- Summer 2015
- How to Participate
- What to Expect on an MFAH Book Club Tour
- Planning Ahead?
- Past Selections
This is where art and literature meet! Designed for established book clubs—whether formal or informal groups—the MFAH Book Club links works of literature to works of art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
The MFAH Book Club presents three selections per year. Each book:
- Is featured for a four-month period in the fall, spring, and summer
- Is accompanied by a downloadable discussion guide to facilitate group discussions
- Culminates with a docent-led tour at the Museum, scheduled in advance (see below)
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
• Winner: 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
• Finalist: 2014 National Book Award for Fiction
• 10 Best Books 2014: New York Times Book Review
• #1 New York Times Bestseller
Marie-Laure and her father live in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as master of the museum's thousands of locks. When she is 6, Marie-Laure goes blind, and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When Marie-Laure is 12, the Nazis occupy Paris, and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
Meanwhile, in a mining town in Germany, an orphan named Werner grows up with his younger sister. Enchanted by a crude radio they find, Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, and ultimately a special assignment to track the Resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.Top
How to Participate
For book clubs and other groups of six or more confirmed participants:
Read the book. Most MFAH Book Club selections may be purchased at The MFAH Shop, where Museum members receive a discount. Reading copies are also available in the Museum’s Kinder Foundation Education Center and at the Museum's Hirsch Library.
Download the discussion guide to facilitate your conversation. This guide features questions about the book and related works of art in the MFAH collections and exhibitions.
Request a docent-led tour by e-mailing email@example.com—a minimum of 3 weeks in advance—with the following information:
• The name of your group
• The primary organizer's name
• A telephone number and e-mail address
• A specific date and time for your tour
Tours related to Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See are available between May 1 and August 30, 2015, on the following days and times:
Tuesdays, 2 p.m. or 3:30 p.m.
Wednesdays, 2 p.m. or 3:30 p.m.
Thursdays, 10:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m., or 6:30 p.m.
Sundays, 2 p.m. or 3:30 p.m.
Note: If your group meets at a time not included above, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with a request for a specific day and time.
- Look for a confirmation e-mail, within 5 business days, with information about when and where to meet the docent at the Museum.
Questions? E-mail email@example.comTop
What to Expect on an MFAH Book Club Tour
• Docents facilitate the tours, selecting works of art on view at the Museum that connect with the featured book.
• Excerpts from the book are a vital component of these discussion-based tours, so try to bring your copy of the book along.
• Lively discussion of the book and the works of art is highly encouraged.
• The tours last approximately 1 to 1½ hours.
• Camp stools are provided for seating.
• MFAH Book Club tours are free with general Museum admission. MFAH members receive free general admission.
The Fall 2015 selection is An Unnecessary Woman by Lebanese American writer Rabih Alameddine, a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award.
The “unnecessary woman” is 72-year-old Aaliya. Shifting from present to past and back again, she narrates her story of a difficult childhood, short-lived marriage, and long life as a single woman in a culture that has not yet embraced feminism. She lives alone in the city of her birth, Beirut, which is an essential aspect of her identity. Despite the dangers of civil war, Aaliya never left. She ran a bookstore by day and, over 50 years, translated 37 books into Arabic—from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina to W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz—but none of her translations has been published. Aaliya’s life is complicated and paradoxical, but is she “unnecessary”?
“… a meditation on, among other things, aging, politics, literature, loneliness, grief and resilience.”
—New York Times
“Simultaneously a philosophical rumination, a literature class and a cry from the heart . . .”
Tours: September 1–December 31, 2015
Discussion Guide: Available in mid-August
Since the MFAH Book Club's inception, the Museum has featured a wide range of fiction and nonfiction picks. Though tours are not offered for these past selections, discussion guides are available here.
The MFAH Book Club receives generous support from Aggie and Joe Foster.
All Learning and Interpretation programs at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, receive endowment income from funds provided by the Louise Jarrett Moran Bequest; Caroline Wiess Law; the William Randolph Hearst Foundation; The National Endowment for the Humanities; the Fondren Foundation; BMC Software, Inc.; the Wallace Foundation; the Neal Myers and Ken Black Children’s Art Fund; the Favrot Fund; and Gifts in honor of Beth Schneider.Top