↑ Return to Home

Reading Group


This Reading Group meets at  Bruno  Taut Laden, Onkel-Toms-Hütte

(U-Banhof).  Always on the third Monday in the month.    You can contact me at: alisonpask@web.de

When we were at a last venue the title of the course in the programme was: reading and talking.


We always talk about a book that was originally written in English. They are mostly pretty modern. The basis of the discussion is the book not an ideology or a particular critical approach. Some are a bit tough to read for some people but we try to alternate between easier  and more demanding reading. I lead the discussion and hope that I am open to suggestions for what we read and how we talk about it. 

We will have to see how it goes with the finances but people attending pay between 3 and 5 euros for my administration and for the use and cleaning of the Bruno Taut Laden and its facilities.

On the other side of the tracks in the Onkel-Toms-Hütte-Underground station is

BUCHHANDLUNG BORN. Inh. Juliane Kaiser Ladenstraße 17-18, 14169 Berlin Telefon: 030.31 86 91 60.

It is an independent bookshop – with friendly, helpful service where one can pre-order books and pick them up a month in advance – or ask me to pre-order them.


Since we moved:

 Dec 2019 Dickens: A Christmas Carol, Carol Ann Duffy: Mrs Scrooge

Jan 2020: Toni Morrison : The Bluest Eye

Feb 2020: Margaret Atwood: Hag-Seed


On 16th March we had a really constructive dicussion of Ocean Vuong’s ‘On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous’. We were five people with notes from three more of you and it is developing into a written discussion! (Perhaps I have to learn how to set up a blog on the website?)

On May 18th 7 of us met (after consultation) at Piaggio’s at 3 pm and talked about Evaristo’s Booker Prize winning ‘Girl, Woman, Other’. It was an enlivening and productive discussion.

In June  : Elizabeth Strout: Olive, Again. We will meet in the self-service section of the Alten Krug, Dahlem on Monday 15th at 3 pm. If it is wet we will meet there a week later. 

July: Anita Brookner: Hotel du Lac – Piaggio’s (Dahlem Dorf) 3 o’clock. Weather permitting. Otherwise Bruno Taut Laden. We are not going to be very many people.   Here is the world book club discussion about Evaristo:

August  : Sarah Moss : Tidal Zone

September: Ian MacEwan: Machines Like Me Machines Like Me reviews

October: Max Porter, Lanny       in the Bruno Tau Laden, Onkel-Toms-Hütte   3 p.m.                    Lanny reviews   

Below is an interview with Max Porter        

November 2020: Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird. Keep a special eye open for Dill, our author for December!

In December 2020   I’d like to talk about Truman Capote’s ‘A Christmas Memory’, ‘One CHristmas’ and ‘The Thanksgiving Visitor’. They are available in one volume but here are pdfs of the first two. I’m working onthe third!

Capote One Christmas

capote xmas memory

Capote The Thanksgiving Visitor


For 2021 and our current ‘meetings’ on alfaview.com scroll tro the end of this letter in small print:

This is a copy of the mail I sent to everybody in December.

Many of you may have heard the reading of ‘The Vanishing Half’ by Brit Bennett on Kultur Radio. I am not sure if this will make you more inclined or less, to read it in English. I was shocked to realise how little I understand about racism and black-white society, but at the end of the book I was a bit surprised that ‘here we are’.

‘Hamnet’ is a relatively thick book (!) but the print is also encouragingly large and considering the fact that most of us don’t have so many outside commitments at the moments I think it might be a better idea for March. It is also starting to come on the market as second hand. There is so much that would be worth discussing if were able to meet for that.



On Monday 18th January 2021 at 3 pm Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’.

In February 2021 Ali Smith’s ‘How to be Both’

March 15th     Brit Bennet: The Vanishing Half     – we were 8 and our discussions online are improving (technically). We covered a lot of ground and for once, everybody had liked the book! Thanks, everybody!

For April     Anne Enright : The Actress

For May    ‘The Braid’ by Latitia Colimbani that Kathy recommends. (Yes, it is a translation. Exceptions prove the rule, don’t they!)

I expect some of these will be online meetings via alfaview, depending on the weather. If you are planning on coming and are new online, please ask for an invitation.  B U T  we are all hoping to get back at least to Piaggio or to the big room on the church premises (E.M.A. Onkel-Tom-Straße 80) as soon as possible.

I am also planning an informal real meeting for the people who missed Ali SMith and who would like to take part. That depends on lockdown conditions and the weather and will be on a ‘spare’ Monday.

June 21st : Cleeves , Too Good to be True

but start reading

Maggie O’Farrell : Hamnet for July. 18th

In August we’re talking about Jiles: News of the World, available in paperback . There are second hand editions available. The ISBN number is 978-0-06-240921-8.   There is a book – to – the – movie available and I’m not sure that that is the same.  I think not. 

You said you would also like to discuss what kinds of books we like or would like to discuss. I think that talking in or about categories could be difficult but it’s certainly worth a try. (I noticed that Ali Smith was recently awarded the Orwell Prize for being positively involved in political matters. Is that always/ever a prerequisite for a good read?)  We will make an attempt at this in August but only  a f t e r  the discussion of ‘News of the World’.

In September : Jenny Offill, ‘Weather’. There also plenty of second hand copies available.

In October : Nunez ‘The Friend’

In November John Ironmonger ‘Not Forgetting the Whale’.

Ishiguro’s ‘Klara and the Sun’ is an expensive paperback (14,99 at Thalia) so we might wait a bit until we have lent our copies round a little more.

T.C. Boyle’s ‘Talk to Me’ is in this category, too.

John Ironmonger’s ‘Not Forgetting the Whale’ is less expensive with plenty of second hand copies, as is Nunez’ ‘The Friend’, so perhaps we can read these two first (October and November?), followed by Ishiguro and T C Boyle. Assuming I have not overlooked something imperative. With reference to Ishiguro I wanted to append a BBC programm but here is the link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p09mr7db






Here is the list of books we  discussed  longer ago.(Apologies that I cannot edit the underlining.):


1) First meeting (was) : November 2015: Ian McEwen: The Children Act2) End of January 2016 :: The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Society von Barrows/Schaffer

3)  February (on Feb 29th! 2016) The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

4)  25th April. Anne Enright’s The Green Road

5)  June 27th,:  Jo MacMillan’s Motherland

6) Gail Jones: A Guide to Berlin –  July  25th 2016 ;

7) Joseph Kanon, Leaving Berlin – August 29th 2016 .

8)    ‘Reader, I married him’ on September 26th 2016

9) October 31st    2016  Kent Haruf: Our Souls at Night

10) November_  Bill Clegg’s : Did you ever have a family

11. January 2017  Colim Toibin’s ‘Nora Webster’

12) February 2017:  Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann (Bloomsbury Publishing

13) March 2017 :Tyler: Vinegar Girl

14) May 2017:  Zadie Smith: Swing Time

15) June 17 : The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan.

16)  July 17 : My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

October 16th 2017 –Groff: Fates and Furies. fates and furies three reviews

November 20th 2017: McEwen: Nutshell

December 18th 2017  The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson 

January 15th 2018    Winterston – The Gap of Time (2015)     Hogarth Shakespeare

Feb 19th 2018 : Colson Whitehead: Underground Railroad

March 19th 2018 : Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift

April 16th 2018: Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day

June 18th  2018 – Julian Barnes, Noise of Time (It is now out in paperback and there should be plenty of copies in libraries).

July 16th 2018 “Stay with Me” by Ayobami Adebyo

August 20th  2018 A Gentleman in Moscow (Towles)

September 17th 2018 :   Reservoir 13 (Jon McGregor)

October 2018 : Carr: A Month in the Country

November 2018: Days without End (Sebastian Barry)

December 2018:   Winter (Ali Smith)


January 2019: Another Brooklyn  (Jaqueline Woodson) (2016)

February 2019 Lincoln in the Bardo

March 2019 Little Fires Everywhere : Celeste Ng      

April : Tessa Hadley : Bad Dreams (several short stories)


May 2019 Colum McCann: Let the whole world spin

June 2019 Banville : The Sea

July Pat Barker Regeneration (first of the trilogy)

August Jane Gardam : Old Filth

September Michelle : Obama Becoming

October: Ishiguro The Buried Giant

Nov 2019 McClaverty: Midwinter Break


P L E A S E  bring your suggestions! 


Who knows Jennifer Egan’s ‘Manhattan Beach’ (2017)

The daring and magnificent novel from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad.

Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men.

‎Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again, and begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life, the reasons he might have vanished.

With the atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan’s first historical novel follows Anna and Styles into a world populated by gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men. Manhattan Beach is a deft, dazzling, propulsive exploration of a transformative moment in the lives and identities of women and men, of America and the world. It is a magnificent novel by the author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, one of the great writers of our time.  (Goodreads)

Who knows:The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (2015)

It is April 1975, and Saigon is in chaos. At his villa, a general of the South Vietnamese army is drinking whiskey and, with the help of his trusted captain, drawing up a list of those who will be given passage aboard the last flights out of the country. The general and his compatriots start a new life in Los Angeles, unaware that one among their number, the captain,


Later, may be: The Broken Shore  ( Peter Temple, 2005) The Broken SHore: Broken by his last case, homicide detective Joe Cashin has fled the city and returned to his hometown to run its one-man police station while his wounds heal and the nightmares fade. He lives a quiet life with his two dogs in the tumbledown wreck his family home has become. It’s a peaceful existence – ideal for the rehabilitating man. But his recovery is rudely interrupted by a brutal attack on Charles Bourgoyne, a prominent member of the local community. Suspicion falls on three young men from the local Aboriginal community. But Cashin’s not so sure and as the case unfolds amid simmering corruption and prejudice, he finds himself holding on to something that it might be better to let go.  (Goodreads)

See below for what we have already covered




Leave a Reply