“Pure literature and good books are meat and drink. They are the silos that feed the mind, nourishing and energizing it.” – Elbert Hubbard

Join the Roycroft Campus as we follow in the footsteps of Elbert Hubbard and immerse ourselves in the love of literature. Throughout the year we will read contemporary bestsellers, historical non-fiction, “classics”, and perhaps even a little Hubbard himself culminating in a discussion at the Roycroft Power House.

The book club discussions are free and opened to the general public. We meet on the date listed for each book at 7pm in the Roycroft Power House, 39 South Grove, East Aurora, NY 14052. If you would like to be included on our email list, please send your email address to anowicki@roycroftcampuscorp.com stating your interest in the book club.

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2022 BOOK SELECTIONS

BOOK DISCUSSION

Wednesday, January 12th, 2022 at 7:00p

JANUARY TITLE: The Exiles – By Christine Baker Kline

Seduced by her employer’s son, Evangeline, a naïve young governess in early nineteenth-century London, is discharged when her pregnancy is discovered and sent to the notorious Newgate Prison. After months in the overcrowded jail, she learns she is sentenced to “the land beyond the seas,” Van Diemen’s Land, a penal colony in Australia. Though uncertain of what awaits, Evangeline knows one thing: the child she carries will be born on the months-long voyage to this distant land.

During the journey on a repurposed slave ship, the Medea, Evangeline strikes up a friendship with Hazel, a girl little older than her former pupils who was sentenced to seven years transport for stealing a silver spoon. Canny where Evangeline is guileless, Hazel—a skilled midwife and herbalist—is soon offering home remedies to both prisoners and sailors in return for a variety of favors.

Though Australia has been home to Aboriginal people for more than 50,000 years, the British government in the 1840s considers its fledgling colony uninhabited and unsettled, and views the natives as an unpleasant nuisance. By the time the Medea arrives, many of them have been forcibly relocated, their land seized by white colonists. One of these relocated people is Mathinna, the orphaned daughter of the Chief of the Lowreenne tribe, who has been adopted by the new governor of Van Diemen’s Land.

In this gorgeous novel, Christina Baker Kline brilliantly recreates the beginnings of a new society in a beautiful and challenging land, telling the story of Australia from a fresh perspective, through the experiences of Evangeline, Hazel, and Mathinna. While life in Australia is punishing and often brutally unfair, it is also, for some, an opportunity: for redemption, for a new way of life, for unimagined freedom. Told in exquisite detail and incisive prose, The Exiles is a story of grace born from hardship, the unbreakable bonds of female friendships, and the unfettering of legacy.

BOOK DISCUSSION

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2022 at 7:00p

FEBRUARY TITLE: Klara and the Sun – By Kazuo Ishiguro

Here is the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, who, from her place in the store, watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her. Klara and the Sun is a thrilling book that offers a look at our changing world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator, and one that explores the fundamental question: what does it mean to love?

BOOK DISCUSSION

Wednesday, April 20th, 2022 at 7:00p

APRIL TITLE: The Giver of Stars – By Jojo Moyes

Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve, hoping to escape her stifling life in England.  But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically.

The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky. Based on a true story rooted in America’s past.

BOOK DISCUSSION

Wednesday, June 15th, 2022 at 7:00p

JUNE TITLE: The Dictionary of Lost Words – By Pip Williams

Esme is born into a world of words. Motherless and irrepressibly curious, she spends her childhood in the Scriptorium, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of dedicated lexicographers are collecting words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary. Young Esme’s place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day a slip of paper containing the word bondmaid flutters beneath the table. She rescues the slip, and when she learns that the word means “slave girl,” she begins to collect other words that have been discarded or neglected by the dictionary men.

As she grows up, Esme realizes that words and meanings relating to women’s and common folks’ experiences often go unrecorded. And so she begins in earnest to search out words for her own dictionary: the Dictionary of Lost Words. To do so she must leave the sheltered world of the university and venture out to meet the people whose words will fill those pages.

BOOK DISCUSSION

Wednesday, August 17th, 2022 at 7:00p

AUGUST TITLE: The Vanishing Half – By Brit Bennett

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect? Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

BOOK DISCUSSION

Wednesday, October 19th, 2022 at 7:00p

OCTOBER TITLE: The Secrets We Kept – By Lara Prescott

At the height of the Cold War, Irina, a young Russian-American secretary, is plucked from the CIA typing pool and given the assignment of a lifetime. Her mission: to help smuggle Doctor Zhivago into the USSR, where it is banned, and enable Boris Pasternak’s magnum opus to make its way into print around the world. Mentoring Irina is the glamorous Sally Forrester: a seasoned spy who has honed her gift for deceit, using her magnetism and charm to pry secrets out of powerful men. Under Sally’s tutelage, Irina learns how to invisibly ferry classified documents—and discovers deeply buried truths about herself. The Secrets We Kept combines a legendary literary love story—the decades-long affair between Pasternak and his mistress and muse, Olga Ivinskaya, who inspired Zhivago’s heroine, Lara—with a narrative about two women empowered to lead lives of extraordinary intrigue and risk. Told with soaring emotional intensity and captivating historical detail, this is an unforgettable debut: a celebration of the powerful belief that a work of art can change the world.

PAST BOOKS

2021
A Perfect Mother – By Aimee Malloy
Finding Dorothy – By Elizabeth Letts
A Gentleman in Moscow – By Amor Towles

2020
Little Women – By Louisa May Alcott
Inland – By Tea Obreht

2019
Pichinko – By Min Jin Lee
Educated: A Memoir – By Tara Westover
The Death of Mrs. Westaway – By Ruth Ware
The Dinner List – By Rebecca Serle
The Library Book – By Susan Orlean

2018
The Wonder – By Emma Donoghue
The Electrifying Fall of Rainbow City: Spectacle and Assassination at the 1901 World’s Fair – By Margaret Creighton
The Handmaid’s Tale – By Margaret Atwood
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry – By Gabrielle Zevin
Killers of the Flower Moon – By David Grann
What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories – Laura Shaparo

2017
Commonwealth – By Ann Patchett
Underground Airlines – By Ben Winters
The Book of Speculation – By Erika Swyler
Leaving Before the Rains Come – By Alexandra Fuller
Grandma Gatewood’s Walk – By Ben Montgomery
The Lady in Gold – Anne-Marie O’Conner

2016
All the Light We Can Not See – By Anthony Doerr
West with the Night – By Beryl Markham
Shop Class as Soul Craft – By Matthew B. Crawford
The Alchemist – By Paulo Coelho
Station Eleven – By Emily St. John Mandel
A Fierce Radiance – By Lauren Belfer

 2015
Two in the Far North – By Margaret Murie
The Secret History of Wonder Woman – By Jill Lepore
Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy – By Diana Preston
Legendary Locals of East Aurora – By Rob Goller
Let the Great World Spin – By Colum McCann

2014
And the Mountains Echoed – By Khaled Hosseini
The Red Badge of Courage – By Stephen Crane
In the Garden of Beasts – By Erik Larson
Thomas Jefferson:The Art of Power – By Jon Meacham and Little Journeys:Thomas Jefferson – By Elbert Hubbard