Books and Banter

Books and Banter Reading Schedule

Fall 2018- Spring 2019

All Books and Banter discussions are held in the Houston Room at the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, 8000 St. Martin’s Lane at Willow Grove Avenue. Sessions begin promptly at 7:30 p.m., and end by 9:00 p.m. All are welcome at our open discussions.

Participants locate their own copy of the book, borrowing from the Free Library of Philadelphia (various branches) or from the Montgomery County Library system; reading on a Kindle, or buying a used copy.

Monday, September 10, 2018
The River of Doubt; Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey, by Candice Millard.  (2005, 416 p.)
Recommended by Dick Haggard.
After his humiliating election defeat in 1912, Roosevelt set his sights on the most punishing physical challenge he could find, the first descent of an unmapped, rapids-choked tributary of the Amazon.

Monday, October 8, 2018 (Columbus Day holiday)
A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle. (1962, 232 p.)
Recommended by the Rev. Jarrett Kerbel.
Award-winning science fantasy novel for youth.  Meg Murry and her friends become involved with unearthly strangers and a search for Meg’s father, who has disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government.

Monday, November 12, 2018
Code Girls: the untold story of the American women code breakers of World War II, by Liza Mundy. (2017, 416 p.)
Recommended by a local storyteller.
Recruited by the U.S. Army and Navy from small towns and elite colleges, more than ten thousand women served as code-breakers during World War II. While their brothers and boyfriends took up arms, these women moved to Washington and learned the meticulous work of code-breaking. Their efforts shortened the war, saved countless lives, and gave them access to careers previously denied to them.

Monday, December 10, 2018
The Relic Master, by Christopher Buckley. (2015, 380 p.)
Recommended by Polly Stetler, York, PA.
From New York Times bestselling author Christopher Buckley, “one of the funniest writers in the English language” (Tom Wolfe), a compelling and hilarious adventure featuring a sixteenth-century relic hunter and his best friend, Albrecht Dürer, who conspire to forge the Shroud of Turin.

Monday, January 14, 2019
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, by Elisabeth Tova Bailey. (2010, 190 p.) 
Recommended by Chrissa Pedersen.
Autobiographical. Elisabeth contracts a virus while on vacation in the Alps, which compromises her immune system and her whole nervous system. She is left unable to walk and care for herself. While she is convalescing, a friend collects a violet from the woods and a wild snail. Unable to interact with the world at large Elisabeth slows us down to the pace of a snail’s life in her observations. Incredibly beautiful and also many snail facts which are far from boring in this writer’s voice.

Monday, February 11, 2019
Sing, Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward (2017, 289 p.)
Celebrating its 17th year in 2019, One Book, One Philadelphia is a signature event of the Free Library of Philadelphia that promotes literacy, library usage, and citywide conversation by encouraging the entire greater Philadelphia area to come together through reading and discussing a single book. From January 16 to March 13, nearly 100 events and programs will center on the 2017 National Book Award-winning novel, Sing, Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward.

Drawing on Morrison and Faulkner, The Odyssey and the Old Testament, Ward gives us an epochal story, a journey through Mississippi’s past and present that is both an intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle. Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie’s children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise. Sing, Unburied, Sing grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power, and limitations, of the bonds of family.

Monday, March 11, 2019
Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom, by Thomas Ricks (2017, 352 p.)
Recommended by Linda Walters Page.
A dual biography of Winston Churchill and George Orwell, who preserved democracy from the threats of authoritarianism. … In a crucial moment, they responded first by seeking the facts of the matter, seeing through the lies and obfuscations, and then they acted on their beliefs. Together, to an extent not sufficiently appreciated, they kept the West’s compass set toward freedom as its due north.

Monday, April 15, 2018
Foreign Gods Inc., by Okey Ndibe (2014, 330 p.)
Recommended by Michele Belluomini, retired librarian. 
This is a wicked well-written little thriller…and a beautifully complicated character study.  After a very failed (HILARIOUSLY failed, actually) marriage and career, a man goes back to his home country (Nigeria) under the guise of visiting his sister and his ailing mother—but in reality to steal an iconic “war god” idol from his village—to sell to a high-end dealer of Africana in New York. Terrific if a bit uneven in flow.  [this review from]

Monday, May 13, 2018
Confessions of a Pagan Nun; a novel, by Kate Horsley. (2001, 191 p.)
Recommended by Chrissa Pedersen.
When I was reading this, I was certain it was a true story! It put me in the mind and the time when Christianity was replacing paganism in the UK. Through the eyes of a once pagan woman, now nun, how women were subjugated under the new religion. And how fear was used as a tool to kill the old ways. 

Monday, June 10, 2018
Britt-Marie Was Here, by Frederik Backman. (2014, 324 p.)
Recommended by Martha Repman.
Walking away from her loveless marriage and taking a job in a derelict, financially devastated town, 63-year-old Britt-Marie uses her fierce organizational skills to become a local soccer coach to a group of lost children.

Regular Sunday Schedule

8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist
9:15 a.m. worship.together (Eucharist for preschool families)
9:15 a.m. Parish Forum & Christian Education (Kairos)
10:30 a.m. Choral Eucharist

Other Days

Morning prayer is offered at 7:30 a.m. weekdays, in the Mary Chapel.

Silent morning meditation is offered at 8:15 a.m. weekdays, in the Mary Chapel.

Mid-week Eucharist is offered at 12:15 p.m. Wednesdays, in the Mary Chapel.

Compline is offered at 7:00 p.m. on 2nd & 4th Wednesdays, in the Church.

Choral Evensong is offered at 5:00 p.m. on 1st Sundays, Oct.-June, in the Church.

We would love to have you join us.


This Episcopal church is located in the heart of the historic neighborhood of Chestnut Hill, five blocks west of Germantown Avenue at the corner of St. Martin’s Lane and West Willow Grove Avenue.

View Larger Map