Each year we read two mysteries, two historical novels, three general fiction novels, three nonfiction / biographies and devote two meetings to “What else are you reading?” discussions.
New members are welcome!
2024 Book Selections
|Month / Meeting Day||Book Selection|
|January 3||Beloved by Toni Morrison|
Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe's new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.
|February 7||The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey|
Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart--he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone--but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter.
|March 6||The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver|
The drama of a U.S. missionary family in Africa during a war of decolonization. At its center is Nathan Price, a self-righteous Baptist minister who establishes a mission in a village in 1959 Belgian Congo. The resulting clash of cultures is seen through the eyes of his wife and his four daughters.
|April 3||The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck|
The timeless Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece following a humble farmer's journey through 1920s China returns with this beautifully repackaged edition that celebrates its nearly ninety years as an American classic. Travel to 1920s China, a time when the last emperor still ruled and the sweeping changes of the twentieth century were distant rumblings, with this timeless, evocative classic tale of the honest farmer Wang Lung and his family as they struggle to survive in the midst of vast political and social upheavals.
|May 1||The Road by Cormac McCarthy|
A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.
|June 5||The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich|
The unsolved murder of a farm family haunts the small, white, off-reservation town of Pluto, North Dakota. The vengeance exacted for this crime and the subsequent distortions of truth transform the lives of Ojibwe living on the nearby reservation and shape the passions of both communities for the next generation.
|July 3||What Else Are You Reading?|
|August 7||Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates|
A fictional recreation of the life of Marilyn Monroe recounts the tale of her rise to stardom, as seen from Marilyn's perspective.
|September 4||Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout|
At the edge of the continent, in the small town of Crosby, Maine, lives Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher who deplores the changes in her town and in the world at large but doesn't always recognize the changes in those around her.
|October 2||The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen|
Stretching from the Midwest at midcentury to the Wall Street and Eastern Europe of today, The Corrections brings an old-fashioned world of civic virtue and sexual inhibitions into violent collision with the era of home surveillance, hands-off parenting, do-it-yourself mental health care, and globalized greed.
|November 6||The Reivers by William Faulkner|
The Reivers is a picaresque that tells of three unlikely car thieves from rural Mississippi. Eleven-year-old Lucius Priest is persuaded by Boon Hogganbeck, one of his family's retainers, to steal his grandfather's car and make a trip to Memphis. The Priests' black coachman, Ned McCaslin, stows away, and the three of them are off on a heroic odyssey.
|December 4||After This by Alice McDermott|
The novel follows a working-class American family who reside on Long Island, New York and their four children, who are enduring their own experiences during the times of the sexual revolution.
"Every rereading of a classic is as much a voyage of discovery as the first reading."
Join us as we discuss some recognized classic literature.
New members are welcome!
2024 Book Selections
|Month / Meeting Day||Book Selection|
|January 21||East of Eden by John Steinbeck|
Set in the rich farmland of California's Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families-the Trasks and the Hamiltons-whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel.
|February 18||A Room with a View by E.M. Forster|
Lucy has her rigid, middle-class life mapped out for her, until she visits Florence with her uptight cousin Charlotte, and finds her neatly ordered existence thrown off balance. Her eyes are opened by the unconventional characters she meets at the Pension Bertolini: flamboyant romantic novelist Eleanor Lavish, the Cockney Signora, curious Mr Emerson and, most of all, his passionate son George.
|March 17||Hard Times by Charles Dickens|
'Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else' Dickens's novel honouring the value of the human heart in an age of materialism centres on Coketown, where Mr Thomas Gradgrind, school owner and model of Utilitarian success, feeds his pupils and his family with facts, banning fancy and wonder from young minds. As a consequence his obedient daughter Louisa becomes trapped in a loveless marriage, and his son Tom rebels to become embroiled in crime. As their fortunes cross with those of a free-spirited circus girl and a victimized weaver, Gradgrind is forced to question everything he believes in.
|April 21||Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky|
When Raskolnikov, an impoverished student living in the St. Petersburg of the tsars, commits an act of murder and theft, he sets into motion a story that is almost unequalled in world literature for its excruciating suspense, its atmospheric vividness, and its depth of characterization and vision. Dostoevsky’s drama of sin, guilt, and redemption transforms the sordid story of an old woman’s murder into the nineteenth century’s profoundest and most compelling philosophical novel.
|May 19||Silas Marner by George Eliot|
Set in the early years of the 19th century, this is a novel about the life of Silas Marner, a weaver, who is a member of a small Calvinist congregation in Lantern Yard, a slum street in Northern England.
|June 16||Moby Dick by Herman Melville|
The book is the sailor Ishmael's narrative of the maniacal quest of Ahab, captain of the whaling ship Pequod, for vengeance against Moby Dick, the giant white sperm whale that bit off his leg on the ship's previous voyage
|July 21||Lord of the Flies by William Golding|
In this novel, a plane crashes on an uncharted island, stranding a group of schoolboys. At first, with no adult supervision, their freedom is something to celebrate. This far from civilization they can do anything they want. Anything. But as order collapses, as strange howls echo in the night, as terror begins its reign, the hope of adventure seems as far removed from reality as the hope of being rescued, and these schoolboys marooned on this tropical island revert to primitive savagery.
|August 18||The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorn|
Set in seventeenth-century Puritan New England, a time period irreversibly encoded in the American identity, the novel follows outcasts: Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale, whose affair leaves one emblazoned with her sin and the other distraught with hidden guilt; their daughter Pearl, born into ostracism; and Roger Chillingworth, driven to vengeance by hatred.
|September 15||My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier|
Philip Ashley's older cousin Ambrose, who raised the orphaned Philip as his own son, has died in Rome. Philip, the heir to Ambrose's beautiful English estate, is crushed that the man he loved died far from home. He is also suspicious. While in Italy, Ambrose fell in love with Rachel, a beautiful English and Italian woman. But the final, brief letters Ambrose wrote hint that his love had turned to paranoia and fea
|October 20||Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy|
The ne'er-do-well sire of a starving brood suddenly discovers a family connection to the aristocracy, and his selfish scheme to capitalize on their wealth sets a fateful plot in motion. Jack Durbeyfield dispatches his gentle daughter Tess to the home of their noble kin, anticipating a lucrative match between the lovely girl and a titled cousin. Innocent Tess finds the path of the d'Urberville estate paved with ruin in this gripping tale of the inevitability of fate and the tragic nature of existence.
|November 17||The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger|
The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it.
|December 15||No Meeting.|
“Each of us is a book waiting to be written, and that book, if written, results in a person explained."
Meet with us to discuss select true crime books, examine writing style, content and overall presentation of material by the author as we try to understand whether or not the people at the heart of the stories were explained.
2024 Book Selections
|Month / Meeting Day||Book Selection|
|January 10||The Devil in the White City by Eric Larson|
While Daniel H. Burnham builds the glittering 1893 Chicago World's Fair, a serial killer lures young women to a torture chamber.
|February 14||The Good Nurse by Charles Graeber|
After his December 2003 arrest, registered nurse Charlie Cullen was quickly dubbed "The Angel of Death" by the media. But Cullen was no mercy killer, nor was he a simple monster. He was a favorite son, husband, beloved father, best friend, and celebrated caregiver. Implicated in the deaths of as many as 300 patients, he was also perhaps the most prolific serial killer in American history. Cullen's murderous career in the world's most trusted profession spanned sixteen years and nine hospitals across New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
|March 13||Careless Whispers by Carlton Stowers|
A novel about the Lake Waco killings lays bare the facts behind the tragic crimes, the twisted predators, and the heroic man who broke the investigation--with important updated information based on new developments in the case.
|April 10||Slenderman by Kathleen Hale|
On May 31, 2014, in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha, Wisconsin, two twelve-year-old girls attempted to stab their classmate to death. Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier's violence was extreme, but what seemed even more frightening was that they committed their crime under the influence of a figure born by the internet: the so-called "Slenderman." Yet the even more urgent aspect of the story, that the children involved suffered from undiagnosed mental illnesses, often went overlooked in coverage of the case.
|May 8||What are you reading, watching, or listening to?|
|June 12||Hell's Half Acre by Susan Jonusas|
In 1873 the people of Labette County in Kansas made a grisly discovery. Buried on a homestead seven miles south of the town of Cherryvale, in a bloodied cellar and under frost-covered soil, were countless bodies in varying states of decay. The discovery sent the local community and national newspapers into a frenzy that continued for over two decades, and the land on which the crimes took place became known as 'Hells Half-Acre.' When it emerged that a family of four known as the Benders had been accused of the slayings, the case was catapulted to infamy. The idea that a family of seemingly respectable homesteaders--one among thousands who were relocating further west looking for land and opportunity after the Civil War--were capable of operating 'a human slaughter pen' appalled and fascinated the nation. But who the Benders really were, why they committed such a vicious killing spree, and what became of them when they fled from the law is a mystery that has remains unsolved to this day--not that there aren't some convincing theories.
|July 10||Evidence of Love by John Bloom and Jim Atkinson|
Candy Montgomery and Betty Gore had a lot in common: They sang together in the Methodist church choir, their daughters were best friends, and their husbands had good jobs working for technology companies in the north Dallas suburbs known as Silicon Prairie. But beneath the placid surface of their seemingly perfect lives, both women simmered with unspoken frustrations and unanswered desires. On a hot summer day in 1980, the secret passions and jealousies that linked Candy and Betty exploded into murderous rage. What happened next is usually the stuff of fiction. But the bizarre and terrible act of violence that occurred in Betty's utility room that morning was all too real
|August 14||Waco: David Koresh, the Branch Dividians, and the Legacy of Rage by Jeff Guinn|
A former investigative reporter provides an account of the disastrous 1993 siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, featuring never-before-seen documents, photographs and interviews.
|September 11||In Plain Sight by Kathryn Casey|
On a cold January morning, the killer executed Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse in broad daylight. Eight shots fired a block from the Kaufman County Courthouse. Two months later, a massacre. The day before Easter, the couple slept. Bunnies, eggs, a flower centerpiece gracing the table. Death rang their doorbell and filled the air with the rat-a-tat-tat of an assault weapon discharging round after round into their bodies.
|October 9||Homegrown: Timothy McVeigh and the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism by Jeffrey Toobin|
The definitive account of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the enduring legacy of Timothy McVeigh, leading to the January 6 insurrection
|November 13||What the Dead Know by Barbara Butcher|
Reflecting on twenty years of investigating more than 5,500 death scenes, an NYC death investigator, the second woman ever hired for this role, shares how, in dealing with death every day, she learned surprising lessons about life--and how some of those lessons saved her from becoming a statistic herself.
|December 11||What are you reading, watching, or listening to?|