Book Club

Ages 18+
Online

Looking for your next great read? Join our book groups and get in on thought-provoking discussion in the warm company of the JCCSF community.

  • Arts & Ideas
woman reading book

Together, we love sharing ideas — so come ready for eye-opening conversations. Book genres and topics vary. All will strengthen your sense of togetherness with others in the JCCSF community in a social and relaxed setting.

 

Afternoon Book Group

We’re excited to re-start our afternoon book club! The afternoon book group met for over ten years and was on hiatus during the pandemic, but we’re back! The group will continue to read a variety of fiction and nonfiction books chosen by the members. We’re staring up in person in October 2021, hope you’ll join us!  

Interested? Please connect with Shiva Schulz, Lifelong Learning Manger, at sschulz@jccsf.org or call 415-292-1260 to get on the list to join.  

2nd Wednesday of the month unless noted • 2:45 – 4:15 pm

October 13: The Night Portrait, by Laura Morelli

An exciting, dual-timeline historical novel about the creation of one of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous paintings, Portrait of a Lady with an Ermine, and the woman who fought to save it from Nazi destruction during World War II. Milan, 1492: When a 16-year old beauty becomes the mistress of the Duke of Milan, she must fight for her place in the palace–and against those who want her out. Soon, she finds herself sitting before Leonardo da Vinci, who wants to ensure his own place in the ducal palace by painting his most ambitious portrait to date.
Munich, World War II: After a modest conservator unwittingly places a priceless Italian Renaissance portrait into the hands of a high-ranking Nazi leader, she risks her life to recover it, working with an American soldier, part of the famed Monuments Men team, to get it back.

November 10: The Girl from Berlin, by Ronald H. Balson

Liam Tag­gart, an inves­ti­ga­tor, and his wife, attor­ney Cather­ine Lock­hart, are invit­ed to din­ner at their favorite Ital­ian restau­rant. They are offered a free trip to Tus­cany to help the owner’s aging aunt Gabi who is being evict­ed from her vine­yard by a large cor­po­ra­tion. Upon their arrival in Tus­cany, Gabi tells them to read a mem­oir by Ada Baum­garten, a Ger­man vio­lin­ist forced to flee Berlin and set­tle in Bologna, Italy when the Nazis took pow­er. Read­ers get a vivid descrip­tion of the fate of Italy’s Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty dur­ing World War II and Ada’s life as a Ger­man Jew in exile. Bal­son places real his­tor­i­cal fig­ures in the sto­ry pro­vid­ing con­text. As Cather­ine and Liam dis­cov­er, Ada has a direct link to Gabi and her vine­yard which the cor­po­ra­tion has tak­en extreme mea­sures to hide.  Mur­der, decep­tion, and greed are involved, but this com­pelling sto­ry offers the beau­ty of music and love, and the pos­si­bil­i­ty of redemption.

December 8: The Plot, by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Hailed as “breathtakingly suspenseful,” Jean Hanff Korelitz’s The Plot is a propulsive read about a story too good not to steal, and the writer who steals it. When a young writer dies before completing his first novel, his teacher, Jake, (himself a failed novelist) helps himself to its plot. The resulting book is a phenomenal success. But what if somebody out there knows? Somebody does. And if Jake can’t figure out who he’s dealing with, he risks something far worse than the loss of his career. 

Evening Book Group

3rd Tuesday of the month unless noted • 7:30 – 9:00 pm

Currently, the Evening Book Group is meeting virtually. To join the Evening Book Group, please contact Shiva Schulz at sschulz@jccsf.org.

July 20: Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Klara and the Sun, the first novel by Kazuo Ishiguro since he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, tells 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? In its award citation in 2017, the Nobel committee described Ishiguro’s books as “novels of great emotional force” and said he has “uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.

August 17: The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom

In 1961, Sarah M. Broom’s mother Ivory Mae bought a shotgun house in the then-promising neighborhood of New Orleans East and built her world inside of it. It was the height of the Space Race and the neighborhood was home to a major NASA plant―the postwar optimism seemed assured. Widowed, Ivory Mae remarried Sarah’s father Simon Broom; their combined family would eventually number twelve children. But after Simon died, six months after Sarah’s birth, the Yellow House would become Ivory Mae’s thirteenth and most unruly child. A book of great ambition, Sarah M. Broom’s The Yellow House tells a hundred years of her family and their relationship to home in a neglected area of one of America’s most mythologized cities. This is the story of a mother’s struggle against a house’s entropy, and that of a prodigal daughter who left home only to reckon with the pull that home exerts, even after the Yellow House was wiped off the map after Hurricane Katrina. The Yellow House expands the map of New Orleans to include the stories of its lesser-known natives, guided deftly by one of its native daughters, to demonstrate how enduring drives of clan, pride, and familial love resist and defy erasure. Located in the gap between the “Big Easy” of tourist guides and the New Orleans in which Broom was raised, The Yellow House is a brilliant memoir of place, class, race, the seeping rot of inequality, and the internalized shame that often follows. It is a transformative, deeply moving story from an unparalleled new voice of startling clarity, authority, and power.

September 21: Where the Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens. Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps. 

October 19: This is Happiness by Niall Williams

The rain is stopping. Nobody in the small, forgotten village of Faha remembers when it started; rain on the western seaboard was a condition of living. Now–just as Father Coffey proclaims the coming of electricity–it is stopping. Seventeen-year-old Noel Crowe is standing outside his grandparents’ house shortly after the rain has stopped when he encounters Christy for the first time. Though he can’t explain it, Noel knows right then: something has changed.  This is the story of all that was to follow: Christy’s long-lost love and why he had come to Faha, Noel’s own experiences falling in and out of love, and the endlessly postponed arrival of electricity–a development that, once complete, would leave behind a world that had not changed for centuries.  Niall Williams’ latest novel is an intricately observed portrait of a community, its idiosyncrasies and its traditions, its paradoxes and its inanities, its failures and its triumphs. Luminous and otherworldly, and yet anchored with deep-running roots into the earthy and the everyday, This Is Happiness is about stories as the very stuff of life: the ways they make the texture and matter of our world, and the ways they write and rewrite us.

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