We held a brief meeting on a beautiful Saturday afternoon this month, and here are the books we shared with each other!
“Gilead” by Marilynne Robinson–this Pulitzer Prize-winner is a novel
about a pastor from a long line of pastors. He’s in his mid-70’s, and
the story is written as a letter to his seven year old son. The
pastor knows he won’t see his son grow up, so he’s using this letter
to impart fatherly wisdom and lessons. There’s lots of great food for
thought–scripture is used and discussed, but never in a preachy way.
There are several passages worth going back and looking at again. The
only wrong note was the ending–it seemed like it belonged in another
“Our Kind of Traitor” by John le Carre–le Carre’s novels of intrigue
are a lot like knitting argyle socks–lots of threads picking up in
different places! But the characters are incredibly
three-dimensional, you really get inside their heads–they’re people
who often doubt themselves and their motives. The story itself is
about international intrigue and money laundering. It’s hard to put
“Thunderstruck” by Erik Larson–unlike Larson’s “Devil in the White
City,” this book *is* easy to put down. It’s enjoyable, but tough to
get into a narrative flow when there are two stories going on: one
about Marconi and the details behind the invention of the telegraph,
and one about the Crippen murder.
“Miller’s Valley” by Anna Quindlen–this novel is set in the
1950’s/60’s in California, in the area where lots of rivers were being
dammed and lots of property developments going up. It’s centered on a
family fighting these changes, who want their slower way of life to
stay the same. Really good characters. Almost reminds one of the
Waltons–just people who want to live in the old and familiar way.
“Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5 Billion Year History of the
Human Body” by Neil Shubin–this is a very accessible science book,
great if you’re interested in paleontology. It examines the history
of the human body and why and how it evolved the way that it did over
billions of years.
“What Is the What” by Dave Eggers–this novel tells the story of one
of the Lost Boys of Sudan. He comes to America to avoid becoming a
child soldier. It’s a tragic and comedic look at his immigrant
experience in the United States.
“An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones–Oprah’s most recent book pick
is about a young black couple who have been married for a year. The
husband is convicted of a crime he did not commit, and goes to prison
for five years. The novel examines their marriage and its
breakup–very sad, but very good.
“The Cuckoo’s Calling” by Robert Galbraith–this mystery novel is
about a private detective named Cormoran Strike, who’s trying to solve
the possible murder of a model. He’s a great character, different
from the stereotype of PI’s–he’s a veteran and worked with military
police, and he’s got some issues, but he comes across as generally a
good guy. The descriptions, names, and word choices are all very
evocative. You’d never know this is JK Rowling writing under a pen
name, but once you do, you can see all of her strengths on display.
We also briefly mentioned a few other books, since we had so much time
left over: “A Long Way Gone” by Ishmael Beah; “Olive Kitteridge” by
Elizabeth Strout; “The House of Unexpected Sisters” by Alexander
McCall Smith; “Leonardo Da Vinci” by Walter Isaacson.
Our last meeting of this season will be Saturday, May 26th at 2pm in the Jean Picker Room at the library. After that we’ll be on our summer break June-August, and reconvene on September 22nd!