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.
Garment of Shadows by Laurie R. King
On October 18, the Crime Readers will be discussing The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, the first of twelve mysteries featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes. Garment of Shadows, just published, is the twelfth book in the series. In 1924, the pair are in Morocco, where Russell has been working on a film. Holmes visits his fifth cousin, the French Resident General of Morocco. Russell is injured and has amnesia, so she misses their planned rendezvous. A mute boy named Idir, English turned Arab brothers Ali and Mahmoud, and the vibrant city of Fez all enliven this adventure. Russell and Holmes try to get the Resident General to meet with rebel leader Abd el-Krim, without getting either party killed. A kidnapping, spies, and betrayal are made more challenging as Russell slowly regains her memory. I had a hard time putting this book down, and really enjoyed the Moroccan setting. For photos of Morocco and some of the characters, visit the author’s Pinterest board. For more books featuring Sherlock Holmes, see this list.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley
will be discussed on Tuesday, September 25, at 7pm. Meet Flavia de Luce, amateur sleuth and aspiring chemist, age 11. The Flavia de Luce mystery series is set in the early 1950s in a small English village, and at Buckshaw, the family estate. Flavia lives with her two older sisters, and her father, an avid stamp collector. Mrs. Mullet, the cook and housekeeper, finds a dead bird on the doorstep with a rare stamp stuck on its beak. Later Flavia hears her father arguing with someone in the garden, and finds a man dying in the cucumber patch. Inspector Hewitt arrests Colonel de Luce, so Flavia, aided by their shell-shocked gardener/handyman Dogger, investigates.
This is the award-winning first book in an ongoing series; see my review of the latest book here. For more about Flavia, visit the author’s website. For a real treat, Jane Entwhistle narrates all of the audiobooks.
Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles
will be discussed on Tuesday, Sept. 18 at 10am to open our fall book discussions. Late 1930s New York City comes to life from the point of view of Russian American Katey Kontent, a secretary from Brooklyn who rooms with Midwestern Evelyn Ross. They meet banker Tinker Grey on New Year’s Eve, 1937, at a jazz club, and both roommates are smitten. Katey’s New York City is full of jazz, art, parties, work, love and loss; partly inspired by the stories of the author’s grandmother. The book is framed by Walker Evans’ photos of subway riders and Tinker’s fascination with George Washington’s Rules of Civility, a booklet of moral and social codes. The trio are involved in an accident that injures Eve, and Tinker feels some guilt and takes care of Eve, even taking her on a cruise to Europe. Katey gets a chance to leave her secretarial job and become a publisher’s assistant, and makes some connections among New York City’s upper class. As the year progresses, the friends grow apart, each charting their own path. Reviewers have compared first novelist Amor Towles’ writing to Edith Wharton, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Truman Capote, but I think he has his own unique voice. George Washington’s rules are at the end of the book, and you can view the subway photos of Walker Evans here. For more about New York City in the 1930s, visit the author’s website.
This summer, the library’s book discussion groups will meet to talk about modern China and the Salem witch trials. On Tuesday, June 26 at 10:00a.m., the morning book discussion group will discuss Country Driving, by Peter Hessler.
Country Driving begins with Hessler’s 7,000-mile trip across northern China, following the Great Wall, from the East China Sea to the Tibetan plateau. He investigates a historically important rural region being abandoned, as young people migrate to jobs in the southeast. Next he spends six years in Sancha, a small farming village in the mountains north of Beijing, which changes dramatically after the local road is paved and Beijing’s auto boom brings tourism. Finally, he turns his attention to urban China, researching development over a period of more than two years in Lishui, a small southeastern city where officials hope that a new government-built expressway will transform a farm region into a major industrial center.
Copies of the book are now available at the Reference Desk.
On Tuesday, July 24 at 7:00p.m., the evening book discussion group will discuss The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, by Katherine Howe. Copies of the book will be available in June.
Harvard grad student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But she can’t refuse when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie’s grandmother’s old house near Salem. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within a 17th century Bible, containing a fragment of parchment with Deliverance Dane written on it. This discovery launches Connie on a quest; to find out who Deliverance was and to find a rare artifact of power: a physick book, a repository for lost knowledge. As the pieces of Deliverance’s harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and she begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem’s dark past than she could have ever imagined.
Come and join us this summer. Brenda