Category Archives: Book Club

Book Review: Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

Book Review: Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

written by Hearth Board Member, Nina Earley

Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainer Maria Rilke

90 pages, very quick read 4-6 hours total

I gave this book to my brother as a gift when I first moved away from home; I think he must have been 15 or 16. I’d like to think it had something to do with his decision to study philosophy, and later become a musician and songwriter, though I may be giving myself too much credit. I do, however, absolutely believe that this book could change the course of a young creative life, and I don’t think Rilke realized quite the impact these letters would have. That being said, I never actually read it myself until now, though I always meant to.

While these letters include lots of advice, they can’t be labeled self-help exactly. Rilke has a way with prose, and his words create beautiful glimpses into his own life, which, while filled with creativity, was not always easy. One thing I find astonishing is that he wrote these letters when he was in his late 20s, responding to a teenage student at the same academy he attended when he was younger, connected through a teacher. His advice is eloquent and wise, and quite impressive for a young writer. He does not sugarcoat the difficulties of a writer’s life, but remains encouraging nonetheless.

The book is divided into a short introduction, the 10 letters from Rilke, and a chronicle section which dives deeper into the correspondence. It is a quick read, so I will keep this brief so as not to give anything away. I am looking forward to discussing it with you all at the end of the month.


The Hearth Book Club meets the fourth Wednesday of every month from 7:00-8:30 pm at Arts at the Armory.  Check our book club list to see what we’re reading next and support your local bookstore by buying your copy at Porter Square Books!

Don’t have time to read an entire book each month?  Join us for Hearth to Hearth: An Article Discussion Group on Second Wednesdays at 8:00 pm!

Book Review: Commonwealth

Book Review: Commonwealth

– written by Hearth Ember, Amy Beth Harrison Ann Patchett was someone I already admired before starting Commonwealth. I knew her from Bel Canto, a very memorable read, and then heard the story of how she opened her own bookstore because the last bookstore in her hometown of Nashville closed. Despite being an author rather than aContinue Reading

Book Review: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Book Review: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

written by Hearth Board Member, Nina Earley I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou is a book I had been meaning to read for a long time. It’s easy to put off, I think I might have been worried that I wouldn’t be able to relate to the story and characters, itContinue Reading

Book Review: The Creative Habit

Book Review: The Creative Habit

– written by Hearth Ember, Amy Beth Harrison A great teacher is able to inspire not just those who think and act similarly to themselves, but those who act completely differently. That’s what I keep thinking while reading Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit. Of the authors of the best books I’ve read on creative habitsContinue Reading

Crafting the Hearth Narrative

Crafting the Hearth Narrative

When we were kids, my older sister organized the books in her room in a personalized Dewey Decimal system. Three and a half years younger, my job was to cut all the bits of masking tape to go on the bottom of the book spine so that she could write the appropriate numbers on them.Continue Reading

Book Review: Half of a Yellow Sun

-written by Hearth Member, Marika McCoola A small group met at The Blue Shirt Cafe on Wednesday to discuss Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. We read Adichie’s novel Americanah last year and wanted to read another work by her, hence this month’s selection. Half a Yellow Sun is weighty in many ways:Continue Reading

Book Review: Dept. of Speculation

Book Review: Dept. of Speculation

-written by Hearth Member, Marika McCoola Eight readers gathered this past Wednesday to discuss Jenny Offill’s novel The Dept. of Speculation. This slim, poetic novel, is very much written as stream of consciousness, with the narrator looking at her life and reflecting on the changes to her identity as she tries to figure out herContinue Reading

Book Review: The Tenth of December

Book Review: The Tenth of December

-written by Hearth Member, Marika McCoola Seven people braved the rain last night to come out and discuss George Saunders’ book of short stories The Tenth of December. The book received rave reviews when first published, hence my decision to add it to the bookclub list. I’m also not a huge fan of short stories,Continue Reading

Review: Parable of the Sower

Review: Parable of the Sower

-written by Hearth Member, Marika McCoola On Wednesday, three of us met at The Blue Shirt Cafe to discuss Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. I’d selected the book based on rave reviews I’d heard from others. I was also interested in the book from a historical viewpoint. It’s a post-apocalyptic novel written by aContinue Reading

A review: I thought it was just me (but it isn’t)

I first came across Brene Brown in 2011 through her now infamous TEDtalk, The power of vulnerability.  It struck a chord and in one of my late-night book-ordering binges (which was allowed when I was still a graduate student because it was all for “research”) I ordered Daring Greatly and I Thought It Was Just MeContinue Reading