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HUNTINGTON THEATRE COMPANY BOOK CLUB PART 2

by:  Carolyn MacLeod at 01/22/2016

The Huntington Theatre Company has a highly literary season this year, which is wonderful news for us book nerds! Below you’ll find book pairings to go with the final four productions of the Huntington’s 2015-2016 season.

If you read any of these books, let us know what you think via FacebookTwitter, or the comments below. (And if you use this list at your own book club, invite us please!)

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We Love You, Charlie Freeman book coverWe Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge (2016)

 What is it about?
In this debut novel, Laurel, a young African American girl living in a predominantly white town, teaches herself to sign as a way of dealing with the frustrating cross-race communication surrounding her. Later, she teaches her two daughters the language. The family’s valuable skill gets the entire Freeman family (Laurel, her husband, and their daughters) recruited for an experiment at a private research institute – to move from South Boston to the Massachusetts countryside and teach sign language to a chimpanzee who will live with them as a part of their family. The novel explores history, race, and language through the eyes of the Freeman family.

Why should I read it?
Kaitlyn Greenidge, the novelist, and Kirsten Greenidge, the playwright who wrote Milk Like Sugar, are sisters. Both are incredible storytellers who tend to dance around and offer different, though equally interesting, perspectives on similar themes – both Milk Like Sugar and Charlie Freeman deal with African American daughters in Boston yearning for more options than what is presented to them.

 

The Ground On Which I Stand book coverThe Ground on which I Stand by August Wilson (delivered 1996)

What is it about?

The Ground on which I Stand is a transcription of a speech given by August Wilson at the Theatre Communication’s Group biennial conference in 1996. The speech is a rallying call for African American artists to create and take control over their portrayal in contemporary culture. 

Why should I read it?

August Wilson is one of America’s treasured playwrights and this speech, combined with his autobiographical play How I Learned what I Learned gives a primary source account of the great man’s ideas and values more directly than what one must infer about his personal beliefs through his plays.

 

 

Women & Money book coverWomen & Money by Suze Orman (2010)

What is it about?

A combination self-help and financial advice text, Suze Orman’s Women & Money promises to provide for women everywhere the ”The Save Yourself Plan - a streamlined five-month program that allows you to: 1) Create a healthy relationship with your money, 2) Make more out of the money you have for yourself and those you love, and 3) Gain the freedom to make your own choices.”

Why should I read it?

In Gina Gionfriddo’s Can You Forgive Her?, two women have two different ideas about how to get out of debt – Miranda, a young woman racked with student loan debt, uses men as a way towards financial security, and single mother Tanya looks to financial guru, the fictional Marcy Snyder (perhaps a stand in for Ms. Orman). Books such as Orman’s feature in Miranda and Tanya’s story, through the stakes are much higher in the play – a matter of life and death. The play will make you think about what causes people, and especially women, to search for financial wisdom in such self-help tomes.

 

The Book of Job text coverThe Book of Job 

What is it about?

In this biblical text (Old Testament), Job endures trial after trial. God, in speaking with Satan, points to Job, a devoted follower, but Satan counters, “He is only so devoted because you have provided him with everything he could want or need. If he was less coddled, he’d sin and curse you in an instant.” And God says to Satan, “Bring it on, just don’t kill the guy.” Satan proceeds to curse Job – his children and livestock die, he becomes grossly ill – and all the time, Job patiently endures and praises God. He remains steadfast in his faith and in the end God rewards him. We won’t dare to offer more interpretation than this – many scholars have made their life’s work out of interpreting this piece of scripture – but it’s worth reading the primary source and taking the time to interpret its meaning for yourself and the Book of Job is often referenced in western literature and culture.

Why should I read it?

… Speaking of those references in western culture, Craig Lucas’ I Was Most Alive With You is another modern meditation on the parable of Job. Knox, a man who is gay, Deaf, and an alcoholic has found peace and gratitude for these things he previously thought were curses. But an accident occurs and the trials begin. Told in both English and American Sign Language, being familiar with the suffering of Job will help deepen your experience of this play in two languages.

***

Read Part One of our book club list and catch up on our picks for past productions of A Little Night Music, Choice, A Confederacy of Dunces, and Disgraced.

 

You can pick up these books at many local retailers and your local library:

Boston Public Library, Central Branch, Copley Square, 700 Boylston Street, Boston
Trident Café and Booksellers, 338 Newbury Street, Boston
Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard Street, Brookline
Barnes and Noble, Prudential Center, 800 Boylston Street, Boston

 

You can see all of these plays at the Huntington Theatre Company. Tickets for all shows are on sale now!

Read the books, see the plays, and tell us what you think!

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