Books and Banter

Books and Banter Reading Schedule

Fall 2017- Spring 2018

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.

FLP = Free Library of Philadelphia (various branches)
MontCo = Montgomery County Library system

Monday, September 11, 2017
For All the Tea in China; how England stole the world’s favorite drink and changed history, by Sarah Rose. 2010, 261 pages.
This remarkable account follows the journey of Robert Fortune, a Scottish gardener, who was sent by the British East India Company to steal China’s tea secrets in 1848. This thrilling narrative combines history, geography, and old-fashioned adventure.

Monday, October 9, 2017 (Indigenous People’s/Columbus Day)
A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles. 2016, 362 pages.
When, in 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors….. [Chosen as a best book of the year by NPR, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Philadelphia Inquirer.]

Monday, November 13, 2017
My Beloved World, by Sonya Sotomayer. 2015, 315 pages.
The first Hispanic-American on the U.S. Supreme Court shares the story of her life before becoming a judge, describing such experiences as her youth in a Bronx housing project, her relationship with a passionately spiritual grandparent, the ambition that fueled her ivy-league education and the individuals who helped shape her career.

Monday, December 11, 2017
Never Caught: the Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge, by Erica Armstrong Dunbar. 2017, 253 pages.
This revelatory account of the actions taken by the first president to retain his slaves (in spite of Northern laws) profiles one of the slaves, Ona Judge, and describes the intense hunt that ensued when she ran away.

Monday, January 8, 2018
The Shepherd’s Life: modern dispatches from an ancient landscape, by James Rebanks. 2015, 293 pages.
A shepherd on a family-owned farm in northern England with a popular Twitter account shares his way of life in words and pictures, bringing to life the landscapes that inspired Beatrix Potter, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. “Captivating… A book about continuity and roots and a sense of belonging in an age that’s increasingly about mobility and self-invention. Hugely compelling.” -Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Monday, February 12, 2018
We are hoping to read and discuss the One Book One Philadelphia selection, which is usually announced in November. If we decide NOT to read that title, then we will go to the next title on our list of runners-up, Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George.

Monday, March 12, 2018
The Underground Railroad; a novel, by Colson Whitehead. Pulitzer Prize, 2017. 306 pages.
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted. Their first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels.

Monday, April 9, 2018
Hillbilly Elegy; a memoir of family and culture in crisis, by J.D. Vance. 2016, 264 pages.
Shares the story of the author’s family and upbringing, describing how they moved from poverty to an upwardly mobile clan that included the author, a Yale Law School graduate, while navigating the demands of middle class life and the collective demons of the past.

Monday, May 14, 2018
A Man Called Ove; a novel, by Fredrik Backman. 2015, 337 pages.
A curmudgeon hides a terrible personal loss beneath a cranky and short-tempered exterior while clashing with new neighbors, a boisterous family whose chattiness and habits lead to unexpected friendship.

Monday, June 11, 2018
Born a Crime: stories from a South African childhood, by Trevor Noah. 2016, 288 pages.
Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Born a Crime is his story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

Regular Sunday Service Schedule: Returns September 24, 2017

8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist
9:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist with music
10:00 a.m. Parish Forum & Kairos
10:15 a.m. worship.together
Holy Eucharist for families with young children
11:15 a.m. Choral Eucharist

Other Days

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

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.

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