- 4:00PM

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.


July 1

Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club by Benjamin Alire Sáenz,  El Paso, TX : Cinco Puntos Press, ©2012

“[…S]even stories set on the south Texas border of El Paso and Juárez. […The] Club […] provides a guiding thread for the collection, acting alternately as backdrop, touchstone, and oasis for a humane set of characters who struggle with the impossible ambiguities of borders Sáenz […] presents a rendering of reality that is lush, tender, expansive, inclusive and profound. [He] takes stunning care with language—English, Spanish, and the languages of sunlight, daylight, dimlight, night light—twisting and tumbling with the whispered language of the human heart. Sáenz also devotes impressive attention to rendering communities on the borders of the United States and Mexico, on the boundaries of sensual and sexual expression, on the edge of despair, and on the cusp of redemption.” —A.J. Verdelle, judge of the 2013 Pen/Faulkner Award

August 5

Lost and by Jeff Griffin, Iowa City : University of Iowa Press, ©2013.

“[The book] offers found objects—mysteriously discarded photographs, notes, letters, & poems, often damaged & barely legible—that document the lives of people  living in the deserts of the American West. With these documents, through which we feel the mysterious & fragmentary nature of the way lives are lived & forgotten, [he] creates a physical and psychological landscape that is suffused with a powerful sense of the uncanny. […] Its cumulative effect is mysterious, oftenhumorous, and ultimately heartbreaking—but never patronizing. [It] is a riveting book […] —it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it verges on the miraculous.”—Geoffrey Nutter, author, Christopher Sunset 

September 2

The Woman Warrior:  Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston, New York : Knopf , 1976.

“[…The most remarkable, & often overlooked, quality […] is that it is […] without a genre. […I]t has been described as a memoir, an autobiography, a novel, a manifesto[, …]because she deliberately acknowledges that to write autobiography is to stand at the borderline between memory & invention. [It…] stubbornly refuses to be either entirely fictive or entirely real. […I]n its wake, the American literary world still seems to regard the tissue-thin boundary between memoir & fiction as absolute & inviolable.’’—Jess Row, Slate

October 7

The Tie That Binds by Kent Haruf, New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1974.

“This powerful first novel interweaves the stories of two generations of neighboring families in the bleak sand-hill country of eastern Colorado. […] Edith Goodnough bravely faces life on a remote family farm. When a hideous accident cripples her father, she patiently cares for the vicious old man […] John Roscoe, the neighbor who once courted Edith, watches over her through the long, grim decades, assisting her whenever & however he can. His son, who narrates the story, assumes the role of protector after his father’s death, & passes on the tradition of selfless devotion to his daughter.’’ —Charles Solomon, Los Angeles Times

November 4

Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike of 1983 by Barbara Kingsolver, Ithaca, NY: ILR Press/Cornell University Press , 1989.   “Kingsolver brings all of the novelist’s intrigue and style into this non-fiction work[;…] the lessons you can take from the book might haunt you for years […Her] riveting telling of the strikes […is] a provocative and thick description of a labor dispute from the ground up. […T]he focus of the book is really on the role of women in the strikes. […] The book artfully explores the different opportunities women had to protest and support the strike[,…] explores the family dynamics when primary earnings shifted from husband to wife[,and]  how “women’s auxiliaries” were often so much more than auxiliary. “—Jennifer Earl, Mobilizing Ideas 

December 2

Piecing Together Los Angeles: An Esther McCoy Reader by Esther McCoy, Valencia, CA : East of Borneo, ©2012. 

“[…T]he book is a far cry from your average architectural text as the subject of the book and its primary speaker, Esther McCoy, is somewhat of a wild card when it comes to architecture, writing, and architectural writing. …[T]he eclectic selection of correspondences, published and unpublished articles, personal memoirs and case studies work together to produce an image of a woman who ventured into the architecture world with little more than words and confidence and emerged as one of the most prolific architectural writers of her time.”—Association for Women in Architecture and Design blog

© 2015 Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden • 626.821.3222 • 301 North Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007 • Website Design by Kirk Projects.

© 2015 Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens

Phone: 626.821.3222

301 N. Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA, 91007

Site Design by Kirk Projects