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2016 Reading Group Selections

2016 Reading Group Selections

Upcoming Reading Selections

Tuesday January 5, 2016

Toughest Indian in the World
by Sherman Alexie

Call Sherman Alexie any number of things--novelist, poet, filmmaker, thorn in the side of white liberalism--just don't call him "universal." Aside from his well-documented distaste for the word, its fuzziness misses the point. The Toughest Indian in the World, Alexie's second collection, succeeds as brilliantly as it does because of its particularity. These aren't stories about the Indian Condition; they're stories about Indians--urban and reservation, street fighters and yuppies, husbands and wives. "She understood that white people were eccentric and complicated and she only wanted to be understood as eccentric and complicated as well," thinks the Coeur d'Alene narrator of "Assimilation," who's married (unhappily) to a white man. And yet the issue of race has taken up permanent residence inside her house: the marriage survives, but it's love that's the most thorough assimilation of all.

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

Tuesday February 2, 2016

Me Before You
by Jojo Moyes

Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2013: Before Louisa met Will, her plans didn't reach beyond their tiny English town. Will, when he wasn't closing multimillion-dollar deals, blew off steam scaling mountains, leaping from planes, and enjoying exquisite women--until an accident left him paralyzed and seriously depressed. When his mother hires Lou to keep his spirits up, he meets her awkward overtures with caustic contempt, but she's tenacious and oddly endearing. Their fondness grows into something deeper, gaining urgency when she realizes his determination to end his life, and her efforts to convince him of its value throw her own bland ambitions into question. Plumbing morally complex depths with comedy and compassion, Jojo Moyes elevates the story of Lou and Will from what could have been a maudlin weepie into a tragic love story, with a catharsis that will wring out your heart and leave you feeling fearless. --Mari Malcolm

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

Tuesday March 1, 2016

The Goldfinch
by Donna Tartt

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, October 2013: It's hard to articulate just how much--and why--The Goldfinch held such power for me as a reader. Always a sucker for a good boy-and-his-mom story, I probably was taken in at first by the cruelly beautiful passages in which 13-year-old Theo Decker tells of the accident that killed his beloved mother and set his fate. But even when the scene shifts--first Theo goes to live with his schoolmate’s picture-perfect (except it isn’t) family on Park Avenue, then to Las Vegas with his father and his trashy wife, then back to a New York antiques shop--I remained mesmerized. Along with Boris, Theo’s Ukrainian high school sidekick, and Hobie, one of the most wonderfully eccentric characters in modern literature, Theo--strange, grieving, effete, alcoholic and often not close to honorable Theo--had taken root in my heart. Still, The Goldfinch is more than a 700-plus page turner about a tragic loss: it’s also a globe-spanning mystery about a painting that has gone missing, an examination of friendship, and a rumination on the nature of art and appearances. Most of all, it is a sometimes operatic, often unnerving and always moving chronicle of a certain kind of life. “Things would have turned out better if she had lived,” Theo said of his mother, fourteen years after she died. An understatement if ever there was one, but one that makes the selfish reader cry out: Oh, but then we wouldn’t have had this brilliant book! --Sara Nelson

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

April 5, 2016
National Poetry Month

Evangeline A Tale of Acadie
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
AVAILABLE ONLINE: http://www.bartleby.com/42/791.html

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in 1807 in Portland, Maine, and he became a professor of modern languages at Harvard. His most famous narrative poems include The Song of Hiawatha, Paul Reveres Ride, "The Village Blacksmith," "The Wreck of the Hesperus." From his friend Nathaniel Hawthorne, Longfellow got a brief outline of a story from which he composed one of his most favorite poems, 'Evangeline'. The original story had Evangeline wandering about New England in search of her bridegroom. One of the first poets to take the landscape and stories of North America as his subjects, Longfellow became immensely popular all over the world, and he was the first American commemorated in the Poets Corner of Westminster Abbey. He was given honorary degrees at the great universities of Oxford and Cambridge, invited to Windsor by Queen Victoria, and called by request upon the Prince of Wales. He was also chosen a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and of the Spanish Academy. He died on March 24, 1882.

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

May 3, 2016

Mornings on Horseback
by David G. McCullough

Reviews:

Denver Post A fine account of Roosevelt's rise to manhood, well written and, like its subject, full of irrepressible vitality.

Detroit News This is a marvelous chronicle of manners and morals, love and duty, and as captivating as anything you will find between book covers in a long while.

John Leonard The New York Times We have no better social historian.

About the Author

David McCullough has twice received the Pulitzer Prize, for Truman and John Adams, and twice received the National Book Award, for The Path Between the Seas and Mornings on Horseback. His other acclaimed books include 1776, Brave Companions, The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge, and The Wright Brothers. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. Visit DavidMcCullough.com.

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

June 7, 2016

Major Pedigrews Last Stand
by Helen Simonson

In her charming debut novel, Simonson tells the tale of Maj. Ernest Pettigrew, an honor-bound Englishman and widower, and the very embodiment of duty and pride. As the novel opens, the major is mourning the loss of his younger brother, Bertie, and attempting to get his hands on Bertie's antique Churchill shotgun—part of a set that the boys' father split between them, but which Bertie's widow doesn't want to hand over. While the major is eager to reunite the pair for tradition's sake, his son, Roger, has plans to sell the heirloom set to a collector for a tidy sum. As he frets over the guns, the major's friendship with Jasmina Ali—the Pakistani widow of the local food shop owner—takes a turn unexpected by the major (but not by readers). The author's dense, descriptive prose wraps around the reader like a comforting cloak, eventually taking on true page-turner urgency as Simonson nudges the major and Jasmina further along and dangles possibilities about the fate of the major's beloved firearms. This is a vastly enjoyable traipse through the English countryside and the long-held traditions of the British aristocracy. (Mar.)

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

July 5, 2016

The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, January 2015: Intersecting, overlapping, not-quite-what-they-seem lives. Jealousies and betrayals and wounded hearts. A haunting unease that clutches and won’t let go. All this and more helps propel Paula Hawkins’s addictive debut into a new stratum of the psychological thriller genre. At times, I couldn’t help but think: Hitchcockian. From the opening line, the reader knows what they’re in for: “She’s buried beneath a silver birch tree, down towards the old train tracks…” But Hawkins teases out the mystery with a veteran’s finesse. The “girl on the train” is Rachel, who commutes into London and back each day, rolling past the backyard of a happy-looking couple she names Jess and Jason. Then one day Rachel sees “Jess” kissing another man. The day after that, Jess goes missing. The story is told from three character’s not-to-be-trusted perspectives: Rachel, who mourns the loss of her former life with the help of canned gin and tonics; Megan (aka Jess); and Anna, Rachel’s ex-husband’s wife, who happens to be Jess/Megan’s neighbor. Rachel’s voyeuristic yearning for the seemingly idyllic life of Jess and Jason lures her closer and closer to the investigation into Jess/Megan’s disappearance, and closer to a deeper understanding of who she really is. And who she isn’t. This is a book to be devoured. -Neal Thompson

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

August 2, 2016

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
by Alan Bradley

Amazon Best of the Month, April 2009: It's the beginning of a lazy summer in 1950 at the sleepy English village of Bishop's Lacey. Up at the great house of Buckshaw, aspiring chemist Flavia de Luce passes the time tinkering in the laboratory she's inherited from her deceased mother and an eccentric great uncle. When Flavia discovers a murdered stranger in the cucumber patch outside her bedroom window early one morning, she decides to leave aside her flasks and Bunsen burners to solve the crime herself, much to the chagrin of the local authorities. But who can blame her? What else does an eleven-year-old science prodigy have to do when left to her own devices? With her widowed father and two older sisters far too preoccupied with their own pursuits and passions—stamp collecting, adventure novels, and boys respectively—Flavia takes off on her trusty bicycle Gladys to catch a murderer. In Alan Bradley's critically acclaimed debut mystery, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, adult readers will be totally charmed by this fearless, funny, and unflappable kid sleuth. But don't be fooled: this carefully plotted detective novel (the first in a new series) features plenty of unexpected twists and turns and loads of tasty period detail. As the pages fly by, you'll be rooting for this curious combination of Harriet the Spy and Sherlock Holmes. Go ahead, take a bite. --Lauren Nemroff

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

September 6, 2016

A Good Man is Hard to Find
by Flannery O'Connor

Reviews:

''O'Connor's works, like Maupassant's, are characterized by precision, density, and an almost alarming circumscription. . . In these stories the rural South is, for the first time, viewed by a writer whose orthodoxy matches her talent. The results are revolutionary.'' -- New York Times Book Review

''Much savagery, compassion, farce, art, and truth have gone into these stories. O'Connor's characters are wholeheartedly horrible, and almost better than life. I find it hard to think of a funnier or more frightening writer.'' --Robert Lowell, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet

''With a keen eye for the dark side of human nature, an amazing ear for dialogue, and a necessary sense of irony, Flannery O'Connor exposes the underside of life in the rural south of the United States.'' --Holly Smith, 500 Great Books by Women

''I am sure her books will live on and on in American literature.'' --Elizabeth Bishop, Pulitzer Prize winner and poet laureate of the United States, 1949-1950 --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From the Back Cover

This timeless collection of nine stories, each with its climactic moment of human weakness, is set at that crossroads. At a roadside, in a stairwell, by a reddish river, O'Connor's flawed and vividly human characters grope toward mysteries they can barely comprehend. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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

October 4, 2016

Boys in the Boat
by Daniel James Brown

Daniel James Brown’s The Boys in the Boat is the kind of nonfiction book that reads like a novel. Centered around the life of Joe Rantz—a farmboy from the Pacific Northwest who was literally abandoned as a child—and set during the Great Depression, The Boys in the Boat is a character-driven story with a natural crescendo that will have you racing to the finish. In 1936, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew team raced its way to the Berlin Olympics for an opportunity to challenge the greatest in the world. How this team, largely composed of rowers from “foggy coastal villages, damp dairy farms, and smoky lumber towns all over the state,” managed to work together and sacrifice toward their goal of defeating Hitler’s feared racers is half the story. The other half is equally fascinating, as Brown seamlessly weaves in the story of crew itself. This is fast-paced and emotional nonfiction about determination, bonds built by teamwork, and what it takes to achieve glory. —Chris Schluep

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

November 1, 2016

The Light Between Oceans
by M. L. Stedman

Tom Sherbourne is a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, a tiny island a half day’s boat journey from the coast of Western Australia. When a baby washes up in a rowboat, he and his young wife Isabel decide to raise the child as their own. The baby seems like a gift from God, and the couple’s reasoning for keeping her seduces the reader into entering the waters of treacherous morality even as Tom--whose moral code withstood the horrors of World War I--begins to waver. M. L. Stedman’s vivid characters and gorgeous descriptions of the solitude of Janus Rock and of the unpredictable Australian frontier create a perfect backdrop for the tale of longing, loss, and the overwhelming love for a child that is The Light Between Oceans. - Malissa Kent

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

 

December 6, 2016

Just So Stories
by Rudyard Kipling

Grade 2-6–Eight well-known tales serve as a showcase for a variety of illustrators. Peter Sís's familiar dots and a watery blue and brown palette illustrate "How the Whale Got His Throat," while Christopher Corr uses bright colors against a hot yellow background to set the scene for "How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin." Other artists use collage, watercolors, and woodcuts to illustrate a story; some styles evoke ethnic art, while others are more cartoonlike. Barry Moser's watercolor illustrations offer a more unified vision for Just So Stories, a slightly different set of Kipling's famous tales (Morrow, 1996). While picture-book treatments of a single story are available, libraries in need of a collection can consider this a supplemental purchase.–Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA

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

 

 

 

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