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The Smyrna Reading Group

2010 Reading Group Selections

Upcoming Reading Selections

January 5, 2010

Breakneck by Erica Spindler

by Erica Spindler

Det. Kitt Lundgren and her partner, Mary Catherine Riggio, of the Rockford, Ill., Violent Crimes Bureau pursue a serial killer ripped from Internet urban legend in this unconvincing thriller from bestseller Spindler (Copycat). When Riggios too-good-to-be-true fiancé is caught in the line of fire, the shooting at first appears to be unrelated to the murder spree of Breakneck, who targets computer-savvy 20-somethings. Of course, the connection is immediately obvious to readers, if not the veteran staff of the VCB. Lundgrens preoccupied with mending her broken marriage while ambling toward career burnout, and Riggio doesnt hesitate to throw out the procedural rulebook, eschewing her police training in a desperate search for the truth. Spindler strays from her comfort zone in tackling the mysterious world of cyber crime. Casting disaffected youth as criminal masterminds doesnt ring true, while descriptions of technology and its applications are painstakingly overexplained. (Jan.)

SOURCE: Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

February 2, 2010

To Dance with the White Dog by Terry Kay

To Dance with the White Dog
by Terry Kay

This short book moves like poetry....A loving eulogy to old age....A tender celebration of life, made poignant by death being so close at hand.

SOURCE: Los Angeles Times

March 9, 2010
(Rescheduled Due to March 2 Snowstorm)

A Journey to Here by Margaret Johnson-Hodge

A Journey to Here
by Margaret Johnson-Hodge

Happily married for nineteen years to Emory and with two adorable adolescent daughters, Aaron and Monet, Suvie is sure her life is complete. But when the past shows up at her door in the form of Phillip Butler, her first love from thirty years ago, Suvie finds herself reevaluating the life she has built for herself.

SOURCE: FOSL Volunteer

Margaret Johnson-Hodge Official Website

Margaret Johnson-Hodge is a nationally acclaimed author. She is a winner of the Reviewer’s Choice Awards for The Real Deal. Her novel Butterscotch Blues made the Blackboard Bestsellers List, the Essence
Magazine Bestseller List and a Black Expressions Book Club Book of the Year.

Though born and raised in New York, she now calls Georgia her home.

Please join Ms. Johnson-Hodge and The Smyrna Reading Group to discuss her book A Journey to
on March 9, 2010, at 7:30 p.m. in the Smyrna Public Library’s upstairs meeting room.


April 6, 2010

Run by Ann Patchett

by Ann Patchett

Novelists can no longer take it as an insult when people say their novels are like good television, because the finest American television is better written than most novels. Ann Patchett's new one has the texture, the pace and the fairy tale elegance of a half dozen novels she might have read and loved growing up, but the magic and the finesse of Run is really much closer to that of Six Feet Under or ER or The Sopranos, and that is good news for everybody, not least her readers.Bernadette and Bernard Doyle were a Boston couple who wanted to have a big lively family. They had one boy, Sullivan, and then adopted two black kids, Teddy and Tip. Mr. Doyle is a former mayor of Boston and he continues his interest in politics, hoping his boys will shape up one day for elected office, though none of them seems especially keen. Bernadette dies when the adopted kids are just four, and much of the book offers a placid requiem to her memory in particular and to the force of motherhood in lives generally. An old statue from Bernadette's side of the family seems to convey miracles, and there will be more than one before this gracious book is done. One night, during a heavy snowfall, Teddy and Tip accompany their father to a lecture given by Jessie Jackson at the Kennedy Centre. Tip is preoccupied with studying fish, so he feels more than a little coerced by his father. After the lecture they get into an argument and Tip walks backwards in the road. A car appears out of nowhere and so does a woman called Tennessee, who pushes Tip out of the car's path and is herself struck. Thus, a woman is taken to hospital and her daughter, Kenya, is left in the company of the Doyles. Relationships begin both to emerge and unravel, disclosing secrets, hopes, fears. Run is a novel with timeless concerns at its heart—class and belonging, parenthood and love—and if it wears that heart on its sleeve, then it does so with confidence. And so it should: the book is lovely to read and is satisfyingly bold in its attempt to say something patient and true about family. Patchett knows how to wear big human concerns very lightly, and that is a continuing bonus for those who found a great deal to admire in her previous work, especially the ultra-lauded Bel Canto. Yet one should not mistake that lightness for anything cosmetic: Run is a book that sets out inventively to contend with the temper of our times, and by the end we feel we really know the Doyle family in all its intensity and with all its surprises.   

SOURCE: Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

May 4, 2010

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak

Zusak has created a work that deserves the attention of sophisticated teen and adult readers. Death himself narrates the World War II-era story of Liesel Meminger from the time she is taken, at age nine, to live in Molching, Germany, with a foster family in a working-class neighborhood of tough kids, acid-tongued mothers, and loving fathers who earn their living by the work of their hands. The child arrives having just stolen her first book–although she has not yet learned how to read–and her foster father uses it, The Gravediggers Handbook, to lull her to sleep when shes roused by regular nightmares about her younger brothers death. Across the ensuing years of the late 1930s and into the 1940s, Liesel collects more stolen books as well as a peculiar set of friends: the boy Rudy, the Jewish refugee Max, the mayors reclusive wife (who has a whole library from which she allows Liesel to steal), and especially her foster parents. Zusak not only creates a mesmerizing and original story but also writes with poetic syntax, causing readers to deliberate over phrases and lines, even as the action impels them forward. Death is not a sentimental storyteller, but he does attend to an array of satisfying details, giving Liesels story all the nuances of chance, folly, and fulfilled expectation that it deserves. An extraordinary narrative.–Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA

SOURCE: Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


June 1, 2010

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullens

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
by Carson McCullers

With the publication of her first novel, THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER, Carson McCullers, all of twenty-three, became a literary sensation. With its profound sense of moral isolation and its compassionate glimpses into its characters' inner lives, the novel is considered McCullers' finest work, an enduring masterpiece first published by Houghton Mifflin in 1940. At its center is the deaf-mute John Singer, who becomes the confidant for all various types of misfits in a Georgia mill town during the 1930s. Each one yearns for escape from small town life. When Singer's mute companion goes insane, Singer moves into the Kelly house, where Mick Kelly, the book's heroine (and loosely based on McCullers), finds solace in her music. Wonderfully attune to the spiritual isolation that underlies the human condition, and with a deft sense for racial tensions in the South, McCullers spins a haunting, unforgettable story that gives voice to the rejected, the forgotten, and the mistreated -- and, through Mick Kelly, gives voice to the quiet, intensely personal search for beauty.
Richard Wright praised Carson McCullers for her ability "to rise above the pressures of her environment and embrace white and black humanity in one sweep of apprehension and tenderness." She writes "with a sweep and certainty that are overwhelming," said the NEW YORK TIMES. McCullers became an overnight literary sensation, but her novel has endured, just as timely and powerful today as when it was first published. THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER is Carson McCullers at her most compassionate, endearing best.

SOURCE: Copyright © All rights reserved.


July 6, 2010

Coronado: Stories by Denis Lehane

Coronado: Stories
by Dennis Lehane

Lehane (Mystic River) hints in the first of these five richly vernacular (and, save one, previously published) stories and one play that "a small town is a hard place to keep a secret." In "Running Out of Dog," two Vietnam vets return to their hometown of Eden, S.C., and become tragically entangled with the wife of a man whose rich family kept him out of the war. Class resentment similarly erupts in "Gone Down to Corpus," set in back-water Texas, 1970, as a group of high school football players breaks into the house of rich kid Lyle, who fumbled the big pass at the last game. They drunkenly wreck the house and are shocked by the appearance of Lyle's younger sister, Lurlene, who is eager to join the party. The collection's centerpiece is "Until Gwen," which has also been adapted by Lehane into a two-act play, Coronado. Transcribed, the play revolves around the edgy reunion of a hustler father and his son, Bobby, newly released after four years in prison. It quickly becomes apparent that Bobby's father has retrieved him only to find out where the heist loot is hidden, and Bobby, in turn, needs to know what happened to his girlfriend, Gwen. Powerfully envisioned lives, recounted unflinchingly. (Sept.)

SOURCE: Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


August 3, 2010

Heartburn by Nora Ephron

by Nora Ephron

Rachel is seven months pregnant with her second child when she learns her husband is not only having an affair with a mutual acquaintance, but has fallen in love with her. This indignity is compounded because, due to Rachel's advanced preganancy, she can't even date. This short, savvy, and funny novel is peppered with recipes since Rachel is a cookbook editor and host of her own cooking show.

SOURCE: FOSL Volunteer

September 7, 2010

A Painted House by John Grisham

A Painted House
by John Grishman

Set in rural Arkansas in 1952. The story centers around 7-year old Luke, his family, and the migrant Mexicans hired to help them harvest their 80 acres of cotton.

SOURCE: FOSL Volunteer

October 5, 2010

A King's Ranson by James Grippano

A King's Ransom
by James Grippando

When Florida fisherman, Matthew Rey is kidnapped while on business in Colombia by a group of Marxist guerrillas led by a sadistic soldier named Joaquin, it is up to his son, Nick, a young Florida lawyer to pay the outrageous $3,000,000 ransom.

SOURCE: FOSL Volunteer

November 2, 2010

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth Tale
by Diane Setterfield

Vida Winter, a famous author, whose life story is coming to an end hires Margaret Lea, a young, unworldly, bookish girl who is a bookseller in her father's shop to write her biography. However Vida has been confounding her biographers and fans for years by giving over 19 different version of her life, each time swearing it's the truth.

SOURCE: FOSL Volunteer

December 7, 2010

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

The Wind in the Willows
by Kenneth Grahame

Explore the meaning of friendship with Mole, Water Rat, Badger, and the mischievous Toad who live a quiet life on banks of the River Thames.

SOURCE: FOSL Volunteer



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