The Watermark Challenge

The Watermark Challenge is a seasonal book club and discussion series that focuses on great works of classic literature in the spring, summer, or fall of the year. Past seasons’ selections include Tolstoy's War and Peace, Melville's Moby-Dick, Proust’s Swann’s Way, and the novels of Jane Austen, among others. It's an opportunity for diverse readers to delve into great works of literature, explore the lives of major authors, and enjoy lively discussions.


A Short Introduction to the Watermark Challenge:

1. How would you characterize the Watermark Challenge?

The Challenge is a series devoted to great works and great authors--the books one looks at and says, "That book is on my bucket list... but I don't know just when I'll get around to reading it on my own." It grew out of a desire shared by staff and patrons in 2008 to collectively tackle a new translation of Tolstoy's War and Peace. We loved it and continued on to Jane Austen, Moby-Dick, Dante, Steinbeck, and more.

2. Which book has been the most popular, or caused the most lively discussion, or was noteworthy in any way? Why?

This summer, we read Toni Morrison's novels The Bluest Eye and Beloved, which prompted lively discussions of how literature can deploy beautiful language to depict something horribly uggly--in this case, slavery, racism, and a child's heart-breaking belief in her own unworthiness. Challenge participants brought their different experiences and interpretations to these two structurally--and morally--challenging reads. It was awesome.

3. What might a new member expect when attending the Watermark Challenge for the first time?

The Challenge meets seasonally, meaning that we schedule multiple meetings for a month or two, then take a long break. A new participant can expect a Challenge season to kick off with a presentation on the author's biography and writing style; subsequent meetings focus more on discussion as we read a long work in chunks or devour multiple novels by a single author. It's wonderfully nerdy. The Challenge has always grown out of the ambitious reading interests of the Watermark community. Tell us what books are on your bucket list!

To see an archived list of our past reading selections, click HERE