Book Club, reader's advisory

After Dinner Mints – The Dish on Just Desserts – September 2017

after-dinner-mints

Just Desserts Discussion Group talks about
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

This month’s fiction book is The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Kristin Hannah is the New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale, Night Road, Firefly Lane, True Colors and Winter Garden.  She is a former lawyer, who started writing while pregnant and on bed rest with her son. Writing soon became her obsession and she’s been writing fiction ever since.

Our choice for this month is an epic love story/family drama set in France at the beginning and duration of World War II. Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads to war to defend France. Vianne and their daughter, Sophie, don’t believe that the Nazis will invade their small town of Carriveau. But they do invade and live side by side with the French citizens. Vianne is forced to make choices to keep her family alive.

Vianne’s rebellious sister, Isabelle, is searching for a purpose in life.  She joins the Resistance with a young man named Gaetan. They never look back, while risking their lives to save others. Isabelle is young, beautiful, and brave.

Their father, Julien, sends Isabelle to the country to help Vianne and Sophie survive the war. Their relationship is tested, but so is their strength and their abilities to tell right from wrong. The French people are being forced to accept a life filled with starvation, cold, and horrible treatment of their friends and neighbors, who are Jews.

Our story is told with courage, grace, and insight. We all hope that this is not Kristin Hannah’s last historical fiction novel. The group agreed that her writing is very visual. The novel would translate into a memorable film. In fact, several members thought that this was one of the best novels that they had ever read. I agree!

Pick up The Nightingale for yourself! You will find yourself getting lost in Vianne’s and Isabelle’s stories. It illuminates a part of history rarely seen: the women’s war in World War II France.

The Nightingale

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RA Programs, reader's advisory, Slideshows

Book Lover’s Day 2017 Wrap Up

September 21st was Book Lover’s Day 2017!  This is our annual program to share books that we as a department have loved over the past year, give away raffles of popular books, and have a pleasant luncheon while enjoying fiction.

We had a full house this year; every seat was filled!

If you were unable to join us, or want a refresher on what books were spoken about, below you will find the slide show from Book Lover’s Day 2017 as well as an alphabetical book list by author of the titles presented.  Click on any of the titles in the book list to see them in our catalog.

Please feel free to ask questions or reserve a book via the comments!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (Speculative Fiction)

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero (Nostalgic Adventure)

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan (Romance Fiction)

Dying on the Vine by Marla Cooper (Mystery)

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney (Psychological Suspense)

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (Mythological Non-Fiction)

The Dry by Jane Harper (Mystery)

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (Literary Fiction)

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson (Domestic Fiction)

What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan (Suspense/ Thriller)

The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore (Historical Fiction)

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn (Historical Fiction

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond (Suspense/Thriller)

Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran (Domestic Fiction)

The Reporter Who Knew Too Much by Mark Shaw (Biography/True Crime)

Book Club

After Dinner Mints – The Dish on Just Desserts – July 2017

after-dinner-mints

Just Desserts Discussion Group talks about
All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

This month’s fiction book is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. What a book! What a story! It took the author ten years to research and finish this novel.

Our novel tells the story of Marie-Laure of France and Werner of Germany. Both young people are coming of age during World War II.

The chapters of the book alternate between Marie-Laure’s and Werner’s stories.

The author explores their childhoods before the war. Next, he follows them to new homes at the onset of war. We get to witness how each young person joins the war effort in their own way. The two teens meet during the bombing of Saint-Malo. I don’t want to give away too much of the story except to say that it is riveting. The reader really grows to care about the characters and is really invested in their outcomes.

We get to learn about radios and the big part that they played in communication before, during and after the war.

The novel’s heart is all about doing the right thing. Not necessarily the easy thing, but the right thing! We all can do this! We can treat other people well and with respect. The novel is filled with heroes trying to do good while surrounded with so much evil.

Anthony Doerr won the Pulitzer Prize for this novel. Many book club members thought that this was the best book that we read this year.

All the Light We Cannot See

Book Club

The After Party – Morning Book Break – June 2017

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Morning Book Break Book Discussion on
Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon

Rating: The novel received ratings between 1.0 and 5.0. The average of the ratings was 3.89. Three members gave the book a 5+.  The novel was well received and it was a perfectly positive fit for our last discussion of the season.

Review:
Most members found the depth of historical information presented to be remarkable. Several members commented on the difficulty of keeping the characters straight. Several members loved the book and found the novel to be cleverly constructed and they praised the author for her ability to weave a mystery out of historical facts. The overwhelming presentation of red herrings led to the plausibility of the mystery. Some members were initially excited to read about the Hindenburg, only later to be disappointed as they were unable to connect with the numerous characters. Several members found the writing to choppy and uneven, while others found Lawhon’s writing to beautifully descriptive. One member thought the novel was melodramatic and rang of Titanic themes.  Finally, all members felt better informed about the Hindenburg and its destruction.  Members raved about the discussion and enjoyed the diverse opinions.

Discussion Highlights:

  • Conversation about the structure of the novel and the ability of the author to create suspense even though the outcome is known.
  • Members appreciate the character headings at the beginning of each segment as it was difficult to track all of the characters.
  • Members marveled at the historical accurate details about the Hindenburg and members were impressed as to how the author incorporated this minutia of detail into the novel.
  • Members enjoyed hearing about the state rooms, bathrooms, service rooms, smoking room, observation desk, and the meals and cocktails served.  One member remarked about how she was hungry after reading about the delicious fine meals. The Hindenburg was truly a luxury liner! Members spoke about Emilie’s role as the only female crewmember onboard the ship and her responsibilities to the passengers.
  • The group discussed the differences between air travel at the time and air travel today.  Obviously, there is a great contrast and members shared amusing stories about their air travels.
  • The group talked about which characters they found most sympathetic.  Overall, the group had great sympathy for Werner, the fourteen year old cabin boy. Additionally, they were sympathetic to Emilie’s plight. No one in the group had any sympathy for “The American.”  The facilitator gave four reasons to sympathize with “The American,” and still no one felt his actions to be justified.
  • The facilitator briefly explained the current theories regarding the explosion of the Hindenburg and all the members thought Ariel Lawhon did a marvelous job of addressing and including each theory as a possibility.
  • The facilitator asked if anyone would like to travel on a modern airship, the group resoundingly stated, “NO!”

Resources:

For other books and audiobooks by Ariel Lawhon , please click here.

http://facesofthehindenburg.blogspot.com/

http://www.airships.net/hindenburg/

Read-a-Likes:

Flight of Dreams

 

Morning Book Break 2016-2017 Season Wrap-Up:

Members praised the facilitator for providing a fine selection of diverse books this season.  Members thoroughly enjoy attending discussion days.  The least favorite reads of the season were: In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences, Modern Romance, and My Name is Lucy Barton. The overwhelming favorites for this season were: The Nightingale, The Marriage of Opposites, and Flight of Dreams.  Voted most important read of the season was Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.

Members are sorry to see the season come to a close and they can’t wait until September for the first discussion of the 2017-2018 Season.  If you’re interesting in attending, stop by the Readers’ Advisory Desk for the 2017-2018 Flyer, which will be available in mid-July, and sign-up with a Readers’ Advisor. If you’re already signed up, keep an eye out on the blog page for September’s title!

Book Club

The After Party – Books and Bagels – June 2017

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Books and Bagels Book Discussion on
Georgia by Dawn Tripp

Rating: In Books and Bagels, the novel received ratings between 2.5 and 5.0. The average of the ratings was 4.09. Two members gave the book a 5.  The novel was a terrific ending to the 2016-2017 Season.

Review:
The author, Dawn Tripp, in an interview with Caroline Leavitt, discussed what drove her to write a novel about Georgia O’Keeffe.  Growing up Dawn Tripp had admired O’Keeffe’s art, but after visiting an exhibit of her abstractions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Dawn desired to know about this radical American artist. Dawn Tripp asked herself the following questions: “Who was the woman, the artist, who made these shapes?  What did she think, feel, and want? What was happening in her life? And why hadn’t I seen the full range and power of her abstract work before? Why wasn’t she known for this?” Dawn Tripp kept thinking: “Here is a woman most people know of, yet at some level barely know at all.”  During the discussion, group members talked about how we all knew of Georgia O’Keeffe’s art, but knew little about her as a person.  All members agreed that Dawn Tripp meticulously addressed all of the above inquires and we all felt we had a better understanding of Georgia O’Keeffe and her art.  We all believe Dawn Tripp drew a lovely picture of Georgia and the passion that drove her art.

Discussion Highlights:

  • The book reveals the passionate love affair and marriage of the young, intelligent, fiercely independent Georgia and the father of modern photography, Alfred Stieglitz.  The novel mainly focuses on the years that Alfred and Georgia were together.   Many members were aware of the photography of Alfred Stieglitz; they did not know about his affair with Georgia and his influence on her art and world recognition. We discussed where Georgia would be as an artist without Alfred to guide her. We also discussed the passionate affair and love scenes displayed throughout the novel.  Most members thought this portrayal assisted in understanding what drove these artists. Some members believed that the love scenes distracted from the rest of the engrossing historical novel.
  • Georgia’s struggle to balance her work with her ongoing relationship with Arthur Stieglitz and the dynamics of the complex relationship.  We discuss what Georgia would have achieved without Stieglitz assistance and marketing/branding.  We discussed at length the artistic photos Arthur Stieglitz took of the young Georgia and what these photos meant to Alfred and Georgia and how their exhibition influenced her work.
  • Conversation about the challenges Georgia, a groundbreaking artist, faces in a world dominated by men.  Discussion centered on gender dynamics.
  • The sacrifices Georgia makes to become a legendary artist.  The passions needed to pursue this type of life.
  • We discussed our favorite paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe.
  • We all thought Dawn Tripp used beautiful descriptive language. We thought the novel was well-written, well-edited, and poetic.

Resources:

For books in our collections about Georgia O’Keeffe, please click here.

Georgia O’Keeffe a Life in Art from Georgia O’Keeffe Museum on Vimeo.

https://www.okeeffemuseum.org/

Read-a-Likes:

Georgia

Books and Bagels 2016-2017 Season Wrap-Up:
Members thoroughly enjoy book discussion days and look forward to attending each month. The least favorite reads of the season were: Modern Romance and Did You Ever Have a Family. The overwhelming favorites for this season were: The Nightingale and Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.

Members are sorry to see the season come to an end and they can’t wait until September for the first discussion of the 2017-2018 Season.  If you’re interesting in attending, stop by the Readers’ Advisory Desk for the 2017-2018 Flyer available in mid-July, and sign-up with a Readers’ Advisor.  If you’re already signed up, keep an eye out on the blog page for September’s title!

Book Club

After Dinner Mints – The Dish on Just Desserts – May 2017

after-dinner-mints

Just Desserts Discussion Group talks about
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That
Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

by Ed Catmull

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This month’s book is Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull, a non-fiction pick. Dr. Catmull holds Bachelor of Science degrees in computer science and physics, and a PhD. in computer science. Throughout his illustrious career, he has made huge contributions to the computer graphics field. Ed is a co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and is currently President of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

The book outlines seven core principles for a creative culture in the workplace. They are as follows:

  1. Quality is the best business plan. It is the standard that you aim for.
  2. Failure isn’t a necessary evil. Failure is a necessary risk of any creative endeavor.
  3. People are more important than ideas. Improving ideas starts with the team.
  4. Prepare for the unknown. There will always be problems. Enable your employees to solve them and move on.
  5. The goal isn’t to make things better, it is to make better things.
  6. Everyone should be able to talk to anyone in the company. Proper channels just aren’t efficient.
  7. Honest, candid feedback leads to better ideas and a better work culture.

If you enjoy Pixar films, Dr. Catmull reveals the processes behind some of their biggest blockbusters. Pixar films has two mantras- that story is king and to trust the process.

Currently, Pixar Animation releases three films every two years. Two films are brand new ideas and one is a sequel to a previous film, like Toy Story or Cars.

The group really liked this book! The audiobook is a real treat to listen to. While discussing the book, the group agreed that we would all love to work at Pixar with Ed and his creative team.

There is no read-alike bookmark for Creativity, Inc. because it is a one-of-a-kind read!

Book Club

The After Party – Books & Bagels and Morning Book Break – May 2017

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Books and Bagels and Morning Book Break Book Discussions on
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

Rating: In Books and Bagels, the book received ratings between 4.0 and 5.0+. The average of the ratings was 4.43. Three members gave the book a 5+.  This book received an unusually high rating as compared to past books selected for club.

In Morning Book Break, the book received ratings between a 0 and 5.0+.  The average of the ratings was 4.72. This was also an unusually high rating.

Review: 

Morning Book Break: Members found the book very informative, but the information presented was depressing. Most members would rather not focus on end-of-life issues and most members could only digest the book in small chunks. In spite of this fact, members found the book to be exceptionally well-written and inspiring.  Several members thought it should be a book everyone in the medical profession should read. One member thought this selection was the most valuable read since she has been attending book club.  Members would definitely encourage others to read the book. Members have noticed that Atul Gawande has been on several network news shows and members are glad to be informed about current topics/events.

Books and Bagels: Members overwhelming would and have recommended this book to others. Many members are now going to purchase this book to give to loved ones and also, to give to several doctors. Members believe this is a foundational book, which should be read by every medical professional prior to graduation. Members found the book to be a necessary, important read. One member said, “Definitely, have a tissue box ready if you decide to read.”  Discussion centered on what worked and didn’t work in end life experiences. Members spent time sharing personal preparations. One member pointed out that Atul Gawande is listed in Fortune’s May 1, 2017 issue on p. 46 in the article 34 Leaders Who Are Changing Health Care. Members are excited to read about current information and they feel up-to-date.

Discussion Highlights:

  • Conversation about the personal narratives and anecdotal stories shared by the author
  • Members found the stories to be fruitful and provided helpful insights apart from the facts, figures, and statistics
  • Complexities of medical education and insufficiencies regarding medical training for death, grief, and end-of-life decisions
  • Effectiveness of Doctor Styles: Paternalistic, Informative, and Interpretive
  • Evolution of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospice and what matters most in the end
  • Striking a balance between hope and reality
  • Dr. Gawande’s personal story of his father’s terminal illness
  • Healthcare costs and potential remedies/medical funding/quality-of-life issues/death with dignity
  • How traditions/spirituality influence the concept of being mortal
  • Shared tips/strategies for effectively dealing with mortality—what is involved in a “good death”
  • Aging in the US and abroad
  • Tension between safety and independent living/joyful existence
  • Combating the “Three Plagues of Nursing Home Existence: Boredom, Loneliness, and Helplessness”

Resources:

For other books by Atul Gawande in our collection, please click here.

We also own the Frontline DVD Being Mortal; the film explores the interactions between doctors and patients approaching the end of life.

Jacket (5)

Atul Gawande recommends doctors begin to talk about the inevitability of death with terminally ill patients and he recommends a good place to start is with the use of the “Serious Illness Conversation Guide.” He wrote the guide at the following link to find out what terminally ill patients understand about their condition and what their goals are as the end nears.

http://www.talkaboutwhatmatters.org/documents/Providers/Serious-Illness-Guide.pdf

Read-a-Likes:

Being Mortal

Book Club

After Dinner Mints – The Dish on Just Desserts – April 2017

after-dinner-mints

Just Desserts Discussion Group talks about
Our Souls at Night
by Kent Haruf

This month, our book club selection was Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf.

Kent Haruf (rhymes with sheriff) was an American novelist, who wrote six books. All six books were set in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado. Kent earned a BA from Nebraska Wesleyan University and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa.

His name may be familiar from his Plainsong series. First published was Plainsong, followed by Eventide, with Benediction finishing the trilogy. All three novels became bestsellers.

Sadly, on November 30, 2014, at the age of 71, Kent Haruf died at home from interstitial lung disease. Our Souls at Night, his final work was published posthumously in 2015. His wife, Cathy, and his editor, Gary Fisketjon, were instrumental in getting the novel ready for publication.

Addie Moore visited her neighbor, Louis Waters, with the following proposition; please come to my house to sleep with me at night. Not sex, just companionship at night. Both neighbors had been widowed and they were in their seventies. They found that nights were the loneliest part of the day for them. They would fall asleep telling each other their life stories.

This act of bravery on Addie’s part began a sweet and tender friendship for both of them. Their children and grandchild did not live close. The two friends started sharing meals, chores, and travel.

Before he passed, Kent told his wife that he was going to write a book about them. He sure did. Our group just loved this touching story. Mr. Haruf’s novel really is a beautiful gift to us all!

Netflix will be releasing the film version in late 2017, starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.

Our Souls at Night

Book Club

The After Party – Morning Book Break – April 2017

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Morning Book Break Discussion on The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

Rating: The Marriage of Opposites received ratings between 4.0 and 5.0, with an overall average rating of 4.56.  

Review: The Marriage of Opposites received high marks from all book club members.  Members enjoy generational historical fiction with strong women characters and this novel delivered in these aspects.  We enjoyed a fascinating discussion about the life and times of the father of Impressionism, Camille Pissarro.

Discussion Highlights:

  • Several members appreciated the structure of the novel including the way the chapters were entitled.  This was useful in tracking both the timeline and the vast amount of characters.
  • (Spoiler alert!) Several members were haunted by Lydia’s abduction.  Members were horrified to learn it would be twenty years before she saw her mother again.
  • All members were transfixed by Alice Hoffman’s descriptive language which transported them to the sights, smells, and sounds of St. Thomas and Paris circa the 1800’s. Members loved the vibrant, accurate descriptions of St. Thomas and Paris.  Members who have traveled to these locations felt the author captured them exquisitely.  One member said she literally could feel the humidity of the island.  Members thought the writing in The Marriage of Opposites was the work of a gifted, talent artist—one who could write skillfully about another artist.  Hoffman definitely understands the emotions conveyed on a canvas.  
  • Several members stated that the novel was a quick read and they were unable to put it down. Many chores and necessary tasks at home were left undone!
  • Members enjoyed the compelling characters with such interesting lives.
  • Sadly, members wished we had more time to discuss some of the motifs and magical realism presented in the novel, especially the turtle-girl/woman.

Resources:

The members viewed several of Pissarro’s paintings and then they were asked the following question:

Did any of Pissarro’s paintings that remind you of scenes in the novel?
How does
The Marriage of Opposites convey Pissarro’s style?

You can view some of Pissarro’s paintings by clicking here.

Read-a-Likes:

The Marriage of Opposites

Book Club

The After Party – Books and Bagels – April 2017

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Books and Bagels Book Discussion on The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

Rating: The Sisters Brothers received ratings between 1.0 and 5.0 with an average rating of 3.58.

Review: The reviews were mixed; members either really enjoyed the novel or really detested the novel.

Discussion Highlights:

  • Many members found the novel highly entertaining.  Members found the novel a unique, clever episodic Western.
  • Members discussed whether or not the story was successful as a loosely based picaresque novel.
  • Members appreciated deWitt’s dark humor and members were mystified by how they found themselves laughing at very grisly elements. There was much discussion about the techniques used by deWitt to pull off this feat.  It shows his true talent as an author and members agreed that the novel was worthy of The Man Booker Prize.
  • Members adored the witty banter between the two brothers and the well-developed brother relationship.
  • Members liked watching Eli, the younger brother, develop as an independent person over the course of the novel.
  • Members found the use of first person to be refreshing and felt the structure utilized served the novel well.
  • Members enjoyed the inconspicuous social commentary exhibited throughout the book.
  • Several members appreciated the bare-bones acknowledgements at the end of the book and they wish more authors would employ this technique.
  • Members really appreciated the facilitator presentation about the author and felt they better understood Patrick deWitt and his style.
  • Members learned that Patrick deWitt is a huge fan of Roald Dahl.  One member enjoys reading Dahl and thought deWitt and Dahl have a similar style as both are highly imaginative, dark yarn spinners.
  • Members enjoyed the use of Intermissions, but were perplexed over the Weeping Man, the Old Witch, and the Poisonous Little Girl.  The facilitator provided author insight into these characters.  Overall, the members enjoyed these seemingly unrelated vignettes.
  • One member enjoyed The Sisters Brothers (deWitt’s second novel) so much, that she decided to read deWitt’s Undermajordomo Minor (deWitt’s third novel).  She recommends this unusual novel, but thought The Sisters Brothers was overall a better novel.

Resources:


Patrick deWitt discusses his novel with Jared Bland at the Toronto Public Library.  deWitt discusses improving his craft, what writers should read, research, narrative voice choice, symbolism, and ending choice.

Read-a-Likes:

The Sisters Brothers