“What should a Humanist Book Group be reading and discussing?” This question was asked at one of our sessions. The following is a list of some of the suggestions so far. Contact email@example.com if you want to contribute.
‘Frankenstein’, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Shelley not only tells a terrifying tale, she raises profound, disturbing questions about the very nature of life and the place of humankind within the cosmos: What does it mean to be human? What responsibilities do we have to each other? (288 pages)
Go, Went, Gone, Jenny Erpenbeck (translated by Susan Bernofsky)
New novel by the acclaimed German writer Jenny Erpenbeck. The novel tells the tale of Richard, a retired classics professor who lives in Berlin. His wife has died, and he lives a routine existence until one day he spies some African refugees staging a hunger strike in Alexanderplatz. Curiosity turns to compassion and an inner transformation, as he visits their shelter, interviews them, and becomes embroiled in their harrowing fates. Go, Went, Gone is described as a scathing indictment of Western policy toward the European refugee crisis, but also a touching portrait of a man who finds he has more in common with the Africans than he realises. (286 pages) (Out in paperback August 2018)
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
The classic novel of a post-literate future, ‘Fahrenheit 451’ stands alongside Orwell’s ‘1984’ and Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ as a prophetic account of Western civilization’s enslavement by the media, drugs and conformity. What is thought? (159 pages)
‘Poverty Safari’, Darren McGarvy
People from deprived communities all around Britain feel misunderstood and unheard. Darren McGarvey, aka ‘Loki’ gives voice to their feelings and concerns, and the anger that is spilling over. Anger he says we will have to get used to, unless things change.
McGarvey invites you to come on a Safari of sorts. A Poverty Safari. But not the sort where the indigenous species is surveyed from a safe distance for a time, before the window on the community closes and everyone gradually forgets about it. (224 pages)
‘The Death of Truth’, Michiko Kakutani
We live in a time when the very idea of objective truth is mocked and discounted by the US President. Discredited conspiracy theories and ideologies have resurfaced, proven science is once more up for debate, and Russian propaganda floods our screens. The wisdom of the crowd has usurped research and expertise, and we are each left clinging to the beliefs that best confirm our biases. How did truth become an endangered species? This decline began decades ago, and in The Death of Truth, former New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani takes a penetrating look at the cultural forces that contributed to this gathering storm. In social media and literature, television, academia, and political campaigns, Kakutani identifies the trends – originating on both the right and the left – that have combined to elevate subjectivity over factuality, science, and common values. And she returns us to the words of the great critics of authoritarianism, writers like George Orwell and Hannah Arendt, whose work is newly and eerily relevant. (208 pages) UK publication in hardback and Kindle on July 26th 2018 via Amazon at £8.80, and in paperback on 7th February 2019 at £8.99. Ergo – we don’t need to wait until 7th Feb for a cheaper publication.