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Each year, A Closer Look Book Club reads books based upon a chosen theme. The following is an archived list of the themes and works we have discussed.
We're reading works of outstanding nonfiction, including memoir, travel literature, war journalism, anthropology, and graphic novels.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace
The Forever War by Dexter Filkins
Plainwater: Essays and Poetry by Anne Carson
Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
The Complete Maus: 25th Anniversary Edition by Art Spiegelman
The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World by Lewis Hyde
2013-2014: Genre Meets High Art
We read novels that incorporate elements of genre fiction (fantasy, Western, detective, sci-fi, comix, etc.) with writing that achieves the level of art. We considered how we define “genre fiction” and "literary fiction” and what we believe are the values/functions of each.
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
The Collected Works of Billy the Kid by Michael Ondaatje
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
Orlando by Virginia Woolf
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
City of Glass by Paul Auster
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
2012-2013: Works in Translation
We read a wide range of translated narratives including an epic poem and a work translated by the original (bilingual) author.
The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector, translated by Benjamin Moser
Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust, translated by Lydia Davis
Inferno by Dante Alighieri, translated by Mary Jo Bang
Almost Never by Daniel Sada, translated by Katherine Silver
Molloy by Samuel Beckett, translated from the original French by Samuel Beckett and Patrick Bowles
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel
2011-2012: Apocalypse, Regeneration, and Rebirth
We read works that explored themes of revolution, dissolution, reformation, and renewal. This particularly varied reading list included works satiric and poetic, furious and amused, violent and beautiful. Our readings this year provided us with opportunities to consider the many endings and beginnings then taking place all over the world.
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Genesis by Eduardo Galeano
Pastoralia by George Saunders
Fools of Fortune by William Trevor
Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
2010-2011: Great American Novels
In celebration of the Poetry Center’s fiftieth anniversary, the Book Club read great American novels written contemporaneously with the Poetry Center’s first half century. We read one novel from each decade, beginning with 1960—the year the Poetry Center was founded.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac (representing the 60s)
them by Joyce Carol Oates (representing the 50s)
Beloved by Toni Morrison (representing the 70s)
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (representing the 80s)
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (representing the 90s)
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz (representing the 00s)