Discussion Groups

One word: popular. Members enjoy discussion groups on a wide range of topics.

Connect with other members through discussion groups that foster conversations about literature, history, culture, art, and every topic under the sun.

To join a discussion group or suggest starting your own, contact Reader Services at (617) 227-0270 or  discussion@bostonathenaeum.org. You must be a member to join any of the discussion groups.

Groups meet remotely, in person, or through a hybrid solution. Please check the group listings for specifics. This information is subject to change and will be updated as needed.

21st-Century Fiction

The 21st-Century Fiction group meets in person the second Wednesday of the month at 6 pm to discuss fiction that has been published since 2000. This group is distinct and separate from the virtual group.

What We’re Reading

  • Apr. 10: Amor Towles, The Lincoln Highway
  • May 8: Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer
  • Jun. 12: Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
  • Jul. 10: Colm Toibin, Long Island
  • Aug. 14: TBD
  • Sep. 11: Abraham Verhese, The Covenant of Water
Join waitlist!
21st-Century Fiction (virtual): seeking participants!

The 21st-Century Fiction group meets on zoom only the third Wednesday of the month at 6 pm to discuss fiction that has been published since 2000. (This group is distinct and separate from the group that meets in person).

What We’re Reading

  • May 15: RF Kuang, Yellowface
  • June 19: Sayaka Murata, Convenience Store Woman
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Art and Artists in Books

The Art & Artists Group will meet on Second Mondays from 6 to 7:30 pm in person. 

When you look at art do you want to know more about the painting, the artist, the period? Do you enjoy reading books about the art world, about famous artists’ lives, about art thievery, about art around the world? If so, this group may be for you!

Meeting Dates

  • Jan. 8:
  • Feb. 12: Patrick Bringley, All the Beauty in the World: the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Me
  • Mar. 11: Sebastian Smee, The Art of Rivalry
  • Apr. 8: Anka Muhlstein, Camille Pissarro: The Audacity of Impressionism
  • May 13: Ai Weiwei, 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows: A Memoire
  • Jun. 10: Lucy Lippard, Stuff Instead of a Memoire
Join Waitlist Now!
Based on the Book

The Based On The Book discussion group meets the fourth Tuesday of every month from 6 to 7:30 p.m. This group meets using a hybrid solution. You can attend in person or connect remotely.

Each month this group discusses a book of fiction and a movie based on the book. Each discussion is moderated by one of the group members. The book and movie pairs are selected by the discussion group. Some examples of book and movie pairs are Jane Austen Emma (1815) and the 1995 movie Clueless with Alicia Silverstone; Pierre Boulle, The Bridge on the River Kwai (1952) and the 1957 movie with Alec Guinness; Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It (1976) and the 1992 movie with Brad Pitt; Mario Puzo, The Godfather (1969) and the 1972 movie with Marlon Brando; Ian Fleming, Casino Royale (1953) and the 2006 movie with Daniel Craig; Ian McEwan, Atonement (2001) and the 2007 movie with Keira Knightley.

Thank you for your interest in this group. Unfortunately we are currently at capacity, but if you’d like to be contacted once space becomes available, please join our waitlist.

What We’re Reading

  • February 27: Hopscotch – Brian Garfield, 1980 film
  • March 26: Dracula – Bram Stoker, 1931 film 
  • Apr. 23: Miguel De Cervantes, Don Quixote, 1972 film
  • May 28: Harold Pinter, Betrayal, 1983 film
  • Jun. 25: Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House, 1963 film
  • Jul. 23: Tobias Wolfe, This Boy’s Life, 1993 film
  • Aug. 27: Alasdair Gray, Poor Things, 2023 film
  • Sep. 24: Barry Hines, A Kestrel for a Knave, 1969 film
  • Oct. 22: Alice Walker, The Color Purple, 1985 film
  • Nov. 26: Walter Kirn, Up in the Air, 2009 film
  • Dec. 24: Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood, 1979 film
  • Jan. 28, 2025: Virginia Woolf, Orlando, 1992 film
  • Feb. 25: Michael Cunningham, The Hours, 2002 film
  • Mar. 25: Giles Foden, The Last King of Scotland, 2006 film
  • Apr. 22: E.L. Doctorow, Ragtime, 1981 film
  • May 27: Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Mr. Ripley, 1999 film

Past Readings

Join Waitlist
Civil War: seeking participants!

The Civil War Discussion Group meets on the fourth Wednesday of the month, at 6pm, in a hybrid format. No meetings in July and August. Meeting since 2012, this group has existed three times longer than the Civil War itself. Attend a sample meeting and read about how people belonging to the Civil War and Reconstruction Era dealt with racism, grief, violence, and issues of state versus federal control in a polarized country, among other topics.

What We’re Reading

  • Apr. 24: Fergus Bordewich, Klan War: U.S. Grant and the Battle to Save Reconstruction
  • May 22: Harold Knudsen, James Longstreet and the American Civil War
  • Jun. 26: Ben Raines, The Last Slave Ship
  • Jul. 24: Break
  • Aug. 28: Break
  • Sep. 25: Edwin Fishel, The Secret War for the Union or Peter Tsouras, George H. Sharpe and the Creation of American Military Intelligence in the Civil War
  • Oct. 23: Erik Larson, The Demon of Unrest: A Saga of Hubris, Heartbreak, and Heroism at the Dawn of the Civil War
  • Nov. 20 (N.B. Third Wednesday) : Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels

Past Readings

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Classics

The Ancient Greco-Roman Classical Literature Reading Group (“Classics”) will meet the second Tuesday of every month from 6 to 7:30 pm. This group meets using a hybrid solution. You can attend in person or connect remotely.

The group will focus on Greek and Roman Literature in Translation and the Classical Tradition. Greco-Roman Literature encompasses epic poetry, love elegiacs, odes,  dramatic works, historical narratives, etc.

Participants must sign up in advance for the year. There is an annual fee of $100.

What We’re Reading

  • Mar. 12: Aeschylus, Agamemnon (Oresteia, play 1)
  • Apr. 9: Aeschylus, Libation Bearers (Oresteia, play 2)
  • May 14: Aeschylus, Eumenides (Oresteia, play 3)
  • Jun. 11: Euripides, Iphigeneia at Aulis

Past Readings

Join the waiting list
Dickens: seeking participants!

The Dickens discussion group will meet the first Thursday of every month from 6 to 7:30 pm. This group meets using a hybrid solution. You can attend in person or connect remotely. 

Taking its keynote from the memorable Nabokov introduction in which he announced, ‘We are now ready to tackle Dickens. We are now ready to embrace Dickens. We are now ready to bask in Dickens,’ the group seeks to create a welcoming literary space where members may tackle, embrace, and bask in Dickens for years to come. 

The group is open to all levels of experience and interest in Dickens, from those who have never had the pleasure of meeting him at all, to those who had a brief acquaintance with him in school, to those many for whom he has become an old and very dear friend.

What We’re Reading

  • Apr. 4: Nicholas Nickleby I
  • May 2: Nicholas Nickleby II
  • Jun. 6: Sherlock Holmes stories (stories TBD)
  • Sep. 5: The Old Curiosity Shop I
  • Oct. 3: The Old Curiosity Shop II
  • Nov. 7: Dickens detective stories (selections TBD)
  • Dec. 5: A Christmas Carol
  • Jan. 2: Barnaby Rudge I
  • Feb. 6: Barnaby Rudge II
  • Mar. 6: Middlemarch I
  • Apr. 3: Middlemarch II
  • May 1: Martin Chuzzlewit I
  • Jun. 5: Martin Chuzzlewit II

Past Readings

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Lover

This group meets in person the third Tuesday of the month at 6pm to discuss romance novels. 

What we’re reading:

  • Apr. 16: Bonnie Garmus, Lessons in Chemistry
  • May 21: Akwaeke Emezi, You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty
Join Wait List
Drama: seeking participants!

The Drama discussion group will meet the first Wednesday of every month from 6 to 7:30 pm. This group meets in person. No background familiarity with dramatic works is required to partake.

Each meeting we will read a play aloud, rotating parts among participants and pausing between scenes to discuss what we have read. Some plays may require more than one session to complete. A group member serves as “play leader” and pre-circulates any background readings and the expected scenes to be read. Everyone has a chance to read, although anyone who would prefer not to is free to pass. Discussions are guided by the play leader and group moderator.

To get us started, the moderator has chosen the initial set of plays. Future plays will be chosen collectively by the members of the discussion group.

Prior to beginning our first play we will read the story of Pygmalion, as published in Ovid’s Metamorphosis. We will then explore how themes of the Pygmalion story have been treated over the centuries by various English-speaking playwrights, in the following plays:

Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw (1913)
The Winter’s Tale, by William Shakespeare (1610/11)
Educating Rita, by Willy Russell (1980)

Meeting Dates:

  • Jun. 5: B. Cerf and V.H. Cartmell, 24 Favorite One Act Plays

Past Readings

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Fiction

The Fiction Discussion Group meets on the first Monday of each month at 6 pm. This group meets using a hybrid solution. You can attend in person or connect remotely. Titles are suggested by members and then chosen to obtain a variety of authors, publication dates, themes, and lengths.

Thank you for your interest in this group! Unfortunately they are currently at capacity, but if you’d like to be contacted once space becomes available, please join our waitlist.

What We’re Reading

  • May 6: Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
  • June 3: J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians
  • July 1: Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
  • Aug. 5: Evelyn Waugh, A Handful of Dust
  • Sept. 9 (N.B. this is the second Monday): Virginia Woolf, The Waves
  • Oct. 7: G. Cabrera Infante, Three Trapped Tigers
  • Nov. 4 Olga Tokarczuk, Flights
  • Dec. 2: Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
  • Jan. 6, 2025: Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White
  • Feb. 3: Rumer Godden, Black Narcissus
  • Mar. 3: Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy
  • Apr. 7: Ignatio Padilla, Shadow Without a Name
  • May 5: Jon Fosse, Aliss at the Fire

Past Readings

Join Waitlist
Hear ye! Hear ye! Audiobook Group: seeking participants

Hear ye! Hear ye! meets in person the third Saturday of the month at 2:00 p.m. to discuss fiction enjoyed in the audiobook format.

What We’re Reading

  • May 18: Zadie Smith, The Fraud
Join Now!
James Joyce

The James Joyce Discussion Group will meet the second Thursday of every month from 6 to 7:30 pm, remote only. 

James Joyce wrote criticism and essays but is best known for his modernist works of fiction, which have a reputation for being difficult reads. A group recently completed a year-and-a half-long project to read and discuss Ulysses. We think we know many readers who are up to another challenge!

This group is starting with Dubliners and decides what they are reading from month to month.

Thank you for your interest in this group! Unfortunately they are currently at capacity, but if you’d like to be contacted once space becomes available, please join our waitlist.

What We’re Reading

  • Jun. 12: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Past Readings

Join Waitlist
LGBTQ/Queer Peer Fiction Writers’ Group: seeking participants!

The LGBTQ/Queer Peer Fiction Writers’ Group meets at 6pm in person the first Tuesday of the month. 

The goals of this group are: (1) to create a safe space for queer fiction writers who are looking for a community to discuss their writing with other queer writers and (2) a forum for feedback and accountability.
This group is for those currently working on a first draft of their book, with at least two to three chapters or about 20,000-30,000 words ready to share with the group for feedback. Participants are asked to commit to six months with the group

When we’re meeting:

  • May 7
  • June 4
  • July 2
  • August 6
  • September 3

 

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Literary Conversations

This thriving, 25-year old discussion group meets at 6:00 p.m. on the third Monday of each month to discuss works of literature selected by the group, from the ancient classics to contemporary best sellers. Members take turns leading the discussions and engage in active e-mail correspondence about the book currently being read. Our Literary Conversations continue at a local restaurant following the meeting, and all members are invited. This group meets using a hybrid solution. You can attend in person or connect remotely.

Thank you for your interest in this group! Unfortunately they are currently at capacity, but if you’d like to be contacted once space becomes available, please join our waitlist.

What We’re Reading:

  • Apr. 16 (N.B. this is the third Tuesday): Frederick Douglass, The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass
  • May 20: Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
  • Jun. 17: Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children
  • Jul. 15: (In person) Tolstoy, War and Peace
  • Au. 19: (In person) Tolstoy, War and Peace, cont.
  • Sep. 16: Shakespeare, Sonnets
  • Oct. 21: Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South
  • Nov. 18: Alice Munro, Lives of Girls and Women
  • Dec. 16: Joseph Roth, Job
  • Jan. 20, 2025: Renato Cisneros, The Distance Between Us
  • Feb. 17: Dorothy West, The Living is Easy
  • Mar. 17: John Banville, The Sea
  • Apr. 22 (NB: a Tuesday): Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales: A Retelling by Peter Ackroyd
  • May 19: William Trevor, Fools of Fortune
  • Jun. 16: Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Past Readings

Join Waitlist
Mathematics, Technology, & Society: seeking participants!

The Mathematics, Technology & Society discussion group will meet the first Saturday of every month  from 10:30 am – 12 pm. and will consider mathematics and technology topics from historical and social perspectives. This group is remote only. 

Participation is encouraged by anyone interested in the history and impact of technology — no mathematics or computing expertise is required. Each meeting will focus on a different topic and background reading.

What We’re Reading

  • April 6: Helen Czerski, The Blue Machine: How the Ocean Works
  • May 4: Adam Frank, The Little Book of Aliens
  • Jun. 1: Know Thyself: Stephen Fleming, The Science of Self-Awareness
  • July 6: Break
  • Aug. 3: Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity is Nearer: When We Merge with AI
  • Sep. 7: Richard Feynman, QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter
  • Oct. 5: Jennifer Ackerman, What the Owl Knows: The New Science of the World’s Most Enigmatic Birds
  • Nov. 2: Vaclav Smil, Invention and Innovation: A Brief History of Hype and Failure

Past Readings

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Mystery: seeking participants!

Unless otherwise specified, the Mystery Discussion Group meets the last Monday of the month at 5:30 pm. This group meets over zoom only. Titles are democratically selected and range from popular thrillers to quiet country investigations to literary prizewinners with a mystery element.

What We’re Reading

  • Apr. 29: C.J. Box, Open Season
  • May 27: Agatha Christie, Endless Night
  • Jun. 24: Laurie R. King, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice
  • Jul. 22: Tess Gerritsen, The Spy Coast
  • Aug. 26: Tana French, The Hunter
  • Sep. 23: Haley Scrivenor, Dirt creek
  • Oct. 28: Sara Gran, Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead
  • Nov. 25: Alex Michaelidis, The Silent Patient
  • Dec. 23: Cathy Ace, Case of the Dotty Dowager
  • Jan. 27, 2025: Anne Cleeves, The Long Call
  • Feb. 24: Nita Prose, The Maid
  • Mar. 24: Lillian Pentecost, Murder Crossed Her Mind
  • Apr. 28: Mick Herron, Slow Horses
  • May 26: Tana French, The Faithful Place
  • Jun. 23: Christianna Brand, Green for Danger
  • Jul. 28: DA Mishani, The Missing File

Past Readings

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New England Seminar: seeking participants!

The New England Seminar meets on the first Monday of the month at 6 pm. This group is remote only. The Group reads fiction and non-fiction written about Boston and New England. Past selections include Santayana’s The Last Puritan, Louis Menand’s The Metaphysical Club, Dorothy West’s The Living Is Easy, William Dean Howells’, The Rise of Silas Lapham, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Collected Short Stories.

What We’re Reading

  • Apr. 1: Ann Petry, The Street
  • May 6: Zadie Smith, On Beauty
  • Jun. 3: Ilyon Woo, Master Slave Husband Wife

Past Readings

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Philosophy: seeking participants!

The Philosophy Group meets on the third Thursday of every month at 6 pm. unless otherwise specified. This group meets using a hybrid solution. You can attend in person or connect remotely.

This discussion group is for people who wish to step back from their daily routines and take some time to examine the whys and hows in life. We will cast a wide net, from the Classics to current politics, and participants will be invited to suggest authors and topics of interest.

What We’re Reading

  • May 23: William Eggington, The Rigor of Angels: Borges, Heisenberg, Kant, and the Ultimate Nature of Reality chapters 1-6
  • Jun. 20: William Eggington, The Rigor of Angels: Borges, Heisenberg, Kant, and the Ultimate Nature of Reality chapters 7-12

Past Readings

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Poetry: seeking participants!

The Poetry Study Group meets in person from 5:30 – 7 pm on the third Wednesday of each month. Together we strive to unlock a poem’s meaning, ponder a poet’s intention and savor poetic achievements. Our discussion is lively: We interrogate, debate, take stabs, and applaud each new insight. We appreciate new voices and views, and welcome all earnest readers to join the discussion. A selection of poems will be distributed before each meeting.

What We’re Reading

  • Apr. 17: Conrad Aiken
  • May 15: Hart Crane
  • Jun. 18 (N.B. this is the Third Tuesday): Alexander Pushkin

Past Readings

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Proust Reading Group

Boston Athenaeum members who are already Proust enthusiasts, and those who are aficionados-in-the-making, are invited to join The Proust Reading Group. Meetings generally take place on the last Tuesday afternoon of each month, from 12 to 1:30 pm. This group meets using a hybrid solution. You can attend in person or connect remotely.

In September 2023, we will review The Fugitive and then begin Time Regained. Listed below are the pages in both the Modern Library translation and in the Yale University Press translation. The Yale edition of Time Regained has not yet been published.

The Modern Library Edition for The Fugitive is volume 5 of the series, and Time Regained is volume 6. The text is translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, and revised by D. J. Enright.

The group is led by Proust scholar Dr. Hollie Markland Harder, who is the director of language programs and Associate Professor of French at Brandeis University. Her work on Proust includes articles on Françoise’s cooking (“Proust’s Novel Confections: Françoise’s Cooking and Marcel’s Book,” which appeared in Modern Language Studies) and the function of humor in Proust’s novel (“Proust’s Human Comedy,” published in The Cambridge Companion to Proust).

Participants must sign up in advance for the year. There is a fee of $100 per year. Anyone interested should contact the Circulation Desk at (617) 227-0270 x279 or email harder@brandeis.edu.

What We’re Reading

  • Jan. 30: The Fugitive ML pp. 773–822, YUP pp. 621–660 (read up to “A few months earlier, this knowledge …”)
  • Feb. 27: The Fugitive ML pp. 822–873, YUP pp. 660–700 (read up to “The night passed. In the morning I gave the telegram back to the hotel porter …”)
  • Mar. 26: The Fugitive ML pp. 873–921 YUP pp. 700–738
  • Apr. 16 (N.B. this is the Third Tuesday): The Fugitive ML pp. 921–936, YUP pp. 738–757; Time Regained  ML pp. 1–46
  • May 21 (N.B. this is the Third Tuesday): Time Regained ML pp. 46–93
Proust Selected Studies Group

Boston Athenaeum members who are already Proust enthusiasts, and those who are aficionados-in-the-making, are invited to join The Proust Selected Studies Group. The group typically meets the second Tuesday of some months, from 12 to 1:30 pm. This group meets using a hybrid solution. You can attend in person or connect remotely.

The group is led by Proust scholar Dr. Hollie Markland Harder, who is the director of language programs and Associate Professor of French at Brandeis University. Her work on Proust includes articles on Françoise’s cooking (“Proust’s Novel Confections: Françoise’s Cooking and Marcel’s Book,” which appeared in Modern Language Studies) and the function of humor in Proust’s novel (“Proust’s Human Comedy,” published in The Cambridge Companion to Proust).

Participants must sign up in advance for the year. There is a fee of $100 per year. Anyone interested should contact the Circulation Desk at (617) 227-0270 x279 or email harder@brandeis.edu.

Reading Recap

Reading Recap is a new series of occasional discussion groups offered in connection to Athenaeum events, anniversaries, etc. No need to make a long-term commitment! Choose which topics suit you and your schedule.
The happenings will be listed here, on the Events calendar, and announced in our newsletter. We will meet in different spaces, depending on the subject.
These are free to members, but registration is required in order to prepare.
Have suggestions? Please let us know:   warnement@bostonathenaeum.org.

Reading Recap: Lydia Maria Child: A Radical American Life

April 4, 2023 

Discussion on Lydia Moland’s biography Lydia Maria Child: A Radical American Life. As part of our Salon Series, Ms. Moland spoke March 20 about her compelling biography of Lydia Maria Child, one of nineteenth-century America’s most courageous abolitionists.

 

Science Fiction

All fiction presents imagined people, places, and plots. Science fiction imagines broader realms than we experience day-to-day. Come every fourth Saturday at 2 pm to explore those worlds and how they touch upon our encounters.

This group meets using a hybrid solution. You can attend in person or connect remotely.

What We’re Reading

  • Mar 23: Arkady & Boris Strugatsky, Roadside Picnic
  • Apr. 27: Dan Simmons, Hyperion
  • May 25: Octavia E Butler, Parable of the Sower
  • Jun. 22: Samuel Butler, Erewhon
  • Jul. 27: Stanislaw Lem, The Cyberiad
  • Aug. 24: Edward Ashton, Mickey 7
  • Sep. 28: Raphael Carter, The Fortune Fall
  • Oct. 26: Hao Jingfang, Vagabonds
  • Nov. 23: John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids
  • Dec. 28: Adrian Tchaikovsky, Children of Time

Past Readings

Join Waitlist!
Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Group: seeking participants!

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Group meets on Second Saturdays from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm, in-person only.

This is a hands-on writers group for seriously invested speculative fiction writers of science fiction, fantasy, or horror. The group is meant to support the writing of novels, providing feedback and brainstorming writing techniques.

Meeting Dates

  • Feb. 17 (instead of Feb. 10)
  • Mar. 9
  • Apr. 13
  • May 11
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Scrabble: seeking participants!

The Scrabble Group meets semi-monthly, on the First and Third Wednesdays of the month from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., for a friendly game of Scrabble. Due to the nature of this group, they only meet in-person.

Game Dates

  • April 3, 2024
  • April 17
  • May 1
  • May 15
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Shakespeare

The Shakespeare Discussion Group meets the second Wednesday of the month at 6 pm. This group meets using a hybrid solution. You can attend in person or connect remotely.

Every year we select a range of plays, each of which is read over two months. A play leader pre-circulates background readings, talking points, and questions, as well as the scenes to be read in plenary. Everyone has a chance to read, although anyone who would prefer not to is free to pass. Reading aloud helps to take us off the page and breathes life into the words themselves. Discussions are guided by the play leader and group moderator and generally flow organically.

There is no requirement of familiarity with Shakespeare’s works in order to join our discussions. We recommend the Arden edition if you are acquiring a new text.

Thank you for your interest in this group! Unfortunately they are currently at capacity, but if you’d like to be contacted once space becomes available, please join our waitlist.

What We’re Reading

  • Mar. 13: Henry VI, Part 1
  • Apr. 10: Henry VI, Part 1
  • May 8: Richard III
  • Jun. 12: Richard III
  • Jul. 10: Sonnets or Great Speeches

Past Readings

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Short & Sweet: seeking participants!

Short & Sweet meets remotely on the fourth Thursday (with exceptions noted below) of each month at 6 pm. “If I had more time, this would be shorter.” Just because something is a quick read does not mean it can be easily appreciated. The moderator will share the story a week ahead of the meeting.

What We’re Reading 

  • Apr. 25: James Baldwin, “The Outing”
  • May 23: Alice Munro, “Queenie”
  • Jun. 27: Joyce Carol Oates, “Late Love” 
  • Jul. 25
  • Aug. 22
  • Sep. 26
  • Oct. 24
  • Nov.: no meeting
  • Dec.: no meeting

Past Readings

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Thought for Food: seeking participants!

The Thought for Food group meets on the Fourth Thursday of each month at 6 pm. Because the group may opt to enjoy a meal or drinks outside Athenaeum grounds after the meeting is over, meetings will only be in-person so that all attendees have the option of the full communal experience.

Literature for Thought for Food could include both modern and historical literature and recipes based on the members’ current interests. We plan to focus on not just current food science and literature but also on historical recipes and literature and their impact on the food we eat today. Our discussions will involve a topic of the group’s choosing with each member choosing material that relates to the topic and sharing it with the group.

What We’re Reading

  • May 23. Ruth Reichl
  • Jun. 27: Noodles around the world
  • Jul. 25: Scandinavian

Past Readings

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Trollope: seeking participants!

The Trollope Discussion Group meets the first Tuesday of every month at 6:00 p.m. This group meets using a hybrid solution. You can attend in person or connect remotely. Over the past several years, Boston Athenaeum Trollope enthusiasts have completed all of Trollope’s novels, yet many have decided to read them all over again. Sometimes the group complements their reading list with another contemporary novelist or a biography.

What We’re Reading

  • Apr. 2: reading t.b.d.
  • May 7: reading t.b.d.
  • Jun. 4: The Last Chronicle of Barset, with Professor Buzard

Past Readings

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World War I: seeking participants!

This discussion group was established in honor of the centenary of the August 1914 outbreak of World War I. Titles will be chosen democratically by group members. The group will meet the first Saturday of each month from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm. This group meets using a hybrid solution. You can attend in person or connect remotely.

What We’re Reading

  • May 4: Charles Glass, Soldiers Don’t Go Mad: A Story of Brotherhood, Poetry, and Mental Illness During the First World War
  • Jun. 1: Steven Ujifusa, Last Ships from Hamburg The: Business, Rivalry, and the Race to Save Russia’s Jews on the Eve of World War I
  • Jul. 6: Georgina Howell, Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations
  • Aug. 3: Timothy C. Dowling, The Brusilov Offensive (Twentieth-Century Battles)

Past Readings

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World War II

On September 1, 1939, Adolf Hitler ordered the invasion of Poland and set the world ablaze. World War II would bring destruction, terror and death to millions. However, the world would also be a witness to incredible bravery, fortitude and brilliance. Today, we read and exchange ideas about the events, people, and strategies so we may learn from the past and be a bit wiser in our every day life.

The group meets on the third Saturday of the month at 10:30 am using a hybrid solution. You can attend in person or connect remotely. Afterwards, at noon, we go to lunch and share some laughter and friendship. Please join us. 

What We’re Reading

  • Apr. 20: I. J. Galatin, Take Her Deep!: A Submarine Against Japan in World War II
  • May 18: Joseph Balkoski, Beyond the Beachhead
  • Jun. 15: Evan Thomas, Road to Surrender: Three Men and the Countdown to the End of World War II
  • Jul. 20: A.J. Baime, The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War
    America at War

Past Readings

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Writers’ Workshop

The Writers’ Workshop meets the second Saturday of every month from 9:30 am to 12 pm remote only. 

How are things? That latest piece talking to you yet? Or perhaps you’re talking to yourself? It gets lonely in that writing corner after a while with nobody to bounce ideas off of. Maybe it’s time to come up for air, commune with other writers, and discuss the work in an informal and encouraging atmosphere. Writers of all stripes are welcome!

Each season is divided into trimesters, allowing members to join in September, January, or May, with the understanding that they will be committed to the group for the following four months. Sign-ups are on the first day of each trimester, and we will receive submissions from members in the previous group for that first meeting.

Thank you for your interest in this group! Unfortunately they are currently at capacity, but if you’d like to be contacted once space becomes available, please join our waitlist.

  • Mar. 9 Session 2 Winter/Spring Trimester
  • Apr. 13 Session 3 Winter/Spring Trimester
  • May 11 Session 4 Winter/Spring Trimester
  • Jun. 8 Session 1 Spring/Summer Trimester
  • Jul. 13 Session 2 Spring/Summer Trimester
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Writing Fiction: seeking participants!

The Writing Fiction group meets on the third Tuesday of the month, in person, at 6 pm. The first meeting will be on June 18, and the group is open to writers of all different genres. Participants do not need to have written work prepared for the first meeting.

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Writing Poetry: seeking participants!

Writing Poetry meets in person at 6 pm on the second Thursday of each month. This is a non-judgmental space for amateur or professional writers who enjoy capturing moments in poetic form. A poem to spark conversation will be shared each meeting and participants will bring their own poems to share.

What We’re Reading

  • May 9: “Explaining an Affinity for Bats” by A.E. Stallings
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