Book Clubs

LLI currently sponsors book clubs at two locations: Punta Gorda and Englewood. There is no fee to join either of the clubs, however, FRIENDS membership is required.  Call or email the LLI office to join either group.

The clubs meet once a month from October through April. Each club votes for the following year’s selections in April from a list suggested by its members; clubs are not required to have the same lists.

Book selections may be fiction or non-fiction.  The meetings include a discussion of the topic presented in the book and any background information about the author.


On-Campus Book Club, Campus Classroom #D-108

 1:00 p.m. — 3:00 p.m.

 (Scroll below for Englewood group selections.)

October 10, 2016 – The Ladies Room by Carolyn Brown

Secrets told in the church ladies’ room are supposed to stay in the ladies’ room.  But that doesn’t mean that what Trudy overhears there during her great-aunt Gertrude’s funeral won’t change the rest of her life.

November 14, 2016 – Dead Wake by Erik Larson

On May 1, 1915, with WWU entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liver pool, carrying a record number of children and infants.  /the passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone.  For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic.  But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds” — the fastest liner then in service — and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack.

December 12, 2016 – Everything I Never Told You by Celest Ng

“Lydia is dead.  But they don’t know this yet.”  So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio.  Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue.  But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.

January 9, 2017 – Continental Drift by Russell Banks

Russell Banks’ Continental Drift is a masterful novel of hope lost and gained, and a gripping, indelible story of fragile lives uprooted and transformed by injustice, disappointment, and the seductions and realities of the American dream.

February 13, 2017 – The Story of a New Name by Elena Farrante

This second book, follow last year’s My Brilliant Friend, featuring the two friends Lila and Elena.   The two protagonists are now in their twenties.  Marriage appears to have imprisoned Lila.  Meanwhile, Elena continues her journey of self-discovery.  The two young women share a complex and evolving bond that brings them close at times, and drives them apart at others. Each vacillates between hurtful disregard and profound love for the other.

March 13, 2017 – The Nazi Officer’s Wife by Edith H. Beer, Susan Dworkin

Edith Hahn was an outspoken young woman in Vienna when the Gestapo forced her into a ghetto and then into a slave labor camp.  When she returned home months later, she knew she would become a hunted woman and went underground.  With the help of a Christian friend, she emerged in Munich as Grete Denner.  There she met Werner Vetter, a Nazi Party member who fell in love with her.  Despite Edith’s protests and even her eventual confession that she was Jewish, he married her and kept her identity a secret.

April 10, 2017 – A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

“It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon . . . ”  This is how Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she fell in love with Red that day in July 1959.  The Whitshanks are one of those families that radiate togetherness:  an indefinable, enviable kind of specialness.   But they are also like all families, in that the stories they tell themselves reveal only part of the picture.  Abby and Red and their four grown children have accumulated not only tender moments, laughter, and celebrations, but also jealousies, disappointments, and carefully guarded secrets.

Englewood Book Club

Meets in the United Methodist Church of Englewood, 700 E. Dearborn St., Englewood FL 34223, Room 103

1:00 p.m. — 3:30 p.m.

October 4, 2016 – Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larsen

This is an absorbing narrative of the 1900 hurricane than inundated Galveston, Texas as told by the senior Weather Bureau official in the area. Published in 1999.

November 1, 2016 – Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

A classic considered to be one of the earliest examples of science fiction.  Published in 1818.

December 6, 2016 – Dust Tracks on a Road:  An Autobiography by Zora Neale Hurston

This book poignantly describes what is was like to group up poor, black and female; it shows an energetic woman who overcomes odds to achieve a liberated, rewarding life.  Hurston was born in Eatonville, Florida, America’s first unincorporated black community.  Published in 1942.

January 9, 2017 – Nightingale by Kristen Hannah

This is the story of two French sisters, one in Paris and one in the countryside, during WWII; each is crippled by the death of their beloved mother and cavalier abandonment of their father; each plays a part in the French underground; each finds a way to love and forgive.  It is narrated by one of the sisters in the present, though you really don’t know until the very end which sister it is.  Published in 2015.

February 7, 2017 – The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

A young Ppoliksh refugee lands with wealthy relatives in San Francisco and befriends the Japanese son of her family’s gardener; the two are inseparable until he is imprisoned afgter Pearl Harbor.  The action takes place at Lark House, which is more a place of unrest than of final rest.  Its 250 residents — mostly octogenarians — are “freethinkers, spiritual searchers, social and ecological activists, nihilists, and some of the few hippies still alive in the San Francisco Bay area.”  Before progressing through the facility’s four levels in infirmity, ending in “Paradise”, these senior citizens enjoy a variety of classes, “from painting to astrology”, a cinema club devoted to particularly violent films, and surprisingly effective street protests.  (The police don’t fire tear gas for fear of killing them.)  Published in 2015.

March 7, 2017 – Unforgettable by Scot Simon

NPR voice Scot Simon shares the story of his relationship with his mother and the tender, incredibly important moments they shared as his mother moved through her last days of life.  It is the story of what love is.  Mr. Simon paints such a beautiful portrait of his mother — a woman whose humor, insights, curiosity, bravery, gratitude, wisdom generous spirit, and total devotion to her role as a mother did so much to shape who he became as a man.  Published in 2015.

April 4, 2017 – When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

This is a profoundly moving and exquisitely observed memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question, “What makes a life worth living?”  Published in 2016.