Reading and Literary Conversations

Liz loves to read and share great books. Since 2004, a favorite vehicle for doing this is regularly attending Boston Athenaeum book conversations.

Near the center of this 1883 map, diagonally across Beacon Street from the Massachusetts State House, sits the Boston Athenaeum

Near the center of this 1883 Walker’s Map and still, today, the Boston Athenaeum sits diagonally across Beacon Street from the Massachusetts State House

A lifelong habit of reading great literature offers professional perks, Liz believes, because regular exposure to beautifully crafted poetry and prose cannot help but positively influence a writer, however nuts-and-bolts her professional assignments may sometimes be.

Proust Discussion and Special Studies Groups

Liz is savoring Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time in English translation. Once a month at lunchtime she joins 20 others to discuss about 75 pages of this rich and rewarding novel. The group, led by Proust scholar and Brandeis professor Dr. Hollie Markland Harder, began this round of reading in September 2010 and will wrap things up in May 2015.

A couple of years ago, to celebrate Proust’s 141st birthday, Liz seized the opportunity to blog about her “favorite food writer.”



Literary Conversations

Liz is reading and has read most of the books nominated for Literary Conversations since the spring of 2004. Members of this lively discussion group take turns facilitating discussions on and around democratically nominated books.

Conversations led by Liz centered on:

  • Waguih Gahli’s Beer in the Snooker Club
  • Henry James’ What Maisie Knew
  • Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer
  • Eudora Welty’s The Optimist’s Daughter
  • Dante’s Divine Comedy
  • Graham Greene’s The Comedians

Liz has led Boston Athenaeum Literary Conversations around these books

Physician-Patient Literary Conversation Group–On Liz’s ‘to-do’ list

One day, before long—perhaps as a Patient Family Advisory Council volunteer—Liz would like to design and facilitate a book discussion group for clinicians and patients. Reading possibilities are very nearly limitless, and titles could include poems, short stories, and novellas—Alice Munro’s “Goodness and Mercy,” Seamus Heaney’s “Keeping Going,” Leo Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilytch, Anton Chekov’s “A Medical Case,” William Carlos Williams’ “Old Doc Rivers,” Marcel Proust’s “terminal illness and medical care of the narrator’s grandmother” passages are just a few possibilities that spring to mind.


Alice Munro's "Goodness and Mercy," opening paragraphs

Screen grab of first paragraphs of Alice Munro’s “Goodness and Mercy,” published in The New Yorker, 1989


"The Last Illness," Leo Tolstoy in his bedroom talking with Dr. Makovitski, 1910

“The Last Illness,” Leo Tolstoy in his bedroom talking with Dr. Makovitski, 1910

Image Credits:
Detail of 1883 map of Boston, Boston Public Library, Wikimedia Commons, public domain
Proust On the Shelf, Liz Muir
Literary Conversations titles, Liz Muir
Alice Munro excerpt from “Goodness and Mercy,” screen grab from online New Yorker, Liz Muir
The Last Illness, Tolstoy in His Bedroom, 1910, Wikimedia Commons