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The Smyrna Reading Group

The Smyrna Reading Group
Meets The First Tuesday* of Every Month
2nd Floor Conference Room - 7:00 PM
* Unless otherwise noted
2018 Upcoming Reading Group Selections

Previous Selections
2005  2006  2007  2008  2009  2010  2011  2012  2013  2014  2015  2016  2017  2018

February 6, 2018

Hidden Figures
by Margot Lee Shetterly

The #1 New York Times bestseller and the basis for the hit Academy Award-winning movie, now available in a beautifully designed, illustrated edition featuring more than two dozen never-before-seen photos.

Hidden Figures is the untold true story of the African-American female mathematicians, "colored computers," at NASA who provided the calculations that helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space, set against the Jim Crow South and the civil rights movement.

Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as "human computers" used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.

Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women. Originally math teachers in the South’s segregated public schools, these gifted professionals answered Uncle Sam’s call during the labor shortages of World War II. With new jobs at the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Hampton, Virginia, they finally had a shot at jobs that would push their skills to the limits.

Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black "West Computing" group helped America achieve one of things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of the heavens.

Starting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Space Race, Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden—four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades as they faced challenges, forged alliances, and used their intellect to change their own lives, and their country’s future.

SOURCE: Copyright © Amazon.com. All rights reserved.

March 6, 2018

Eighty Days
by Matthew Goodman

Goodman deftly re-creates the frenzy surrounding Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s infamous race around the world in 1889. While the adventures of Bly, intrepid reporter for Joseph Pulitzer’s The World, have survived and been embellished over the last century, genteel literary critic Bisland’s story has sadly fallen by the wayside. Goodman corrects that historical omission by interweaving both their journeys as the two women set out in opposite directions, equally committed to the idea of achieving the record for the fastest trip around the world. Inspired by Jules Verne’s fantastical Around the World in 80 Days, Bly confidently expected to top the fictional feat of Phileas Fogg. Determined not to be outdone by Pulitzer, Cosmopolitan magazine commissioned Bisland, who set out one day later, to race against both Bly and time in an effort to cross the figurative finish line first. As a riveted world watched, these two women galloped around the globe via fortitude and an array of both modern and old-style transportation. Urge armchair travelers to hop on board as Nellie and Liz strike a blow for both feminism and the burgeoning Victorian travel industry. --Margaret Flanagan

SOURCE: Copyright © Amazon.com. All rights reserved.

April 3, 2018

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
by Jules Verne

Professor Aronnax, his faithful servant, Conseil, and the Canadian harpooner, Ned Land, begin an extremely hazardous voyage to rid the seas of a little-known and terrifying sea monster. However, the "monster" turns out to be a giant submarine, commanded by the mysterious Captain Nemo, by whom they are soon held captive. So begins not only one of the great adventure classics by Jules Verne, the 'Father of Science Fiction', but also a truly fantastic voyage from the lost city of Atlantis to the South Pole.

SOURCE: Copyright © Amazon.com. All rights reserved.

May 1, 2018

Assorted Selections
by Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway, in full Ernest Miller Hemingway, (born July 21, 1899, Cicero [now in Oak Park], Illinois, U.S.—died July 2, 1961, Ketchum, Idaho), American novelist and short-story writer, awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. He was noted both for the intense masculinity of his writing and for his adventurous and widely publicized life. His succinct and lucid prose style exerted a powerful influence on American and British fiction in the 20th century.

SOURCE: Copyright © Britannica.com. All rights reserved.
 

June 5, 2018

A Man Called Ove
by Fredric Backman

“A charming debut…You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll feel new sympathy for the curmudgeons in your life. You’ll also want to move to Scandinavia, where everything’s cuter.” (People)

“Even the most serious reader of fiction needs light relief, and for that afternoon when all you want is charm, this is the perfect book." (San Francisco Chronicle)

“You will laugh, you will cry, as his heartbreaking story unfolds through the diverse cast of characters that enter his life, all uninvited. You will never look at the grumpy people who come into your life in quite the same way. A very memorable read."
(San Diego Union Tribune, Best Books of 2015)


 

July 10, 2018

Guests on Earth
by Lee Smith

Abandoned as a child upon her mother’s death in New Orleans in the 1930s, Evalina is sent to Highland Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, by her mother’s wealthy lover—a convenient way of dealing with an inconvenient problem. Evalina may be a lot of things—a budding musician, a romantic dreamer—but mentally ill she is not. Yet over time, the mental hospital becomes her home and its staff and fellow patients her family. Celebrated for its unorthodox treatment methods, Highland attracts the penniless and the notorious, and Evalina is influenced by a nearly feral young man and the hospital’s most famous patient, Zelda Fitzgerald. Equally creative, emotive, independent, and adventurous as Zelda, wife of the renowned author F. Scott, Evalina also contradicts society’s standard for female behavior, guaranteeing that no matter how often she escapes or improves, she will always return to Highland. Riding the recurring wave of Zelda-mania, perennially best-selling Smith (Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger, 2010) presents an impeccably researched historical novel that reveals the early twentieth century’s antediluvian attitudes toward mental health and women’s independence. --Carol Haggas

SOURCE: Copyright © Amazon.com. All rights reserved.
  

August 7, 2018

Stones from the River
by Ursula Hegi

Oprah Book Club® Selection, February 1997: Ursula Hegi's Stones from the River clamors for comparisons to Gunter Grass's The Tin Drum; her protagonist Trudi Montag--like the unforgettable Oskar Mazerath--is a dwarf living in Germany during the two World Wars. To its credit, Stones does not wilt from the comparison. Hegi's book has a distinctive, appealing flavor of its own. Stone's characters are off-center enough to hold your attention despite the inevitable dominance of the setting: There's Trudi's mother, who slowly goes insane living in an "earth nest" beneath the family house; Trudi's best friend Georg, whose parents dress him as the girl they always wanted; and, of course, Trudi herself, whose condition dooms her to long for an impossible normalcy. Futhermore, the reader's inevitable sympathy for Trudi, the dwarf, heightens the true grotesqueness of Nazi Germany. Stones from the River is a nightmare journey with an unforgettable guide.

SOURCE: Copyright © Amazon.com. All rights reserved.

September 4, 2018

The God of Small Things
by Arundhati Roy

In her first novel, award-winning Indian screenwriter Arundhati Roy conjures a whoosh of wordplay that rises from the pages like a brilliant jazz improvisation. The God of Small Things is nominally the story of young twins Rahel and Estha and the rest of their family, but the book feels like a million stories spinning out indefinitely; it is the product of a genius child-mind that takes everything in and transforms it in an alchemy of poetry. The God of Small Things is at once exotic and familiar to the Western reader, written in an English that's completely new and invigorated by the Asian Indian influences of culture and language.

SOURCE: Copyright © Amazon.com. All rights reserved.

October 2, 2018

Mrs. Poe
by Lynn Cullen

Cullen, whose previous novels have focused on obscure women from the past, such as Juana of Castile (Reign of Madness) and Sofonisba Anguissola (The Creation of Eve), now turns her attention to Frances Sargent Osgood, a mid-19th-century poet and children's author who, some believe, was romantically involved with Edgar Allen Poe. As the novel opens in 1845, Poe is the toast of literary New York, having just published the sensationally successful poem The Raven. Meanwhile, Mrs. Osgood, recently spurned by her philandering artist husband, is under enormous pressure to publish her work and thereby provide for her two young daughters. At a series of literary salons (many featuring cameos by other famous names of Poe's day), Mrs. Osgood and Poe develop a mutual attraction, as noticed not only by their peers but also by Poe's young and fragile wife, Virginia. Virginia's initially friendly overtures to her romantic rival become increasingly threatening, a nod to the macabre that seems unnecessary and gratuitous, as does the often-awkward insertion of research into the narrative. More successful is Cullen's portrayal of Osgood as a literary woman attempting to make a name (and a living) for herself against the odds. Agent: Emma Sweeney, Emma Sweeney Agency.

SOURCE: Copyright © Publishers Weekly. All rights reserved

November 6, 2018

To Be Announced
by TBD

 

December 4, 2018

To Be Announced
by TBD

  

 

 

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