“Any books are better than none … but what I really want are thick books with fine print, difficult sentences, long words, and enormous ideas, books written in a feverish hand by writers who hate the world yet can’t keep from loving it, whose feelings so demand to be understood that if they didn’t write them down they would go blind.” – David Rhodes, Jewelweed
I am not sure anyone cares about these book posts because my likes and comments are miniscule. Curt’s food offerings get the most traffic but I feel it’s my duty as a retired librarian to post about the printed word. So here lies my third outing presenting you the books read by the voracious readers of my roundtable book group. We meet at 10am on the 2nd Thursday of the month at a local coffee shop so if you are in the neighborhood, stop by and tell us what you’re reading.
What can I say about this month? I think I probably shouldn’t try to squeeze us all into a theme because just when I think we are all reading 15th C. Italian historical intrigue, someone tosses in a book with a character called Velva Jean.
There were nine of us this month so we definitely talked about nine main books with a few meanderings off to additional titles that I’ll hint at in the summaries. Onward….
Nancy led us off with biographical information on the author, Ann Packer. Ann was born in California but Wisconsin claims her because she moved to Madison and spent two years of her writing life here. And her most famous book, The Dive from Clausen’s Pier is set in Wisconsin. With this criteria most everyone will probably be from Wisconsin sometime in their life.
The Dive from Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer (2002) 384 pages. Carrie Bell’s very survival is dependent upon her leaving her fiancé, even after he dives into shallow water at a Memorial Day picnic and becomes paralyzed. Should she return, can she return? Packer’s book, Songs without Words also deserves a look.
The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark (2008) 384 pages. Venice, 1498, and everyone is talking about, desiring or searching for a mysterious book reputed to hold the secret of immortality, alchemy, love potions and political power. Told from the point of view of Luciano, apprentice to the Doge’s head chef, this novel is not only a mystery but a wonderful descriptive journey through 15th C. Venice. The cooking and food scenes are especially fine.
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (1996) 224 pages. The haunting true and tragic mystery of 22-year-old Chris McCandless who, in 1992, gave away his money and possessions, and hiked into the Alaskan wilderness in search of a pure, unencumbered life experience. His emaciated corpse was discovered four months later in an abandoned bus.
The Rules of Life by Richard Templar (2006) 219 pages. Subtitled, “a personal code for living a better, happier, more successful life.” Ricky, who brought this to the table said she just was in the mood for self help this month. The other book she read was the Mayo Clinic on Arthritis which she didn’t think was a great booktalk title either. Hey, sometimes you gotta read these books too. Maybe if Chris McCandless (see previous book) read The Rules of Life he’d still be with us.
Blood Beauty by Sarah Dunant (2013) 528 pages. Back to the 15th C., back to Italy. A historical novel of Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI. But not just Rodrigo, you will get the who whole political and familial intrigue of the Borgia family – the pope; his oldest son, Cesare; the favored son Juan; the youngest son Jofre; the daughter Lucrezia; the servants; and the lovers and spouses of the family. The whole dysfunctional clan.
Storm Front by Richard Castle (2013) 320 pages. Same author who does the Nkki Heat series that is based on the Castle show from television. Pete, our reviewer, says the character Derrick Storm is what you would call, a super agent, that is, he’s larger than life and over the top but that’s what makes this such a fun read.
Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (2012) 503 pages. Did you read Harry Potter, well, forget it. This is Rowling’s first adult book and it’s not even close. Set in a small town in England this book deals with class, politics and social issues. Sound boring? Not so, says our reviewer because there is also rape, prostitution and drugs. As far from HP as possible. This book got a second yay from the other Jeanne who also had read it.
Velva Jean Learns to Fly by Jennifer Niven (2011) 432 pages. On her way to fulfill her dream of singing in the Grand Ole Opry, Velva Jean gets sidetracked when her brother treats her to a flying lesson. All plans change as she decides to be a female pilot. (I can’t say Velva Jean w/o a smile on my face and a twang in my voice.)
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver (1988) 232 pages. Kingsolver is a regular favorite in our group. Most everyone has read one or more of her books and reported on them. Bean Trees is her first book. The story of Taylor, who on her trip from Kentucky to find a new life in Arizona “adopts” a daughter, Turtle. If you enjoy this book move on to the sequel, Pigs in Heaven.
Well there you have it, another eclectic mix. For next time I’m currently in the middle of Jewelweed by David Rhodes and J.K. Rowling’s new one, The Cuckoo’s Calling (by Robert Galbraith), just came in for me at the library. She wrote it under a pseudonym but was outed.
If you read this post, give me a Like, so for once books can beat food.