Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

Our twenty-second reader and I sat down next to a tall shelf bursting with children’s books to discuss her connection to E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web (1952). In the sixty four years since its publication, this masterful tale of unlikely friendship has captured the hearts and imaginations of generations of children around the world. White’s simple…

Middlemarch – George Eliot

Ah, Victorian fiction; lengthy narratives, plots that may involve the return of at least one character from the dead, and the frequent determination of a woman’s character based on her gaze/finger slenderness. I admire Victorian authors for their commitment to realism and their vital reflections upon the complexity of human nature amid sociocultural change. When…

Cry, the Beloved Country – Alan Paton

I met our twentieth reader on a bright morning after a heavy snowfall. We cleared off a bench overlooking some subway tracks, buttoned up our coats a little tighter, and began a conversation about Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country (1948). Paton’s eloquent advocacy for racial equality and his depiction of the devastating consequences of…