2017 Classics Made Modern Book Discussion

When you reread a classic you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than was there before.  ~Clifton Fadiman


In the Classics Made Modern Book Discussion group, each month you’ll get to read exemplary and award-winning literature and then discuss how the book remains modern and relevant. Learn more about author background, historical and cultural context, and the critic’s take in a brief presentation at the beginning of book group.

Meet to discuss on the second Monday of the month, 1:30–3 p.m. in the library’s Marvin Auditorium (101C). Books are distributed at the previous month’s discussion, or you can read your own copy. For more information, contact Lissa Staley at classicsmodern@tscpl.org or 785-580-4629.

Printable Discussion List

2017 Schedule of Books for Discussion

rode by Thomas Fox Averill , Monday, January 9, 2017 • 1:30-3 p.m.
Marvin Auditorium 101C

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown tells the true story of working class boys from the Northwest who defeated elite rivals and reminded the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together.
Monday, February 13, 2017 • 1:30-3 p.m.
Marvin Auditorium 101C

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks reveals the story of the plague year, 1666, through the eyes of Anna, a housemaid in an isolated English mountain village. The Pulitzer Prize-winning historical fiction author blends love and learning, loss and renewal, and creates an unlikely heroine and healer.
Monday, March 13, 2017 • 1:30-3 p.m.
Marvin Auditorium 101C

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed is a modern memoir of a personal journey. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, the author hiked more than a thousand miles from California to Washington State and wrote about her time alone on the trail.
Monday, April 10, 2017 • 1:30-3 p.m.
Marvin Auditorium 101C

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott tells the spellbinding true story of four courageous women – a socialite, a farm girl, an abolitionist, and a widow – who risked everything to be spies during the Civil War.
Monday, May 8, 2017 • 1:30-3 p.m.
Marvin Auditorium 101C

Whose Names Are Unknown by Sanora Babb is based on the author’s experiences working with refugee farmers in California. The novel, written in 1939 but not published until 2004, tells an intimate story of the High Plains farmers who fled drought dust storms during the Great Depression.
Monday, June 12, 2017 • 1:30-3 p.m.
Marvin Auditorium 101C

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is notable for its science writing and dealing with ethical issues of race and class in medical science as tells the story of the immortal cell line, known as HeLa, that came from Lacks’s cervical cancer cells in 1951 without her knowledge. (2Book Topeka selection)
Monday, July 10, 2017 • 1:30-3 p.m.
Marvin Auditorium 101C

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan is a literary adventure story for the 21st century. The Great Recession shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-designer and into the aisles of the bookstore, where he discovers the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls.
Monday, August 14, 2017 • 1:30-3 p.m.
Marvin Auditorium 101C

Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the construction of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor. (2Book Topeka selection)
Monday, September 11, 2017 • 1:30-3 p.m.
Marvin Auditorium 101C

A Mercy by Toni Morrison is set in the American Colonies where Florens, just 16, is sold to an Anglo-Dutch trader to pay off a debt. She is forced to leave her mother and through the voices of several characters, the story reveals what lies beneath the surface of slavery.
Monday, October 9, 2017 • 1:30-3 p.m.
Marvin Auditorium 101C

Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan chronicles the unconventional love affair of Scottish literary giant Robert Louis Stevenson and American divorcee Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne that will last two decades and span the world.
Monday, November 13, 2017 • 1:30-3 p.m.
Marvin Auditorium 101C

End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe is a profoundly moving memoir of caregiving, mourning, and love between a mother and her son during her treatment for cancer. The End of Your Life Book Club is about the joy of reading, and the ways that joy is multiplied when we share it with others.
Monday, December 11, 2017 • 1:30-3 p.m.
Marvin Auditorium 101C

Lissa Staley helps people use the library. She is a Book Evangelist, Trivia Emcee, Classics Made Modern book discussion leader, NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison, and frequent library customer. She loves her kids, being a librarian, living in Topeka, and helping people form connections and community. (She's the Community Connections Librarian!) She reads a new book every few days, but is enjoying the audiobook of "Empress of Forever" by Max Gladstone, the ebook "When We Were Magic" by Sarah Gailey and is eagerly awaiting John Scalzi's "The Last Emperox" in April!