“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
bookshelf graphic from Goodreads
It’s been crazy around here with travel and family emergencies so I never got to the September book list. So, I am jumping straight into October. But first I have to tell you the neat thing about September: We had an influx of new members, three guys and a gal. It was great to have new readers sharing their books. And in October, they all came back and I, because of my sneaky notes, remembered everyone’s name. Yes!
I also made some comment about how great to increase the gender pool (we now have 4 men), to which one of the guys said, “yes, and we are the deep end.” I though about this a minute and said, “Wait a minute, that means , we are …the shallow end?” Hmm, we are going to have to stay on our toes with these guys. But really, I love having them. The discussion, the input and the humor is a different dynamic and that’s good.
So, here’s what all fourteen of us read. PS: Three of these titles were reviewed in previous months but I list everything our members present in a month. After all we get some of our reading choices from each other. Oh, and by the way, Happy Halloween!
1.The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown (2013) 416 pages. The story of the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew and their quest for gold. A team, composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, who defeat elite rivals from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler.
2. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (2014) 531 pages. A National Book Award finalist this New York Times bestseller is about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
3. Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Alan Sherman by Mark Cohen (2013) 353 pages. With exclusive access to Allan Sherman’s estate, Cohen has written the first biography of the manic, excessive, and hugely creative artist who sold three million albums in just twelve months, yet died in obscurity a decade later at the age of forty-nine.
4.Back of Beyond by C.J. Box (2011) 372 pages. Box, famous for his Joe Pickett series, tries his hand with a new character, Cody Hoyt, a troubled cop who tries to save his son from a killer stalking Yellowstone Park. The story is good, but doesn’t come close to his Pickett series.
5. The Martian by Andy Weir (2011) 369 pages. I am sure you have heard of this one because of all the movie buzz ( and the movie is good but the book is better). I featured the original cover because when I read this, the movie rights had just been sold. The story: “After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark Watney finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.” Besides being a great story of survival this book has marvelous humor.
6. Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson (2015) 430 pages. An engrossing story of the sinking of the luxury liner, Lusitania, by a German U-boat in 1915.
7. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (2009) 290 pages. Set in Seattle, this novel tells the story of a forbidden friendship between a Chinese-American boy named Henry Lee and a Japanese-American girl named Keiko Okabe during the Second World War.
8. The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain (2014) 352 pages. After the death of her father, Riley MacPherson returns to her childhood home. While clearing out his possessions she finds out more than she bargained for, her sister, who she believed committed suicide, may be alive.
9. Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard by Laura Bates (2013) 291 pages. Bates had created the world’s first Shakespeare class in a supermax prison – the solitary confinement unit. Larry Newton, indicted for murder and sentenced to life with no possibility of parole, is the man she transforms.
10. Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman (2015) 384 pages. A love story set on the tropical island of St. Thomas about the extraordinary woman who gave birth to painter Camille Pissarro; the Father of Impressionism.
11. The Scam by Janet Evanovich (2015) 304 pages. Tired of Evanovich? Well Pete isn’t and he says this one ( #4 in the Fox and O’Hare series) is the most fun yet. Capers, cons and heists! What more could you ask for?
12. Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free by Hector Tobar (2014) 320 pages. A fascinating story, soon to be a major motion picture.
13. Light in August by William Faulkner (1931) 507 pages. Leave it to Bea to get us back to a classic. In this one, Lena Grove travels, on foot and with the aid of strangers, through the South in search of the father of her unborn child. Her journey introduces the reader to a variety of characters, including the child’s father, a man who falls in love with Lena, and a biracial man named Christmas. Strong, memorable characters. (And I couldn’t resist using a vintage cover)
14. Necessary Lives by Diane Chamberlain (2013) 368 pages. It is 1960 in North Carolina and the lives of Ivy Hart and Jane Forrester couldn’t be more different. Fifteen-year-old Ivy lives with her family as tenants on a small tobacco farm, but when her parents die, Ivy is left to care for her grandmother, older sister, and nephew. As she struggles with her grandmother’s aging, her sister’s mental illness, and her own epilepsy, she realizes they might need more than she can give. (I always though this author was a romance writer. I was wrong as evidenced by the two of her books presented this month).