Wednesday, July 2; 7:00PM - 8:00PM

Reading the Western Landscape Book Group

Located in Arboretum Library

About This Event

The Arboretum Library’s book group explores the portrayal of western North American landscape in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.  The group meets mostly the 1st Wednesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. in the Arboretum Library or out on the Arboretum grounds, weather and sunlight permitting.

The group uses the Shared Inquiry™ method developed by the Great Books Foundation.  The chosen book of the month must be read in order to participate.

New members are always welcome!

For more information about the Book Group, please contact, Arboretum Librarian, Susan Eubank, at 626-821-3213 or Susan.Eubank@Arboretum.org.  Please RSVP to Susan if you plan to attend.


September 3

The Bohemians: Mark Twain & the San Francisco Writers who Reinvented American Literature by Ben Tarnoff, New York: The Penguin Press, 2014.

“In 1869, the Transcontinental Railroad joined the country together and tore San Francisco apart. That’s the conclusion [of this] fine book[. …Tarnoff‟s] energetic attention [is] on a quartet of versatile writers, […]: Charles Warren Stoddard, […] Bret Harte, […]; Ina Coolbrith, […]; and Mark Twain, who decades later would mysteriously allude to a suicide attempt during his San Francisco years. [...Tarnoff‟s] ultimate thesis is a strong one […] together these writers „helped pry American literature away from its provincial origins in New England and push it into a broader current.‟” —David Kipen, Wall Street Journal


October 1

Joe’s Word: An Echo Park Novel by Elizabeth Stromme, San Francisco: City Lights Books, ©2003.

“The Joe […] is a writer for hire […]. He is an intricate part of his Echo Park neighborhood, connecting its odder characters & catering to their deepest needs. […] His nights there are like everyone else’s, regularly transformed into “white nights” by police helicopters & requiring ear plugs. Joe is torn between Clio, the artist with the Jean Seberg haircut, and Corazon, the Filipina he lured to the U.S. by the sheer poetry of the letters he wrote for a client. Stromme knows how to find the beauty in the L.A. landscape: „In fact if you closed your eyes and let yourself drift, you might’ve thought you were in the tropics, the air was so perfumed. But I didn’t. No one would. You had to keep your eyes open in Echo Park.‟ —Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times


November 5

House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday, New York : Harper & Row, ©1966.

Cover of house made of dawn“The haunting descriptions of the always acutely present landscape contained in the novel spring from [his] back ground. „I am [says Momaday] inclined closely to associate events with the physical dimensions in which they take place. . . my existence is indivisible with the land.‟ His novel is a complex, symbolic expression of how language and culture tend through their own territorial imperatives to encompass one, […] . If one voluntarily or forcedly intermixes with another culture and its language, he may find that in the interim he has lost both.‟ —Martha Scott Trimble, Western Writers Series


December 3

cover of fear falls awayFear Falls Away and Other Essays from Hard & Rocky Places by Janice Emily Bowers, Tucson : University of Arizona Press, ©1997.

“[...] naturalist Bowers […] simply loves the wilderness of southern Arizona […]. The collection also chronicles a year in the life of the author during which she hiked her favorite mountains. […] By mixing memoir and botany, [she] has transcended dry nature writing. […] Bowers adroitly translates her science into a moving prose that will assist desert rat and city dweller alike in coming to a greater understanding of how it’s possible to cherish this inhospitable land.” —Publisher’s Weekly

© 2014 Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden • 301 North Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007 • Website Design by Kirk Projects.

© 2014 Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens

301 N. Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA, 91007

Site Design by Kirk Projects