January Simply Books! List

Here are the books we shared at our latest Simply Books! book club meeting at the library!

“Four Swans” by Winston Graham–a novel in the “Poldark” series, set
in Cornwall in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. This particular
story deals with the “four swans”–four women in Ross Poldark’s life.
It’s a bit of an old-fashioned soap opera, but so much wonderful
scene-setting and lots of context of the times. Very enjoyable.

“The Association of Small Bombs” by Karan Mahajan–set in India, this
novel follows both the victims and perpetrators of a terrorist
bombing. The characters are three-dimensional, you really get into
their heads, especially the terrorist who eventually feels empathy for
his victims. The language is wonderful, really creative descriptions.

“Manhattan Beach” by Jennifer Egan–this novel follows a young woman
at the Brooklyn Navy Yard during World War II, with an ambition to be
a diver. It’s her life story, with all its trials and tribulations,
including an absent father and a gangster boyfriend. It’s very
informative fiction, you really get a sense of getting into these
characters’ lives.

“Ruthless River” by Holly Fitzgerald–a true story of survival in the
Amazon. It’s inspiring to know that people survived an ordeal like
this. It’s a story of a couple who becomes lost on a rafting trip in
the Amazon, and nearly die. It’s incredibly emotionally intense–way
too intense in places!

“Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English” by Natasha Solomons–this novel is
set in England during the decades around World War II, and follows a
German Jew who escaped Germany just ahead of the war. He’s determined
to follow all the rules to becoming a proper Englishman, but has a lot
of trouble being accepted into English society. The writing is very
evocative, and the book is fascinating–it takes a little while to
narrow down what it’s all about, but it’s worth it in the end.

“Zami: A New Spelling of My Name” by Audre Lorde–Lorde called this
book a “biomythology”–a nod to the fact that while she’s telling her
life story, she takes a few liberties. She writes like a poet about
her childhood in Harlem and about her coming of age and activism.

“The Jersey Brothers” by Sally Matt Freeman–Freeman is the daughter
of one of the brothers of the title. She set out to find out more
about her father’s youngest brother, a man nobody in her family really
talked about. He was a Japanese POW in the Philippines during World
War II, and his brothers (also in the military in different roles)
tried to figure out what happened to him.

“Personal History” by Katherine Graham–a memoir by the publisher of
the Washington Post, all about her upbringing around the paper and her
eventual ownership of it. She was the leader during the paper’s most
famous period, the release of the Pentagon Papers (and the most
exciting part of the book). An incredible read that won the Pulitzer.

“Bury Your Dead” by Louise Penny–one of the Inspector Gamache books,
this is a favorite so far. Interesting construction, with three
storylines at once. In one Gamache is dealing with the aftermath of
having to make a decision that he’s haunted by, as well as a case he
thought was closed. Another storyline is about an historian obsessed
with Champlain, and trying to find his remains.

“Jungle of Stone” by William Carlsen–this nonfiction book is about an
expedition to South America in the 1830’s, taken by John Stephens and
Frederick Catherwood. They were trying (and succeeded!) in finding
long-lost Mayan ruins in the jungle. Stephens wrote a book about the
experience accompanied by beautiful illustrations by Catherwood. The
book talks about their trip, their friendship, and a bit about the
Mayan culture they helped to uncover.

If you’d like to join us at a Simply Books! meeting, we hold them the fourth Saturday of every month at 2pm at the library.  If you’d like to be on our email list (for meeting reminders and meeting summaries), please send me a message at mstickney@librarycamden.org.







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