2018 Book Club Schedule

Join other history and literature enthusiasts as you discuss themes, opinions and more! 

Meet: Swannanoa Valley Museum, 223 W State St, Black Mountain OR Black Mountain Library, 105 N. Dougherty St.
(Please check our event schedule for most updated meeting location.)

Time: 11:30 AM; 2nd Friday of each month (except January)
Cost: Free; Open to the public

Friday, February 9, 2018
This Was My Valley, by Fred M. Burnett

Fred M. Burnett published his memoir, This Was My Valley, in 1960 to preserve the stories of the families who made their home in the valley surrounding the North Fork of the Swannanoa River for over 150 years. He begins by explaining, “A motorist speeding on US Highway No. 70 between Asheville and Black Mountain can see the high peaks that surround my valley, and until a few years ago, he could drive into it. Now my valley lies 30 to 105 feet under water. A dam at the lower end has turned the North Fork into a blue lake, and the waters it impounds are piped to Asheville. Where once half a hundred families lived and farmed and cut timber, and went to school and attended church and reared their families, now rarely a voice is heard.” Now a collectible, Burnett’s book recounts tales of his family and neighbors, his beloved hunting dogs, and the valley they loved.

Note: February’s read is special and has been out of print for many years. Most copies will have to be borrowed from the museum. Please contact the museum for details.

Friday, March 9, 2018
Welcome to Our City, by Thomas Wolfe
March’s read is the book club’s first play! From the publisher, “The action of Welcome to Our City centers on a scheme of the town fathers and real estate promoters of Altamont, a small southern city, to snatch up all the property in a centrally located black district, evict the tenants, tear down their houses and shops, and build a new white residential section in its place. When the blacks, under the angry leadership of a strong-willed doctor, resist eviction, a race riot breaks out—shattering both the precarious social balance of the city and the “progressive” dreams of Altamont’s boosters. Building on this plot, Wolfe guides his audience through the back rooms, stately homes, and shanty towns of Altamont, contrasting tradition-bound southern characters with a new breed of life drawn from the vast menagerie of 1920s Main Street America.”

Friday, April 13, 2018
That Bright Land, by Terry Roberts
April’s read is That Bright Land by Terry Roberts. From the publisher, “Set in the summer of 1866, a year after the Civil War has ended, That Bright Land is the story of Jacob Ballard, a former Union soldier and spy who’s been sent south into the North Carolina mountains to find a serial killer who is carrying out his own private war in an isolated community. His journey also takes him home to the mountains where he was born. As he searches for the killer, he meets a war widow who helps him heal his own wounds and make peace with his past. Based on true events, That Bright Land paints a compelling picture of a violent and fragile nation in the wake of the Civil War.”

Friday, May 11, 2018
Pisgah National Forest, A History, by Marci Spencer
Author Marci Spencer will join us to discuss May’s read, Pisgah National Forest, A History. When George Vanderbilt constructed the Biltmore House, he hired forester Gifford Pinchot and, later, Dr. Carl A. Schenck to manage his forests. Over 80,000 of his woodland acres became the home of America’s first forestry school and the heart of the East’s first national forest formed under the Weeks Act. Now comprising more than 500,000 acres, Pisgah National Forest holds a vast history and breathtaking natural scenery. The forest sits in the heart of the southern Appalachians and includes Linville Gorge, Catawba Falls, Wilson Creek Wild and Scenic River, Roan Mountain, Max Patch, Shining Rock Wilderness and Mount Pisgah.


Friday, June 8, 2018
Return the Innocent Earth, by Wilma Dykeman
June’s read is Return the Innocent Earth by Wilma Dykeman. From the publisher, “In a novel even more timely now than when it first appeared, Wilma Dykeman interweaves past and present. The Clayburn family perseveres to create a canning company in the Great Smoky Mountains of the South at the turn of the last century, while in the present, Clayburn descendant Jon struggles against cousin and company-head Stull’s amoral vision. This struggle unfolds during a crisis involving the testing of a new spray to retard growth of vegetables on the vine. Her rich variety of characters dramatizes how society and the individual can achieve a mutual understanding in the context of nature and the community.”


Friday, July 13, 2018
Affrilachia, by Frank X Walker
July’s read is Frank X Walker’s seminal collection of poems, Affrilachia. From the publisher, “Frank X Walker’s path-breaking book of poems Affrilachia is a classic of Appalachian and African-American literature. Walker created the word “Affrilachia” to help make visible the experience of African-Americans living in the rural and Appalachian South. The book is widely used in classrooms and is one of the foundational works of the Affrilachian Poets, a community of writers offering fresh ways to think about diversity in the Appalachian region and beyond.”



Friday, August 10, 2018
No One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie P. Watts
August’s read is No One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts. From the Publisher, “The Great Gatsby brilliantly recast in the contemporary South: a powerful first novel about an extended African-American family and their colliding visions of the American Dream. JJ Ferguson has returned home to Pinewood, North Carolina to build his dream home and to woo his high school sweetheart, Ava. But he finds that the people he once knew and loved have changed, just as he has. Ava is now married, and wants a baby more than anything. The decline of the town’s once-thriving furniture industry has made Ava’s husband Henry grow distant and frustrated. Ava’s mother Sylvia has put her own life on hold as she caters to and meddles with those around her, trying to fill the void left by her absent son. And Don, Sylvia’s undeserving but charming husband, just won’t stop hanging around.”

Friday, September 14, 2018
The Last Ballad, Wiley Cash
September’s read is The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash. From the Publisher, “The New York Times bestselling author of the celebrated A Land More Kind Than Home and This Dark Road to Mercy returns with this eagerly awaited new novel, set in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina in 1929 and inspired by actual events. The chronicle of an ordinary woman’s struggle for dignity and her rights in a textile mill, The Last Ballad is a moving tale of courage in the face of oppression and injustice, with the emotional power of Ron Rash’s Serena, Dennis Lehane’s The Given Day, and the unforgettable films Norma Rae and Silkwood.”

Friday, October 12, 2018

Jacksonland, by Steven Inskeep
October’s read is Jacksonland: President Andrew Jackson, Chief John Ross and the Great American Land Grab by Steve Inskeep, host of NPR’s Morning Edition. From the publisher, “Jacksonland is the thrilling narrative history of two men—President Andrew Jackson and Cherokee chief John Ross—who led their respective nations at a crossroads of American history. Five decades after the Revolutionary War, the United States approached a constitutional crisis. At its center stood two former military comrades locked in a struggle that tested the boundaries of our fledgling democracy. Jacksonland is their story.”


Friday, November 9, 2018
The Road, by John Ehle
November’s read is The Road by John Ehle. From the publisher, “Originally published in 1967, The Road is epic historical fiction at its best. At the novel’s center is Weatherby Wright, a railroad builder who launches an ambitious plan to link the highlands of western North Carolina with the East. As a native of the region, Wright knows what his railway will mean to the impoverished settlers. But to accomplish his grand undertaking he must conquer Sow Mountain, a massive monolith of earth, rock, vegetation and water, an elaborate series of ridges which built on one another to the top. Wright’s struggle to construct the railroad—which requires tall trestles crossing deep ravines and seven tunnels blasted through shale and granite—proves to be much more than an engineering challenge. How Wright confronts these challenges and how the mountain people respond to the changes the railroad brings to their lives make for powerfully compelling reading.”

Friday, December 14, 2018
Bloodroot: Reflections on Time and Place, edited by Joyce Dyer
December’s read is Bloodroot: Reflections on Time and Place by Appalachian Women Writers edited by Joyce Dyer. Kirkus reviews said, “A broad sampling of deeply impressive writings–essays, memoirs, poetry, letters, stories by women from the Southern Highlands. If the word Appalachia conjures little more for you than mining disasters and Walker Evans photos, turn these pages and discover the remarkable storytelling tradition that flourished there, and thrives still. Every one of these 35 pieces goes down smooth as a glass of Georgia peach, even when it bites. A few of the names of the contributors will be familiar Nikki Giovanni and Gail Godwin, Jayne Anne Phillips, whose offering is a terrific out-of-time remembrance of her hometown, circa 1962, but most of the women here (all were born in the 20th century) have toiled long and hard, often in obscurity, their love of words keeping the storytelling art alive and high art it is.”