History Book Club
The MFAH presents a unique book club inspired by history. Throughout the year, the two MFAH house museums—Bayou Bend and Rienzi—host free discussions about books on life in America and Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. Meetings alternate between the two locations.
Past Events in This Series
Join us for a Zoom chat about At Home: A Short History of Private Life. This engaging book explores a house from room to room, revealing that whatever happens in the world eventually ends up in your home.
Celebrate spring with a glimpse into the 300-year-old Chelsea Physic Garden, London’s oldest botanic garden. Meet up with other book lovers at Rienzi to discuss The Apothecaries’ Garden.
Meet up with other book lovers at Bayou Bend to discuss Love & Hate in Jamestown: John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Start of a New Nation.
Drop by Rienzi to discuss the story of Elizabeth Stuart—the Winter Queen—and her four accomplished daughters, featured in the family saga Daughters of the Winter Queen.
Meet up with other book lovers at Bayou Bend to discuss A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience.
Join other book lovers at Rienzi to discuss Aristocrats: Caroline, Emily, Louisa, and Sarah Lennox, 1740–1832, an engrossing portrait of the lives, loves, and letters of the four Lennox sisters.
Join other book lovers at Bayou Bend to discuss One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson, which narrates the phenomenal string of events occurring during the summer of 1927—starting with Charles Lindbergh’s crossing the Atlantic.
Join other book lovers to discuss The Taste of Conquest, a tale of three legendary cities—Venice, Lisbon, and Amsterdam—and how their pursuit of spice affected economics, social change, and modern trade.
Join other book lovers at Bayou Bend to discuss What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories by Laura Shapiro. Both a biography and a book of culinary history, this collection of short takes on six famous women describes the ways they experienced food.
Join other book lovers at Rienzi to discuss The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72, a look at an 18th-century artist entwined with author Molly Peacock’s own story of self-discovery.
Join other book lovers to discuss Ima Hogg: The Extraordinary Cultural Patron behind the Unusual Name, a fascinating look at philanthropist Ima Hogg and her impact on the cultural climate of Texas.
Join other book lovers at Rienzi to discuss The Diary of Samuel Pepys.
Join other book lovers at Bayou Bend to discuss Eric Foner’s Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad.
History Book Club “The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science”
Join other book lovers at Rienzi to discuss Richard Holmes’s The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science.
Join other book lovers at Bayou Bend to discuss Cokie Roberts’s Capital Dames: The Civil War and the Women of Washington, 1848–1868.
History Book Club “Darjeeling: The Colorful History and Precarious Fate of the World’s Greatest Tea”
Join other book lovers at Rienzi to discuss Jeff Koehler’s Darjeeling: The Colorful History and Precarious Fate of the World’s Greatest Tea.
Discuss the History Book Club’s first pick of the 2017–18 season: Sarah Lohman’s Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine. Lohman profiles individual histories of eight flavors she identifies as quintessentially American.
This event takes place at Bayou Bend’s Kilroy Visitor and Education Center, which remains open as usual.
Meet at Rienzi to discuss the final book-club pick of the 2016–17 season, Victoria Finlay’s Jewels: A Secret History. Finlay traverses the globe, from the pearl rivers of Scotland to the peridot mines on an Apache reservation in Arizona, to find the history behind gems we adore.
Meet at Bayou Bend to discuss Stephen Yafa’s Cotton: The Biography of a Revolutionary Fiber. Yafa provides an intimate look at the history of the world’s most powerful cash crop and how it has shaped empires of the world.
Meet at Rienzi to discuss Janice Hadlow’s A Royal Experiment: The Private Life of King George III. This in-depth look at George III’s private life reveals a compelling and relatable character.
Meet at Bayou Bend to discuss The Kingdom of Matthias: A Story of Sex and Salvation in 19th-Century America by by Paul E. Johnson and Sean Wilentz. Johnson and Wilentz’s narrative of a self-appointed American prophet weaves elements of sex, murder, and mental illness into the history of the Second Great Awakening religious movement in America.
Meet at Rienzi to discuss David Bodanis’s Passionate Minds: Emilie du Châtelet, Voltaire, and the Great Love Affair of the Enlightenment. Bodanis uncovers the fascinating story of du Châtelet and Voltaire’s enthralling liaison, which cultivated a relationship of science and discovery.
Meet at Bayou Bend to discuss the first pick of the 2016–17 History Book Club season. David McCullough’s The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris tells a captivating story of American artists, writers, doctors, politicians, and others who journeyed to Paris from 1830 to 1900, eager to access the knowledge Paris held.