“At last came the golden month of the wild folk– honey-sweet May, when the birds come back, and the flowers come out, and the air is full of the sunrise scents
and songs of the dawning year.”
― Samuel Scoville Jr., Wild Folk
What’s not to love? Everything turns green in May. Right now the lilacs and some of the fruit trees are plumping up their buds and we will soon have flowers everywhere. Bird migration gets into full swing in May. We just had the Big Bay Birdathon here in Northeastern Wisconsin. I could not participate fully this year but we did a shortened version and came home with a list of 57 birds. An osprey in an unusual place and a flock of over 400 Dunlins were two of the highlights. In our yard we have seen Indigo Buntings, Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, a Catbird and a Brown Thrasher. Asparagus comes up in May! Our 40 year old patch is choked with weeds. No self respecting asparagus should still be growing there but I picked a large handful today for our dinner tonight. The daffodils and the tulips are in full bloom. Also my birthday is in May. So I say again, what’s not to love?
Our band of readers gathered to share their books. One member brought his sister along. She didn’t have a book to share but I guess he just wanted to share us with her. We are a feisty group so I hope she enjoyed herself and comes back next time and tells us what she has been reading.
So I will make this short so I can get out and enjoy May. Here is what we read:
- Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli: The Epic Story of the Making of The Godfather by Mark Seal (2021) 432p. The story of how The Godfather was made is as dramatic, operatic, and entertaining as the film itself. During production of the movie, location permits were inexplicably revoked, author Mario Puzo got into a public brawl with an irate Frank Sinatra, producer Al Ruddy’s car was found riddled with bullets and men with “connections” vied to be in the cast. Our book group member is a great storyteller so when he was done we were all anxious to read this book.
- You Don’t Belong Here: How Three Women Rewrote the Story of War by Elizabeth Becker (2021) 320p. The long-buried story of three extraordinary female journalists who permanently shattered the barriers to women covering war. Arriving in Vietnam at a time when women were considered unfit to be foreign reporters, American journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Frances Fitzgerald, French daredevil photographer Catherine Leroy, and Australian journalist Kate Webb, challenged the rules imposed on them by the military, ignored the belittlement of their male peers, and ultimately altered the craft of war reportage for generations.
- Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (2016) 289p. Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison.
- The World Played Chess by Robert Dugoni (2021) 400p.The title is a take-off on the old saying “You were playing checkers while they were playing chess”. In other words, you were playing a more simple game while the world was involved in a strategic, complicated game. This title is appropriate since this book focuses on three time periods, all involving boys, just at the brink of manhood as they turn 18 in the years 1967, 1979 and 2015. All with connections to Vietnam.
- The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff (2019) 379p. A World War II thriller based on the missions of the real-life women of the Special Operations Executive. The setting is France and is inspired by true events.
- Dragonfly by Leila Meacham (2019) 563p. A World War II saga about a fictional team of young Americans (men and women) recruited as OSS agents to infiltrate German-occupied Paris. The team is code-named Dragonfly, and upon arrival in Paris, they are trained and then dropped behind enemy lines to carry out their missions. This is no small book but our reviewer said it was so compelling and well written, she couldn’t put it down.
- A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (2016) 462p. This has got to be the 4th person in our group to read and review this book and many more have read it, just didn’t present it at group. Once again, it tells the story of Count Alexander Rostov, who is sentenced to live out the rest of his life on “house arrest” in the Metropol hotel, following his “conviction” by a Bolshevik tribunal. He was convicted of being an unrepentant aristocrat and is stripped of his wealth by the new regime. From one of the hotel’s most prestigious guests, to a member of the wait staff, Count Rostov manages his fall from grace with poise and dignity. It’s a keeper!
- A Minute to Midnight (Atlee Pine #2) by David Baldacci (2019) 418p. Last month one of our members read #4 in this series. Now here is a review of #2 which of course takes place earlier. Hopefully all of this jumping around won’t spoil it for those just starting the series. In this one, FBI Agent Atlee Pine returns to her Georgia hometown to reopen the investigation of her twin sister’s abduction, only to encounter a serial killer beginning a reign of terror. (you should start with #1, Long Road to Mercy)
- When Ghosts Come Home by Wiley Cash (2021) 290p. When the roar of a low-flying plane awakens him in the middle of the night, Sheriff Winston Barnes knows something strange is happening at the nearby airfield on the coast of North Carolina. But nothing can prepare him for what he finds: a large airplane has crash-landed and is now sitting sideways on the runway, and there are no signs of a pilot or cargo.
- The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams (2021) 400p. This historical fiction is based on the creation of the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. A team of learned scholars sat in a garden shed gathering and annotating words and their meanings. As they worked on each letter of the alphabet the words were stored on slips of paper in wooden pigeon holes. Each word was taken out and the meaning of it disputed endlessly until there was agreement on its definition(s). However, the main character, Esme, assistant and daughter of one of the lexicographers, realizes that some words are considered more important than others, and that words and meanings relating to women’s experiences, and also the lower classes, often go unrecorded. While she dedicates her life to the OED, secretly, she begins to collect words for another dictionary: The Dictionary of Lost Words.