A Look Back at Book Club Picks

Unknown  When I was coordinating a book club years ago, I tried unsuccessfully to incorporate the discussion into my online site – posting reviews of current club picks, encouraging comments from readers. Sadly, not many members used computers to communicate – about books, anyway.  Undaunted, I have posted the year’s picks of the group annually, and it has become a popular click for the curious.  Although it goes back to 2009, someone recently accessed the slate for 2012 – so that’s where I started – and ended with this year’s selections.

The Book Club Slate for 2012 included one of my favorite books – Jane Gardam’s Old Filth, and a reminder of how long Ann Patchett has been popular with State of Wonder on the list.  Skipping over to the Book Club Picks for 2015, I was reminded of my introduction to Maria Semple in Where’s You Go Bernadette?  and Hector Tobar with The Barbarian Nurseries. In The 2016 Club Picks, Kent Haruf’s Our Souls at Night and Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train demonstrated the range of books discussed.  Last year  brought back Ann Patchett with Commonwealth.  The slate for 2018 has one of my favorites – Amor Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow.  

Are any of these on your book club list this year?

2018 Book Club Picks

Monthly Meetings (except November and December)

  1. Handling Sin by Michael Malone
  2. The Hynotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty
  3. Small Great Things by Jody Picoult
  4. The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman
  5. Midnight in Broad Daylight by Pamela Rotner Sakamoto
  6. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  7. The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout
  8. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
  9. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  10. American Wolf by Nate Blakeslee

Another Book Club Plans for Half Year at a Time:

  1. The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith
  2. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
  3. My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
  4. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian/Between the World and Me by Sherman Alexie/Ta-Nehisi Coates
  5. The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain by Maria Rosa Menocal

 

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Cyber Monday Book Shopping

213xNxmerry-christmas-tag.png.pagespeed.ic.LX8pIjf0tHI went a little crazy yesterday.  With all those discounts, free shipping, remarkable book titles, gift wrapping – I could not resist.  Books are one size fits all and no worries about gluten or sugar-free horrors.  The only other item I could think of as a good gift would be coffee, but not everyone likes coffee – so I sent that to myself.

Some say the Cyber Monday discounts will continue through December, and sometimes get better, but I don’t want to think about that.  I’m done.

Tempting books to buy for Christmas gifts:

b5874f4185a54f46986b5caa2797aa33 This is a real book: ” illustrated guide to more than 75 of the world’s most celebrated, rare, and seminal books and handwritten manuscripts ever produced, with discussions of their purpose, features, and creators.”

ea369a9975c541baafee4380916ccbd2For arm chair travelers and those who have been everywhere: “an illustrated account of human movement, travel, exploration, and scientific discovery…”  from the Smithsonian.

bc9626bdb13e4fa9a0a502d90f3a391aRecipes – sounds like fun for someone else’s kids.

9781594204876   Best to read it before someone makes a musical out of it.

01923a9e-b5ae-4635-97c1-c36b74be0a9c  For all your friends reminiscing about another time: “If your funny older sister were the former deputy chief of staff to President Barack Obama, her “charming” (Kirkus), behind-the-scenes political memoir would look something like this!”

 

 

Seven Books Under Two Hundred Pages to Read While the Turkey is Roasting

My mother roasted her Thanksgiving turkey overnight on such a low setting it’s a wonder we all survived, but it was deliciously moist. I always rose at the crack of dawn to start my feast, but today cooks know how to plan.  Articles from Bon Appetit and Real Simple magazines urge making the sides ahead and uncomplicated.  If pumpkin pie is too scary for its crust or soggy middle, I found a recipe for cookies to replace it – click here to see it.

Perhaps you will find yourself with time as you wait for the big bird to finish roasting this Thanksgiving.  Let the others watch football; you can read a short book to put you in the mood to feast.

Click on the titles to find my reviews for seven books under two hundred pages – maybe you’ll finish more than one:

  1. Girl in the Green Raincoat  by Laura Lippman (158 pages)
  2. Mrs. Dalloway  by Virginia Woolf ( 108 pages)
  3. The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald (192 pages)
  4. The Uncommon Reader  by Alan Bennett (128 pages)
  5. The Sense of an Ending  by Julian Barnes  (150 pages)
  6. Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka (144 pages)
  7. The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

happy-thanksgiving-2

 

Three Books Published Today

Not in my library yet but I’ve downloaded the samples on my iPhone, trying to decide which to read first.  They all look good.

  41nPeHMQ9NL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

Since hearing Ann Patchett praise her preview copy this summer, I’ve been waiting for this book of short stories by the famous actor.  According to Ann, he can write too.

 

SevenDaysblog-196x300Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

If a family reunion during the holidays has you apprehensive, the premise of this story may help prepare you.  After returning from disease infested Liberia, Olivia returns to England but must be in quarantine for seven days. This family has never spent that much time in each other’s company and it promises to be quite a Christmas.

 

LastMrsParrish-blog-196x300The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

Psychological suspense with shades of The Talented Mr. Ripley – noone is who you think they are – sounds deliciously thrilling.

 

 

 

 

 

Ask a Librarian

Nancy Pearl, noted National Public Radio (NPR) commentator and former librarian, mentioned her search for plot heavy books and fast-moving stories to read over the summer.  Summer is over where Nancy lives, but it never goes away here, and my need for plot driven books just surfaced.

Reviewing Nancy Pearl’s list for NPR, I found three books.  Only one is in my library system, but I sent away for all three, on my couch potato internet shopping spree (I bought cookies and nuts too).  I hope all meet my expectations.

The books:

shoppingThe first is a murder mystery – Design for Dying by Renee Patrick

In 1937, a young woman named Lillian Frost comes to Hollywood to make her fortune. She’s very beautiful, and like many girls at that time, she wants to be discovered by some famous director who sits next to her at a soda fountain. Then, one of her former roommates is found dead wearing a dress that has been stolen from the Paramount Studios. Lillian recognizes the dress and decides to take on the job of finding out whodunit.

Pearl promises “great fun” as the detectives meet movie stars in their youth – Bob Hope and Barbara Stanwyck among the classic movie greats.  Although the book was published last year, the second in this series, Dangerous to Know, has already been published

Unknown  The second is Lions by Bonnie Nazdam.

Pearl hooked me with her comment: …”fans of Kent Haruf’s novels will find this novel to their liking…”  Although Robert Redford playing Louis Waters,  Haruf’s character lead in the movie version of one of his best books, Our Souls at Night, may have some merit,  I miss Haruf’s writing, and I missed this book when it was published last year.

Lions is the story of the last 11 people who live in a Colorado town; the story focuses on Gordon, and his longtime girlfriend, Leigh, who have for years planned to go away to school and escape the town.  Sounds deliciously ironic.

shopping-1  And finally, a new novel just published and the one hardback in the group, The Widow Nash by Jamie Harrison

When Dulcy’s father dies in 1904, he takes the secret of where his wealth is stashed with him.  Posing as his widow, she sets off on an adventure in Montana to find his fortune.

Pearl says: “What keeps you reading is not just the quality of the writing…but also to find out: Is she going to do this? Can this be successful? Or is she going to be found out? ”   Jean Zimmerman for the New York Times lists The Widow Nash as one of the new novels “depicting valiant women of old America.”

Nancy Pearl says – “I want the pages to turn…”  so do I…and the time to fly…

Related Review:  Our Souls At Night