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Past Readings

2020–2021 Book Selections

Eve LaPlante, American Jezebel: The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson, the Woman Who Defied the Puritans
Carolyn Chute, The Beans of Egypt
Amor Towles, Rules of Civility
Stephen Puleo, Voyage of Mercy
T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets (optional reading J. C. Woods, The Voices of Silence: Meditations on T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets)
Tracey Kidder, Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer
Jeanna Ellsworth and Kent Garrett, The Last Negroes at Harvard
Dorothy West, The Wedding
Nicholas Weber, Patron Saints: Five Rebels Who Opened America to New Art
Edith Wharton, A Backward Glance
Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods
Kerri Greenidge, Black Radical

2019–2020 Book Selections

Patrick Keefe, Say Nothing
William Heat-Moon, Blue Highways
Julie Schumacher, Dear Committee Members
Jonathan Kozol, Death at an Early Age
Jenna Blum, The Lost Family 
Katharine Smyth, All the Lives We Ever Lived
Kevin Birmingham, The Most Dangerous Book
Christopher Castellani, Leading Men
Richard Russo, Empire Falls

2018–2019 Book Selections

Donald Hall, String Too Short to be Saved
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
Donna Lucey, Sargent’s Women
Anita Diamant, The Boston Girl
Jennifer Haigh, Heat and Light
Charles Mann, 1491
Matthew Pearl, The Dante Club
William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
Annette Gordon-Reed, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings
Jane Goodrich, The House at Lobster Cove
George Santayana, The Last Puritan

2017 Book Selections

Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow
Joseph Ellis, Founding Brothers
Howard Frank Mosher, Stranger in the Kingdom
John Kaag, American Philosophy
Elyssa East, Dogtown​
John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent
David Grann, The Lost City of Z
George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo
Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Donald Hall, String Too Short to be Saved

2016 Book Selections

Doris Kearns Goodwin, No Ordinary Time​
John E. Ferling, Adams vs. Jefferson
Robert Penn Warren, All the King's Men
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Jane Brox, Clearing Land
Walter Isaacson, Benjamin Franklin
Patricia O'Toole, Five of Hearts
Geraldine Brooks, People of the Book
Colin Woodward, Lobster Coast
Edith Wharton, Fighting France: From Dunkirk to Belfort​

2015 Book Selections

David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest
Elizabeth Hope Cushing, Community by Design
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Autocrat of Breakfast Table
John Stuart Mill, Autobiography
Stephen Vincent Benet, "The Devil and Daniel Webster"
Henry James, The Bostonians
Edith Wharton, Age of Innocence
Megan Marshall, Margaret Fuller
Jill Lepore, Book of Ages
Colm Tóibín, The Master

2014 Book Selections

John Demos, The Unredeemed Captive
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
Herman Melville, Typee
Louisa May Alcott, Transcendental Wild Oats
Eugene O’Neill, Mourning Becomes Electra
W. E. B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folks
Danzy Senna, Caucasia
Henry David Thoreau, Slavery in Massachusetts
John Cheever, The Wapshot Scandal

2013 Book Selections

  • Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us
  • Robert Edsal, The Monuments Men
  • R.H. Dana, Two Years Before the Mast
  • John Updike, Couples
  • Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns
  • Brian Moore, Black Robe
  • Henry Beston, Northern Farm
  • Jill Lepore, The Name of War
  • Witold Rybcynski, Clearing in the Distance
  • Rudyard Kipling, Captains Courageous

2012 Book Selections

  • Michael Rawson, Eden on the Charles
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun
  • John Matteson, Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father
  • Thomas O’Connor, Civil War Boston
  • Stephen Sondheim, Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics
  • Annette Gordon-Reed,The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family
  • Brenda Wineapple, White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  • Alex Ross, Listen to This
  • Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War
  • Paul Schneider, The Enduring Shore:  A History of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket

2011 Book Selections

  • Daniel McCall, Citizens of Somewhere Else: Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry James
  • James Boswell, London Journal, 1762-1763
  • Colm Toibin, The Master
  • Rachel Wheeler, To Live Upon Hope: Mohicans and Missionaries in the 18th Century Northeast
  • Henry James, The Sacred Fount
  • Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
  • Michael J. Rawson, Eden on the Charles: The Making of Boston

2010 Book Selections

  • Doris Kearns Goodwin, A Team of Rivals
  • Trevor Corson, The Secret Life of Lobsters
  • Samuel Pepys, A Pepys Anthology
  • Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

2009 Book Selections

  • David Remnick (ed.), Just Enough Liebling
  • Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives   
  • Luc Sante, Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York
  • John Dos Passos, Manhattan Transfer
  • David McCullough, The Great Bridge
  • Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
  • Lukas, Common Ground
  • Hentoff, Boston Boy
  • Strout, Olive Kitteridge

2008 Book Selections

  • Marilynne Robinson, Gilead
  • G. Edward White, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • Shaun O’Connell, Imagining Boston
  • Richard Russo, Empire Falls
  • Atul Gawande, Complications: A Surgeon's Notes
  • Robert Caro, The Power Broker
  • Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
  • Alfred Kazin, A Walker in the City
  • Wilfred Sheed, The House That George Built

2007 Book Selections

  • Henry Adams, Esther
  • R. H. Dana, Two Years Before the Mast
  • C. F. Woolson, "Miss Grief" & "St. Clair Flats"
  • Henry James, The Aspern Papers
  • Edith Wharton, Summer & Ethan Frome
  • Stephen and Paul Kendrick, Sarah's Long Walk
  • David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed
  • Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower
  • Susan Cheever, American Bloomsbury
  • John Mack Faragher, A Great and Noble Scheme
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,  “Evangeline”

2006 Book Selections

  • John Ferling, Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tulmutuous Election of 1800
  • Andrew Delbanco, Writing New England: An Anthology from the Puritans to the Present
  • Megan Marshall, The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism
  • Gary Wills, Henry Adams and the Making of America
  • Henry Adams, The History of the United States of America During the Administration of Thomas Jefferson
  • Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs
  • Henry Beston, The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod
  • Ida Hay, Science in the Pleasure Ground: A History of the Arnold Arboretum
  • Zadie Smith, On Beauty
  • Nicholas F. Webber, Patron Saints: Five Rebels Who Opened America to New Art
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (with essay by D. H. Lawrence)

2005 Book Selections

  • Larry McMurtry, Duane Depressed
  • Henry David Thoreau, Walking
  • Emily Dickinson (selected poems)
  • Andrew Delbanco, Writing New England, Dissident Dreamers
  • Simon Schama, Dead Certainties
  • Henry James, Portrait of a Lady
  • Peter Davison, The Fading Smile: Poets in Boston, 1955-60
  • Henry W. Longfellow, The Song of Hiawatha

2004 Book Selections

  • Robert Lowell (selected poems)
  • John Demos, The Unredeemed Captive
  • Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography
  • Henry David Thoreau, Walden; Short Essay on Civil Obedience
  • William James, Varieties of Religious Experience
  • Robert Frost (selected poems)
  • William Dean Howells, A Hazard of New Fortunes
  • Henry Adams, Mont Saint Michel and Chartres
  • John Cheever, The Wapshot Chronicle

2003 Book Selections

  • Henry James, The Europeans
  • Arthur Miller, The Crucible
  • Alexis de Toqueville, Democracy in America
  • Mona Domosh, Invented Cities
  • Laurel Thatcher Ulrich,  A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard
  • Edmund S. Morgan, The Puritan Dilemma
  • Edmund S. Morgan, Benjamin Franklin
  • Jean Stafford, Boston Adventure

2001 Book Selections

  • George Santayana, The Last Puritan
  • Henry James, The Bostonians
  • Witold Rybczynski, A Clearing in the Distance: Frederick L. Olmstead & America in the 19 th C.
  • Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
  • Herman Melville, Billy Budd
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, Blithedale Romance
  • Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club
  • Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams
  • Robert Linscott, ed., State of Mind

2000 Book Selections

  • Edwin O’Connor, The Last Hurrah
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne (selected short stories)
  • Alice Stone Blackwell, Growing Up in Boston’s Gilded Age 1872-74
  • Robert B. Parker, Looking for Rachel Wallace
  • Dorothy West, The Living is Easy
  • Henry Mayer, All On Fire: William Lloyd Garrison
  • J.P.Marquand, The Late George Apley
  • William Dean Howells, The Rise of Silas Lapham