Washington DC Chapter
A Literary Club for the Promotion of Learning

Meeting (usually) the Second Saturday of Each Month

Next Meeting: February 8, 2020 (7:00 pm)  The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Hard Times Cafe - College Park, MD

March 2020
Book (meeting 3/14/20):  The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

Did he know about Athenaeum……………..?
"They sit around in taverns and over their cups they pontificate about the talents of writers, condemning each author just as they please, pulling him down through his writings as if they had grabbed him by the hair, while they themselves are safe and out of harm’s way, as they saying goes, because these good men have their whole heads smooth-shaven so that their is not a single hair to grab on to."

by Sir Thomas More in
Utopia, Book 1 (reflections when considering whether or not to publish his book).

Athenaeum Book - March 2009
July 21, 2007 - Meeting in Rockville at the grave site of F. Scott Fitzgerald (Great Gatsby July 2007 Athenaeum Book) in St. Mary's Cemetery
Photos from the gravesite meeting

Evidence that Donn Ahearn's copy of "Of Wolves and Men" (April 2007 Atheneum Book) actually made it to Burkina Faso with Stuart Showalter
Follow this Link


The ground rules for Athenaeum (See Founding Invitation below for more details). 

1) Men only.

2) The book must be an excellent work of literature with historical significance or cultural importance.

3) The enjoyment of God's gifts of good beer, fine cigars, and aromatic pipes are paramount to the fullness of the experience.  (So no wimps who can't handle a puff of smoke in their face, even if they're not cigar aficionados themselves.)

How Books are Selected for Athenaeum
The process by which books are selected is "radically democratic" -- every book that is discussed at Athenaeum has been selected by majority vote.  To ensure this outcome, the following guidelines are followed:
Founding Invitation/Constitution - May 6, 2003


Allow me to extend to you a most solemn invitation to join the inaugural meeting of the Greater DC Chapter of Athenaeum. 

What exactly is that, you ask?  Meaning "a literary club for the promotion of learning," Athenaeum is a tradition with deep historical roots and the simple yet profound premise of men discussing good literature.  Its scope is encompassed in the four B's:  books, brotherhood, brew, and 'baccy. 

Do not presume to refer to Athenaeum as a mere book club, my friends!  Nay, how much different could it be from the slosh-minded, faith-flavor-of-the-month book club in which the Oprah-ites partake?  "As high as the heavens are above the earth...."

The ground rules for Athenaeum are simple.  First, no chicks.  Second, the book must be an excellent work of literature with historical significance or cultural importance.  Third, the enjoyment of God's gifts of good beer, fine cigars, and aromatic pipes are paramount to the fullness of the experience.  (So no wimps who can't handle a puff of smoke in their face, even if they're not cigar aficianados themselves -- which, by the way, I am not.)

The date and time of this first meeting will be Saturday, June 21 at 7:00 p.m.  The location is TBD - not being familiar with the local scene, I need suggestions as to an appropriate pub with lots of good brews on tap, preferably some outdoor seating, and NO blaring music whatsoever. 

As for the book, the inestimable G.K. Chesterton receives the honors for this first selection -- and we might as well start with the classic, "The Man Who Was Thursday."  It's available just about anywhere, online or in stores.  (So for those who need a little hand-holding, the idea is you get the book beforehand, read it, and then we discuss it over beer and smokes.)

All those with the moxie to be a participant in this joyous occasion, please signify by responding to this email.

Literarily yours,


Link to Washington Post Article on DC Athenaeum

Athenaeum Article Version #2

Books We Have Read and Discussed
The Man Who was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton  6/03
Animal Farm  by George Orwell  7/03
Walden  by Henry David Thoreau     8/03
The Picture of Dorian Gray  by Oscar Wilde
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson  10/03
The Iliad  Homer  - 12/03
The Snows of Kilimanjaro & other Short Stories  by Ernest Hemingway 1/04
Go Down Moses  by William Faulkner  2/04
Tale of Two Cities  by Charles Dickens     4/04
The Last Gentleman by Walker Percy   5/04
Brave New World  by Aldous Huxley  6/06
Heart of Darkness & other Short Stories by Joseph Conrad  7/04
Othello  by William Shakespeare  8/04
A River Runs Through It  by Norman Maclean 9/04
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel DeFoe   10/04
The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis  11/04
Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose        12/04
Dharma Bums  by Jack Kerouac      1/05
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance  by Robert Pirsig    2/05
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky  3/05
The Life of Pi   by Yann Martel    4/05
The Last of the Mohicans  by James F. Cooper       5/05
Fear and Trembling  by Søren Kierkegaard  6/05
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin  7/05
Angle of Repose  by Wallace Stegner       8/05
The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown  9/05
At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald  10/05
The Scarlet Letter  by Nathaniel Hawthorne   11/05
The Fountainhead  by Ayn Rand    12/05
The Killer Angels  by Michael Shaara  1/06
The Earth is Enough by Harry Middleton    2/06
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe 3/06
The Confessions  by St. Augustine 4/06
Evening in the Palace of Reason by James Gaines 5/06
Life on the Mississippi  by Mark Twain 6/06
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky 7/06
Jayber Crow  by Wendell Barry 8/06
Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose 9/06
King Lear  by William Shakespeare 10/06
Beowulf   Unknown   Grendel by John Gardner   11/06
Narcissus and Goldmund by Herman Hesse 12/06
Two Years Before the Mast  by Richard Dana 1/07
Dracula   by Abraham Stoker  2/07
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich  by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn   3/07
Of Wolves and Men  by Barry Lopez 4/07
Faust   by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 5/07
Slaughterhouse Five  by Kurt Vonnegut  6/07
The Great Gatsby  by F. Scott Fitzgerald 7/07
The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers 8/07
The Hunchback of Notre Dame  by Victor Hugo  9/07
Pilgrim's Progress  by John Bunyan  10/07
Democracy in America: Volume I   by Alexis DeTocqueville  11/07
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson  12/07
Chesapeake by James Michener   1/08
White Fang and Call of the Wild by Jack London   2/08
1984 by George Orwell 3/08
A Land So Strange  by Andrés Reséndez 4/08
The Lost Horizon by James Hilton 5/08
Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy 6/08
1776 by David McCullough 7/08
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway 8/08
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez  9/08
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck 10/08
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller  11/08
A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass 12/08
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque 1/09
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott 2/09
Utopia by Sir Thomas More 3/09
On the Road by Jack Kerouac 4/09
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee  5/09
Seize the Fire: Heroism, Duty, and the Battle of Trafalgar by Adam Nicolson 6/09
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote 7/09
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard 8/09
Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger 9/09
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy 10/09
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain  11/09
The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy  12/09
The Plague by Albert Camus 1/10
Moby Dick by Herman Melville 2/10
The Good Earth by Pearl Buck 3/10
The Prince by Nicolò Machiavelli 4/10
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas 5/10
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carre 6/10
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by John Krakauer 7/10
Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck 8/10
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift 9/10
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie 10/10
Frankenstein by Mary Shelly 11/10
The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thorton Wilder  12/10
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens  1/11
Abraham Lincoln by James McPherson  2/11
Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas  3/11
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte  4/11
A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis  5/11
Death Comes for the Archbishop by  Willa Cather  6/11
Inferno by  Dante Alghieri  7/11
Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe  8/11
Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman  9/11
Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer  10/11
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens  11/11
City  of God (part 2) by St. Augustine  12/11
Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane  1/12
Common Sense by Thomas Paine  2/12
Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl  3/12
I am Charlotte Simmons: A Novel by Tom Wolfe  4/12
The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper  5/12
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand  6/12
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson  7/12
Something Wicked this way Comes  by Ray Bradbury  8/12
Humboldt’s Gift  by Saul Bellow  9/12
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy  10/12
Selected short stories by Edgar Allan Poe 11/12
Metamorphoses by Ovid  12/12
From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life 1500 to the Present  by Jacques Barzun  1/13
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov 2/13
World in the Balance, the Perilous Months of June - October 1940 by Brooke C. Stoddard  3/13
Steppenwolf  by Hermann Hesse  4/13
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro  5/13
A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor  6/13
The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek  7/13
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare  8/13
Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling  9/13
Epic of Gilgamesh by Unknown  10/13
The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton  11/13
In the Beauty of the Lilies by John Updike  12/13
The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck  1/14
Arabian Nights and Days by Naguib Mahfouz  2/14
Candide by Voltaire  3/14
Kim by Rudyard Kipling  4/14
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende  5/14
Beyond the Hundredth Meridian  by Wallace Stegner  6/14
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius  7/14
The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman  8/14
Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith  9/14
The Sot Weed Factor by John Barth  10/14
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card  11/14
The Dubliners by James Joyce  12/14
‘Til we have Faces  by C.S. Lewis  1/15
Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy  2/15
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole  3/15
O Pioneers! by Willa Cather 4/15
Poilu by Louis Barthas  (translated by Edward M. Strauss)  5/15
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.  6/15
Devices & Desires by P.D. James  7/15
Beyond Good and Evil by Frederich Nietzsche  8/15
Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor  9/15
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown  10/15
To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway  11/15
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow  12/15
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown  1/16
Silas Marner  by George Eliot  2/16
The Art of War by Sun Tzu  3/16
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates  4/16
Winesburg Ohio by Sherwood Anderson  5/16
It's All About Muhammad: A biography of the world's most notorious prophet by F. W. Burleigh  6/16
The Power and the Glory  by Graham Greene  7/16
Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad  8/16
The Republic by Plato  9/16
The Once and Future King by T. H. White  10/16
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann  11/16
Annals of the Former World (first 2 books, of 4), by John McPhee  12/16
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte  1/17
Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis  2/17
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance  3/17
Rabbit, Run by John Updike  4/17
Here I Stand by Roland Bainton  5/17
Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff by H.R. McMaster  6/17
The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese by Michael Paterniti  7/17
Legends of the Fall by Jim Harrison  8/17
Watership Down by Richard Adams  9/17
Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin  10/17
Many Dimensions by Charles Williams  11/17
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson  12/17
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King  1/18
Another Country by Christopher Camuto  2/18
Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury  3/18
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen  4/18
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr  5/18
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne  6/18
The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu  by Joshua Hammer  7/18
Godric by Frederick Buechner  8/18
Theban plays - Antigone, Oedipus the King, and Oedipus at Colonus
by Sophocles  9/18
Next by Michael Crichton  10/18
Grant by Ron Chernow  11/18
Macbeth by William Shakespeare  12/18
The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War by Ben MacIntyre  1/19
Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert D. Putnam  2/19
The Godfather by Mario Puzo  3/19
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair  4/19
The Souls of China  by Ian Johnson  5/19
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien  6/19
The Two Towers
by J.R.R. Tolkien  7/19
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien  8/19
Ulysses by James Joyce  9/19
The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell  10/19
Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev  11/19
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall  12/19
Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero by Kate Clifford Larson  1/20
The Princess Bride by William Goldman  2/20
The Wright Brothers by David McCullough  3/20