Welcome to our Book Club Corner, where each month we highlight books new to paperback we think would make perfect picks for your next book club discussion.
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Featured Books of the Month:
It is 1970 in a small town in California. “Bean” Holladay is twelve and her sister, Liz, is fifteen when their artistic mother, Charlotte, takes off to find herself, leaving her girls enough money to last a month or two. When Bean returns from school one day and sees a police car outside the house, she and Liz decide to take the bus to Virginia, where their widowed Uncle Tinsley lives in the decaying mansion that’s been in Charlotte’s family for generations. Jeannette Walls has written a deeply moving novel about triumph over adversity and about people who find a way to love each other and the world, despite its flaws and injustices. You’ll discuss themes of family, bullying, memory and injustice.
Kate highly recommends this novel: “Over the time it took me to finish Jeannette Walls’s newest novel, The Silver Star, I experienced that blissful craving to read the book at every possible moment. Wall’s weaves beauty into painful, unjust situations. I found myself feeling as the sisters must have felt; frustrated with horrible injustice, yet amazed by the support and friendship of the community. In the end, I think that the strong emotional connection that Walls establishes both among the characters and between the characters and reader are the foremost aspects of the novel that made it such a heartbreaking, yet supremely enjoyable read.”
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning, best-selling author of The Namesake comes an extraordinary new novel, set in both India and America, that expands the scope and range of one of our most dazzling storytellers: a tale of two brothers bound by tragedy, a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past, a country torn by revolution, and a love that lasts long past death. You’ll discuss responsibility to one’s family and nation, the effects of war, revolution, and the borders created by geography and time.
Khaled Hosseini loved The Lowland. He kept his review simple, saying it’s: “really, really good.”
For more than thirty years, William Adair’s faith in life was based on two indisputable principles: the exceptional good looks and athletic talents of his three daughters and the historical status of his family in their Philadelphia suburb. After suffering a stroke, William wakes up in his hospital bed to realize that his world has collapsed: his children are less extraordinary than he had remembered and his family’s notable history has been forgotten. Rallying to save their father, Diana, Elizabeth, and Isabelle take on the battle for the carriage house that once stood as a symbol of their place in the world. You’ll discuss memory, forgiveness, aging, and how legacy and reputation affects perception.
Charles Ealy of the Austin-American Statesman recommends The Carriage House, the 2014 Statesman Selects pick for March: “Hall probably attracted Oprah’s attention — and will probably attract the attention of many book lovers — because she creates a character-driven tale of a young woman who is struggling to reconcile her past glories with her present-day disappointments. At the same time, she’s dealing with a father who has had a mild stroke, a mother who has Alzheimer’s and two sisters who have a few issues, as well.”
Jonathan Lethem, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and the MacArthur Fellowship whose writing has been called “as ambitious as [Norman] Mailer, as funny as Philip Roth, and as stinging as Bob Dylan” (Los Angeles Times), returns with an epic yet intimate family saga. Rose Zimmer, the aptly nicknamed Red Queen of Sunnyside, Queens, is an unreconstructed Communist who savages neighbors, family, and political comrades with the ferocity of her personality and the absolutism of her beliefs. Her equally passionate and willful daughter, Miriam, flees Rose’s influence for the dawning counterculture of Greenwich Village. Through Lethem’s vivid storytelling we come to understand that the personal may be political, but the political, even more so, is personal. It strikes up conversations about the gap between generations, the politics of personal relationships, and New York.
Julie recommends this book: “Set in Sunnyside, Queens, Dissident Gardens tells the story of Rose Zimmerman and her daughter Miriam from the 1930s to present day. This is not, however, your typical mother-daughter story. Lethem gives you a sharp view of the evolution of leftist revolutionary politics across the decades, from Communism to the Occupy Movement. And he introduces you to a lot of characters. There’s Lenny, who wants the Mets to be names the Sunnyside Proletarians. There’s Cicero, the son of Miriam’s lover. There’s an Irish folksinging husband. There’s all of New York. This just might be my favorite Lethem novel to date.”
Sedaris remembers his father’s dinnertime attire (shirtsleeves and underpants), his first colonoscopy (remarkably pleasant), and the time he considered buying the skeleton of a murdered Pygmy. The common thread? Sedaris masterfully turns each essay into a love story: how it feels to be in a relationship where one loves and is loved over many years, what it means to be part of a family, and how it’s possible, through all of life’s absurdities, to grow to love oneself. You will find out who in your group as the weirdest laugh, try and discuss, then all laugh some more.
Althea recommends this book: “This book is really funny. I’m a big fan of Sedaris’ early work. My mom actually handed me Me Talk Pretty One Day when I was 10 years old, and I read Holidays on Ice most Christmases. It’s been a little while since I’ve connected with one of his books, but this had me laughing on the bus all the way here.”
Featured Wine of the Month:
This month’s recommended wine-to-read-by is a Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc. Packed with crisp gooseberry and tropical fruit, this is an elegant and refreshing beverage for the summer heat. Coupled with a salad, sea food, or even more wine, this is a great bottle to accompany your reading list for the upcoming month.
Featured Book Club Event:
The Rosie Project (fiction; paperback)
Tuesday, June 24 at 7pm
The Rosie Project charmed millions of people all over the world when first released in hardcover. Now in paperback, the international bestselling romantic comedy featuring the oddly charming, socially challenged genetics professor, Don, as he seeks true love. The art of love is never a science: Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially inept professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers. The bestselling romantic comedy has been praised as “…sparkling entertainment along the lines of…When Harry Met Sally,” by NPR. Join us this evening as Graeme Simsion is here to share his delightful novel with us. A perfect evening out for book clubs!