July / August Book Club

Welcome to the Western Civilization Book Club!

Curated by Hannah Fitzsimmons

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

“If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?”

For the inaugural month of the Western Civilization Book Club, we’ve chosen The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. The story starts in 1969 and centers around four young people who visit a traveling psychic working in New York City’s Lower East Side. From the mysterious woman, each of them learn the date of their death. Throughout the novel, we explore how Klara, Simon, Daniel and Varya spend the following decades, knowing exactly how many days they have left to live.

We are so excited to dive into this book with you guys!

 

Hannah's Review: 3 ½ Stars

 

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

“If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?”

 

The premier book chosen for Western Civilization Book Club was The Immortalists. Chloe Benjamin takes you on an intimate journey following the lives of four siblings, Simon, Klara, Daniel and Varya, who learn the date of their death from a traveling psychic during their adolescence. Although death is a central theme throughout the book, the stories that follow are full of life. Each sibling, though vastly different, take their impending death date with a grain of salt, whether out of fear or disbelief. Page after page, Benjamin has you asking yourself the same question: “If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?”

I have mixed feelings regarding this book. With a distinctive storyline, Chloe Benjamin poses questions regarding morality to her readers through the book’s characters. Important lessons coupled with the mystery of their death date shape each sibling’s journey. The story is split into four parts, one for each of the siblings, and I found myself becoming less interested after Simon and Klara’s stories. However, once I finished the book, I recognized the importance of each part, as all of them came together to complete the story. I enjoyed reading about the constantly changing family dynamics, and how each sibling’s actions impacted not only their own lives, but the lives of their fellow family members. I felt like the book had the platform to explore some of the themes more deeply, but slightly missed the mark.

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions

If you’ve already read the Western Civilization Book Club pick of the month, here are a couple more books we highly recommend!

 

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Les Miserables is a story of ultimate redemption during the French Revolution. The novel follows Jean Val Jean through his struggle and triumph to create a new life for himself post his nineteen year imprisonment. This literary masterpiece will make you cry tears of pain and tears of joy all at the same time; it’s an emotional roller coaster that is an absolute must read.

Just Kids by Patti Smith

Patti Smith’s memoir gives an intimate look into her time spent in New York with Robert Mapplethorpe as a young artist. The pages are filled with poetic, honest storytelling paired with stunning black and white photographs from Smith’s personal collection. For creatives who have always dreamed of pursuing their passions in a big city, this inspirational book is a must-read.



 

Sydney Triplett