Reclaiming Our Brains without Losing Our Minds relates the story of a group of women in the mid-sized town of Yakima, Washington, who form a reading group in dedicated pursuit of "the best that has been thought and said" in literature. Over the course of twenty-nine years, the women hone their minds, exchange ideas, and discover a sense of closeness and community that extends beyond the page. Featuring detailed accounts of the recruitment process, strategies for meetings, and the methods of choosing the featured texts, this book is a vital tool for anyone interested in starting a reading group or rekindling a love of literature.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS INTRODUCTION Part I: Reclaiming Our Brains 1 We Become a Reading Group: How and Why 2 The Kind of Books We Read and the Way We Choose Them 3 From Lunch to Lecture: Why Do We Keep Coming Back? Part II: Responses to Books We Have Read 4 Mutations of the Novel Over Time: From Boccaccio's Decameron to Lessing's The Golden Notebook 5 From Poem to Novel: Dante Then and Now-The Inferno and The Dante Conspiracy 6 Verisimilitude in the Historical Novel: Alessandro Manzoni's The Betrothed 7 Every Novel Has a Clock: Reeds in the Wind, The House by the Medlar Tree, and The Leopard 8 Looking at the Invisible with Italo Calvino 9 Life is Short but Long on Zest in Stendhal's Charterhouse of Parma 10 Buddenbrooks: The Ordinary Novel 11 No Rest Cure for Readers on the Magic Mountain 12 On Holiday with Felix Krull vi Reclaiming Our Brains Without Losing Our Minds 13 Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago and the Horsemen of the Apocalypse 14 Sholokhov's Quiet Flows the Don: A Novel of War and Peace 15 Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich: Learning to Want the Inexhaustible 16 A Doris Lessing Debut: The Grass Is Singing, and We Sing With It 17 Getting What We Want or Wanting What We Get: Does J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace Have a Happy Ending? 18 Unlived Lives and Our Roles in Perpetrating Them 19 "I can't see where I am going. My life finished. It spoil. It spoil": V. S. Naipaul's Vision of survivors in Post- Colonial Worlds 20 Well Lived Lives and the Costs They Exact: Guy De Maupassant and Isak Dinesen 21 Emigrants in "The Golden Land" 22 Emigrant or Immigrant: A Challenge for Giants 23 The Costs of Building the Soria Moria Castle 24 The [Tainted] Vision of Emma Blau 25 From Jyoti to Jasmine, Jase, Jane, and Jase Again: A Journey of Transformations 26 Self-Help and Other-Help: A Means to an End 27 More Responses to Our Study of Immigrant Novels 28 Migrants in Search of Kinder Suns 29 Uncle Tom's Cabin: A Novel of Homecoming Appendix 1: Thursday Readers by Correspondence Appendix 2: The Books We Have Read Bibliography