January 14, 2011

September 2009

Well!  Weren't we the lively group last night!  An HYC member noticed my stack of books and recommended Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.  She's joined us in the email thread and might be able to join us for meetings later.  Welcome, Gay!  Jane Lucal also joined us last night between traveling and moving.  Lucky for me because I got a box of books out of it.  Thank you!

We covered a lot last night so I'll get right to it:

The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown
The 19th Wife - David Ebershoff
My Life in France - Julia Child
Mastering the Art of French Cooking - Julia Child
The Sugar Queen - Sarah Addison Allen
Garden Spells - Sarah Addison Allen
Bread Alone - Judith Ryan Hendricks
Julie and Romeo - Jeanne Ray
Rococco - Adriana Trigiani
Big Stone Gap - Adrian Trigiani
***Look out for the series for young adults that she's writing.***
American Heroes - Edmund Morgan
Edgar Sawtelle - David Wroblewski
The Third Reich at War - Richard Evans
Return to Titanic - Robert Ballard
Spandau The Secret Diaries - Albert Speer
Sarah's Key - Tatiana de Rosnay
Song of Survival - Helen Colijn
The End of Empire - Christopher Kelly
Songs for the Missing - Stewart O'Nan
Last Night at the Lobster - Stewart O'Nan
Isle of the Dead - Roger Zelazny
Damnation Alley - Roger Zelazny
Lord of Light - Roger Zelazny
Bend Sinister - Vladimir Nabokov
Reading Lolita in Tehran - Azar Nafisi
Lolita - Vladimr Nabokov
While reading Discover magazine, we find that all is not lost with the bee population, stem cell research is good, and that people get more pleasure from giving rather than receiving.  It's a scientific fact!
A History of the Modern World - Paul Johnson
A History of the American People - Paul Johnson
The Third Man Factor - John Geiger
Royal Secrets - Stephen Barry
In the President's Secret Service - Ronald Kessler
Lost in a Book:  The Psychology of Reading for Pleasure - Victor Nell

Since the commute from Maryland is a little long for a book meeting, Mary Lou has been joining us on the email thread.  She sends her recommendations:

I especially love novels with vivid and accurate descriptions of setting, both geographical and historical.  I just finished James McBride's Song Yet Sung (2008), a story of slavery and race relations set on the Eastern Shore of MD during the 1850s.  I will look for his other books, The Color of Water and Miracle at St. Anna.
I also just read Alexander McCall Smith, The No. I Ladies' Detective Agency (1998).  Several in your group have read this.  I look forward to reading more in this series.
Howard Norman, The Northern Lights (1987) is a sort of coming of age novel is set in remote northern Manitoba and featuring a good bit of Cree Indian lore.
I like to read a series in order.  One of my favorite series is set in a fairly remote part of Alaska.  Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak series begins with A Cold Day for Murder (1992) and continues through at least 15 very strong novels.  Kate is a very compelling heroine and the treatment of contemporary Alaskan culture and recent socio-political history is fascinating.
None of your lists have mentioned James Lee Burke or his Dave Robicheaux series.  Although this is crime fiction, it definitely qualifies as literature.  The setting is New Iberia Parish and Bayou Teche, LA.  #1 in the series is The Neon Rain (1987).  My favorite (and one of the most mystical) is In the Electric Mist with the Confederate Dead.  (1993)  Dave is a recovering and self-critical alcoholic Vietnam Vet with a strong moral sense.  These novels shimmer with the history and atmosphere of the LA coast and the plots are inventive and complex.
At the opposite end of the spectrum for mystery fiction are the Ameila Peabody Emerson Egyptian Archeology novels of Elizabeth Peters, set in 1890s - 19-teens Egypt.  Amelia is the narrator and has a properly verbose and overblown Victorian prose style and a tremendous capacity for self-deception, especially where her husband Professor Emerson is concerned.  These are gentle and humorous mysteries, although some folks may not enjoy the style.  The first novel in the series is The Crocodile on the Sandbank (1975) and the series continues through more than 15 novels (and WWI).   Peters has a PhD in Egyptian archeology, so they are quite accurate on that subject.  I'm re-reading them, in  order, and am about half way through.
I forgot to mention a great source for used, new, and surplus books:  Betterworldbooks.com.  They are a sort of consortium of libraries and book dealers from all over.  Huge selection, fast service and FREE shipping.  Plus profits support world literacy.  Great for filling in the gaps in your collection, especially if you want to read a whole series in order as I do. 

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