Wolfson Reading Group

Book Group

Wolfson Reading Group

The WRG meets roughly bi-monthly to discuss a piece of contemporary writing, usually a novel, chosen by those present at the previous meeting. Besides novels, the Group has discussed a collection of short stories and some biographical writing since its foundation in 2005, and is open to suggestions for other forms (e.g. poetry and drama). The chronological limits of 'contemporary' are not defined, giving us scope to consider a wide range of literature.

The WRG is open to all Wolfson members, and a commitment to attend meetings on a regular basis is not required. Some come along when the book particularly appeals, others use it as an opportunity to explore works they might not otherwise choose to read. The reading group format works particularly well in Wolfson, a community which brings together people with so many different backgrounds. Everyone (from any academic discipline or none) brings their own perspective to a book, and the aim is simply to have an enjoyable chat sharing views and ideas, not a formal academic discussion. Serious highbrow literary criticism isn't expected, and everyone who comes along should find it easy to contribute.

Our next meeting

Wednesday 13 December 2017, 7.30pm (Plommer House Room A)

We will be reading The Sympathizer by Nguyen, Viet Thanh

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, is secretly observing and reporting on the group to a higher-up in the Viet Cong. The Sympathizer is the story of this captain: a man brought up by an absent French father and a poor Vietnamese mother, a man who went to university in America, but returned to Vietnam to fight for the Communist cause.

Please remember to use the link on the Wolfson Alumni & Development webpage if you choose to buy from Amazon, as the College will benefit from the sale.

Suggestions of titles for future sessions are very welcome. Please send them via the mailing list (details above).

Refreshments will be provided at the meeting and we hope to see you there, but if you are unable to attend, please email your comments and your score to be shared with the Group.

Mailing list

The Wolfson-Reading-Group list is used to share ideas about books for future discussion and to announce forthcoming meetings. You can subscribe to the list (called "wolfson-reading-group"), using either an @cam or other email address, here. Meetings are also advertised once in advance via the wolfson-events mailing list, and are included in the online College Calendar.

WRG Blog

Members are encouraged to use the WRG blog to comment on posts and to generate discussions based on books they are reading. Whether you are reading something which you think others should read (or avoid), or you’d like to specifically recommend a book for the Reading Group, all are urged to engage with the blog and to write up reviews for inclusion. Posts which you have written and would like to see published on the blog can be emailed to wolfsonreadinggroup@gmail.com. Any problems or suggestions can also be emailed to this address.

Books previously discussed

Sarah Perry The Essex Serpent

Arundhati Roy The God of Small things
Robert Seethaler The Tobacconist
Hannah Kent Burial Rites, John Banville The Sea
Frances Spufford Golden Hill
William Boyd Sweet Caress
Paul Beatty The Sellout
Hillary Mantel Eight Months on Gazzah Street

Siri Hustvedt What I Loved
Kazuo Ishiguro The Buried Giant
Elena Ferrante My Brilliant Friend
Neil Gaiman The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Graeme Simsion The Rosie Project
Kate Atkinson A God in Ruins
Mo Yan Frog
E L Doctorow Ragtime
Carlos Ruiz Zafón The Shadow of the Wind

Nell Freudenberger The Newlyweds
David Nicholls Us
Ian McKewan The Children Act
Somerset Maugham Collected Short Stories, Vol. 1, Vintage Books
Hallgrímur Helgason The Hitman's Guide to Housecleaning
Karen Joy Fowler We are All Completely Beside Ourselves
Naguib Mahfouz Palace Walk
Michelle Paver Dark Matter: A Ghost story
Jonathan Coe EXPO 58

John Lanchester Capital
Robert Harris An Officer and a SpyAlice Munro Dear Life
Nathan Filer The Shock of the Fall
Ruth Ozeki A Tale for the time being
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad
Andrea Levy, The Long Song
Charles Moseley, Out of Reach: an elegy for a Cambridgeshire village
John Williams, Stoner

Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles
Lawrence Norfolk, John Saturnall's Feast
Zadie Smith, NW
Jonas Jonasson, The one-hundred year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared
Jeanette Winterson, Lighthousekeeping
Herman Koch, The Dinner
C J Sansom, Dominion

Alan Hollinghurst, The Stranger's Child
Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending
Stephen Kelman, Pigeon English
Irène Nemirovsky, The Wine of Solitude
Andrew Miller, Pure
Beryl Bainbridge, The Bottle Factory Outing
Iris Murdoch, The Sea, The Sea
Michael Cunningham, The Hours

Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna
John Banville, Infinities
John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meaney
Paul Torday, The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce
William Boyd, Ordinary Thunderstorms
Antal Szerb, Journey by Moonlight
Jonathan Franzen, Freedom

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (1972)
Salley Vickers, Where Three Roads Meet
Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall
Jane Gardam, Old Filth
Xiaolu Guo, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers
Sarah Waters, The Little Stranger
Sebastian Barry, The Secret Scripture
Haruki Murakami, A Wild Sheep Chase

Lloyd Jones, Mister Pip
Kate Atkinson, Behind the Scenes at the Museum
Kate Summerscale, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher: Or, The Murder at Road Hill House
Rose Tremain, The Road Home
Doris Lessing, Alfred & Emily
Primo Levi, The Periodic Table

Margaret Attwood, Oryx and Crake
W.G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn
Rebecca Erdrich, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse
Amos Oz (translated by Nicholas de Lange), A Tale of Love and Darkness

William Trevor, After Rain
Orhan Pamuk, Snow
Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss
Stef Penney, The Tenderness of Wolves
Jill Dawson, Watch Me Disappear

Ian McEwan, Saturday
J. M. Coetzee, Disgrace
Michael Ondaatje, Anil's Ghost
Salley Vickers, Miss Garnet's Angel
Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
Alexander Masters, Stuart: A Life Backwards