“Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.”
― Stephen Fry
The book group exploded last month. Two new people and almost all the regulars showed up. There were twelve and everyone had a book to share. Linda started us out, presenting Swedish crime writer, Henning Mankell, best known for his Kurt Wallender mysteries. However, the book she featured is one of his stand-alone novels. Among the other books this month are three classics and two non-fiction books about topics interesting only to Green Bay area residents. Add in the popular fiction and once again the eclectic taste of this group shows through. What are you reading?
1. Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell (2011) 560 pages. In the Swedish hamlet of Hesjövallen, nineteen people have been massacred. The only clue is a red ribbon found at the scene. The investigation leads to the highest echelons of power in present-day Beijing, and to Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
2. Their Eyes were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937) 256 pages. Written in a lyrical style this book is the story of a woman’s search to find her voice and her fight to keep it. Hurston is one of the authors who was part of the Harlem Renaissance.
3. The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani (2012) 475 pages. From the stately mansions of Carnegie Hill, to the streets of Little Italy, and finally to northern Minnesota, the star-crossed lovers in this story meet and separate, until their love changes both of their lives forever.
4. Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer retold by Alfred J. Church (1967) 277 pages. Our reviewer of this book said he came upon it after searching high and low for a decent translation. He feels Church’s translation to a more modern English that is easy to understand is the best and most accurate he has found.
5. We are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas (2014) 620 pages. Set in the 1950’s, this book about an Irish immigrant family is about home, identity, and how unexpected human developments/illness can capsize lives. Reviews were mixed.
6. Reflections on a Bellin Career and Beyond by Daniel Smith (2014) 82 pages. Bellin is a hospital in Green Bay, Wi and the author, the CEO from 1965 to 1987, relates how his life’s journey was influenced, cultivated and enjoyed during and after his Bellin career. Our reviewer worked with him so she was naturally interested in this book but it probably is intended for a small audience.
7. Great Short Works of Willa Cather by Willa Cather (1989) 352 pages. Our third classic of the month is an anthology of nine stories and one essay from the author of “O,Pioneers” and “My Antonia.”
8. 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.
9. Little Ship of Fools: by Charles Wilkins (2013) 320 pages. The author, accompanied by a devoted crew of sixteen misadventurers, takes the reader along for seven weeks of rationed food, extreme sleep deprivation, and life-threatening seas; as well as sharks, whales, and an ever-disintegrating boat.
10. Orphan Doors by Bea Seidl (2012) 202 pages. In 1942, the author’s mother lost custody of her and she was transported to St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This is her story of eight years with stern nuns, rigid regimens, very little tenderness and few answers as to why she was here.
11. Somewhere Safe for Somebody Good by Jan Karon (2014) 511 pages. For fans of Jan Karon this is the much-anticipated new Mitford novel featuring Father Tim and his wife Cynthia.
12. Personal by Lee Child (2014) 353 pages. The latest Jack Reacher novel. Reviews were mixed, probably because of the improbable way he gets into this adventure but frankly isn’t that the story of Jack’s life. Just jump in and enjoy the ride, but watch out for the bodies, they do pile up.