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Presenter: Kiki Berk
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "Becoming Beauvoir," by Kate Kirkpatrick, a fascinating philosophical biography of one of the most important existentialists and feminists of the 20th century.
A symbol of liberated womanhood, Simone de Beauvoir's unconventional relationships inspired and scandalized her generation. A philosopher, writer, and feminist icon, she won prestigious literary prizes and transformed the way we think about gender with The Second Sex. But despite her successes, she wondered if she had sold herself short.
Her liaison with Jean-Paul Sartre has been billed as one of the most legendary love affairs of the twentieth century. But for Beauvoir it came at a cost: for decades she was dismissed as an unoriginal thinker who 'applied' Sartre's ideas. In recent years new material has come to light revealing the ingenuity of Beauvoir's own philosophy and the importance of other lovers in her life.
This ground-breaking biography draws on never-before-published diaries and letters to tell the fascinating story of how Simone de Beauvoir became herself.
PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED TO RECEIVE THE BOOK PRIOR TO DISCUSSION.
Presenter: Alice Fogel
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "Beneficence," by Meredith Hall.
In the years after World War II, the Senter family built an Eden-like life on their isolated dairy farm in rural Maine. They know they are blessed people. "We can't ever know what will come," the wife and mother, Doris says.When tragedy arrives, everything each member of the family had faith in is shattered. Cast into the dark shadow of grief and guilt, they must find their way to forgive.A glorious debut novel by New York Times bestselling memoirist, Meredith Hall, Beneficence is a study of love, its gifts and its obligations, that will stay with you long after you've reached the last page. Like the best work of Kent Haruf and Marilynne Robinson, Beneficence beautifully illuminates the effects of love and loss, the possibilities of forgiveness, both of others and ourselves.
Presenter: Damian Costello
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "Black Elk Speaks," by Nicholas Black Elk. The life of Nicholas Black Elk (1863-1950), the Oglala Lakota visionary and healer.
"Black Elk Speaks," the story of the Oglala Lakota visionary and healer Nicholas Black Elk (1863-1950) and his people during momentous twilight years of the nineteenth century, offers readers much more than a precious glimpse of a vanished time. Black Elk's searing visions of the unity of humanity and Earth, conveyed by John G. Neihardt, have made this book a classic that crosses multiple genres. Whether appreciated as the poignant tale of a Lakota life, as a history of a Native nation, or as an enduring spiritual testament, Black Elk Speaks is unforgettable.Black Elk met the distinguished poet, writer, and critic John G. Neihardt in 1930 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and asked Neihardt to share his story with the world. Neihardt understood and conveyed Black Elk's experiences in this powerful and inspirational message for all humankind.
Presenter: Joshua Tepley
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "Bloodchild and Other Stories," by Octavia Butler.
Appearing in print for the first time, "Amnesty" is a story of a woman aptly named Noah who works to negotiate the tense and co-dependent relationship between humans and a species of invaders. Also new to this collection is "The Book of Martha" which asks: What would you do if God granted you the ability—and responsibility—to save humanity from itself?
Like all of Octavia Butler's best writing, these works of the imagination are parables of the contemporary world. She proves constant in her vigil, an unblinking pessimist hoping to be proven wrong, and one of contemporary literature's strongest voices.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "Braiding Sweetgrass," by Robin Wall Kimmerer.
As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take us on “a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise” (Elizabeth Gilbert).Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, and as a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings―asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass―offer us gifts and lessons, even if we've forgotten how to hear their voices. In reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn to give our own gifts in return.
PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED TO RECEIVE THE BOOK PRIOR TO DISCUSSION. Please contact the host to reserve your spot.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "Citizen: An American Lyric," by Claudia Rankine, a genre-bending meditation on race, racism, and citizenship in 21st-century America.
Claudia Rankine’s bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seemingly slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV—everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society.
Presenter: Ann McClellan
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister," by Gregory Maguire.
Gregory Maguire proves himself to be “one of contemporary fiction’s most assured myth-makers” (Kirkus Reviews) with Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, his ingenious and provocative retelling of the timeless Cinderella fairy tale. Perhaps best known for his dark and breathtaking Oz series The Wicked Years—including the novel Wicked, which inspired the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical—Maguire is a master at upending the ordinary to help us see the familiar in a brilliant new light.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "Disgrace," by John Maxwell Coetzee. Against a backdrop of racial complexitites of post-apartheid South Africa, a violent incident occurs and "disgrace" takes on another meaning for an aging and outcast professor.
At fifty-two, Professor David Lurie is divorced, filled with desire, but lacking in passion. When an affair with a student leaves him jobless, shunned by friends, and ridiculed by his ex-wife, he retreats to his daughter Lucy’s smallholding. David’s visit becomes an extended stay as he attempts to find meaning in his one remaining relationship. Instead, an incident of unimaginable terror and violence forces father and daughter to confront their strained relationship and the equallity complicated racial complexities of the new South Africa.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "Exhalation" by Ted Chiang. A collection of science fiction short stories that will change the way you think, feel, and see the world.
Tackling some of humanity’s oldest questions along with new quandaries only he could imagine, these stories will change the way you think, feel, and see the world. They are Ted Chiang at his best: profound, sympathetic, revelatory.Ted Chiang tackles some of humanity’s oldest questions along with new quandaries only he could imagine.In “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” a portal through time forces a fabric seller in ancient Baghdad to grapple with past mistakes and second chances. In “Exhalation,” an alien scientist makes a shocking discovery with ramifications that are literally universal. In “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom,” the ability to glimpse into alternate universes necessitates a radically new examination of the concepts of choice and free will.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "Exit West," by Mohsin Hamid.
In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. . . .Exit West follows these remarkable characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Nearly seventy years after its original publication, Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 stands as a classic of world literature set in a bleak, dystopian future. Today its message has grown more relevant than ever before.Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But when he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known.
Presenter: Liz Tentarelli
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "Gilded Suffragists," by Johanna Neuman.
In the early twentieth century over two hundred of New York's most glamorous socialites joined the suffrage movement. Their names—Astor, Belmont, Rockefeller, Tiffany, Vanderbilt, Whitney and the like—carried enormous public value. These women were the media darlings of their day because of the extravagance of their costume balls and the opulence of the French couture clothes, and they leveraged their social celebrity for political power, turning women's right to vote into a fashionable cause.Although they were dismissed by critics as bored socialites “trying on suffrage as they might the latest couture designs from Paris,” these gilded suffragists were at the epicenter of the great reforms known collectively as the Progressive Era. From championing education for women, to pursuing careers, and advocating for the end of marriage, these women were engaged with the swirl of change that swept through the streets of New York City.Johanna Neuman restores these women to their rightful place in the story of women’s suffrage. Understanding the need for popular approval for any social change, these socialites used their wealth, power, social connections and style to excite mainstream interest and to diffuse resistance to the cause. In the end, as Neuman says, when change was in the air, these women helped push women’s suffrage over the finish line.
Presenter: Carrie Brown
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "Hamnet," by Maggie O'Farrell. In this imagined re-creation of the early life of Shakespeare, his wife Agnes is an extraordinary woman, a gifted healer, and a central force in her husband's life. Tragedy occurs in the family just as the young husband's career in the London theatre is taking off.
Drawing on Maggie O'Farrell's long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare's most enigmatic play, Hamnet is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child.Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet.Award-winning author Maggie O'Farrell's new novel breathes full-blooded life into the story of a loss usually consigned to literary footnotes, and provides an unforgettable vindication of Agnes, a woman intriguingly absent from history.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "How Long 'Til Black Future Month?," by N.K. Jemisin. These science fiction short stories challenge and delight readers with thought-provoking narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption that sharply examine modern society.
Spirits haunt the flooded streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow South must save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story “The City Born Great,” a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis’s soul.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "How to be Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life," by Massimo Pigliucci. Stoicism is an ancient yet extraordinarily relevant practical philosophy that is aimed a living a good life. This book explains what Stoicism as a way of life looks like and how it makes us flourish.
Whenever we worry about what to eat, how to love, or simply how to be happy, we are worrying about how to lead a good life. No goal is more elusive. In How to Be a Stoic, philosopher Massimo Pigliucci offers Stoicism, the ancient philosophy that inspired the great emperor Marcus Aurelius, as the best way to attain it. Stoicism is a pragmatic philosophy that focuses our attention on what is possible and gives us perspective on what is unimportant. By understanding Stoicism, we can learn to answer crucial questions: Should we get married or divorced? How should we handle our money in a world nearly destroyed by a financial crisis? How can we survive great personal tragedy? Whoever we are, Stoicism has something for us—and How to Be a Stoic is the essential guide.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "How to Be Good," by Nick Hornby.The book is a story of Katie Carr, a doctor who is disillusioned with both marriage and parenthood. Her husband has a rather snide streak, but when he undergoes a personality change, she learns to long for her old husband.
London GP Katie Carr always thought she was a good person. With her husband David making a living as 'The Angriest Man in Holloway', she figured she could put up with anything. Until, that is, David meets DJ Goodnews and becomes a good person too. A far-too-good person who starts committing crimes of charity like taking in the homeless and giving their kids' toys away. Suddenly Katie's feeling very bad about herself, and thinking that if charity begins at home, then maybe it's time to move. . .
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "Just Us: An American Conversation," by Claudia Rankine, a collection of essays and images exploring racism and white supremacy.
As everyday white supremacy becomes increasingly vocalized with no clear answers at hand, how best might we approach one another? Claudia Rankine, without telling us what to do, urges us to begin the discussions that might open pathways through this divisive and stuck moment in American history.
Just Us is an invitation to discover what it takes to stay in the room together, even and especially in breaching the silence, guilt, and violence that follow direct addresses of whiteness. Rankine’s questions disrupt the false comfort of our culture’s liminal and private spaces—the airport, the theater, the dinner party, the voting booth—where neutrality and politeness live on the surface of differing commitments, beliefs, and prejudices as our public and private lives intersect.This brilliant arrangement of essays, poems, and images includes the voices and rebuttals of others: white men in first class responding to, and with, their white male privilege; a friend’s explanation of her infuriating behavior at a play; and women confronting the political currency of dying their hair blond, all running alongside fact-checked notes and commentary that complements Rankine’s own text, complicating notions of authority and who gets the last word. Sometimes wry, often vulnerable, and always prescient, Just Us is Rankine’s most intimate work, less interested in being right than in being true, being together.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "Midlife: A Philosophical Guide," by Kieran Setiya, a brilliant book that offers practical philosophical advice for coming to terms with regret, the feeling of missing out, our morality, and other existential issues.
How can you reconcile yourself with the lives you will never lead, with possibilities foreclosed, and with nostalgia for lost youth? How can you accept the failings of the past, the sense of futility in the tasks that consume the present, and the prospect of death that blights the future? In this self-help book with a difference, Kieran Setiya confronts the inevitable challenges of adulthood and middle age, showing how philosophy can help you thrive. You will learn why missing out might be a good thing, how options are overrated, and when you should be glad you made a mistake. You will be introduced to philosophical consolations for mortality. And you will learn what it would mean to live in the present, how it could solve your midlife crisis, and why meditation helps. Ranging from Aristotle, Schopenhauer, and John Stuart Mill to Virginia Woolf and Simone de Beauvoir, as well as drawing on Setiya’s own experience, Midlife combines imaginative ideas, surprising insights, and practical advice. Writing with wisdom and wit, Setiya makes a wry but passionate case for philosophy as a guide to life.
Presenter: Tammi Truax
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "Never Caught," by Erica Armstrong Dunbar. A startling and eye-opening look into America’s First Family, Never Caught is thepowerful story about a daring woman of “extraordinary grit.” We will explore the facts about the escape to NH of Ona Judge, from the Washington presidential household, after reading this non-fiction book.
These as elected president, he reluctantly left behind his beloved Mount Vernon to serve in Philadelphia, the temporary seat of the nation’s capital. In setting up his household he brought along nine slaves, including Ona Judge. As the President grew accustomed to Northern ways, there was one change he couldn’t abide: Pennsylvania law required enslaved people be set free after six months of residency in the state. Rather than comply, Washington decided to circumvent the law. Every six months he sent the slaves back down south just as the clock was about to expire.Though Ona Judge lived a life of relative comfort, she was denied freedom. So, when the opportunity presented itself one clear and pleasant spring day in Philadelphia, Judge left everything she knew to escape to New England. Yet freedom would not come without its costs. At just twenty-two-years-old, Ona became the subject of an intense manhunt led by George Washington, who used his political and personal contacts to recapture his property.“A crisp and compulsively readable feat of research and storytelling” (USA TODAY), historian and National Book Award finalist Erica Armstrong Dunbar weaves a powerful tale and offers fascinating new scholarship on how one young woman risked everything to gain freedom from the famous founding father and most powerful man in the United States at the time.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "Peyton Place" by Grace Metalious.
First published in 1956, Peyton Place uncovers the passions, lies and cruelties that simmer beneath the surface of a postcard-perfect town. At the centre of the novel are three women, each with a secret to hide: Constance MacKenzie, the original desperate housewife; her daughter Allison, whose dreams are stifled by small-town small-mindedness; and Selena Cross, her gypsy-eyed friend from the wrong side of the tracks.
Presenter: Mary C. Kelly
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland," by Patrick Radden Keefe. A bestselling account of a murder in Northern Ireland, that serves as a lens to explore Northern Ireland's political culture and the legacy of The Troubles. Jean McConville’s abduction was one of the most notorious episodes of the vicious conflict known as The Troubles. Everyone in the neighborhood knew the I.R.A. was responsible. But in a climate of fear and paranoia, no one would speak of it. In 2003, five years after an accord brought an uneasy peace to Northern Ireland, a set of human bones was discovered on a beach. McConville’s children knew it was their mother when they were told a blue safety pin was attached to the dress–with so many kids, she had always kept it handy for diapers or ripped clothes.Patrick Radden Keefe’s mesmerizing book on the bitter conflict in Northern Ireland and its aftermath uses the McConville case as a starting point for the tale of a society wracked by a violent guerrilla war, a war whose consequences have never been reckoned with. The brutal violence seared not only people like the McConville children, but also I.R.A. members embittered by a peace that fell far short of the goal of a united Ireland, and left them wondering whether the killings they committed were not justified acts of war, but simple murders.From radical and impetuous I.R.A. terrorists such as Dolours Price, who, when she was barely out of her teens, was already planting bombs in London and targeting informers for execution, to the ferocious I.R.A. mastermind known as The Dark, to the spy games and dirty schemes of the British Army, to Gerry Adams, who negotiated the peace but betrayed his hardcore comrades by denying his I.R.A. past–Say Nothing conjures a world of passion, betrayal, vengeance, and anguish.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "Stoner," by John Williams. Stoner is "The Greatest American Novel You've Never Heard Of" according to The New Yorker. It's a painful yet thought-provoking read that raises the question of what constitutes a good life.
William Stoner is born at the end of the nineteenth century into a dirt-poor Missouri farming family. Sent to the state university to study agronomy, he instead falls in love with English literature and embraces a scholar’s life, so different from the hardscrabble existence he has known. And yet as the years pass, Stoner encounters a succession of disappointments: marriage into a “proper” family estranges him from his parents; his career is stymied; his wife and daughter turn coldly away from him; a transforming experience of new love ends under threat of scandal. Driven ever deeper within himself, Stoner rediscovers the stoic silence of his forebears and confronts an essential solitude.
John Williams’s luminous and deeply moving novel is a work of quiet perfection. William Stoner emerges from it not only as an archetypal American, but as an unlikely existential hero, standing, like a figure in a painting by Edward Hopper, in stark relief against an unforgiving world.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "Stony the Road," by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.. A challenging and unsettling account of Reconstruction-era racial history, with much to inform us about today's cultural and political divides.
The abolition of slavery in the aftermath of the Civil War is a familiar story, as is the civil rights revolution that transformed the nation after World War II. But the century in between remains a mystery: if emancipation sparked “a new birth of freedom” in Lincoln’s America, why was it necessary to march in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s America? In this new book, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., one of our leading chroniclers of the African-American experience, seeks to answer that question in a history that moves from the Reconstruction Era to the “nadir” of the African-American experience under Jim Crow, through to World War I and the Harlem Renaissance.Through his close reading of the visual culture of this tragic era, Gates reveals the many faces of Jim Crow and how, together, they reinforced a stark color line between white and black Americans. Bringing a lifetime of wisdom to bear as a scholar, filmmaker, and public intellectual, Gates uncovers the roots of structural racism in our own time, while showing how African Americans after slavery combatted it by articulating a vision of a “New Negro” to force the nation to recognize their humanity and unique contributions to America as it hurtled toward the modern age.The story Gates tells begins with great hope, with the Emancipation Proclamation, Union victory, and the liberation of nearly 4 million enslaved African-Americans. Until 1877, the federal government, goaded by the activism of Frederick Douglass and many others, tried at various turns to sustain their new rights. But the terror unleashed by white paramilitary groups in the former Confederacy, combined with deteriorating economic conditions and a loss of Northern will, restored “home rule” to the South. The retreat from Reconstruction was followed by one of the most violent periods in our history, with thousands of black people murdered or lynched and many more afflicted by the degrading impositions of Jim Crow segregation.An essential tour through one of America’s fundamental historical tragedies, Stony the Road is also a story of heroic resistance, as figures such as W. E. B. Du Bois and Ida B. Wells fought to create a counter-narrative, and culture, inside the lion’s mouth. As sobering as this tale is, it also has within it the inspiration that comes with encountering the hopes our ancestors advanced against the longest odds.
Presenter: Mohamed Defaa
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "The Attack," by Yasmina Khadra.
Dr. Amin Jaafari, an Arab-Israeli citizen, is a surgeon at a hospital in Tel Aviv. Dedicated to his work, respected and admired by his colleagues and community, he represents integration at its most successful. He has learned to live with the violence and chaos that plague his city, and on the night of a deadly bombing in a local restaurant, he works tirelessly to help the shocked and shattered patients brought to the emergency room. But this night of turmoil and death takes a horrifyingly personal turn. His wife's body is found among the dead, with massive injuries, the police coldly announce, typical of those found on the bodies of fundamentalist suicide bombers. As evidence mounts that his wife, Sihem, was responsible for the catastrophic bombing, Dr. Jaafari is torn between cherished memories of their years together and the inescapable realization that the beautiful, intelligent, thoroughly modern woman he loved had a life far removed from the comfortable, assimilated existence they shared.From the graphic, beautifully rendered description of the bombing that opens the novel to the searing conclusion, The Attack portrays the reality of terrorism and its incalculable spiritual costs. Intense and humane, devoid of political bias, hatred, and polemics, it probes deep inside the Muslim world and gives readers a profound understanding of what seems impossible to understand.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "The Coffin Ship: Life and Death at Sea during the Great Irish Famine," by Cian T. McMahon.
The standard story of the exodus during Ireland’s Great Famine is one of tired clichés, half-truths, and dry statistics. In The Coffin Ship, a groundbreaking work of transnational history, Cian T. McMahon offers a vibrant, fresh perspective on an oft-ignored but vital component of the migration experience: the journey itself.Between 1845 and 1855, over two million people fled Ireland to escape the Great Famine and begin new lives abroad. The so-called “coffin ships” they embarked on have since become infamous icons of nineteenth-century migration. The crews were brutal, the captains were heartless, and the weather was ferocious. Yet the personal experiences of the emigrants aboard these vessels offer us a much more complex understanding of this pivotal moment in modern history. Based on archival research on three continents and written in clear, crisp prose, The Coffin Ship analyzes the emigrants’ own letters and diaries to unpack the dynamic social networks that the Irish built while voyaging overseas. At every stage of the journey—including the treacherous weeks at sea—these migrants created new threads in the worldwide web of the Irish diaspora.Colored by the long-lost voices of the emigrants themselves, this is an original portrait of a process that left a lasting mark on Irish life at home and abroad. An indispensable read, The Coffin Ship makes an ambitious argument for placing the sailing ship alongside the tenement and the factory floor as a central, dynamic element of migration history.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "The Forty Rules of Love," by Elif Shafak. In this lyrical, exuberant tale, acclaimed Turkish author Elif Shafak, author of The Island of Missing Trees (a Reese’s Book Club Pick), incarnates Rumi’s timeless message of love.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "The Humans," by Matt Haig.The bestselling, award-winning author of The Midnight Library offers his funniest, most devastating dark comedy yet, a “silly, sad, suspenseful, and soulful” (Philadelphia Inquirer) novel that’s “full of heart” (Entertainment Weekly).When an extra-terrestrial visitor arrives on Earth, his first impressions of the human species are less than positive. Taking the form of Professor Andrew Martin, a prominent mathematician at Cambridge University, the visitor is eager to complete the gruesome task assigned him and hurry home to his own utopian planet, where everyone is omniscient and immortal.He is disgusted by the way humans look, what they eat, their capacity for murder and war, and is equally baffled by the concepts of love and family. But as time goes on, he starts to realize there may be more to this strange species than he had thought. Disguised as Martin, he drinks wine, reads poetry, develops an ear for rock music, and a taste for peanut butter. Slowly, unexpectedly, he forges bonds with Martin’s family. He begins to see hope and beauty in the humans’ imperfection, and begins to question the very mission that brought him there.Praised by The New York Times as a “novelist of great seriousness and talent,” author Matt Haig delivers an unlikely story about human nature and the joy found in the messiness of life on Earth. The Humans is a funny, compulsively readable tale that playfully and movingly explores the ultimate subject—ourselves.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "The Immense Journey," by Loren Eisley. Anthropologist and naturalist Loren Eisley blends scientific knowledge and imaginative vision in this story of humankind.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "The Martian Chronicles," by Ray Bradbury. A beautiful and haunting collection of short stories about the colonization of Mars.
In The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury, America’s preeminent storyteller, imagines a place of hope, dreams, and metaphor— of crystal pillars and fossil seas—where a fine dust settles on the great empty cities of a vanished, devastated civilization. Earthmen conquer Mars and then are conquered by it, lulled by dangerous lies of comfort and familiarity, and enchanted by the lingering glamour of an ancient, mysterious native race. In this classic work of fiction, Bradbury exposes our ambitions, weaknesses, and ignorance in a strange and breathtaking world where man does not belong.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "The Reluctant Fundamentalist," by Moshin Hamid.
At a café table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with an uneasy American stranger. As dusk deepens to night, he begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful encounter…Changez is living an immigrant's dream of America. At the top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by an elite valuation firm. He thrives on the energy of New York, and his budding romance with elegant, beautiful Erica promises entry into Manhattan society at the same exalted level once occupied by his own family back in Lahore.But in the wake of September 11, Changez finds his position in his adopted city suddenly overturned, and his relationship with Erica shifting. And Changez's own identity is in seismic shift as well, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and maybe even love.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "The Remains of the Day," by Kazuo Ishiguro. A compelling portrait of Stevens, the perfect butler, and of his fading, insular world in post - World War II England.
Here is Kazuo Ishiguro’s profoundly compelling portrait of Stevens, the perfect butler, and of his fading, insular world in post-World War II England. Stevens, at the end of three decades of service at Darlington Hall, spending a day on a country drive, embarks as well on a journey through the past in an effort to reassure himself that he has served humanity by serving the “great gentleman,” Lord Darlington. But lurking in his memory are doubts about the true nature of Lord Darlington’s “greatness,” and much graver doubts about the nature of his own life.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "The Sparrow," by Mary Doria Russell. The story of a charismatic Jesuit priest and linguist, Emilio Sandoz, who leads a twenty-first- century scientific mission to a newly discovered extraterrestrial culture.
A visionary work that combines speculative fiction with deep philosophical inquiry, The Sparrow tells the story of a charismatic Jesuit priest and linguist, Emilio Sandoz, who leads a scientific mission entrusted with a profound task: to make first contact with intelligent extraterrestrial life. The mission begins in faith, hope, and beauty, but a series of small misunderstandings brings it to a catastrophic end.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "The Woman's Hour," by Elaine Weiss. The story of how American women won the right to vote, and the opening campaign in the great twentieth-century battles for civil rights.
Nashville, August 1920. Thirty-five states have ratified the Nineteenth Amendment, twelve have rejected or refused to vote, and one last state is needed. It all comes down to Tennessee, the moment of truth for the suffragists, after a seven-decade crusade. The opposing forces include politicians with careers at stake, liquor companies, railroad magnates, and a lot of racists who don’t want black women voting. And then there are the “Antis”–women who oppose their own enfranchisement, fearing suffrage will bring about the moral collapse of the nation. They all converge in a boiling hot summer for a vicious face-off replete with dirty tricks, betrayals and bribes, bigotry, Jack Daniel’s, and the Bible.Following a handful of remarkable women who led their respective forces into battle, along with appearances by Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Frederick Douglass, and Eleanor Roosevelt, The Woman’s Hour is an inspiring story of activists winning their own freedom in one of the last campaigns forged in the shadow of the Civil War, and the beginning of the great twentieth-century battles for civil rights.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "The Women Are Up to Something," by Benjamin J.B. Lipscomb.
On the cusp of the Second World War, four women went to Oxford to begin their studies: a fiercely brilliant Catholic convert; a daughter of privilege longing to escape her stifling upbringing; an ardent Communist and aspiring novelist with a list of would-be lovers as long as her arm; and a quiet, messy lover of newts and mice who would become a great public intellectual of our time. They became lifelong friends. At the time, only a handful of women had ever made lives in philosophy. But when Oxford's men were drafted in the war, everything changed.As Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Mary Midgley, and Iris Murdoch labored to make a place for themselves in a male-dominated world, as they made friendships and families, and as they drifted toward and away from each other, they never stopped insisting that some lives are better than others. They argued that courage and discernment and justice--and love--are the heart of a good life.This book presents the first sustained engagement with these women's contributions: with the critique and the alternative they framed. Drawing on a cluster of recently opened archives and extensive correspondence and interviews with those who knew them best, Benjamin Lipscomb traces the lives and ideas of four friends who gave us a better way to think about ethics, and ourselves.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "The Women With Silver Wings," by Katherine Sharp Landdeck, about the inspiring true story about American women pilots in World War II.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Cornelia Fort was already in the air. At twenty-two, Fort had escaped Nashville’s debutante scene for a fresh start as a flight instructor in Hawaii. She and her student were in the middle of their lesson when the bombs began to fall, and they barely made it back to ground that morning. Still, when the U.S. Army Air Forces put out a call for women pilots to aid the war effort, Fort was one of the first to respond. She became one of just over 1,100 women from across the nation to make it through the Army’s rigorous selection process and earn her silver wings.The brainchild of trailblazing pilots Nancy Love and Jacqueline Cochran, the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) gave women like Fort a chance to serve their country—and to prove that women aviators were just as skilled as men. While not authorized to serve in combat, the WASP helped train male pilots for service abroad, and ferried bombers and pursuits across the country. Thirty-eight WASP would not survive the war. But even taking into account these tragic losses, Love and Cochran’s social experiment seemed to be a resounding success—until, with the tides of war turning, Congress clipped the women’s wings. The program was disbanded, the women sent home. But the bonds they’d forged never failed, and over the next few decades they came together to fight for recognition as the military veterans they were—and for their place in history.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "The Yacobean Building," by Alaa al-Aswany. The controversial bestselling novel in the Arab world reveals the politicial corruption, sexual repression, religious extemism, and modern hopes of Egypt today.
A fading aristocrat and self-proclaimed ‘scientist of women.’ A purring, voluptuous siren. A young shop-girl enduring the clammy touch of her boss and hating herself for accepting the modest banknotes he tucks into her pocket afterward. An earnest, devout young doorman, feeling the irresistible pull toward fundamentalism. A cynical, secretly gay newspaper editor, helplessly in love with a peasant security guard. A roof-squatting tailor, scheming to own property. A corrupt and corpulent politician, twisting the Koran to justify taking a mistress.
All live in the Yacoubian Building, a once-elegant temple of Art Deco splendor slowly decaying in the smog and hubbub of downtown Cairo, Egypt. In the course of this unforgettable novel, these disparate lives converge, careening inexorably toward an explosive conclusion. Tragicomic, passionate, shockingly frank in its sexuality, and brimming with an extraordinary, embracing human compassion, The Yacoubian Building is a literary achievement of the first order.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "There There," by Tommy Orange. In There There, Cheyenne/Arapaho novelist Tommy Orange explores the challenges and rich texture of Native Urban life.
A wondrous and shattering novel that follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize.Among them is Jacquie Red Feather, newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind. Dene Oxendene, pulling his life together after his uncle’s death and working at the powwow to honor his memory. Fourteen-year-old Orvil, coming to perform traditional dance for the very first time. Together, this chorus of voices tells of the plight of the urban Native American—grappling with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and spirituality, with communion and sacrifice and heroism.Hailed as an instant classic, There There is at once poignant and unflinching, utterly contemporary and truly unforgettable.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "When All Is Said," by Anne Griffin. If you had to pick five people to sum up your life, who would they be? If you were to raise a glass to each of them, what would you say? And what would you learn about yourself, when all is said?At the bar of a grand hotel in a small Irish town sits 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan. He’s alone, as usual - though tonight is anything but. Pull up a stool and charge your glass, because Maurice is finally ready to tell his story.Over the course of this evening, he will raise five toasts to the five people who have meant the most to him. Through these stories - of unspoken joy and regret, a secret tragedy kept hidden, a fierce love that never found its voice - the life of one man will be powerfully and poignantly laid bare.Beautifully heart-warming and deeply felt, the voice of Maurice Hannigan will stay with you long after all is said and done.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "White Teeth," by Zadie Smith.
Zadie Smith’s dazzling debut caught critics grasping for comparisons and deciding on everyone from Charles Dickens to Salman Rushdie to John Irving and Martin Amis. But the truth is that Zadie Smith’s voice is remarkably, fluently, and altogether wonderfully her own.At the center of this invigorating novel are two unlikely friends, Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal. Hapless veterans of World War II, Archie and Samad and their families become agents of England’s irrevocable transformation. A second marriage to Clara Bowden, a beautiful, albeit tooth-challenged, Jamaican half his age, quite literally gives Archie a second lease on life, and produces Irie, a knowing child whose personality doesn’t quite match her name (Jamaican for “no problem”). Samad’s late-in-life arranged marriage (he had to wait for his bride to be born), produces twin sons whose separate paths confound Iqbal’s every effort to direct them, and a renewed, if selective, submission to his Islamic faith.
As part of New Hampshire Humanities' Perspectives Book Groups, we're reading "You Never Forget Your First," by Alexis Coe. Coe looks at the human being behind the hero and the myth and explores less known and seldom talked about aspects of his life.
Young George Washington was raised by a struggling single mother, demanded military promotions, caused an international incident, and never backed down--even when his dysentery got so bad he had to ride with a cushion on his saddle. But after he married Martha, everything changed. Washington became the kind of man who named his dog Sweetlips and hated to leave home. He took up arms against the British only when there was no other way, though he lost more battles than he won.After an unlikely victory in the Revolutionary War cast him as the nation's hero, he was desperate to retire, but the founders pressured him into the presidency--twice. When he retired years later, no one talked him out of it. He left the highest office heartbroken over the partisan nightmare his backstabbing cabinet had created.Back on his plantation, the man who fought for liberty must confront his greatest hypocrisy--what to do with the men, women, and children he owns--before he succumbs to death.With irresistible style and warm humor, You Never Forget Your First combines rigorous research and lively storytelling that will have readers--including those who thought presidential biographies were just for dads--inhaling every page.
New Hampshire Humanities programs are made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this these programs do not necessarily represent those of the NEH or New Hampshire Humanities.