Past Meetup

Bernhard Schlink's "The Reader"

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The group has selected Bernhard Schlink's "The Reader" for our March discussion. I'm reading this novel right now and am really enjoying it. The work comes in at just over 200 pages and won an Oscar for its 2008 film adaptation.

How voting works: Two members nominate books from our list of 1,001--I give preference to those who arrive early, so as to save time--I also nominate one book. The group, by a show of hands, votes. The selection with the most votes wins.

Michael Berg, 15, is on his way home from high school in post-World War II Germany when he becomes ill and is befriended by a woman who takes him home. When he recovers from hepatitis many weeks later, he dutifully takes the 40-year-old Hanna flowers in appreciation, and the two become lovers. The relationship, at first purely physical, deepens when Hanna takes an interest in the young man's education, insisting that he study hard and attend classes. Soon, meetings take on a more meaningful routine in which after lovemaking Michael reads aloud from the German classics. There are hints of Hanna's darker side: one inexplicable moment of violence over a minor misunderstanding, and the fact that the boy knows nothing of her life other than that she collects tickets on the streetcar. Content with their arrangement, Michael is only too willing to overlook Hanna's secrets. She leaves the city abruptly and mysteriously, and he does not see her again until, as a law student, he sits in on her case when she is being tried as a Nazi criminal. [...] The theme of good versus evil and the question of moral responsibility are eloquently presented in this spare coming-of-age story that's sure to inspire questions and passionate discussion.

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