May 31, 2014

May 2014

Doug Cooper author of Outside In was able to visit our book club in between jetting to exotic locales around the world.  I feel so lucky he was able to spend time with us.  He shared the breaking news that American Book Fest awarded Outside In with the 2014 International Book Award for Best Literary Fiction.  Congratulations, Doug!  If you haven't had a chance to read it, check out the animated preview.  I hope he will stop in again when his next book is out.

We did a quick round-robin to talk about what everyone else was reading.  Where else can you find a group that covers everything from Mike Mad Dog Adams to Oliver Wendell Holmes?

Steal Like an Artist - Austin Kleon
Where Did You Go Bernadette - Maria Semple
The Girl Who Married an Eagle - Tamar Myers
Wide Awake - Robert Bober
Brendan Prairie - Dan O'brien
Cockroaches - Jo Nesbo
Reading crime stories during Easter in Norway
The Fault in our Stars - John Green
By Its Cover: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery - Donna Leon
"If life had a smell, it would be springtime."
Waiting to Exhale - Terry McMillan
The Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy, Gentleman - Laurence Sterne
A Question of Belief - Donna Leon
The River of No Return - Bee Ridgway
Zealot - Reza Aslan
On Writing - Stephen King
Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life - Karen Armstrong
Past Lives (Elaine will get back to us on the title of the book)
Hunting Shadows - Charles Todd
Loss of Innocence - Richard North Patterson
The Great Dissent - Thomas Healy
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Liberty Defined, 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom - Ron Paul
The Prankster and the Conspiracy - Adam Gorightly
Brilliance - Marcus Davey
Taken At the Flood, The Roman Conquest of Greece - Robin Waterfield
Justinian's Flea - William Rosen
Nexus - Ramez Naam
In the Mirror - Kaira Rouda

From our sister group in OK:


Butler, Katy. Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death
Ferrante, Elena. My Brilliant Friend
Gallant, Mavis. Home Truths
Gwynne, S.C. Empire of the Summer Moon
Hotaling, Ed. Wink: The Incredible Life and Epic Journey of Jimmy Winkfield
McEwan, Ian. Amsterdam; The Comfort of Strangers      
Moriarty, Laura. For the Rest of Her Life
Pollan, Michael. Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation


Packer, George. “Cheap Words: Amazon is Good for Customers. But is It Good for Books?” New Yorker February 17 & 24, 2014 p.67.

Butler, Katy. “What Broke My Father’s Heart.” New York Times June 18, 2010.

Web Links

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:

She adds that she really recommends Orphan Train.

Ron Rash, Serena (2008).  In 1929 newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton arrive from Boston at George’s timber camp in the North Carolina Mountains.  The workers are skeptical about a woman talking an active role in the logging enterprise, but she has great charisma and she soon demonstrates that she can outwork and outsmart any man in camp.  She also encourages her husband to cut out his partners and take over the entire enterprise.  While her strength is admirable at first, eventually what seems to be courage is revealed as ruthless psychopathy.  Not satisfied with clear-cutting huge tracts of what the Secretary of the Interior is attempting to incorporate into Great Smoky Mountains National Park, she sets her sights on exploiting the ungoverned forests of Brazil.  She is oblivious to the strengths and beauties of Appalachian landscape and culture in the Depression but Rash portrays them skilfully.
Nicholas Sparks, At First Sight (2005).  Jeremy Marsh is a 37-year-old Manhattan-based writer for Scientific American who specializes in debunking the paranormal and supernatural, including such things as ghosts, bigfoot and UFOs.  He goes to Boone Creek, NC to investigate ghostly lights in a graveyard.  There he meet and falls in love with Lexie Darnell and three months later he leaves Manhattan and moves to Boone Creek to marry her.  Lexie’s grandmother Doris owns the local restaurant, the social center of the town.  Eventually Doris helps Jeremy to accept that there are some things that are real despite evading scientific explanation.  
John Grisham, The Street Lawyer (1988).  Michael Brock is an associate with a bright future at a giant Washington DC law firm.  The spectacular opening sequence of the novel brings him into traumatic contact with the world of DC’s homeless.  He meets Mordechai Green, head of the 14th Street Legal Clinic, and is introduced to the realities of legal and social work on behalf of the homeless – the world of sleep shelters, soup kitchens, and food stamps and the bureaucrats who fail to serve the needs of the individuals they are chartered to assist. Michael and Mordechai join forces against his former law firm in a tense and dramatic attempt to remedy a terrible wrong.  The plot is well structured and gripping.  This is Grisham at his best, before he became formulaic.
Zane Gray, The Mysterious Rider (1921).  This was an unexpected find in my Senior Center’s book exchange.  Respected patriarch Bill Billlaunds lives with his adopted daughter Columbine on White Sands Ranch in the Colorado foothills.  His son Jack is coming home after an absence of some years and Bill asks Collie to marry him and reform him.  Out of a sense of duty Collie agrees, but then she realizes she loves Wilson Moore, a cowboy on the ranch.  The “mysterious rider” Hell-Bent Wade appears and is committed to resolving the love triangle as “Buster Jack” continues to reveal himself (to everyone but his father) as unworthy of Collie.  This is an old fashioned, conventional, and sentimental novel, but Grey’s portrayal of the Old West and mythic characters such as Hell-Bent Wade make up for our exasperation with Collie’s unliberated views.  
Christina Baker Kline, Orphan Train (2013).  This novel skillfully interweaves the stories of two young girls separated by half a century and half a continent.   Molly Ayer is a rebellious, insecure 17-year-old foster child in Spruce Harbor, Maine in 2011.  She is assigned to do community service for attempting to steal a battered old copy of Jane Eyre from the local library.  She goes to work for Vivian Daly, a 92- year-old widow, sorting through her attic full of boxes and trunks.  Gradually the contents of the attic reveal Vivian’s story.  In 1929 in New York City she is orphaned at age 10, taken in by the Children’s Aid Society, and placed on an orphan train to the Midwest.  As Molly gradually learns Vivian’s story, similarities in their experiences emerge.  Both are social outcasts based on their ancestry and shunted from one desperately unfortunate living situation to another.  Vivian is a red-haired Irish immigrant with the foreign name of Niamh.  Molly is a Goth-attired Penobscot Indian. Both girls are repeatedly exploited and abused in their placements.  We learn their histories as they learn one another’s and admire the friendship that develops between them. Kline has done a commendable job of historical research but it does not intrude on the power of the personal histories or strengths of character of these two brilliantly imagined women. 

Dwight in FLA recommends Read, Kids, Read - Frank Bruni   

The chairs are out and you're invited to come over and relax a bit.  See you soon!

No comments:

Post a Comment