Baust Literary Society

Do you like to read? Would you like to discuss books with other folks? Do you have any good reads that you would like to suggest for an upcoming read of the month? Everyone is welcome! You don’t have to be a member of the church to join any of our groups.


The book selection for May is “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck

East of Eden

 Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck called East of Eden “the first book,” and indeed it has the primordial power and simplicity of myth. Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel.

Adam Trask came to California from the East to farm and raise his family on the new rich land. But the birth of his twins, Cal and Aaron, brings his wife to the brink of madness, and Adam is left alone to raise his boys to manhood. One boy thrives nurtured by the love of all those around him; the other grows up in loneliness enveloped by a mysterious darkness.

First published in 1952, East of Eden is the work in which Steinbeck created his most mesmerizing characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity, the inexplicability of love, and the murderous consequences of love’s absence. A masterpiece of Steinbeck’s later years, East of Eden is a powerful and vastly ambitious novel that is at once a family saga and a modern retelling of the Book of Genesis. 

The book selection for June is “The Last Jew” by Noah Gordon

The American novelist, Noah Gordon, who died recently in 2021 at the age of 95, has published numerous well researched historical
novels. Among his works is “The Cole Trilogy: “The Physician”, “The Shaman”, and “Matters of Choice.” His historical novels are so well researched that the Society of American Historians awarded him the James Fenimore Cooper Prize, naming Shaman best historical novel of 1991-1992. Our selection for June is a shorter but action packed novel.  It is set in 15th and 16th century Spain during the death-grip of the Spanish Inquisition. It is a story about a young Jew, Yonah Toledano, as he struggles to both stay alive and remain a Jew in a time when the Church and the Crown are trying desperately to rid Spain of all Jews, one way or another. “The Last Jew” won the Que Leer Prize in Spain and the Giovanni Boccavvio Literary Prize in Italy. This book is a great introduction to the novels of Noah Gordon.

Woman pointing to a phone