On November 19 at 10:00am, the Tuesday Morning Group will discuss The Aviator’s Wife, by Melanie Benjamin. Anne Morrow Lindbergh, shy daughter of an ambassador is starstruck by famous aviator Charles Lindbergh. She finds that she likes to fly, and is thrilled when Lindbergh picks her to be his wife and partner in aviation. She is expected to learn to fly, to navigate, and to put Charles’ wishes ahead of her own. He dislikes media attention, and his fame greatly affects their lives over the years. Anne’s passion to write and her desire for independence make her life with her Charles challenging, as do his political views. A fascinating view of the marriage of two famous, complicated individuals.
On Tuesday, November 26 at 7:00pm, the Tuesday Evening Group will discuss The Roots of the Olive Tree, by Courtney Miller Santo. Five generations of women live in the olive groves of Northern California, where Anna, now 112, longs to be the oldest person in the world. A geneticist studies them, hoping to find the secrets of successful super-agers. Is it the olive oil, their environment, or their genes? The relationships between the generations of women are varied, and the reader learns about their past and the struggles and secrets that bind and divide them. Anna, the eldest, and Erin, the youngest, are the main narrators, but all of the women get a turn while they await the arrival of Erin’s child.
The Crime Readers will meet at 7:00pm at Home Run Inn Pizza in Darien on Thursday, November 21 to discuss The Moving Target, by Ross Macdonald. The Crime Readers is co-sponsored by the Indian Prairie Public Library.
Copies of all of the books are available now at the Reference Desk in the Adult/Young Adult Department.
The Tuesday morning book group will be discussing The River of Doubt by Candice Millard on Tuesday, October 15 at 10:00 a.m. in Group Study Room 2. Candice Millard’s newest book, The Destiny of the Republic was so interesting that we decided to read her earlier book. this is a tale of real-life adventure and exploration, set in the Amazon rain forest in 1913. Former President Theodore Roosevelt, 55, needed a new challenge. He isn’t planning to explore a completely unknown river, but when the opportunity is offered, he agrees, which results in the Roosevelt-Rondon Scientific Expedition to explore and chart the Ria da Duvida, or the River of Doubt. Naturalists from the American Museum of Natural History plan to collect specimens, a travel-writing priest, Father Zahm, helps make arrangements, and a failed explorer, Anthony Fiala, arranges for provisions. At his mother’s urging, Kermit Roosevelt, 24 and in love, reluctantly joins his father’s party. The expedition turns into a real test of endurance, with whitewater, theft, piranhas, and illness being just some of the dangers they faced.
The Tuesday evening book group will discuss Sweet Tooth, by Ian McEwan on Tuesday, October 22 at 7:00 p.m. in the 2nd floor Mahlke Meeting Room. Serena Frome loves literature but is encouraged to study Math at Cambridge. When she graduates in 1972, she is recruited by a professor for MI-5. The Cold War is ongoing, and her assignment is to help encourage and fund writers whose views are politically correct.
The Crime Readers will be discussing The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler on Thursday, October 17 at 7:00 p.m. at Home Run Inn Pizza in Darien. This book group is co-sponsored by the Indian Prairie Public Library.
Copies of all three titles are available now at the Reference Desk.
Most of the books on this list are favorites from discussions held at the library between 2007 and 2013. A few of the titles are books we haven’t discussed yet, but will soon and are potential favorites. Not every title will appeal to all readers, but all will promote lively discussions. Brenda
Chevalier, Tracy. The Last Runaway
Coomer, Joe. Pocketful of Names
deWitt, Patrick. The Sisters Brothers
Doig, Ivan. The Whistling Season
Donnelly, Jennifer. A Northern Light
Dunant, Sarah. Sacred Hearts
Erdrich, Louise. The Round House
Follett, Ken. Pillars of the Earth
Ford, Jamie. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Gloss, Molly. The Hearts of Horses
Hill, Lawrence. Someone Knows My Name
James, P.D. Death Comes to Pemberley
Joyce, Rachel. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
King, Laurie. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice
Kingsolver, Barbara. Prodigal Summer
Larsson, Stieg. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
McLain, Paula. The Paris Wife
Moon, Elizabeth. The Speed of Dark
O’Nan, Stewart. Last Night at the Lobster
Parkin, Gaile. Baking Cakes in Kigali
See, Lisa. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Shaffer, Mary Ann and Annie Barrows. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Simonson, Helen. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
Stockett, Kathryn. The Help
Trigiani, Adriana. The Shoemaker’s Wife
Vreeland, Susan. Clara and Mr. Tiffany; Luncheon of the Boating Party
Walls, Jeannette. Half Broke Horses
Algeo, Matthew. Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure
Beavan, Colin. No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries he makes about himself and our way of life in the process
Caputo, Philip. The Longest Road: Overland in Search of America from Key West to the Arctic Ocean
Child, Julia. My Life in France
Eggers, Dave. Zeitoun
Goodman, Matthew. Eighty days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World
Hillenbrand, Laura. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Krist, Gary. City of Scoundrels: The Twelve Days of Disaster That Gave Birth to Modern Chicago
Kurson, Robert. Shadow Divers : The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II
Millard, Candice. Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President
Peacock, Nancy. A Broom of One’s Own: Words on Writing, Housecleaning, and Life
Salisbury, Laney & Aly Sujo. Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art
The Tuesday morning book group will be discussing The Round House by Louise Erdrich on Tuesday, September 17 at 10:00 am in Group Study Room 2. This book recently won the National Book Award for Fiction. Here is Brenda’s earlier review.
The Tuesday evening book group will be discussing The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier on Tuesday, September 24 at 7:00pm. For this date only, we will be meeting in the Administrator’s Office, next to the lobby. Tracy Chevalier’s books are well known by book groups, and by readers of historical fiction. Here is Brenda’s review.
The Crime Readers will also begin their discussion schedule in September, meeting every third Thursday at 7:00pm at Home Run Inn Pizza in Darien. This book group is co-sponsored by the Indian Prairie Public Library, which will also be featuring film discussions related to this fall’s books. On September 19, they will be discussing The Postman Always Rings Twice, by James M. Cain.
The Tuesday morning group will be discussing Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain on Tuesday April 16 at 10 a.m.
Susan worked as a corporate lawyer for many years but found herself envious of college classmates who became writers or psychologists. In exploring and writing about introversion, she found her calling. Cain writes about how our current culture favors extroverts at work and in school, how many introverts struggle to find their strengths, and introduces us to successful introverts. As an introvert married to an extrovert, she gives advice on working and living with people of different personality types.
The Tuesday evening group will be discussing the contemporary novel The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce on Tuesday, April 23 at 7 p.m. Harold has recently retired and is all but estranged from his wife Maureen. A letter from a former colleague Queenie upsets Harold and he goes out to mail her a card. The card seems inadequate, so he keeps walking while he thinks about it, and unexpectedly decides to walk the length of England to visit Queenie, without discussing it first with his wife. My review is here.
The Crime Readers will be discussing High Country by Nevada Barr on Thursday, April 18 at 7pm at Home Run Inn Pizza. This group is co-sponsored by the Indian Prairie Public Library.
Copies of all three books are available now at the Adult/Young Adult Reference Desk. Enjoy!
The Tuesday Morning Group will discusss The Destiny of The Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President, by Candice Millard on Tuesday, February 19 at 10:00 a.m. in Group Study Room 2.
At only 260 pages in hardcover (301 pages in paperback), the reader quickly gets immersed in American history. James Garfield, the last president born in a log cabin, was a poor and brilliant young man who became a professor of classics, college president, a colonel in the Union Army, congressman, and an advocate for civil rights. He was at the Republican convention to nominate someone else, and became an unlikely candidate for president. Four months after his inauguration in 1881, he was shot in a train station, and died more than two months later. The impact of his presidency, life, and death was surprising. The reader learns about what really killed the president, and how Alexander Graham Bell was involved in his struggle. My earlier review is here.
The Tuesday Evening Group will discuss The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern on Tuesday, February 26 at 7:00 pm in the 2nd floor Mahlke Meeting Room.
The circus, with its black-and-white striped tents, arrives without warning, opens at sunset and closes at dawn, a circus of dreams. Enter the circus, to read about an ice garden, a magical clock, a bonfire of crimson, scarlet, and white, a fortune teller, and a cloud maze. Two young magicians, Celia and Marco, having designed some of the exhibits and entertainments, are engaged in a years-long duel in which they do not know the rules. Celia’s father and his archrival have educated and trained the young magicians for just this competition. The Night Circus is a fantasy, a historical novel, a love story, and a thriller. For more about the book, visit the author’s website.
The Crime Readers will be discussing Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith on Thursday, February 21 at 7:00 pm at Home Run Inn Pizza in Darien. This group is co-sponsored by the Indian Prairie Public Library.
Copies of the books are available now at the Reference Desk in the Adult/Young Department.
Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill
Aminata Diallo lives with her parents in Bayo, a village in what will become Mali. Her father is a jeweler and owns the only book in the village, a Qur’an. Her mother is a midwife and takes Aminata with her to deliveries in nearby villages and teaches her to assist. One day, when Aminata is 11, they are abducted, and Aminata finds herself forced to walk for three months to the sea. Few children in the 1750s survive the Middle Passage to the American colonies and slavery, but Aminata, now Meena, does, and lives on an indigo plantation near the coast of South Carolina. Smart and good with languages, she learns to read English and delivers babies. Meena also falls in love with Chekura, a boy she met on the journey in Africa. They are often separated, but start a family. Incredibly, Meena ends up in New York, Nova Scotia, the new colony of Freetown, Sierra Leone, and eventually in London, where she speaks to abolitionists about the the truth of slavery. Despite tragedy and malaria, Meena carries on, always a resilient survivor, and finds happiness in the end. We discussed this book at the library recently, and everyone thought the book well worth reading and discussing. Some of us wanted more resolution for Aminata, but found her story, while incredible, quite memorable. The author was inspired by the Book of Negroes, a record of 3,000 black Loyalists who were promised land in Nova Scotia by the British.
In November, the library’s book discussion groups are reading two very different award-winning books:
The Tuesday Morning Group will discuss The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, by Stephen Greenblatt on Tuesday, November 20 at 10:00 a.m.
Nearly six hundred years ago, a short, genial, cannily alert man in his late thirties took a very old manuscript off a library shelf, saw with excitement what he had discovered, and ordered that it be copied. That book was the last surviving manuscript of an ancient Roman philosophical epic, On the Nature of Things, by Lucretius-a beautiful poem of the most dangerous ideas: that the universe functioned without the aid of gods, that religious fear was damaging to human life, and that matter was made up of very small particles in eternal motion, colliding and swerving in new directions.
The copying and translation of this ancient book-the greatest discovery of the greatest book-hunter of his age-fueled the Renaissance, inspiring artists such as Botticelli and thinkers such as Giordano Bruno; shaped the thought of Galileo and Freud, Darwin and Einstein; and had a revolutionary influence on writers such as Montaigne and Shakespeare and even Thomas Jefferson.
Here is Brenda’s review, written after listening to the book on compact disc. The Swerve won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.
The Tuesday Evening Group will discuss
To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis on Tuesday, November 27 at 7:00 p.m.
Historian Ned Henry, suffering from time-lag, finds himself in Victorian England, boating down the Thames river with Terence and Terence’s professor. Professor Peddick studies rare fish, Ned has unknowingly brought a cat back in time from 2057, and Terence has a bulldog named Cyril. Ned meets fellow historian/time traveler Verity and they try to prevent a time paradox that may affect World War II.
In 2057 the wealthy Lady Shrapnell will endow Oxford’s time travel program if the department helps her to research and rebuild Coventry Cathedral, which was bombed in 1940. She is obsessed with the tiniest of details, which is how Ned became time-lagged. Slightly confusing and quite humorous, To Say Nothing of the Dog, which won the Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel, is a good introduction to Connie Willis’ humorous short fiction and her other time travel novels, including The Doomsday Book and Blackout/All Clear.
Also, the Crime Readers are discussing L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy on Thursday, November 15 at 7:00 p.m. at Home Run Inn Pizza in Darien.
The Murder Room by P.D. James
I was looking for a good audiobook to enjoy in the car, and picked a P.D. James mystery because the morning book discussion group is discussing James’ Death Comes to Pemberley at 10am, October 16. Venerable British mystery author James is now 92, and still writing. The series featuring Commander Adam Dalgliesh is lengthy and I’ve just read a few of the books. This title was published in 2003, and was made into a BBC miniseries, which our library owns on DVD. The setting is the privately owned Dupayne Museum, devoted to the inter-war years, 1919-1938. There is an art gallery, a library, and the murder room, which contains exhibits with articles and artifacts from some of the most notorious British murders.
Adam Dalgliesh had recently visited the museum, at a friend’s request. The Dupayne Museum is at a turning point; its lease is expiring and a new lease needs the signatures of all of its trustees. The trustees are the children of the museum’s founder. Caroline is a school principal who keeps a flat in the museum’s building; Marcus has just retired from the civil service, and Neville is a psychiatrist who favors closing the museum.
The first murder is not a surprise, but the similarity to a case from the murder room has the staff and volunteers naturally concerned, especially Tally, who lives in an adjacent cottage on the edge of lonely Hampstead Heath. Dealing with the Dupaynes reminds Detective Inspector Kate Miskin of her working class background, while her colleague Piers Tarrant is being transferred soon. Mostly the mystery centers around the museum and Dalgliesh, who is the sort of man strangers confide in. Dalgliesh is falling in love with Emma, but the demands of New Scotland Yard may have cancelled too many dates for their relationship to survive. The mystery kept my interest, but the memorable characters had me worried for their safety. Charles Keating narrates well.
The Islanders by Christopher Priest
In this Sci Fi imagining of Earth written in a travel guide format, the planet is mostly open water filled with thousands of Islands of all sizes, shapes and weather patterns. The northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere are bisected by this world sized ocean. The hemispheres are where endless wars are waged for one reason or another. The islands are a haven from all the unrest in the two hemispheres. Each featured island has its own stories and characters. As you read through the book you see that some of the stories and characters are related but you would have to read through it twice to really see the connections. The stories are uneven with one about discovering a lethal variety of insect on one island, which is quite engaging, to another about a man working in a theater, which is rather lame and boring.
This book is intriguing at first and then as you get into it, becomes confusing unless you read it all in one sitting and have the memory of an elephant. It kind of works as a group of short stories but the gazetteer function is a distraction. I read it because it was favorably compared to Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I would stick with Mitchell.