The CWCN Book Club is very much enjoyed by all who participate. It is for booklovers, bookworms, food for thought gourmets, those who appreciate the natural world, those who enjoy a debate, and those who just love having a good time.
The kettle is on, the biscuits are waiting, and the comfortable chairs are out at the CWCN Centre. Although there are intense debates surrounding each title, the atmosphere is relaxed and lots of laughter is a given part of the afternoon. This year’s program is described below. We welcome title suggestions for future sessions. Please note, libraries are quite happy to source titles should they not be on their shelves.
Like most of our events, the CWCN Book Club is open to everyone. However, due to the nature of the club participation needs to be kept to workable numbers. We kindly ask you RSVP for sessions which take place on the third Wednesday of each month between 2:00pm and 4:00pm. A fee of $5.00 is charged per session.
BOOK CLUB PROGRAM 2018:
Wednesday, 17th January 2018
Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England 1500-1800 (1991) by Keith Thomas
This book aims not just to explain present interest in preserving the environment and protecting the rights of animals, but to reconstruct an earlier mental world. Thomas seeks to expose the assumptions beneath the perceptions, reasonings, and feelings of the inhabitants of early modern England toward the animals, birds, vegetation, and physical landscape among which they spent their lives.... It was a time when a conviction of man's ascendancy over the natural world gave way to a new concern for the environment and sense of kinship with other species (Amazon).
Wednesday, 21st February 2018
Year of Wonders (2002) by Geraldine Brooks
A Pennine village of 350 souls is struck by plague and confronts a scourge beyond remedy or understanding. Desperate, the villagers turn to sorcery, herb lore, and murderous witch-hunting. They elect to isolate themselves in a fatal quarantine. The story is told through the eyes of a young woman who must contend with the death of her family, the disintegration of her society, and the lure of a dangerous and illicit attraction. Brooks' novel explores love and learning, fear and fanaticism, and the struggle of 17th century science and religion to deal with a seemingly diabolical pestilence. The book is also an eloquent memorial to the real-life Derbyshire villagers who chose to suffer alone during England's last great plague.
Wednesday, 21st March 2018
The Marsh Arabs (1964) by Wilfred Thesiger
The author’s magnificent account of his years spent with the Marsh Arabs of southern Iraq is a moving testament to their now threatened culture and the landscape they inhabit. Their way of life had endured for many centuries and was untouched by the modern world until this way of life suffered widespread destruction under the regime of Saddam Hussein. Thesiger stayed with them before that. In this book he pays tribute to their hospitality, loyalty, courage and endurance, and in vivid engaging detail provides images of their life and the natural world around them.
Wednesday, 18th April 2018
Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis (2007) by Kim Todd
400 years ago, Merian set sail on a solo scientific expedition to study insect metamorphosis. She could not have imagined the routine magic that scientists perform today, but her absolute insistence on studying insects in their natural habitats was so far ahead of its time that it is only now coming back into favour. Chrysalis restores Maria Sibylla Merian to her rightful place in the history of science, introducing us to a remarkable woman and highly accomplished artist and to her life, eventually taking us from golden-age Amsterdam to the Surinam tropics to modern laboratories where Merian's insights fuel new approaches to both ecology and genetics.
Wednesday, 16th May 2018
The Song of the Dodo (1997) by David Quammen
In a wonderful weave of science, metaphor, and prose, David Quammen applies the lessons of island biogeography to modern ecosystem decay, offering us insight into the origin and extinction of species, our relationship to nature, and the future of our world. The Song of the Dodo is a brilliant, stirring work, breathtaking in its scope, far-reaching in its message -- a crucial book in precarious times, which radically alters the way in which we understand the natural world and our place in that world. By the book's end we are wiser, and more deeply concerned, but Quammen leaves us with a message of excitement and hope. (goodreads.com)
Wednesday, 20th June 2018
The Soul of an Octopus (2016) by Sy Montgomery
Octopuses have varied personalities and intelligence and show it in myriad ways. But with a beak like a parrot, venom like a snake, and a tongue covered with teeth, how can such a being know anything? And what sort of thoughts could it think? Montgomery chronicles scientists’ growing appreciation of the octopus, but also tells a love story. By turns funny, entertaining, touching and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about consciousness and the meeting of two very different minds.
Wednesday, 18th July 2018
Children’s books of your choice
There are many books nurturing an early love of nature and the Australian environment. This sessions will allow us to gather information and talk about children’s favourites and gems which lead young readers to be intrigued by the natural world around them and help them to find their sense of place. If this is an early step to create future guardians, even better. This book club session is also intended to provide ideas for the children’s section of CWCN’s library.
Wednesday, 15th August 2018
The Beak of the Finch.: A Story of Evolution in Our Time (1995) by Jonathan Weiner
For over 20 years two scientists have watched and recorded evolution as it is occurring - now - among the very species of Galapagos finches that inspired Darwin's early musings on the origin of species. They have studied the evolutionary process not through the cryptic medium of fossils but in real time, in the wild, in the flesh, and at a level that was inaccessible to Darwin. Brilliantly and lucidly recounted - with important implications for our own day, when man's alterations of the environment are speeding the rate of evolutionary changes – the Pulitzer Prize winning book ‘makes complex research accessible while it reads like a combination of detective story and adventure book’.
Wednesday, 19th September 2018
The Fever Trail: In Search of the Cure for Malaria (2002) by Mark Honigsbaum
The Fever Trail is a fascinating boat trip through the history of Malaria and those who have sought to cure it. It is a story of courage; of political machinations and personal bravery, of the New World against the Old, from the jungles of Peru to high-tech labs. The book starts with the hunt for the Cinchono tree, the tree that yielded the cure for Malaria, quinine. Markham, Ledger and Spruce, the trio of explorers given the task of transporting the tree to the colonies, gave most of their lives so that the world could be free of intermittent fevers. They never thought that the disease would mutate... The modern pioneers battle on in laboratories and facilities desperate to find what has eluded mankind for centuries. “An entertaining yet sobering book—full of vivid details” (FT)
Wednesday, 17th October 2018
A Reason for Everything: Natural Selection and The English Imagination (2004) by Marek Kohn
'A marvellous book’ (New Scientist). 'A real triumph' (Guardian). A Reason for Everything is a brilliant and surprising fusion of science and biography. It is a very human book about the Englishness of evolutionary theory and the lives and personalities - often eccentric and controversial - of those who made it. 'Marek Kohn has written yet another brilliant book about great debates in science.' (Neal Ascherson, Observer). 'A wellwritten and carefully researched account of some of the main British players in the world of evolution. Every evolutionist should read it.' (Steve Jones, Nature) 'An educative and fascinating tale ...Kohn is a wonderful writer.' (A. C. Grayling, Literary Review)
Wednesday, 21st November 2018
Favourite Nature Poetry— Your personal selection
For the last book club session of the year participants are invited to choose and present their personal favourites— individual poems or collections. Previous book club poetry session followed that pattern. They have all been highly enjoyable afternoons with surprising gems from Australia and other countries introduced and (re)discovered ranging from St Anthony’s Sermon to the Fishes to Les Murray to Judith Wright and the Japanese Haiku, sometimes combined with illustrations or even music. We expect nothing less during our 2018 November session.