Second Saturday Book Club

Second Saturday Book Club

Meets at Books Inc. in Opera Plaza on the 2nd Saturday of every month at 10:30 AM. and discusses literary fiction ranging from classics to contemporary.

Call store for details.
Books Inc. in Opera Plaza
601 Van Ness
San Francisco
415-776-1111

 

The Elegance of the Hedgehog Cover Image
By Muriel Barbery, Alison Anderson (Translator)
$17.00
ISBN: 9781933372600
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Published: Europa Editions - September 2nd, 2008

March 2022 Selection: 

The international bestseller that has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. The Elegance of the Hedgehog is a moving, funny, atmospheric novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us. 

We are in an elegant hôtel particulier in the center of Paris. Renée, the building's concierge, is short, ugly, and plump. She has bunions on her feet. She is cantankerous and addicted to television soaps. Her only genuine attachment is to her cat, Leo. In short, she is everything society expects from a concierge at a bourgeois building in a posh Parisian neighborhood. But Renée has a secret: she is a ferocious autodidact who furtively devours art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With biting humor she scrutinizes the lives of the building's tenants—her inferiors in every way except that of material wealth.  

Then there's Paloma, a super-smart twelve-year-old and the youngest daughter of the Josses, who live on the fifth floor. Talented, precocious, and startingly lucid, she has come to terms with life's seeming futility and has decided to end her own on the day of her thirteenth birthday. Until then she will continue hiding her extraordinary intelligence behind a mask of mediocrity, acting the part of an average pre-teen high on pop subculture, a good but not an outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter.

Paloma and Renée hide both their true talents and their finest qualities from a world they suspect cannot or will not appreciate them. They discover their kindred souls when a wealthy Japanese man named Ozu arrives in the building. Only he is able to gain Paloma's trust and to see through Renée's timeworn disguise to the secret that haunts her.


Washington Square Cover Image
By Philip Horne (Editor), Henry James, Martha Banta (Editor), Martha Banta (Introduction by), Martha Banta (Notes by)
$9.00
ISBN: 9780141441368
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Published: Penguin Classics - December 18th, 2007

February 2022 Selection: 

A masterful novel of New York society by a champion of literary realism
When timid and plain Catherine Sloper acquires a dashing and determined suitor, her father, convinced that the young man is nothing more than a fortune-hunter, decides to put a stop to their romance. Torn between her desire to win her father's love and approval and her passion for the first man who has ever declared his love for her, Catherine faces an agonising dilemma, and becomes all too aware of the restrictions that others seek to place on her freedom. James's masterly novel deftly interweaves the public and private faces of nineteenth-century New York society; it is also a deeply moving study of innocence destroyed.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.


Sing to It: Stories Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781982109127
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Published: Scribner - November 12th, 2019

January 2022 Selection:

LONGLISTED FOR THE PEN/FAULKNER AWARD
ONE OF TIME’S 100 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
ONE OF NPR’S BEST BOOKS OF 2019
From legendary writer Amy Hempel, one of the most celebrated and original voices in American short fiction: an astounding collection of fifteen stories that are “riveting in precision” (The Atlantic) and “scintillating as the blade of a knife” (The Wall Street Journal).

Amy Hempel is a master of the short story. A multiple award winner, Hempel is beloved and highly regarded among writers, reviewers, and readers of contemporary fiction.
These fifteen exquisitely honed stories reveal Hempel at her most compassionate and spirited, as she introduces characters, lonely and adrift, searching for connection. In “A Full-Service Shelter,” a volunteer at a dog shelter tirelessly, devotedly cares for dogs on a list to be euthanized. In “Greed,” a spurned wife examines her husband’s affair with a glamorous, older married woman. And in “Cloudland,” the longest story in the collection, a woman reckons with the choice she made as a teenager to give up her newborn infant. Quietly dazzling, these stories are replete with moments of revelation and transcendence and with Hempel’s singular, startling, inimitable sentences.


Vandover and the Brute Cover Image
$39.90
ISBN: 9783734046421
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Outlook Verlag - September 21st, 2018

December 2021 Selection: Written circa 1894-95 but published posthumously in 1914, Frank Norris’s Vandover and the Brute presents an unflinching portrait of unconventional sexuality, moral dissolution, and physical degeneration. In the setting of turn-of-the-century San Francisco depicted in Vandover, disaster encompasses far more than the vivid accounts of shipwreck or earthquake that appear in the novel. The slow wasting away of characters who contract syphilis, the suicide of a young girl, and the murder of a man clinging to a lifeboat fascinate readers today as much as they did a century ago, when this scandalous novel was first published. The most complete wreck is Vandover himself, whose artistic talents and constitution collapse after orgies of drink and sexual abandon.

Russ Castronovo’s new edition gathers historical materials on literary naturalism, gender and criminality, and the visual culture of the late nineteenth century.


The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a  Very Famous Family Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781681376073
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Published: New York Review Books - June 22nd, 2021

November 2021 Selection: Absorbing, delightful, hilarious, breathtaking and the best and most relevant novel I've read in what feels like forever. --Taffy Brodesser-Akner, The New York Times Book Review

Corbin College, not quite upstate New York, winter 1959-1960: Ruben Blum, a Jewish historian--but not an historian of the Jews--is co-opted onto a hiring committee to review the application of an exiled Israeli scholar specializing in the Spanish Inquisition. When Benzion Netanyahu shows up for an interview, family unexpectedly in tow, Blum plays the reluctant host to guests who proceed to lay waste to his American complacencies. Mixing fiction with nonfiction, the campus novel with the lecture, The Netanyahus is a wildly inventive, genre-bending comedy of blending, identity, and politics that finds Joshua Cohen at the height of his powers.


The Fountain Overflows Cover Image
By Rebecca West, Andrea Barrett (Introduction by)
$19.95
ISBN: 9781590170342
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Published: NYRB Classics - December 31st, 2002

October 2021 Selection:The lives of the talented Aubrey children have long been clouded by their father's genius for instability, but his new job in the London suburbs promises, for a time at least, reprieve from scandal and the threat of ruin. Mrs. Aubrey, a former concert pianist, struggles to keep the family afloat, but then she is something of a high-strung eccentric herself, as is all too clear to her daughter Rose, through whose loving but sometimes cruel eyes events are seen. Still, living on the edge holds the promise of the unexpected, and the Aubreys, who encounter furious poltergeists, turn up hidden masterpieces, and come to the aid of a murderess, will find that they have adventure to spare.

In The Fountain Overflows, a 1957 best seller, Rebecca West transmuted her own volatile childhood into enduring art. This is an unvarnished but affectionate picture of an extraordinary family, in which a remarkable stylist and powerful intelligence surveys the elusive boundaries of childhood and adulthood, freedom and dependency, the ordinary and the occult.


Staff Pick Badge
The Nickel Boys: A Novel Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780345804341
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Published: Anchor - June 30th, 2020

July 2021 Selection:

Staff Review: "I knew this would be an emotional ride, but man did Colson Whitehead compose a twist that was a gut punch. Just stunning."

— Elena - Books Inc. in Sf

In this Pulitzer Prize-winning, New York Times bestselling follow-up to The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys unjustly sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.

 

When Elwood Curtis, a black boy growing up in 1960s Tallahassee, is unfairly sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, he finds himself trapped in a grotesque chamber of horrors. Elwood's only salvation is his friendship with fellow "delinquent" Turner, which deepens despite Turner's conviction that Elwood is hopelessly naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. As life at the Academy becomes ever more perilous, the tension between Elwood's ideals and Turner's skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades.

 

Based on the real story of a reform school that operated for 111 years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers and "should further cement Whitehead as one of his generation's best (Entertainment Weekly).


Hamnet Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780525657606
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Published: Knopf - July 21st, 2020

June 2021 Selection:

In 1580's England, during the Black Plague a young Latin tutor falls in love with an extraordinary, eccentric young woman in this "exceptional historical novel" ( The New Yorker) and best-selling winner of the Women's Prize for Fiction.

Agnes is a wild creature who walks her family's land with a falcon on her glove and is known throughout the countryside for her unusual gifts as a healer, understanding plants and potions better than she does people. Once she settles with her husband on Henley Street in Stratford-upon-Avon she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast, centrifugal force in the life of her young husband, whose career on the London stage is taking off when his beloved young son succumbs to sudden fever.

A luminous portrait of a marriage, a shattering evocation of a family ravaged by grief and loss, and a tender and unforgettable re-imagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, and whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays of all time, Hamnet is mesmerizing, seductive, impossible to put down--a magnificent leap forward from one of our most gifted novelists.


The Quiet American: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Cover Image
By Graham Greene, Robert Stone (Introduction by)
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143039020
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Published: Penguin Classics - August 31st, 2004

May 2021 Selection:

Graham Greene's classic exploration of love, innocence, and morality in Vietnam

I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused, Graham Greene's narrator Fowler remarks of Alden Pyle, the eponymous Quiet American of what is perhaps the most controversial novel of his career. Pyle is the brash young idealist sent out by Washington on a mysterious mission to Saigon, where the French Army struggles against the Vietminh guerrillas.

As young Pyle's well-intentioned policies blunder into bloodshed, Fowler, a seasoned and cynical British reporter, finds it impossible to stand safely aside as an observer. But Fowler's motives for intervening are suspect, both to the police and himself, for Pyle has stolen Fowler's beautiful Vietnamese mistress.

Originally published in 1956 and twice adapted to film, The Quiet American remains a terrifiying and prescient portrait of innocence at large. This Graham Greene Centennial Edition includes a new introductory essay by Robert Stone.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.


Warlight (Vintage International) Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780525562962
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Published: Vintage - April 2nd, 2019

April 2021 Selection:

From the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author of The English Patient: a mesmerizing new novel that tells a dramatic story set in the decade after World War II through the lives of a small group of unexpected characters and two teenagers whose lives are indelibly shaped by their unwitting involvement.

 

In a narrative as beguiling and mysterious as memory itself--shadowed and luminous at once--we read the story of fourteen-year-old Nathaniel, and his older sister, Rachel. In 1945, just after World War II, they stay behind in London when their parents move to Singapore, leaving them in the care of a mysterious figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and they grow both more convinced and less concerned as they come to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women joined by a shared history of unspecified service during the war, all of whom seem, in some way, determined now to protect, and educate (in rather unusual ways) Rachel and Nathaniel. But are they really what and who they claim to be? And what does it mean when the siblings' mother returns after months of silence without their father, explaining nothing, excusing nothing? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all that he didn't know and understand in that time, and it is this journey--through facts, recollection, and imagination--that he narrates in this masterwork from one of the great writers of our time.


There There Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780525436140
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Published: Vintage - May 7th, 2019

March 2020 Selection:

National Bestseller

One of The New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year

One of the Best Books of the Year: The Washington Post, NPR, Time, O, The Oprah Magazine, The Dallas Morning News, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, BuzzFeed, San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe

Winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize
Winner of the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
Winner of an American Book Award

Shortlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction
Shortlisted for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize

"Powerful. . . . There There has so much jangling energy and brings so much news from a distinct corner of American life that it's a revelation." -- The New York Times

Tommy Orange's wondrous and shattering novel follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize. Among them is Jacquie Red Feather, newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind. Dene Oxendene, pulling his life together after his uncle's death and working at the powwow to honor his memory. Fourteen-year-old Orvil, coming to perform traditional dance for the very first time. Together, this chorus of voices tells of the plight of the urban Native American--grappling with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and spirituality, with communion and sacrifice and heroism. Hailed as an instant classic, There There is at once poignant and unflinching, utterly contemporary and truly unforgettable.


Martin Eden Cover Image
By Jack London, Andrew Sinclair (Introduction by)
$18.00
ISBN: 9780140187724
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Classics - February 1st, 1994

Fahrenheit 451: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781451673319
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Published: Simon & Schuster - January 10th, 2012

January 2020 Selection: Sixty years after its originally publication, Ray Bradbury's internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 stands as a classic of world literature set in a bleak, dystopian future. Today its message has grown more relevant than ever before.

 

Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television "family." But when he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn't live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known.


The Complete Stories (FSG Classics) Cover Image
By Flannery O'Connor, Robert Giroux (Introduction by)
$18.00
ISBN: 9780374515362
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Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - January 1st, 1971

November 2019 Selection: The publication of this extraordinary volume firmly established Flannery O'Connor's monumental contribution to American fiction. There are thirty-one stories here in all, including twelve that do not appear in the only two story collections O'Connor put together in her short lifetime - Everything That Rises Must Converge and A Good Man Is Hard to Find. O'Connor published her first story, "The Geranium, " in 1946 while she was working on her master's degree at the University of Iowa. This Book, which is arranged chronologically, shows that her last story, "Judgement Day, " sent to her publisher shortly before her death, is a brilliantly rewritten and transfigured version of "The Geranium." Taken together, these reveal an amazing lively, imaginative, and penetrating talent that has given us some of the most powerful and disturbing fiction written this century. Also included is an introduction and memoir by O'Connor's long-time editor, Robert Giroux.


Love in the Time of Cholera (Vintage International) Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780307389732
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Published: Vintage - October 5th, 2007

October 2019 Selection: "A love story of astonishing power." - Newsweek

The International Bestseller and modern literary classic by Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez

In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs--yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.


Goodbye, Columbus: and Five Short Stories (Vintage International) Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780679748267
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Published: Vintage - January 13th, 1994

September 2019 Selection: Winner of the National Book Award
Roth's award-winning first book--about Neil Klugman, Brenda Patimkin, and their relationship which tests the boundaries of suspicion, social class, and love--instantly established its author's reputation as a writer of explosive wit, merciless insight, and a fierce compassion for even the most self-deluding of characters.


The Masterpiece (Oxford World's Classics) Cover Image
By Émile Zola, Thomas Walton (Translator), Roger Pearson (Revised by)
$12.95
Unavailable, Out of Stock, or Out of Print
ISBN: 9780199536917
Published: Oxford University Press, USA - September 1st, 2008

August 2019 Selection: The Masterpiece is the tragic story of Claude Lantier, an ambitious and talented young artist who has come from the provinces to conquer Paris but is conquered instead by the flaws of his own genius. Set in the 1860s and 1870s, it is the most autobiographical of the twenty novels in Zola's Rougon-Macquart series. It provides a unique insight into Zola's career as a writer and his relationship with Cezanne, a friend since their schooldays in Aix-en-Provence. It also presents a well-documented account of the turbulent Bohemian world in which the Impressionists came to prominence despite the conservatism of the Academy and the ridicule of the general public.


A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780143110439
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Published: Penguin Books - March 26th, 2019

July 2019 Selection: In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel's doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count's endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.


The Trial: A New Translation Based on the Restored Text (The Schocken Kafka Library) Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780805209990
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Published: Schocken - May 25th, 1999

June 2019 Selection: Written in 1914, The Trial is one of the most important novels of the twentieth century: the terrifying tale of Josef K., a respectable bank officer who is suddenly and inexplicably arrested and must defend himself against a charge about which he can get no information. Whether read as an existential tale, a parable, or a prophecy of the excesses of modern bureaucracy wedded to the madness of totalitarianism, Kafka's nightmare has resonated with chilling truth for generations of readers. This new edition is based upon the work of an international team of experts who have restored the text, the sequence of chapters, and their division to create a version that is as close as possible to the way the author left it.

In his brilliant translation, Breon Mitchell masterfully reproduces the distinctive poetics of Kafka's prose, revealing a novel that is as full of energy and power as it was when it was first written.