Named for its founder Dr. Bill Arthur and led by Dr. Kirk Neely, this large and enthusiastically devoted group of literature lovers gathers monthly for an insightful analysis of a variety of good reads. Each month focuses on a different book, and all are welcome for refreshments, fellowship, and stimulating discussion.

Book Selections 2019-2020


Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Textile Town: Spartanburg, South Carolina
By: Betsy Wakefield Teter

In 1816 a pair of Rhode Island brothers stopped their wagons along the Tyger River, cleared away trees and chinquapin thickets, and began construction on a rustic spinning factory. From those humble beginnings arose one of the nation's mightiest textile communities, a place that by the end of the 19th century became known as "the Lowell of the South." Over the course of nearly two centuries more than 100,000 people labored in the red brick cotton mills and modern textile factories in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. Textile Town is their story. One part historical narrative, one part scrapbook, one part encyclopedia, this illustrated volume presents the voices of scholars and blue-collar workers side by side.


Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The Hundred-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared
By: Jonas Jonasson

After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he's still in good health, and in one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn't interested (and he'd like a bit more control over his vodka consumption). So he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey, involving, among other surprises, a suitcase stuffed with cash, some unpleasant criminals, a friendly hot-dog stand operator, and an elephant (not to mention a death by elephant)


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels
By: Jon Meacham

Our current climate of partisan fury is not new, and in The Soul of America Meacham shows us how what Abraham Lincoln called the “better angels of our nature” have repeatedly won the day. Painting surprising portraits of Lincoln and other presidents, including Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and Lyndon B. Johnson, and illuminating the courage of such influential citizen activists as Martin Luther King, Jr., early suffragettes Alice Paul and Carrie Chapman Catt, civil rights pioneers Rosa Parks and John Lewis, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and Army-McCarthy hearings lawyer Joseph N. Welch, Meacham brings vividly to life turning points in American history. He writes about the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the birth of the Lost Cause; the backlash against immigrants in the First World War and the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s; the fight for women’s rights; the demagoguery of Huey Long and Father Coughlin and the isolationist work of America First in the years before World War II.


Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The Battles of Kings Mountain and Cowpens: The American Revolution in the South Backcountry
By: Melissa Walker

The American South is so identified with the Civil War that people often forget that the key battles from the final years of the American Revolution were fought in Southern states. The Southern backcountry was the center of the fight for independence, but backcountry devotion to the Patriot cause was slow in coming. Decades of animosity between coastal elites and backcountry settlers who did not enjoy accurate representation in the assemblies meant a complex political and social milieu throughout this turbulent time.


Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Sympathizer
By: Viet Thanh Nguyen

The Sympathizer is the story of this captain: a man brought up by an absent French father and a poor Vietnamese mother, a man who received his education in life and love in America, but returned to Vietnam to fight for the Communist cause. A man who is a spy and a sympathizer. A man who does not know who he really is. In this stunning and beautifully written novel of betrayal, espionage, and the legacy of the Vietnam War, Viet Thanh Nguyen explores a life between two worlds. Totally unlike the novels or films of the Vietnam War that have preceded it, and with a literary elegance and dark wit, The Sympathizer gives voice to the perspective of a conflicted subversive and idealist, examining a side of the war and its aftermath America has never seen before.


Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Leadership in Turbulent Times
By: Doris Kearns Goodwin

In Leadership, Goodwin draws upon four of the presidents she has studied most closely - Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson (in civil rights) - to show how they first recognized leadership qualities within themselves, and were recognized by others as leaders.

No common pattern describes the trajectory of leadership. Although set apart in background, abilities, and temperament, these men shared a fierce ambition and a deep-seated resilience that enabled them to surmount uncommon adversity. At their best, all four were guided by a sense of moral purpose. At moments of great challenge, they were able to summon their talents to enlarge the opportunities and lives of others.


Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Where Crawdas Sing
By: Delia Owens

For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life—until the unthinkable happens.


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Brave Companions: Portraits in History
By: David McCullough

Here are Alexander von Humboldt, whose epic explorations of South America surpassed the Lewis and Clark expedition; Harriet Beecher Stowe, “the little woman who made the big war”; Frederic Remington; the extraordinary Louis Agassiz of Harvard; Charles and Anne Lindbergh, and their fellow long-distance pilots Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Beryl Markham; Harry Caudill, the Kentucky lawyer who awakened the nation to the tragedy of Appalachia; and David Plowden, a present-day photographer of vanishing America. Different as they are from each other, McCullough’s subjects have in common a rare vitality and sense of purpose. These are brave companions: to each other, to David McCullough, and to the reader, for with rare storytelling ability McCullough brings us into the times they knew and their very uncommon lives.


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

The Shimmigrant
By: Marjy Marjy, our own Marjorie Appiah

When she was little, Obaa Yaa Sasha woke up to the cock crowing at dawn. At age twelve, she became a servant. By thirteen she journeyed to a foreign land.

Debut novel by our own Marjorie Appiah. Marjorie and her family have been very active in First Presbyterian and in the Spartanburg community since they first arrived.

The Shimmigrant is a poignant yet optimistic story about the plight of a young immigrant from Ghana – a compelling story of one’s will to survive against all odds.


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Get in touch with...

Didi Terry // dterry@fpcspartanburg.org