Clare Hall Book Club

All College members and their partners are invited to join the Clare Hall Book Club. We discuss a book every month, and you can come as regularly or as occasionally as you like.

Meetings are on the first Tuesday of each month at 8pm. You can choose whether to come in-person to Clare Hall — meetings are usually in the King Room — or to join the meeting online using Zoom. All those on the Book Club mailing list will receive confirmation of the physical venue for each month's meeting and a link to join it by Zoom. If you are not on the mailing list and would like to be, please send an email to Sarah Garrison via, confirming your Clare Hall connection and putting the following as the email title: I would like to join the Book Club mailing list.

Next books for discussion

June: Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo (1955)
July: The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth (1932)
August: The Beginning of Spring by Penelope Fitzgerald (1988)

About the Book Club

As cosmopolitan as the Fellowship, Clare Hall Book Club discusses books from around the globe – either written in, or translated into, English.

Generally between six and twelve of us turn up to discuss a book. Regulars include Clare Hall Fellows and Emeritus Fellows, graduate students, Life Members who live in Cambridge, partners of Clare Hall members, and friends introduced by Clare Hall members. No two months are the same. Often a new Visiting Fellow, Visiting Fellow’s partner or postdoc walks through the door and brings us another perspective.

We select books two to three months in advance. Typically someone proposes a few options from the literature of a country they know – books that they have read, or books that they wanted to get round to – and we choose from these options. The books may be recent, twentieth century, or much older. In our quest to read something of substance from different cultures, the choice has quite often fallen to a Nobel Prize-winner. Sometimes, for a change, we read non-fiction, such as biography or anthropology. 

Founded in 2003 by Ruth Eppele Dickens, (whose husband Mark Dickens was a Clare Hall PhD student and then Research Fellow) and later run for several years by Rosie Luff and Celia Honeycombe, the Book Club thrives on its constantly evolving membership. One of Clare Hall’s great traditions is to make Visiting Fellows and their families instantly at home. The Book Club provides one facet of that welcome into the Clare Hall community.

- Gillian Moore

Recent books

  • The Wright Brothers by David McCullough (2015)
  • Manservant and Maidservant by Ivy Compton-Burnett (1947) 
  • Warlight by Michael Ondaatje (2018) 
  • Civilisations by Laurent Binet (2021)
  • Paradise by Abdulrazak Gurnah (1994)
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (2007)
  • The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (1970)
  • Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (2021)
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (2016)
  • The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares (1940)
  • Entangled Life: how fungi make our worlds, change our minds and shape our futures, by Merlin Sheldrake (2020)
  • Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier (2004)
  • The Hour of the Star by Brazilian novelist Clarice Lispector (1977)
  • Explaining Humans: What Science Can Teach Us about Life, Love and Relationships by Camilla Pang (2020)
  • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (2017)
  • In Praise of Shadows, an essay on Japanese aesthetics by  Jun’ Ichiro Tanizaki (1933)
  • The Concert by Albanian author Ismail Kadare (1992)
  • Out of Place by Edward Said (1999)
  • The Plague by Albert Camus (1947)
  • The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (1966)
  • Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Laclos (1782)
  • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo (2019)
  • Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond (1997)
  • L’assomoir (sometimes translated as The Dram Shop or The Drinking Den) by Emile Zola (1877)
  • The Man who was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton (1908)
  • Solaris by Stanislaw Lem (1961)
  • Everything Flows by Vasily Grossman (1970)

Books we have read in recent years