Read and Discuss: So Brave, Young, and Handsome


[Editor’s note: Leif Enger’s So Brave, Young, and Handsome is such an incredibly readable book (chapters are rarely more than 3 or 4 pages) that we thought it would be a great idea to read through it as a community in the months before Hutchmoot. I’ve asked a good friend, Julie Silander, to set things up and lead the discussion and I look forward to the conversations to come. You can click here to read my original review of the book, but whether you think it sounds like your kind of story or not, I challenge you to give it a shot; you won’t be sorry. The discussion won’t start for a couple of weeks so you’ve still got time to pick it up from your local library (or support the Rabbit Room by picking it up from the Rabbit Room store). Please welcome Julie to the Rabbit Room and give her a big welcome.]

Discussion Introduction
Week 1: “A Thousand a Day”
Week 2: “The Old Desperate”
Week 3: “Jack Waits”
Week 4: “The 101”
Week 5: “The Fiery Siringo”
Week 6: “The Rarotongans”

You are cordially invited to join the Rabbit Room community as we read So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger. For those who will be attending Hutchmoot in October, this is an opportunity to become more familiar with Enger’s work. If you won’t be making the trip to Nashville, the reading group offers a great way to participate from afar. It’s an invitation to experience truth and beauty not only through story, but also through each other as we read and discuss.

The book is divided into easily digestible parts and beginning on April 22nd, we’ll cover one of those parts each week. A few questions will be posted in order to prompt conversation, but we’ll all share in the heavy lifting as we work through the book. Consider it a virtual mini-moot that extends for weeks.

The Rabbit Room is a relatively new discovery for me. Two years ago, I learned of open spots for Hutchmoot only after the waiting list had been exhausted. I had three days to arrange travel and get my ducks in a row. Although familiar with a few names, when I arrived I had no real connection to anyone other than my roommate. There wasn’t time to pour over the schedule. There wasn’t time to think through and consider which seminars I wanted to attend. There wasn’t time to do the suggested reading.

But for three days in Nashville, my soul was well fed. I returned home with a grateful heart and a yearning for more. In an effort to catch up on missed reading, a small group of us committed to trekking through Dorothy Sayers’ Mind of the Maker together. It’s a dense book, the kind that evokes good intentions—intentions that wane in direct proportion to the number of esoteric references by the author.

I had never been a part of a reading group and didn’t know what to expect. We started our time together as casual acquaintances, at best. Diverse in age, geography, and literary experience, this new community seemed to have little in common. Yet through the following weeks, strangers became friends. Folks posed questions, made observations, and shared personal experiences. As a result, we all worked harder and our reading was much richer than it would have been alone. And as an unanticipated byproduct, we received the greater gift of getting to know one another.

Please consider joining us as we read Leif Enger’s So Brave, Young, and Handsome. The schedule is as follows:

Week of 4/22 A Thousand a Day
Week of 4/29 The Old Desperate
Week of 5/6 Jack Waits
Week of 5/13 The Hundred and One
Week of 5/20 The Fiery Siringo
Week of 5/27 The Rarotongans

“In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets.” C. S. Lewis


  1. Kim F

    Julie, I was one of those that year that couldn’t make the necessary cross-country travel arrangements for the last-minute space at the HM table. In some ways it might have been easier coming without the weeks and months of nervousness typical when stepping into the unknown.

    So excited you will be leading the BYaH reading group. This is one of my favorite books, surely to be made richer by the shared thoughts of this community.

    This is so good.

  2. April Pickle

    Welcome, welcome, welcome, Julie! I was hoping for something like this. And I happen to have the book (unread) sitting in front of me this very moment. Speaking as one whose life was changed by the Flannery O’Connor Summer Reading Club (thank you, Jonathan Rogers and Rebecca Reynolds!), I heartily support this endeavor.

  3. Carrie

    I’m in! I think Saritha and Christine are, too (at least, that’s what they said when I asked if I should order books for them).

  4. Jaclyn

    Wow, you have no idea as what a lifesaver this discussion group comes to me. I’m facing the uncertain landing of a particularly turbulent flight. These dates coincide perfectly with my end journey.

    Just this morning our Daddy and I were chatting, and I realized how essential community is to fully experiencing life. Even in those quiet moments in solitude, what joy is fulfilled in getting to tell someone about it.

    April, I’m so glad that last year’s book discussion went so well. I was so excited about it, and somehow I never participated beyond reading the posts. No more wallflower this year!!

  5. Peter B

    Consider me committed (my family has assumed that for years). What a great way to experience the first Leif of Spring!

  6. Chris Whitler

    Sweet…I just might do this…a way to participate in something mooty without being able to come to the moot! I have read the beautiful “Peace Like a River” but have not read this one. Thanks for continuing to find creative ways to expand the RR community to we who are geographically challenged 🙂

  7. Matthew Benefiel

    I’m in…though you’ve found one of my biggest weaknesses, reading and discussing on a schedule. Mainly just that I tend to get behind, I like reading, I’m just slow. I’m that silent guy in the back of the Sunday school class looking at my toes when the teacher says to only take a copy of the material if you are going to read it. But in the words of Yoda, “No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.” (And yes, I had to look up the quote, my love of star wars can’t overcome my increasingly small amount of memory cache).

  8. Lisa

    Totally in! I’ve read the book before but will look forward to reading it again in the company of like minds! Excited for this!!

  9. JamaRowena

    Sounds wonderful. Always meant to read Peace Like a River, never did. I would love the chance to read this new book of his and discuss it with like minded souls.

  10. Carl A.

    Matthew, I can relate. The library gets me every time… ooh, that looks good, I’ll grab it just in case… Ok, I’ll renew it and then I’ll get to it… Well, maybe next month. In fact, I am grateful that I just finished Peace Like a River and have So Brave, Young, and Handsome waiting to be read. Perfect timing to join in this experience!

  11. Dan R.

    I too just finished going through the Flannery O’Connor summer reading club (after the fact, but still so enlightening and challenging), and was wondering what/who to get into next. This sounds great, and I can’t wait to be able to actually interact in the conversation in (more like)real-time.

  12. Julie Silander

    Friends – Thanks for the warm welcome and for all of the excitement around reading together. For those of you who are concerned about keeping up with the group (Matthew – me too), the schedule was mapped out with you in mind. My hope is that those who tend to be hesitant to speak up will join in the conversation. We’ll all be glad that you did. This is going to be great fun!

  13. Pete Tegeler

    Book is ordered (come one mail, faster!). I couldn’t pass on an opportunity to be connected with you folks.

  14. Chinwe

    Yes! I loved this book and I’m excited to read it again. I won’t be joining you all at Hutchmot, but I couldn’t pass up this chance to engage more with this community.

  15. Julie Silander

    I’ve had a few questions about logistics. For clarification (since there is no Table of Contents), the book is divided into 6 titled sections. Each section contains several short chapters. If you’re budgeting your reading time, the reading for the first few weeks is shorter, with the sections for the last few weeks a bit longer. Every Monday, there will be a post here at the RR to kick off conversation. Looking forward to it!

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