September 29, 2013

September 2013

So what is the difference between gin and vodka?

We discussed that and more:

Gin A Global History - Leslie Jacob Solmonson
Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce
The Great Santini - Pat Conroy
Tampa - Alissa Nutting
Christian Nation - Frederic Rich
It Can't Happen Here - Sinclair Lewis
Why Americans are Not Taught History - Harper's article by Christopher Hitchens
The Curiosity - Stephen Kieman
Bleeding Kansas - Sara Paretsky
The Murder Room - Michael Capuzzo
Alnwick Castle
James Smithson
Harry Potter
The Habsburghs - Andrew Wheatcroft
Elizabeth the Queen - Sally Bedell Smith
Gertrud Kolmar - Dieter Kuhn

September 22, 2013

August 2013

So pleased to welcome Jane into our group.  Having already read Tampa, she has a leg-up on our October meeting when Alissa Nutting will be joining us.  Looking forward to hearing more of her insights.

Here's what else we discussed:

The Dirty Life - Kristin Kimball
Danube - Claudio Magris
The Black-Out Book - Evelyn August
Royal Secrets - Stephen Barry
Proof of Heaven - Eben Alexander
The Great Degeneration - Niall Ferguson
The Western Reserve - Harlan Hatcher
The Last Original Wife - Dorothea Benton Frank
The House Girl - Tara Conklin
Books by Luann Rice
Love Water Memory - Jennie Shortridge
The Water is Wide - Pat Conroy
Two-Part Inventions - Lynne Sharon Schwartz
The View from Penthouse B - Elinor Lipman
Z A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald - Therese Anne Fowler
The Stench of Honolulu - Jack Handey
Because it's not a book club meeting without Ricky Jay being mentioned:  RICKY JAY
Tampa - Alissa Nutting
Bad Monkey - Carl Hiaasen
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk - Bill Fountain
The Dinner - Herman Koch
U is for Undertow - Sue Grafton
Bleeding Kansas - Sara Paretsky
Keeping Faith - Jodi Picoult
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler
The Fall of Giants - Ken Follett
Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett
Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother - Amy Chua
Biographies of Hermione Lee
The Blue Flower - Penelope Fitzgerald
Some Remarks - Neal Stephenson
Sketches New and Old - Mark Twain
In the Woods - Tana French
On the Razor's Edge - Michael Flynn
The Secret Society - Mathew Aid
After Thermopylae - Paul Cartledge
Biography of Cary Grant - Mark Eliot
Life is a Banquet - Rosalind Russell
Christian Nation - Frederic Rich
Family - Ian Frazier
Charles Curran

From our sister group in OK: 

Lawton Book                                                                   

Sept. 11, 2013

Next meeting will be Thursday, October 10.



Austen, Jane: Emma

Brown, Nathan Lee: Karma Crisis: New and Selected Poems

Frye, Joanne: Biting the Moon: A Memoir of Feminism and Motherhood

Golding, William: Lord of the Flies and An Egyptian Journal

Mak, Geert: Amsterdam and In Europe: Travels Through the Twentieth Century

McCullough, David: The Great Bridge: The Building of the Brooklyn Bridge

McDermott, Andy: The Sacred Vault

Morpurgo, Michael: An Elephant in the Garden

Orwell, George: Down and Out in Paris and London

Smith, Lana: It’s a Book

Thompson, Jim: Rough Neck

Todd, Charles: A Test of Wills and A Lonely Death

Vaillant, John: The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival

Wang, Jack: Cozy Classics: Pride and Prejudice*

 *  Cozy Classics are board books that tell the story in about 12 or 14 words. The series includes: Les Miserables, Moby Dick, War and Peace, Emma, and Oliver Twist


We ARE book people, who meet once a month for dinner and scintillating conversation which turns partly (but only partly!) on books.  That’s who we are.  And National Book Lovers Day is a marvelous tip of the hat to who we are.  But we would be book people even without National Book Lovers Day.  Frantzie Couch


From Mary Lou in MD:

Catherine Coulter, Riptide (2000).  Becca Matlock is being stalked and the NYC police won’t believe her.  She changes her appearance and erases her trail and takes refuge in the small town of Riptide Maine.  We are well into the thriller before the FBI team of Sherlock, Savage, and Max the computer appear on the scene.  Becca is a delightful character.  It takes many twists and turns to unravel this plot. 

Tom Stoppard, Arcadia (1993).  Our fellow guests at the B&B in Niagara-on-the-Lake convinced me it would be a good idea to read this play before seeing it.  I read about half of it beforehand, but then stopped so as not to spoil the suspense.  It is very intricately plotted, shifting back and forth between 1809 and the present, all in the same English country manor.  There’s brilliant dialogue (of course), complex mathematical theory, literary allusions, and plenty of mystery.  It reads very well, also. 

Maeve Binchy, Whitethorn Woods (2006).  The small town of Rossmore, Ireland is in considerable civic conflict over the proposal to build a bypass highway.  Speculators are attempting to buy up land.  Impoverished farmers are bargaining for the best prices.  Townspeople who believe they or members of their family have been aided by St. Anne after praying at her statue by the spring in the wood vigorously oppose the road that would wipe out the wood and the shrine, Father Brian Flynn is determined to remain neutral in the controversy.  The plot of this novel introduces us to a wide variety of characters whose lives have been influenced by their interactions involving visits to the shrine, although probably not by St. Anne. 

Maeve Binchy, Evening Class (1996).  Aiden Dunne teaches Latin at Mountainview College in a poor section of Dublin and dreams of Italy.  Nora Donaghue was born in Ireland and fell in love with Mario when they were working in London.  Mario is called home to a small town in Sicily for an arranged marriage and to take over the family business.  Nora moves to the village and is Mario’s discrete mistress for many years.  When Mario dies, Nora, now known as Signora, returns to Ireland.  She becomes the beloved teacher of Mountainview’s new evening class in Italian.  The book evolves into a series of interlocking novellas featuring Aiden, Signora, and members of the class. As with most of Binchy’s novels, the fascination resides in the characters. 

Sharyn McCrumb, The Ballad of Frankie Silver (1998).  Sheriff Spencer Arrowood is confined to his home on the North Carolina mountainside, recovering from a bullet wound.  He is brooding about the upcoming Tennessee execution of a man he arrested for murder years ago.  His deputies don’t tell him about a current murder that resembles the case from decades prior.  Arrowood fights boredom by reviewing the century-old case of Frankie Silver.  Seer Nora Bonesteel assists Spencer in resolving the mysteries.   The Appalachian setting is compelling as usual. 


August 15, 2013

July 2013

We had the pleasure of Susanna from our Oklahoma sister club and her friend Nancy from Wooster join us at our July meeting.  Monica even made it from Granville.  It was a festive occasion and I'd like to thank everyone for bringing delicious dishes for the potluck.

Here's what we discussed:

Little Chapel on the River - Gwendolyn Bounds
Works by JoAnna Carl and her Chocolate Mystery series
Karl Rove
Radical: A Portrait of Saul Alinsky - Nicholas Von Hoffman
Mrs. Woolf and the Servants - Alison Light
Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin
Middle C - William Gass
Family - Ian Frazier
Dangerous Inheritance - Alison Weir
Unintended Consequences - Stuart Wood
Ocean Beach - Wendy Wax
The Casual Vacancy - J. K. Rowling
The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith
Seven Houses in France - Bernard Atxaga
The United States of Paranoia - Jesse Walker
Light from a Lone Star - Jack Vance
The View from Penthouse B - Elinor Lipman
Inferno - Max Hastings
Dubliners - James Joyce
Chamber Music - James Joyce
Tiger - John Vaillant
The Golden Spruce - John Vaillant
Happier Endings - Erica Brown
Pearl in a Storm - Tori Murden McClure
Nothing Daunted - Dorothy Wickenden
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baroness Orczy
Caleb's Crossing - Geraldine Brooks
People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks
America's Hidden History - Kenneth Davis
The Girls from Ames - Jeffrey Zaslow
The News from Paraguay - Lily Tuck
The Heist - Janet Evanovich
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie - Ayana Mathis
Summer Girls - Mary Alice Monroe
Beautiful Day - Elin Hilderbrand

 From our sister group in OK:

Lawton Book                                                                   
August 8, 2013
Next meeting will be Wednesday, September 11th, 2013.
Thursday, September 12th Oklahoma Poet Laureate, Nathan Brown, will speak at the CU Library at 7:00 p.m.

Austen, Jane: Northanger Abbey
Baldacci, David: Total Control
Barker, Pat: Regeneration Trilogy
Bezos, MacKenzie: The Testing of Luther Albright; Traps
Bettelheim, Bruno: The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy                            Tales
Brooks, Geraldine: March
Cary, Joyce: Horse’s Mouth; Herself Surprised
Connelly, Michael: The Black Box
Fowler, H.W.: Modern English Usage
Horowitz, Alexandra: Inside of a Dog
Hossieni, Khalad: And the Mountains Echoed
LaVere, David: Looting the Spiro Mounds: An American King Tut’s Tomb
Le Carre, John: Honorable Schoolboy
McCormick, George: Salton Sea*
McCourt, Frank: Angela’s Ashes
McMorris, Jenny: Warden of English: The Life of H.W. Fowler
Pollan, Michael: Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation
Shaffer, Mary Ann and Annie Barrows: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Todd, Charles: A Lonely Death; Test of Wills
Turow, Scott: The Laws of Our Fathers
Vailllant, John: The Golden Spruce: The True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed
Winchester, Simon: Professor and the Madman; Meaning of Everything

*Salton Sea: a shallow, saline rift lake locate on the San Andreas Fault



 The Pope: Scherrey Cardwell talked about the new Pope and how his Jesuit affiliation effects his viewpoint. And he explained the various types of papal pronouncements. The question was raised in terms of his economic views and his statement about gays.

Omni Book Club: Susanna talked about her July 24th visit to the Omni Book Club in Huron, OH, and reported that they are very much like we are – an interesting, interested and terrific group! Please be sure to check their blog for reading ideas and links.

From Mary Lou in MD:

Georgette Heyer, My Lord John (1975).  This is the first and only volume of a planned trilogy intended to cover the House of Lancaster during the period of 1393 to 1435.  The central character is John, Duke of Bedford, younger brother to Henry V.  This novel begins with the childhood years of John and the other children of Henry Bolingbroke (later Henry IV).  It covers roughly the period of Shakespeare’s Richard II and Henry IV Parts I and II.  The volume remained incomplete at Heyer’s death.  She stopped writing it after the crowning of Henry V, with his trusted brother John Duke of Bedford engaged in peacekeeping along the Scottish Border.  The book has a preface by the author’s husband, a comprehensive and much needed list of the multitude of characters by family (Lancaster, York, Gloucester, Mortimer, Percy, etc.), and the Plantagenet family tree.  Even for a reader familiar with the Shakespeare history plays, the story is a bit difficult to follow.  Like Raoul in Heyer’s The Conqueror, John provides the ethical perspective on a world of clever but amoral characters motivated chiefly by power and political intrigue.

Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (2003).  This is indeed a curious novel.  Christopher is a 15-year old autistic boy who undertakes to write a murder mystery novel about the grotesque slaying of a neighborhood dog with a pitchfork.  Christopher cannot lie, so this is a true story.  He cannot stand to be touched and does not understand human behavior or emotions, but he knows that his humming, screaming and other unusual behavior upsets people.  He knows all the prime numbers up to 2062 and chants them to calm himself when upset.  He is gifted in science and mathematics but he does not understand the events he is narrating.  He does nevertheless eventually solve the mystery of the dog’s murder while also revealing to the reader the solutions to other mysteries as well.  This is a fascinating novel.

Shelby Foote, Shiloh (1952).  I would have done better to read a brief history of this Civil War battle before diving into Foote’s novel, but the frontispiece map of the battlefield is quite helpful.  The events of 6 and 7 April, 1862, are narrated by a half-dozen participants in this appallingly bloody battle, both Union and Confederate.  Foote’s Civil War knowledge is of course unparalleled, but excerpts from letters home, recruiting posters, and contemporary publications help bring the characters to life.  The accounts of Forrest’s Cavalry are especially detailed.  The shifting narration is an unusual and effective technique for illustrating how this terrible war was experienced by the soldiers. This one had me singing with The Band, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”

Carl Hiaasen, Bad Monkey (2013).  Like Hiaasen’s other knights errant, Andrew Yancy is provoked to various bizarre, spectacular acts in opposition to the forces of greed, corruption, and exploitation that threaten his paradise that is Florida.  One such act forced him to leave the Miami PD and now another has propelled the Monroe County Sherriff’s Department to transfer him to restaurant inspector.  His disgust with endemic lax sanitation in the food preparation industry makes him lose weight and his diligent enforcement of the code instead of taking the customary bribes increases his disfavor with the County powers that be.  His refusal to accept an accidental death ruling based on a deep sea fisherman tourist’s catch of a severed arm exasperates the Sherriff and it seems unlikely that Yancy will succeed in recovering his job.  Nevertheless he keeps detecting, and leads eventually take him to the Bahamas where yet more greed, corruption and exploitation threaten paradise.  The Bad Monkey of the title is a refugee from a Pirates of the Caribbean movie and assists Yancy in delivering justice to the wrongdoers in Hiaasen’s uniquely hilarious, scatological, improbable and appropriate fashion. 


July 02, 2013

June 2013

It's summer and we have a good mix of reads going on:

The Husband List - Janet Evanovich
And the Mountains Echoed - Khaled Hosseini
Stone Mouth - Iain Banks
The Suitors - Cecil David-Weill
Paris in Love - Eloisa James
Hemingway's Boat - Paul Hendrickson
Flight Behavior - Barbara Kingsolver
I Married You for Happiness - Lily Tuck
Hollyhocks, Lambs and other Passions - Dee Hardie
Church of Scientology - Hugh Urban
Going Clear - Lawrence Wright
The Sinister Pig - Tony Hillerman
Hunting Badger - Tony Hillerman
The Wailing Wind -Tony Hillerman
The Fall of the Roman Empire - Peter Heather
The Great Degeneration - Niall Ferguson
Under the Dome (TV show)
Works by Neal Stephenson
Works by Iain Banks
Pirate Cinema - Cory Doctorow
Works by JMR Higgs
The Brandy of the Damned - JMR Higgs
The Drowned World - JG Ballard
Empire of the Sun (movie)
The Man in the High Castle - Philip K. Dick
Chop Suey - Andrew Coe
The Trial of God - Elie Wiesel
Open Heart - Elie Wiesel
How to Train a Wild Elephant, and other Adventures in Mindfulness - Jan Chozen Bays
Reading Lolita in Tehran - Azar Nafisi
Damned - Chuck Palahniuk
Survivor - Chuck Palahniuk
Night - Elie Wiesel
The Lottery - Shirley Jackson
The Lottery Letters

From our sister group in OK:



Ackroyd, Peter: Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination

Berry, Steve: The King’s Deception

Currinbhoy, Nayana: Miss Timmins’ School for Girls

Ferling, John: Liberty: The Struggle to Set America Free

Mantel, Hilary: Bring Up the Bodies

Marton, Katie: Paris: A Love Story

Punke, Michael: Last Stand: George Bird Grinnell, the Battle to Save the Buffalo, and the Birth of the New West

Scott, Paul: Raj Quartet

Seth, Vikram: A Suitable Boy

Spurling, Hilary: Paul Scott: The Life of the Author of the Raj Quartet

Todd, Charles: A Lonely Death

Wilkerson, Isabel: Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration


NPR: What Kids Are Reading, In School And Out, by Lynn Neary, June 13, 2013

50 Books That Will Change Your Life

From Mary Lou in MD:

DeAnne Blanton and Lauren M. Cook, They Fought Like Demons:  Women Soldiers in the American Civil War (2002).  Extensive research into civil war correspondence as well as the scant official records of distaff soldiers results in a detailed account of the women who disguised themselves as men and enlisted in the Union or Confederate armies.  Some of them followed husbands, brothers or fathers into war.  Others came for the adventure or to escape the limited lives open to females at the time.  The authors’ research revealed about 250 such women, but there were undoubtedly several times this number.  Many remained undetected until they were killed or wounded, and some not even then.  A few were detected only when they gave birth while serving.  (The uniforms were quite baggy.)  Some women, after being discovered and discharged, went elsewhere and enlisted in other units.  The book contains illustrations of a few of these women in both male and female attire and many, many endnotes. 

Mark Twain, Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, As Told by Mark Twain (1895, 1995).  At age 15, Sam Clemens discovered the story of Joan of Arc and became fascinated with her story and with storytelling itself.  After he became an established writer, Twain spent 12 years researching original documents and two years writing the work.  Among other things, he relies on the complete transcripts of the Church’s trials of Joan. Twain chose as narrator Joan’s page and scribe Louis de Conte, a childhood friend now reflecting back on events he witnessed a half century before.  Twain has invented a personality and biography for this name from the historical records.  Another degree of distance is provided by the somewhat officious “translator” who provides a preface and occasional footnotes.  The book was first serialized anonymously in Harper’s Magazine in 1895.  A year later Twain published the work in book form and dedicated it to his wife.  He considered it his most important work.  It is a vivid, inspired, moving and occasionally humorous telling of the familiar story of Joan’s humble childhood, heroic military campaigns, and tragic betrayal and martyrdom.    

Georgette Heyer, The Conqueror (1931).  The conqueror is William, Duke of Normandy of 1066 and all that.  The Prologue is set in 1028 and tells of William’s birth to the mistress of Robert Duke of Normandy. The opening scene is a market and Heyer describes the merchants and their wares in a virtuoso performance of Middle English and Norman French vocabulary.  (It has been a long time since a novelist sent me cheerfully to the dictionary.)  The structure of the novel is chronological in sections titled Beardless Youth, The Rough Wooing, The Might of France, The Oath, The Crown, and Epilogue.  It is William’s story, but the perspective is that of Raoul de Harcourt, who pledges fealty to William when both of them are still “beardless youths.”  Young Duke William shows himself a brilliant politician who brings the feuding Norman nobles under control by policy and fairness as well as by force.  He also is an innovative military tactician who disregards his military advisors, never loses a battle, and first employs archers in battle with France. The battle scenes give Heyer another opportunity to display her facility with obsolete vocabulary as she describes medieval weaponry.  Raoul remains William’s closest companion through all the intrigues and battles, even years later when he disapproves of William’s fixation on the conquest of England.  It is Raoul’s perspective that provides the ethical context for the accounting of historical events.  The characters of both William and Raoul are expertly drawn. 

Thank you all and looking forward to next time!

June 26, 2013

May 2013

After recently meeting Tracy Chevalier at the Berlin Heights library, much of our discussion revolved around her and her work.  It came out during the Q & A at her talk that she doesn't have a research team and that she does it all herself, which gave me a new appreciation of her books.

Here's what else we discussed:

Richard Burton's diaries
Follow the Money  - Steve Boggan
Remarkable Creatures - Tracy Chevalier
American Story - Bob Dotson
This Book is Full Of Spiders - David Wong
John Dies at the End (movie)
Invisible Thread  - Laura Shroff
Blind Side (movie)
A Week in Winter - Maeve Binchy
Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln  - Steven Carter
Wild Berries and Fruits field guide
Auntie Mame - Patrick Dennis
Ripple Effect - Alex Prudhomme
Sex at Dawn - Christopher Ryan
I Have America Surrounded - JMR Higgs
Arctic Rising - Tobias Buckell
Death of Yesterday - MC Beaton
Minibar Gin - Mittie Hellmich
In My Life - Dick Cheney
Paradise - David Schuman
Empire Settings - David Schuman
The Last Runaway  - Tracy Chevalier
Girl with a Pearl Earring - Tracy Chevalier
Gift of Rain - Tan Twan Eng
Garden of Evening Mists - Tan Twan Eng
Hemingway's Boat - Paul Hendrickson
Mrs Queen Takes the Train - William Kuhn

May 15, 2013

April 2013

In April we celebrated World Book Night by giving out free copies of The Language of Flowers to Safe Harbor and other deserving recipients.  Our rousing discussion covered everything from soup to nuts:

Various titles on the philosophy of baking bread
Four Water Salt Yeast - Ken Forkish
The Bread Baker's Apprentice -  Peter Reinhart
Tartine Bread
Poilane Bread
No Knead Bread by Jim Lahey
Homeland - Cory Doctorow
Boing Boing
Little Brother - Cory Doctorow
Invented Religions - Carole Cusack
Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert Heinlein
Coolidge - Amity Shlaes
Mask of the Illuminati - Robert Anton Wilson
Kill Decision - Daniel Suarez
Wild - Cheryl Strayed
Short Stories by Alice Munroe
Short Stories by Eudora Welty
Lives of the Great Composers - Harold Schonberg
Week in Winter - Maeve Binchy
The Storyteller - Jodi Picoult
Arcardia - Lauren Goff
The Art of Fielding - Chad Harbach
The Story of Lucy Gault - William Trevor
Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbery
Farewell, Dorothy Parker - Ellen Meister
Empire Settings - David Schmahmann
Garden of Evening Mists - Tan Twan Eng
Fall of Giants - Ken Follet
Flight Behavior - Barbara Kingsolver
Going Clear - Lawrence Wright
Dianetics - L. Ron Hubbard
Embracing Coincidence - Carol Lynn Pearson

From our sister group in OK:

Lawton Book Bunch

March 14, 2013


Blackwell, Andrew: Visit Sunny Chernobyl: And Other Adventures in the World’s Most Polluted Places

Carson, Benjamin: America the Beautiful

Chang, Jung: Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China

Dahl, Roald: The Witches

Ford, Ford Maddox: Parade’s End and The Good Soldier

Frey, James: Bright Shiny Morning

Horowitz, Alexandra: On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes

Kimmell, James: Trial of Fallen Angels

Olsson, Linda: The Memory of Love

Shaffer, Mary Ann & Barrows, Annie: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Socieity

Wibberly, Leonard: The Mouse that Roared



Short Stories and Essays

Dillard, Annie: “The Chase” from An American Childhood.

Orwell, George: “Shooting an Elephant




Call the Midwife. Pt. 2

Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin

NOVA: Australia’s First 4 Billion Years (Four part series)  
From Mary Lou in MD:
Booknotes April 2013
Leonie Swann, Three Bags Full (2005). This is a peculiar and amusing mystery written from the point of view of a herd of sheep. Their shepherd George turns up dead under mysterious circumstances near a Druid rock. The sheep are nicely differentiated and include Miss Maple, “the cleverest sheep,” Mopple the whale who eats constantly and remembers everything, Othello the black 4-horned ram with a mysterious past in the circus, and Sir Richfield, the aging and wise lead ram. George read to his flock daily, mostly mystery novels, so these are well educated sheep who undertake to solve the mystery of his death. Their understanding of human behavior is limited, peculiar, and amusing but their noses for the bad guys are quite reliable.
Ann Rinaldi, The Secret of Sarah Revere (1995). This novel is for young adults. Sarah is the teenage daughter of the famous Paul Revere and narrates this story of the events from the Boston Tea Party to the beginnings of the American Revolution. The characters both real and imagined include British and Colonial figures, as well as the whole multigenerational Revere family of strong personalities. Tension is provided by conflicts within the family as well as the historical events, Paul Revere’s role in them, and the family’s concern for his safety. We are kept guessing for a long while as to what precisely is Sarah’s “secret.” This novel has plenty to hold the interest of the adult reader.
Thank you and see you next time!

April 02, 2013

March 2013

A lot of our discussion revolved around World Book Night which is April 23.  We're giving away 20 copies of The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, and ideas were thrown about as to what groups and agencies would benefit most from our donation.  We'll also give copies away to individuals who will hopefully be pleasantly surprised.

Here's what else we discussed:

The Code Talker Stories - Laura Tohe
The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen - Syrie James
Heading Out to Wonderful - Robert Goolrick
Reliable Wife - Robert Goolrick
Are We Rome - Cullen Murphy
How Rome Fell - Adrian Goldsworthy
Listen to This - Alex Ross
The Sign of the Four - Arthur Conan Doyle
Winesburg Ohio - Sherwood Anderson
Chamber Music - James Joyce
Free Culture - Lawrence Lessig
Francona:  The Red Sox Years - Terry Francona
Constellation Games  - Leonard Richardson
Homeland - Corey Doctorow
Little Brother - Corey Doctorow
Invented Religions - Carole Cusack
Going Clear - Lawrence Wright
Dying to be Me - Anita Moorjani
The Unexpected Houseplant - Tovah Martin
Outsiders - S. E. Hinton
Tommy's Honor - Kevin Cook
A Visit From the Goon Squad - Jennifer Egan
Yes, Chef - Marcus Samuelsson
Making Artisan Pasta - Aliza Green
Celebrations of Curious Characters - Ricky Jay
Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women - Ricky Jay

From our sister group in OK:

Lawton Book Bunch

March 14, 2013


Benioff, David: City of Thieves

Blackwell, Andrew: Visit Sunny Chernobyl: And Other Adventures in the World’s Most       Polluted Places

Beauvoir, Simone de: The Ethics of Ambiguity

Celine, Louis-Ferdinand: Journey to the End of the Night

Coplin, Amanda: The Orchardist: A Novel

Dahl, Roald: George’s Marvelous Medicine

Ford, Ford Maddox: Parade’s End and The Good Soldier

Gide, Andre: The Counterfeiters

Horowitz, Alexandra: Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know

Keane, Molly: Good Behavior

Kimmell, James: Trial of Fallen Angels

Knowles, John: A Separate Peace

McCarthy, Cormac: All the Pretty Horses

Myers, Walter Dean: Fallen Angels

O’Brien, Tim: The Things They Carried

Salisbury, Harrison: The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad

Sharenow, Robert: The Berlin Boxing Club


Phenomenology, Richard Dawkins, and Genetic Determinism


 The Abolitionists

Call the Midwife (Begins March 31, 2013)

Downton Abbey

Mr. Selfridge (Begins March 31, 2013)

C-SPAN (Channel 77 or 78)

(In conjunction with The White House Historical Society)

The First Ladies (Monday evenings 8:00 Central Time)
From Mary Lou in MD:
Richard Hughes, High Wind in Jamaica (1929). Emily and her brothers and sisters are the children of an English couple living on a decaying plantation in Jamaica.  On her 10th birthday Emily and the other children are swimming in their favorite lagoon when an earthquake occurs.  Thereafter, Emily perceives herself as the remarkable girls who lived through an earthquake.   The hurricane that destroys their house and forces the family to evacuate to England has a much lower level of importance in Emily’s consciousness. So do such subsequent events as trans-Atlantic voyages, piracy, kidnapping and murder.  The most intriguing aspect of this novel is the children’s amoral perspective on characters and events. Since to them all actions of adults are irrational and inexplicable, they are sublimely unscarred by the experiences that adults view as traumatic.   
Jerry Apps, Symbols:  Viewing a Rural Past (2000).  Jerry Apps has published many books of essays and fiction featuring Wisconsin history and culture.  This is a particularly delightful collection.  Each little chapter begins with a sentence or two describing the role of the item or symbol in daily life.  Next Apps tells a persona anecdote about the item.  The chapter ends with a history of the item in rural life.  Topics or “symbols” include lamps and lanterns, weathervanes, clotheslines, woodpiles, draft horses, windmills, dairy cows, depots and trains, mail order catalogs, radios, grist mills, country stores, and country churches.  Apps, with his dry and gentle humor, manages to be nostalgic with becoming sentimental.   
Jerry Apps,. The Travels of Increase Joseph (2003).  Increase Joseph Link always wanted to be a preacher, but he was expelled from Harvard and sent home to his western New York farm.  Several years later, however, he begins preaching his unique brand of agrarian religion, gathers followers who call themselves The Standalone Fellowship, and in 1852 leads them to form a settlement in the wilds of central Wisconsin.  Increase Joseph is a very peculiar character and Apps is a more journalistic than literary writer.   He is, however, an accomplished and gently humorous story teller with an unequaled ability to convey the realities of Midwestern rural life in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  

March 14, 2013

February 2013

February's book discussion was wild and rambunctious right from the start!  Jane and Dean joined us for dinner where topics bold and daring were thrown about.  Our civilized nature took over when we moved our group into the Captain's room.

Here's what we covered:

Into the Forest - Jean Hegland
Flight Behavior - Barbara Kingsolver
Biography of Walter Cronkite - Douglas Brinkley
Fifty Shades of Chicken - FL Fowler
A Visit from the Goon Squad - Jennifer Egan
Outlander Series - Diana Gabaldon
Stockholm Octavo - Karen Engelmann
Little Gale Gumbo - Erika Marks
Survivor - Chuck Palahniuk
Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk
Diary a Novel - Chuck Palahniuk
The Art Forger - Barbara Shapiro
The Husband List - Janet Evanovich
Passing Love - Jacqueline Luckett
Elsewhere - Richard Russo
Help Thanks Wow - Anne Lamott
Tesla - Margaret Cheney
Long Walk to Freedom - Nelson Mandela
Breakfast at Sally's - Richard LeMieux
The Sun Also Rises - Hemingway
Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris
Moveable Feast - Hemingway
Midnight in Paris movie
My Mother was Nuts - Penny Marshall

Anne read this lovely quote from Elsewhere by Richard Russo:

It was from my mother that I learned reading was not a duty but a reward, and from her that I intuited a vital truth:  most people are trapped in a solitary existence, a life circumscribed by want and failures of imagination, limitations from which readers are exempt.

From Pam:

I am reading on the iPad Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier. I wanted The Last Runaway but it was not available. But boy am I glad I got this one. It is fascinating. I went to the internet to find the number of pages in the actual book to compare pages to the ebook and found this youtube interview with TC.

The story is set in Dorset and is about Mary Anning who actually existed. And the story is remarkable. I sat and read far too late because I could not leave the story. Hope to finish today. I am thinking you would all like the book. (Could you guess I felt that way?)

Here's the link to the interview:
Llalan manages a bookstore in Mansfield and hopefully she can visit us one day.  Or we can take a field trip and visit her!
From Mary Lou in MD:
Michael Ondaatje, The Cat’s Table (2011).  The cat’s table is the one farthest from the captain’s table, so this is where the least favored passengers take their meals.   Our narrator, an 11-year old boy, is seated at this table with two other boys and several adults for the voyage from Ceylon to England, where he is to attend school.   His first educators are his table companions, who include a musician, a botanist, and a ship’s engineer, as well as the two other boys with whom he explores the forbidden areas of the ship at all hours.  The experiences and incidents of the voyage lay the foundation for his adult life.  Like The English Patient, this novel is beautifully, poetically written. 
Elizabeth Peters, Naked Once More (1989). Set in the wicked world of New York publishing rather than Peters’ usual setting of Egyptian archaeology, this novel still features a flamboyant detective-heroine.  Jacqueline Kirby, a woman of a certain age, is a successful novelist, a dedicated snoop, and a skilled observer of human nature.  Selected to write the sequel to the best seller of an author who mysteriously disappeared seven years previously, Jacqueline discovers the nastiness of the author’s family and friends and becomes more interested in unraveling the mystery than completing her writing assignment.  Her mixture of unconventional behavior, piercing psychology, sharp tongue, and sound judgment make her a very entertaining detective. 
Clive Cussler, The Chase (2007).  This action novel presents a detective agency’s quest to identify and capture a murdering bank robber in the Rocky Mountain States.  Cussler, as usual, provides plenty of engineering details on the 1906 state-of-the-art machinery used by the detective and the robber – automobiles, motorcycles, and most spectacularly, steam locomotives.  The reader knows the methods and identity of the robber from the beginning and the suspense is based on the painstaking methods of the detective and his colleagues in solving the riddles, chiefly how the robber manages to vanish after each murderous heist. There is plenty of action and tension and a welcome respite from Dirk Pitt’s piercing green eyes and NUMA’s underwater machinery. 
Louis L’Amour, Sitka (1957).  This tale of adventure and romance is woven around the transition of Alaska from brutal exploitation by the Russian-America Trading Company to a Territory of the United States.  The hero, Jean LaBarge, grows up an orphan on the border of a Great Swamp near the Susquehanna in Pennsylvania.  As a teenager he journeys west as a trapper and mountain man, eventually making his way to San Francisco.  He becomes a successful businessman in the fur trade and pursues his interest in the land of Alaska in his spare time.  Eventually he buys a ship and travels there as a trader.  The heroine is a Russian princess and a niece of the Czar.  There are plenty of historical and geographical details and many colorful characters in this conventional but entertaining historical romance.   
Martha Grimes, Help the Poor Struggler (1985).  Grimes, an accomplished author or the British mystery, happens to be an American.  Each of her novels carries the title of an English pug.  This one is a grungy pub in Devon where Freddie, the elderly, arthritic owner, sings along with Elvis on the blaring juke box.  Scotland Yard’s suave superintendent Richard Jury has his first encounter with the irascible, egotistical Devon-Cornwall Division Commander Brian Macalvie.  Jury is not intimidated and his hypochondriacal Sergeant Wiggins finds a recipient for his foul Fisherman’s Friends lozenges. Macalvie, with his aggressive, hardboiled manner, styles himself as infallible but he is haunted by a bloody murder 20 years prior.  Jury’s Chief Superintendent Racer, tormented by the ginger cat Cyril, his elderly, agoraphobic neighbor Mrs. Wasserman, and his aristocratic friend Melrose Plant, who had abdicated hit title of Lord Ardry, all add colorful humor to the tale.  But it is 8-year-old Lady Jessica Mary Allan-Ashcroft who steals the show and leads the detectives to the resolution.
Martha Grimes, The Old Silent (1989).  The pub of the title is in the Yorkshire inn where Superintendent Jury has booked a room to escape briefly between assignments from the harassment of his Chief Superintendent Racer.  Unfortunately, he witnesses a shooting by a mysterious woman who attracted his attention earlier in the day.  She refuses to give any explanation for the murder of her husband to the police or even her attorney.  In searching for an answer, Jury is drawn into the world of jazz, blues, and rock concerts.  Some 8 years previously, the woman’s son was kidnapped and the infallible Macalvie of Devon-Cornwall never solved the case.  With the additions of Sergeant Wiggins, the colorful Long Piddleton contingent led by Melrose Plant, and most compellingly 8-year old Abby and her border collie Stranger, the mysteries ranging from Yorkshire to Cornwall to London eventually are solved. 
From Eva in RI:
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson (I would pair this with her fictionalized autobiography, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit)
Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman
The Mouse and His Child, by Russell Hoban (this is one of my favorite books~ nominally for children, but incredibly complex and really for anyone with a pulse)
There is another by Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker, but that one is more difficult to get people to read because it is written phonetically (looks and sounds worse than it is~ about 5 pages in you adjust and then regularly written stuff starts to look a bit odd... but not for everyone!)

A lot of people are reading Wild, by Cheryl Strayed~ I have that out right now but haven't started it, because I am reading her Tiny Beautiful Things (collection of advice columns she wrote for and love it!

Thanks everyone, and Happy Spring!


January 25, 2013

January 2013

So happy to start the new year with new faces in our group.  Big welcome goes to Pat, Jose and Margaret!

Here’s what we discussed:

Room – Emma Donoghue
Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn  This book came up often in discussion.
And a Bottle of Rum – Wayne Curtis
Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio – Terry Ryan
Peaches for Father Francis – Joanne Harris
White Truffles in Winter – N. M. Kelby
The Lost German Slave Girl – John Bailey
The House at Tyneford – Natasha Solomons
Sweet Tooth – Ian McEwan
Westwind – Ray Ellis & Walter Cronkite
Short stories by T.C. Boyle
Nothing Like it in the World – Stephen Ambrose
Facebook for Grown-ups – Michael Miller
The Panther – Nelson DeMille
Notorious Nineteen – Janet Evanovich
Tecumseh & Brock – James Laxer
Free online courses at Coursera
I, Pencil:  My Family Tree – Leonard E. Read
My Beloved World – Sonia Sotomayor
The Last Runaway – Tracy Chevalier
The Midwife’s Tale – Samuel Thomas
London’s Strangest Tales – Tom Quinn
The Lords of Discipline – Pat Conroy
Mesa Flats Resort – George Lindsey
Are We Rome – Cullen Murphy
Empires and Barbarians – Peter Heather
A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
Cricket on the Hearth – Charles Dickens
The Chimes – Charles Dickens
Universe Next Door – Robert Anton Wilson
Seven Shadows – L. Wayne Benner
The Unincorporated Future – Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin
Beethoven – Maynard Solomon
Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
Medium Raw – Anthony Bourdain
Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway
The Catcher in the Rye – J. D. Salinger
The Old Man and the Sea – Ernst Hemingway
A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition – Ernest Hemingway

From our sister group in OK:

Lawton Book Bunch
January 10, 2013


Massie, Robert: Catherine the Great
Dahl, Roald: Matilda
Caldwell, Gail: Let’s Take the Long Way Home
Parton, Dolly: Dream More
Mandela, Nelson: The Long Walk to Freedom
Brown, Kenny L.: The Italians in Oklahoma
Pound, Ezra: ABC of Reading
Eliot, T.S.: Wasteland
Chevalier, Tracy: Burning Bright
Christie, Agatha: An Autobiography
Ampuero, Roberto: The Neruda Case
Le Carre, John: Our Kind of Traitor


Les Miserables
A Joyful Noise

February Events

Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. Greg Hoepfner’s original musical, The Juries at Cameron’s Recital Hall. (David Fennema, director) Will last approximately one hour. For a reservation call Dr. Hoepfner at 581-2449.

Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. Professor John Morris will present As Close to Christmas as We Could Feel: Poems of Love?. Leslie Powell Gallery 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. Soulful Stories. For further information, please contact Judy Neale or Kristin Herr (581-3450 x9).

From Mary Lou in MD:

Booknotes Jan 2013
Joyce Carol Oates, First Love:  A Gothic Tale (1996).   This creepy little volume is beautifully illustrated with Barry Moser woodcuts.  Josie’s mother Delia, of dubious sexual morals, comes with her daughter to live with her aunt Esther, “a stiff-girdled woman,” in a small town in upstate New York.  Esther’s great nephew Jared Jr. is home from seminary, perhaps recovering from a nervous breakdown.  He is a tyrant to his aunt, an intriguing mystery to 11-year old Josie, and a figure of increasing horror to the reader.    This is an uncomfortable book.
Charlotte Macleod, editor, Mistletoe Mysteries:  Tales of Yuletide Murder (1989).  This collection of largely cozy short stories of the season includes tales by Macleod, Peter Lovesley, Mary Higgins Clark, Sharyn McCrumb, Isaac Asimov, and Marcia Muller, among others.  Many are dryly humorous.  Short stories are ideal when holiday activities interfere with reading time.
Ralph Bradford, Reprieve:  A Christmas Story of 1863 (Washington, D.C., December 1940.)  This slim volume appears to have been privately printed by the author and the illustrator, Lester Douglas.  Jackie Evison is a young boy who travels to Washington with his mother to seek a pardon for his father, a heroic Union soldier imprisoned for dangerous discussions of military strategies in letters to his wife.  While Mrs. Evison waits to see the President, Jackie is befriended by young Tad Lincoln and his playmates.  Although President Lincoln is jealously guarded by his cabinet members Stanton, Seward and Chase, the boys manage to alert the president to the waiting Mrs. Evison, leading to a happy resolution. Lincoln’s fondness for children and his empathy with the plight of the common citizen leave him fortunately unresponsive to the political maneuvering of his cabinet members.   
Megan Mayhew Bergman, “Housewifely Arts,” One Story: Issue Number 142, November 2010. This is a delightful short story published in a gift subscription I received. It has all the elements of the genre:  brevity, focus on single theme (in this instance the nature of grief for the death of a parent), character development, resolution of a conflict.  Bergman does an excellent job of weaving past and present in the consciousness of the narrator.  I am looking forward to my next issue.

Thanks to everyone for a great meeting!  See you next time February 27.