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Big Book Club's "What the Whale!"

Our Mission: To read really big books, talk about them online, and cheer each other on when necessary.

Each week librarians Jennie, Megan, Pete and Alex ask and answer questions that come up during our online Sunday night discussion, drop pop-culture references, talk to guest experts, and more.

Previous books: War and Peace (summer 2018); Middlemarch (winter 2019)

The Big Book Club is a production of the Arlington Public Library, Arlington Virginia

Aug 29, 2018


This week's references include:

Waterloo - the upcoming battle in 1815, and the song by ABBA

We think Tolstoy would have liked ABBA's fatalism...

At Waterloo Napoleon did surrender
Oh yeah
And I have met my destiny in quite a similar way
The history book on the shelf
Is always repeating itself
Waterloo I was...

Aug 21, 2018

Which moments have been Pierre's worst? Is Tolstoy an unreliable narrator? Jennie heralds Gossip Girl's value in raising lexile levels! And Alex insists that what the 1812 Moscow fire really needs is zombies.

This week's references include:

Joseph Joffre, commander in chief of the French forces on the Western front...

Aug 15, 2018

Alex is back from Vermont and the gang's all together again! This week we tackle Pierre's near fatal observance of the Battle of Boradino, Tolstoy's retconning of relationships and deepening of his themes, why the serfs wouldn't let Marya leave her estate, and Andrei's dangerous bitey emotions.

References include:

Aug 9, 2018

This week's episode, guest engineered by Pete, covers: plotty-plots, humans humaning, and the contrast between the philosophical aspects of the novel and the character growth. 

References this episode:

What is snuff? According to Encyclopedia Britannica, it's a form of powdered preparation of tobacco used by inhalation...

Aug 2, 2018

A note about the sound - We had to record in a different room this week, which resulted in some funny acoustics and weird occasional noises. And Alex is getting over a cold, so there is occasional coughing...

This week's references include:

J-Lo's green Grammy dress

Brief histories of Russian Ballet and Russian Opera...