Between the Lines Book Club: Harold Fry and other Pilgrimages

between the lines book club logoThis month we have been reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. You can join us at Arden Dimick Library on April 22, 2017 at 10:30 for discussion and snacks, or leave your comments here!

Here’s how wikipedia defines a pilgrimage:

pilgrimage is a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person’s beliefs and faith, although sometimes it can be a metaphorical journey into someone’s own beliefs. Many religions attach spiritual importance to particular places: the place of birth or death of founders or saints, or to the place of their “calling” or spiritual awakening, or of their connection (visual or verbal) with the divine, to locations where miracles were performed or witnessed, or locations where a deity is said to live or be “housed”, or any site that is seen to have special spiritual powers. Such sites may be commemorated with shrines or temples that devotees are encouraged to visit for their own spiritual benefit: to be healed or have questions answered or to achieve some other spiritual benefit. A person who makes such a journey is called a pilgrim. As a common human experience, pilgrimage has been proposed as a Jungian archetype by Wallace Clift and Jean Dalby Clift.

If you are interested in the concept of the pilgrimage as a literary device, here are some books to look at:

Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan – a Christian allegory written in 1678. Trivia alert: the March sisters get copies of this book and strive to emulate it in Little Women.

The Pilgrimage: A Contemporary Quest for Ancient Wisdom, by Paulo Coelho – this is a companion book to his famous novel, The Alchemist. In this story, the author travels along the road of San Tiago, in Spain.

The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffry Chaucer – A ribald collection of 24 stories about pilrims on their way to Canterbury. The stories were written between 1387 and 1400.

Hyperion, by Dan Simmons – inspired by Canterbury Tales, this science fiction novel tells the stories of seven pilgrims who tell each other stories during a long space voyage. Through their stories, the reader is introduced to the world of Hyperion and the Time Tombs which the pilgrims want to visit.

Between the Lines Book Club: Rachel Joyce Talks Sequels

between the lines book club logoTechnically, Rachel Joyce’s novel, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy is not a sequel to her book The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. Instead, it’s a parellel story. In Harold, Harold goes on a journey to visit his friend Queenie, who is in hospice care. In Queenie, Queenie tells the story of her time in hospice and her relationship with Harold from her own point of view.

In this piece for The Guardian, Rachel Joyce explains how she came to write Queenie.

The Guardian: “Rachel Joyce: my unexpected followup to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: It’s not easy to write a life-affirming book about a woman dying in a hospice, but The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy was a story I just had to tell.”

Between the Lines Book Club: The Unlikely Journey of Harold Fry

between the lines book club logoOur April book club selection is The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce. You can leave comments about the book here. or attend our meeting at Arden Dimick Library on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 10:30AM. Coffee and light snacks provided.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage is Joyce’s first novel, and was a finalist for the 2012 Man Booker Prize. It tells of Harold, an ordinary 65-year-old man, who hears that an old friend is in hospice care. He begins walking to her hospice, almost by accident and then as more of a puposeful pilgramage. During the 87 day walk, he reflects on his relationships with family, friends, and the people he meets on the walk.

Here are some reviews:

New York Times

The New Yorker


Between the Lines Book Club: All Charles Lindbergh

between the lines book club logoIn One Summer: 1927, Bill Bryson writes about Charles Lindbergh, the first person to cross the Atlantic in a solo flight. We will be talking about the book at Arden Dimick Library on February 27, 2017 at 10:30AM.

There is a lot of footage of Lindbergh on YouTube.  has a full length documentary about Lindbergh and several shorter clips. You can find his infamous speech to the America First Committee on YouTube.If you want to learn more about the Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping, YouTube also has a full length PBS documentary.

The most famous biography of Lindbergh is titled Lindbergh as was written by A. Scott Berg, published in 1998. It won a Pultizer Prize. PBS Newshour did an interview with Berg that you can find online. Here’s a quote about Lindbergh’s antisemitism:

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: You include many quotes in your book from Lindbergh that leave little doubt that he was, it seems to me, anti-Semitic. He talks about a “western wall of race and arms–” speaks of inferior blood. He refers to Jews as — American Jews — as having interests different from “ours.” Did you end up with the belief that he was anti-Semitic?

A. SCOTT BERG: Well, I do believe he was anti-Semitic in ways that even he didn’t realize he was anti-Semitic. I ask a lot of Jewish friends and a lot of my own family what their definition of an anti-Semite is, and some of them just very readily say “Somebody who hates Jews.” And I say “if that’s your definition, I don’t believe Charles Lindbergh was an anti-Semite.” I don’t believe he hated Jews. Indeed, he did help some Jews get out of Nazi Germany, and indeed he did have some Jewish friends. At the same time, I think he was guilty of that other, more genteel kind of anti-Semitism, which is in some ways more insidious, because it is covert. And Lindbergh really was one of those who didn’t realize he was anti-Semitic, but he did believe they were different from the rest of Americans. He believed they controlled the media and the government in this country. He believed they had their own agenda that was different from the American agenda. And that’s just — that’s just anti-Semitism, neat and clean.

Berg did not know about Lindbergh’s secret families abroad – that information came to light after the biography was published. For a light-hearted interview that touches on the issue of Lindbergh’s many families, The New York Times has an interview with Lindbergh’s daughter, Reeve, who indicates that life as a Lindbergh is never dull!

“The siblings!” Ms. Lindbergh, now 62, calls them. “Bless their hearts! With us, every 20 years or so there is something that comes out that you don’t expect. Of course, now things seem to be happening more frequently.”

She ticked off the highlights: “There’s the flight, the kidnapping, the war, the speeches,” she said, referring to her father’s anti-interventionist speeches during World War II, “and now, aye yi yi, polygamy!”

Between the Book Club: Interviews with Bill Bryson

between the lines book club logoWelcome back to Book Club, where we are reading One Summer: 1927 by Bill Bryson. This nonfiction book tackles American history by looking at a fairly short window of time in which a remarkable number of things happened. Here’s Bill Bryson talking about that crazy summer:


and here he is talking about why he decided to write the book:


If you live in the Sacramento area, please join us at Arden Dimick Library at 10:30AM on Feb 25, 2017!