“Reading is my favourite occupation, when I have leisure for it and books to read.”
― Anne Brontë,
Yes, June, once again heralds in all of the Reading Clubs. Not only the ones the local library runs but now Jimmy Fallon has a book club, Reese Witherspoon has a book club, Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) has a book club, The American Library Association (ALA) has a book club and of course Oprah still has a book club. But if you are like me, I don’t really need a book club to give me incentive to read. Sometimes I scan the various club’s selections but I usually have so many books on my “to read” list already, I really shouldn’t try to find more. Currently I am enjoying mysteries by Jane Harper and fantasies by Brandon Sanderson. Yesterday I started to read Stephen King’s latest, The Outsider, and I just downloaded the audio of The President is Missing by James Patterson & Bill Clinton…and the list goes on. Here’s what the group started with this summer.
1. The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig (2006) 345 pages. A coming-of-age story of a widowed father and his 3 extremely likable sons and their life on a Montana homestead in the early 20th century. It is also about the housekeeper they hire and her brother, who ends up replacing the teacher at the school. The book is told from the memories of the oldest boy.
2. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (1989) 288 pages. A novel about four Chinese mothers who came to America during World War II, and their four Chinese/American daughters. All eight characters have a narrative in the story as they speak of their relationships, the demands of the parents and the struggle for independence on the part of the daughters.
3. A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa (2000) 172 pages. In this memoir translated from the original Japanese, Ishikawa candidly recounts his tumultuous upbringing and the brutal thirty-six years he spent living under a crushing totalitarian regime, as well as the challenges he faced repatriating to Japan after barely escaping North Korea with his life.
4. Ruthless Tide: The Tragic Epic of the Johnstown Flood by Al Roker (2018)
320 pages. A gripping narrative history of the 1889 Johnstown Flood—the deadliest flood in US history from the Today Show’s legendary weather authority Al Roker.
5. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (1989) 637 pages. A bitter-sweet, brilliant, laugh out loud, tragic tale about an epic friendship between Owen Meany (a runty guy with a screechy voice) and Johnny Wheelwright, beginning in the 1950s and into the Vietnam War era.
6. Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon (2016) 336 pages. Flight of Dreams is a fictional portrait of the real people on board the last flight of the Hindenburg.
7. Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott (2014) 287 pages. This novel is set in the town of Lowell, Massachusetts during the 1830s. Lowell is one of the East Coast towns that were famous for the cloth mills that populated the area and were infamous for their “sweatshop” conditions. Alice Barrow is a farm girl who travels to Lowell to begin work in the mill.
8. Beartown by Fredrik Backman (2016) 432 pages. Beartown is a small Swedish town out in a forest in the middle of nowhere where winter temperatures reach sub-zero and hockey is the name of the game for its struggling residents. You don’t have to like hockey to love this story. Sort of the Friday Night Lights (high school football) of Sweden.
9. End Game by David Baldacci Will Robie #5 (2017) 408 pages. Will Robie and Jessica Reel are two of the most lethal people alive. They’re the ones the government calls in to take out those who plot violence and mass destruction against the United States. And through every mission, one man has always had their backs: their handler, code-named Blue Man. But now, Blue Man is missing.
10. Hard Way by Lee Child Jack Reacher #10 (2006) 371 pages. Who would have thought that just sitting and drinking coffee would get Jack Reacher involved in the investigation of the kidnapping for ransom of a woman and her child? Well that’s how it goes with Reacher and you know he’ll win in the end, no matter how many bodies he has to walk over.
11. The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home by Denise Kiernan (2017) 440 pages. The fascinating true story behind the magnificent Gilded Age mansion Biltmore—the largest, grandest residence ever built in the United States.