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!

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