Books can provide fodder for a great discussion
For many people these days, book clubs provide an important opportunity to exchange ideas and a new focus for spending time with friends and acquaintances.
For those of us whose college days are long gone, book clubs offer the stimulus of small seminar-style discussions which are often absent in our everyday lives.
With the huge quantity of both classic and new literature on the shelves of bookstores and libraries, it can sometimes be overwhelming to try to choose a book club book.
Following are a handful of great books that address a variety of relevant subjects, and can provide fodder for book club discussion. They might even serve as a last-minute Christmas gift.
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
The red tent is the place where women gathered during their cycles of birthing, menstruation and even illness. Like the conversations and mysteries held within this feminine tent, this book offers outsiders a look at the daily life of biblical women, wives, and their one and only daughter, Dinah, who whispers stories of her four mothers, and their individual feminine traits. As Dinah reveals these emotionally charged stories, we learn not only of birthing miracles, slaves, artisans and sisterhood secrets, but also of Dinah’s own saga of betrayals, grief and call to midwifery. It’s been said that “The Red Tent” is what the Bible might have been had it been written by God’s daughters instead of sons.
Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
The meager facts of Johannes Vermeer’s 17th century life have been gleaned from a handful of legal documents. Yet Vermeer’s extraordinary paintings of domestic life – a grand total of exactly 35 canvases – have come to define the Dutch golden age. This historical novel centers on Vermeer’s prosperous Delft household, and the turmoil that follows the hiring of Griet, the book’s quietly perceptive heroine, as a servant. A fascinating glimpse into life in Holland in the 1660s.
Place Last Seen by Charlotte McGuinn Freeman
This moving story of the disappearance of a child with Down’s Syndrome during a family outing in Desolation Wilderness is told with just enough humor and humanity to keep it from slipping into sentimentality. Freeman demonstrates a keen understanding of her characters’ emotions, and the story is taut with a sense of restrained panic. Freeman is a former participant at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and her debut novel clearly demonstrates her intricate knowledge of the subject matter – Down’s Syndrome, search and rescue efforts, family relationships – and her mastery of narrative pacing.
Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott
In this collection of essays, Lamott offers her trademark wit and irreverence in describing her reluctant journey into faith. Whether she’s writing about airplane turbulence, bulimia, her “feta cheese thighs,” or consulting God on how to parent her son, Lamott keeps her spirituality firmly planted in solid scenes and believable metaphors.
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
Astrid, the teenage narrator of “White Oleander,” has a mother who is as sharp as a brand new knife. When one of Ingrid’s boyfriends abandons her, she kills him with poison from oleander flowers, and lands herself a life sentence in prison. Astrid is left to teach herself the art of survival in a string of Los Angeles foster homes. A beautifully-written testament to the resilience of youth and the ability to survive humiliation, brutality, and impermanence.
Gap Creek and The Story of a Marriage, both by R. Morgan
Both novels are set at the turn of the century, and illuminate the tantalizing nature of marriage, the strife and polarization that is often inherent in the mutual dependence, practicality and, yes, even love, that bring a man and woman together for life.
Lost in Translation
by Nicoel Mones
American by birth, translator by profession, Alice lives in Beijing, partly to escape her father, a racist U.S. congressman. When she is hired by an archaeologist to accompany an expedition that penetrates a vast uncharted land, she finds herself entwined in the lives of others with skeletons in their closets who are forced to reckon with their pasts. Author Mones reveals her in-depth knowledge of China’s culture, history and politics while exploring the unmapped territories of memory, desire, and identity.
House of Sand and Fog
by Andre Dubus
Dubus wastes no time in capturing the dark side of the immigrant experience in America at the end of the 20th century. Behrani, a former colonel in the Iranian military under the Shah, has spent most of the money he brought from Iran on an apartment and furnishings that are too expensive, desperately trying to keep up appearances in order to enhance his daughter’s chance of making a good marriage. Once she’s found a husband, he impulsively sinks his remaining funds into a house he buys at auction, thus unwittingly putting himself and family on a trajectory to disaster.
Special Programs for Children:
— Holiday Cookie Decorating Party, For ages 3 and up, Wednesday, Dec. 20, 3 p.m, at the Library
— Kids ages 5 and up may come in any time to sign up for the Winter Reading Program, which runs now through February.
— Regular Children’s Programs
Saturday Morning StoryTelling
For ages 3 to 7, Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. at the library, with Mrs. Fix from Church of the Mountains Preschool
— Multi-Cultural Storytime
For ages 3 to 5; Fridays, 10:30 a.m. at the library
For ages 3 and under; Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m. at the library
— Third Thursday Evenings of Fun
Dec. 21: Christmas Tales with Cindy Maciel, 7 p.m. at the library; for ages 3-6.
Now on display at the Library:
— Art above the fireplace by Lee Ann Masuret.
— In the display case: April Shepherd’s salt shakers
The library will be closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Monday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Tuesday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Wednesday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Thursday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Friday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
10031 Levone Avenue
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First there were the funnies, color on Sundays! My little sister and I shared them while our dad, lying on his stomach on the punee, read the rest of the paper remarkably undisturbed by one…