciated.) Hope to see you there!

La Madeleine

500 King Street · Alexandria, VA

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What we're about

The 2018 Book List Is Here! Alexandria Book Circle meets in Old Town Alexandria at 8 pm on the third Tuesday of the month. We read and discuss a wide variety of books: literary fiction, science fiction, fantasy, nonfiction, mystery, classics, thrillers, young adult, biography, and more! We can't wait to welcome you to our next Book Club meeting!

In 2018, we will meet a week early in November, on the second Tuesday of the month instead of the third, because our usual date is just two days before Thanksgiving.

Here is the book list for 2018:

TUESDAY, JANUARY 16

My Family & Other Animals, by Gerald Durrell

When the unconventional Durrell family grow weary of the damp, gray English climate, they do what any sensible family would: sell their house and move to the sunny Greek isle of Corfu. My Family and Other Animals began as an exploration of the island’s natural history, but ended up as a delightful account of the Durrells’ experiences, from the eccentric hangers-on to the ceaseless procession of puppies, toads, scorpions, geckoes, glow worms, octopuses, bats, and butterflies through their home.

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia, until she and Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Then Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Cora and Caesar find an Underground Railroad station and head north, a slave catcher close on their heels. In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. The two embark on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking freedom. Like Gulliver, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey. Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the pre–Civil War era in this Pulitzer and National Book Award-winning novel that is a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage, as well as a shattering meditation on the history we all share.

TUESDAY, MARCH 20

The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey, by Spencer Wells

Around 60,000 years ago, a man—genetically identical to us—lived in Africa. Every person alive today is descended from him. How did this real-life Adam wind up as the father of us all? What happened to the descendants of his contemporaries? And why, if modern humans share a single ancestor, do we come in so many sizes, shapes, and races? Examining the hidden secrets of human evolution in our genetic code, Spencer Wells reveals how developments in the revolutionary science of population genetics have made it possible to create a family tree for the whole of humanity. Replete with marvelous anecdotes and remarkable information, The Journey of Man was the basis for a PBS program of the same title, and is an enthralling, epic tour through the history and development of early humankind.

TUESDAY, APRIL 17

House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton

This classic novel tells the story of Lily Bart, a well-born but impoverished woman belonging to New York City’s high society at the end of the 1800s. Wharton creates a portrait of a stunning beauty who, though raised and educated to marry well, has reached her late 20s, an age when her marital prospects are dwindling. The House of Mirth traces Lily’s two-year social descent from privilege to a lonely existence on the margins of society. In the words of one scholar, Wharton uses Lily as an attack on "an irresponsible, grasping and morally corrupt upper class."

TUESDAY, MAY 15

The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver

Kingsolver’s acclaimed novel is narrated by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fiercely evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but all of it – from garden seeds to Scripture – is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.

TUESDAY, JUNE 19

The Martian, by Andy Weir

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate, thinking him dead, Mark is stranded and completely alone with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. But Mark isn't ready to give up. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the odds against him?

TUESDAY, JULY 17

A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin

You’ve heard the hype; you may have seen the TV series. But have you read the original book? In a land where winters can last for years, the cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the Seven Kingdoms’ protective Wall. To the south, King Robert’s reign is in trouble, so he travels to Winterfell to summon Lord Eddard Stark to serve as the King’s Hand, an appointment that threatens not only the Stark family but all of Westeros. A Game of Thrones tells a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers, sorcerers, and bastards who come together in a game where you win, or you die. The books are more nuanced (and less sexist) than the HBO series, and the sex and violence are not as gratuitous. If you’ve always been curious about book that started it all, now’s your chance to see for yourself. (THIS IS A LONG ONE. START EARLY!)

TUESDAY, AUGUST 21

Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery

This classic novel recounts the adventures of Anne Shirley, an 11-year-old orphan girl who is mistakenly sent to Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, a middle-aged brother and sister who wanted to adopt a boy to help them on their farm in the fictional town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island. The novel recounts how creative, outspoken Anne wins over the Cuthberts, and makes her way in school and within the town.

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18

A Passage to India, by E.M. Forster

Among the greatest novels of the 20th century, A Passage to India tells of the clash of cultures in British India. In exquisite prose, Forster reveals the menace that lurks just beneath the surface of ordinary life, as a common misunderstanding erupts into a devastating affair. What really happened in the Marabar caves? This is the mystery at the heart of the novel, the puzzle that sets in motion events highlighting an even larger question: Can an Englishman and an Indian be friends? Written while England was still firmly in control of India and the idea of such a friendship was truly radical, Forster's novel follows the fortunes of three English newcomers to India and the Indian, Dr. Aziz, with whom they cross destinies.

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 16

Perennials, by Julie Cantrell

When two estranged sisters reunite for their parents’ 50th anniversary, a family tragedy brings unexpected lessons. Eva grew up in Oxford, MS, surrounded by literary history and her mother's stunning perennial gardens. But a fire and the burns suffered by one of her best friends changed everything. Her sister Bitsy blamed her for the fire, and no one spoke up on her behalf. At 18, Eva turned down a marriage proposal and fled to Arizona—the farthest thing from the South she could imagine. Her journey home, to the memory garden that’s an anniversary surprise for her mother, becomes one of discovering roots, truth, and love, and what living perennially in spite of disappointments and tragedy really means. Is there hope for the sisters’ estranged relationship? Eva thought she wanted to leave her family and the South far behind, but she realizes she hasn't truly been herself since she left.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 13 (one week earlier than usual)

In Pharaoh’s Army, by Tobias Wolff

This memoir of the author’s experiences in Vietnam War is mordantly funny and searingly honest. Whether he is evoking the blind carnage of the Tet offensive, the theatrics of his fellow Americans, or the unraveling of his own illusions, Wolff brings to this war memoir pitiless candor, biting wit, and an uncanny eye for detail.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 18

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, by Lisa See

Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. There is ritual and routine, going back generations. One day a jeep appears at the village gate—the first automobile anyone there has seen—and a stranger arrives. Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, translates for the stranger and is among the first to reject the rules that have shaped her existence. When she has a baby out of wedlock, she wraps her daughter in a blanket, with a tea cake hidden in her swaddling, and abandons her in the nearest city. After mother and daughter have gone their separate ways, Li-yan slowly emerges from the security and insularity of her village to encounter modern life while Haley grows up a privileged and well-loved California girl. Despite Haley’s happy home life, she wonders about her origins; and Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. They both search for and find answers in the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny.

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