After I wrote the post about the reading habits of TYWKIWDBI visitors, in which the average respondent reported reading 50 books a year, I received a number of interesting emails. Among them was a request from a longtime friend who now attends Trinity Church in Boston.
Among the many things I do at Trinity Church is co-facilitate a reading group that we call Short Fiction on Faith. I advertise it as "the English class you always dreamed of...great literature, great discussion, no papers or tests." Short stories only, and we choose those with content that raise issues of faith and can stimulate discussion of those issues in our own lives.In recent years the group has read selections by Alice Adams, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Sholom Aleichem, Shalom Auslander, James Baldwin, Honore De Balzac, Raymond Carver, Geoffrey Chaucer, Gilbert Keith Chesterton, Pearl Crayton, Alice Elliott Dark, Tim Gautreaux, Andre Gide, Graham Greene, Jim Grimsley, Heinrich Heine, Paul Horgan, Henry James, John L'Heureux, Yi Yun Li, N. Scott Momaday, H. L. Mencken, Flannery O'Connor , Reynolds Price, Philip Roth, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Leo Tolstoy, John Updike, David Foster Wallace, Edith Wharton, Tobias Wolfe, and Dwight Yates.
The stories do not have to be overtly religious, certainly not necessarily Christian - we have read from just about any faith tradition I can think of. We have read stories from classics to contemporary, all the way from Chaucer (The Wife of Bath's Tale from Canterbury Tales) to current fiction from the New Yorker. I like to do a mix of classic and contemporary.
We have been going for 8 or 9 years, and have made our way through a bunch of anthologies and collections. For the past two years or so we have been selecting the stories individually... We have read quite a few Flannery O'Connor stories, and one of my favorite discoveries is "The Great Good Place" by Henry James.
The group is currently on summer break, and the coordinators are requesting suggestions for further reading. My own reading tends to favor nonfiction topics (evident in my recommended books category of this blog), so I may be able to offer them some science fiction stories that would be relevant, but for other short fiction, I'll turn to TYWKIWDBI visitors.
If you have recommendations for the Trinity Church reading group, please leave a message in the Comments with the author's name, the title of the work, and preferably with a sentence or two summarizing why the piece might interest them.
Thanks in advance for your suggestions.