Named for its founder Dr. Bill Arthur and led by Dr. Kirk Neely, this large and enthusiastically devoted group of literature lovers gathers monthly for an insightful analysis of a variety of good reads. Each month focuses on a different book, and all are welcome for refreshments, fellowship, and stimulating discussion.

Book Selections 2018-2019


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Last Castle
By: Denise Kiernan

The fascinating true story behind the magnificent Gilded Age mansion Biltmore—the largest, grandest residence ever built in the United States. Orphaned at a young age, Edith Stuyvesant Dresser claimed lineage from one of New York’s best known families. She grew up in Newport and Paris, and her engagement and marriage to George Vanderbilt was one of the most watched events of Gilded Age society. But none of this prepared her to be mistress of Biltmore House. The Last Castle is the unique American story of how the largest house in America flourished, faltered, and ultimately endured to this day.


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

A Gentleman in Moscow
By: Amor Towles

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery. Brimming with humor, this novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Whistlestop: My Favorite Stories from Presidential Campaign History
By: John Dickerson

From “Face the Nation” moderator, “the CBS Morning Show,” and contributing editor for The Atlantic John Dickerson come the stories behind the stories of the most memorable moments in American presidential campaign history. Whistlestop tells the human story of nervous gambits hatched in first-floor hotel rooms, failures of will before the microphone, and the cross-country crack-ups of long-planned stratagems. In addition to the familiar tales, Whistlestop also remembers the forgotten stories about the bruising and reckless campaigns of the nineteenth century when the combatants believed the consequences included the fate of the republic itself. Whistlestop is a ride through the American campaign history with one of its most enthusiastic conductors guiding you through the landmarks along the way.


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Last Hope Island
By: Lynne Olson

A groundbreaking account of how Britain became the base of operations for the exiled leaders of Europe in their desperate struggle to reclaim their continent from Hitler. As the only European democracy still holding out against Hitler, Britain became known to occupied countries as “Last Hope Island.” Getting there, one young emigré declared, was “like getting to heaven.” In this epic, character-driven narrative, acclaimed historian Lynne Olson takes us back to those perilous days when the British and their European guests joined forces to combat the mightiest military force in history. Last Hope Island recalls with vivid humanity that brief moment in time when the peoples of Europe stood together in their effort to roll back the tide of conquest and restore order to a broken continent.


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Alice Network
By: Kate Quinn

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.


Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Our Man in Charleston: Britain's Secret Agent in the Civil War South
By: Christopher Dickey

In this masterfully told story, Christopher Dickey introduces Consul Bunch as a key figure in the pitched battle between those who wished to reopen the floodgates of bondage and misery, and those who wished to dam the tide forever. Featuring a remarkable cast of diplomats, journalists, senators, and spies, Our Man in Charleston captures the intricate, intense relationship between great powers on the brink of war.


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The Wooden King
By: Thomas McConnell

It isn’t obvious at first. The day-to-day realities of occupation take time to sink in. After losing his job as a history professor, Trn remains optimistic, preserving what little he can of his family’s dwindling freedom. In his family’s small apartment, the radio brings worsening news as Europe surrenders to Germany. Friends are arrested, men are hanged in the local school. As air raids draw closer, Trn must protect his young son, but understands leaving their homeland could prove too dangerous. Ultimately Trn finds himself caught between two titanic armies—the Nazis and the Soviets—and must decide how to save all that he loves.


Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Deep South
By: Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux has spent the past fifty years roaming the globe, describing his encounters with remote people and far-flung places in ten best-selling travel books. Now, for the first time, he explores a part of America—the Deep South. Setting out on a winding road trip, Theroux discovers a region of architectural and artistic wonders, incomparable music, mouth-watering cuisine—and also some of the worst schools, medical care, housing, and unemployment rates in the nation. Yet, no matter where he goes, Theroux meets the unsung heroes of the South, the people who, despite it all, never left, and also those who found their way home and devoted their lives to rebuilding a place they could never live without.


Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The Great Alone
By: Kristin Hannah

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier. At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves. The Great Alone is a story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.


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Shannon Stewart // sstewart@fpcspartanburg.org