Two Literary Classics and “A Devil in the White City”: Our 2021 Book Club Selections

by Kate Nixon


This year, the National Arts and Crafts Conference will host the annual event virtually on, offering both live events for conference participants to attend and interact with through Zoom as well as pre-recorded events for people to view on their own schedule.

A favorite of the annual conference, the live Book Club discussion groups are a chance for literary enthusiasts to review classics and contemporary novels among their peers. Led by author, professor, and 34-year conference attendee Pat Bartinique, the Book Club selections for 2021 will feature two classics and one modern book by a bestselling nonfiction author.


House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

A Live Zoom discussion on Edith Wharton’s classic novel “House of Mirth” will be scheduled for participants of this February’s National Arts and Crafts Conference on Thursday, February 4 at 4:00pm Eastern Standard Time.

Published in 1905, Edith Wharton’s first best-selling novel, “House of Mirth,” laid bare the moral corruption which plagued America’s upper class during the rising popularity of the Arts and Crafts movement and its call for social and economic reform. Viewing the world through the eyes of the beautiful socialite Lily Bart, the author set out to criticize “a society so relentlessly materialistic and self-serving that it casually destroys what is most beautiful and blameless within it.”


Main Street by Sinclair Lewis

The Live discussion on Sinclair Lewis’ “Main Street” will be scheduled for Thursday, February 18 at 4:00pm Eastern Standard Time.

Published in 1920, the highly-regarded “Main Street” contributed to the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Literature to Sinclair Lewis ten years later. Set in the fictitious small town of Gopher Prairie, Minnesota, “Main Street” remains one of the most famous – and relevant – satires of small-town life and morals. Educated in Chicago, where she is exposed to many extremist views of the Arts and Crafts era reformers, the young heroine Carol Milford reluctantly agrees to move with her new husband to Gopher Prairie.


The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

A Live discussion on Erik Larson’s “The Devil in the White City” is scheduled for Thursday, February 11 at 4:00pm EST

Best-selling author Erik Larson burst onto the contemporary literary scene in 2003 with his spellbinding narrative set amidst the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Honing the genre of historical non-fiction to a razor-sharp edge, Larson weaves the story of a serial killer working in the shadows of the rising World’s Fair buildings through the political intrigue plaguing the efforts of fair designers Danial Burnham and John Root.

Additionally, The Devil in the White City has been turned into a series which will be released through the Hulu streaming service in 2021. Earlier this year, Erik Larson released The Splendid and the Vile, an exploration of Winston Churchill during his first year as Prime Minister in the United Kingdom.



Please see the conference schedule for more information on live group discussions.