Fiction Friday: The Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle

Good morning from Crazy Central and welcome to Fiction Friday.

Chautauqua Literary and Scientific CircleWe’re having the busiest summer here in Western New York. As some of you know I live at Chautauqua Institution from May through September, and we’re right in the middle of the nine week season of music, lectures, dance and art, as well as books. Yesterday I took in portions of two lectures, a vocal concert, part of a production by the Charlotte Ballet and hosted a wine and cheese gathering of neighbors on my porch to meet my guest this week, writer Karen Young.

The New York Times just published a wonderful article about the institution, which gives you a good sampling of what goes on through the eyes of a first-timer who was here Week One.

Chautauqua Literary and Scientific CircleThe Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle is one of the oldest book clubs in the world (1878). Each season nine books are chosen to be read by anybody who wants to participate. Those “Chautauquans” (which means anybody who has ever been here) who sign up to graduate from a CLSC class must read twelve books from the CLSC book list which has been compiled from all annual selections over the decades and pay four years of class dues.  The ceremony is historic and memorable, and the banners each class makes are paraded through the grounds to the strains of a brass band.

Before you ask no, I have yet to graduate. Right now there isn’t enough time to get too serious about reading books which have nothing to do with my writing or the author book club I’m part of. But someday. . .

I thought you might enjoy seeing this year’s list. Have you read any of these? There are several I’m putting on my TBR (too be read) list, but so far I’ve yet to begin. If you have read some  or some from the full booklist I linked to above, let us know your thoughts.

Chautauqua Literary and Scientific CircleWeek One: The Boy Detective by Roger Rosenblatt

Week Two: On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee

Week Three: What I Did by Christopher Wakling

Week Four: Our Declaration by Danielle Allen

Week Five: When Winter Come: The Ascension of York by Frank X Walker

Week Six: Why Soccer Matters by Brian Winter

Week Seven: Andrew’s Brain by E. L. DoctorowChautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle Selection

Week Eight: The Name of Things by John Colman Wood

Week Nine: Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death at a Storm Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink

The authors of each of these books will be here to speak on their particular week, plus there will be book reviews and discussions to go along with them. Book heaven? I think so.

Book clubs are vital for introducing us to fiction and non-fiction we would never otherwise experience. Even if you don’t come to Chautauqua, you can read along and enjoy these selections. Let us know if you do.


  1. Lil Baker on July 25, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    My husband’s family has been attending Chautauqua for years; it began with his grandmother and has continued through my children. I love CLSC author talks and the children’s programs. We’ve missed the last few years due to children’s high school summer activities, but hope to be back some summer soon. Thanks for sharing the booklist; I wrote it down and plan to pick a couple to read.

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