2017 Book Group Reads

Thursday Evening Reading Group 

Meets the second Thursday of the month (usually) at 7:30 pm in the Board Room.


January 12, 2017
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (2004) Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.

February 9, 2017
Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China by Paul French(2012) Peking in 1937 is a heady mix of privilege and scandal, opulence and opium dens, rumors and superstition. The Japanese are encircling the city, and the discovery of Pamela Werner’s body sends a shiver through already nervous Peking. Is it the work of a madman? One of the ruthless Japanese soldiers now surrounding the city? Or perhaps the dreaded fox spirits? With the suspect list growing and clues sparse, two detectives—one British and one Chinese—race against the clock to solve the crime before the Japanese invade and Peking as they know it is gone forever.




Mar. 9, 2017
The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith (2016) Across three continents and four hundred years, Dominic Smith has spun a stunning tale of forgeries and deaths, deception and love to reveal the lasting legacy of a fateful brush stroke. Akin to the page-turning greats like Girl with a Pearl Earring and The Goldfinch, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos is held together by the gravitas of a single painting to tell the story of two women, their mistakes and love affairs, their devotion to art and their struggles to thrive in a male dominated profession.


April 13, 2017
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren (2016) An illuminating debut memoir of a woman in science; a moving portrait of a longtime friendship; and a stunningly fresh look at plants that will forever change how you see the natural world. At the core of this book is the story of a relationship Jahren forged with a brilliant, wounded man named Bill, who becomes her lab partner and best friend. Their sometimes rogue adventures in science take them from the Midwest across the United States and back again, over the Atlantic to the ever-light skies of the North Pole and to tropical Hawaii, where she and her lab currently make their home.


May 11, 2017
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (2016) Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America.


June 8, 2017
In the Darkroom by Susan Faludi (2016) An extraordinary inquiry into the meaning of identity in the modern world and in her own haunted family saga. When the feminist writer learned that her 76-year-old father―long estranged and living in Hungary―had undergone sex reassignment surgery, that investigation would turn personal and urgent. How was this new parent who identified as “a complete woman now” connected to the silent, explosive, and ultimately violent father she had known, the photographer who’d built his career on the alteration of images?


July 13, 2017
News of the World by Paulette Giles (2016) In the aftermath of the American Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this morally complex, multi-layered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.


No August Meeting

September 14, 2017
Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood (2016)  “[A] compelling new memoir . . . By turns alarming, sad and funny, [Trevor Noah’s] book provides a harrowing look, through the prism of Mr. Noah’s family, at life in South Africa under apartheid. . . . Born a Crime is not just an unnerving account of growing up in South Africa under apartheid, but a love letter to the author’s remarkable mother.”Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times


October 12, 2017
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett (2016) One Sunday afternoon, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families. Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.


November 9, 2017
Moonglow by Michael Chabon (2016)  Moonglow unfolds as the deathbed confession of a man the narrator refers to only as “my grandfather.” It is a tale of madness, of war and adventure, of sex and marriage and desire, of existential doubt and model rocketry, of the shining aspirations and demonic underpinnings of American technological accomplishment at midcentury, and, above all, of the destructive impact—and the creative power—of keeping secrets and telling lies.

My Brilliant Friendmoonglow

December 14, 2017
Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple (2016) Maria Semple returns to the Seattle of her previous novel Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, this time with the protagonist Eleanor Flood, a status-conscious transplant who vows on page one that Today will be different. Spoiler alert: not really… at least not in the way that she thinks.


Daytime Book Discussion 2016 Schedule
The group meets the second Monday of the month at 1 pm in the Antiques Room

January 9, 2017

The Widow’s War by Sally Gunning

Married for twenty years to Edward Berry, Lyddie is used to the trials of being a whaler’s wife, running their house herself during her husband’s long absences at sea, living with the daily uncertainty that Edward will simply not return. When her worst fear is realized, she finds herself  overwhelmed by grief, and her property and rights are now legally in the hands of  her daughter’s overbearing husband. Lyddie decides to challenge both law and custom for control of her destiny, but she soon discovers the price of her bold “war” for personal freedom.


February 13, 2017

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family. Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master’s illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds.


March 13, 2017

Postcards From the Edge by Carrie Fisher

When we first meet young actress Suzanne Vale, she’s feeling like “something on the bottom of someone’s shoe, and not even someone interesting.” Suzanne is in the harrowing and hilarious throes of drug rehabilitation, trying to understand what happened to her life and how she managed to land in a “drug hospital.” Just as Fisher’s first film role—the precocious teenager in Shampoo—echoed her own Beverly Hills upbringing, her first book is set within the world she knows better than anyone else: Hollywood. This stunning literary debut chronicles Suzanne’s vivid, excruciatingly funny experiences inside the clinic and as she comes to terms with life in the outside world.


April 10, 2017
After You by Jo Jo Moyes

The sequel to Me After You. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started. Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies.


May 8, 2017

How To Catch a Russian Spy by Naveed Jamali

For three nerve-wracking years, Naveed Jamali spied on America for the Russians, trading thumb drives of sensitive technical data for envelopes of cash, selling out his own beloved country across noisy restaurant tables and in quiet parking lots. Or so the Russians believed. In fact, this young American civilian was a covert double agent working with the FBI.



June 12, 2017

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen

Mary Beth Latham has built her life around her family, around caring for her three teenage children and preserving the rituals of their daily life. When one of her sons becomes depressed, Mary Beth focuses on him, only to be blindsided by a shocking act of violence. What happens afterward is a testament to the power of a woman’s love and determination, and to the invisible lines of hope and healing that connect one human being to another.


July 10, 2017

New Grub Street by George Gissing

A portrayal of the intrigues and hardships of the publishing world in late Victorian England. In a materialistic, class-conscious society that rewards commercial savvy over artistic achievement, authors and scholars struggle to earn a living without compromising their standards. “Even as the novel chills us with its still-recognizable portrayal of the crass and vulgar world of literary endeavor,” writes Francine Prose in her Introduction, “its very existence provides eloquent, encouraging proof of the fact that a powerful, honest writer can transcend the constraints of commerce.”


August 14, 2017

Daughter of Australia by Harmony Verna

At the turn of the 20th century in the harsh land of Western Australia, orphaned children, Leonora and James, become soulmates. Too soon they are sent away, Lenora to a wealthy family in America, James to his uncle and aunt, who have emigrated from Ireland to Australia. In time Leonora becomes a Pittsburgh high-society beauty. She loses all traces of her past, even her accent. Her adoptive parents force her to marry Alex, the dashing young manager of their world-wide mining and agriculture operations. That marriage brings her back to the land she has always felt is her home. Alex hires the now-adult James as his station (ranch) manager. Jealousies, passions, and the best and worst traits of humans soon take over.


September 11, 2017

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood – where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.


October 9, 2017

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Stan and Charmaine are a married couple trying to stay afloat in the midst of an economic and social collapse.  Job loss has forced them to live in their car, leaving them vulnerable to roving gangs. They desperately need to turn their situation around—and fast. The Positron Project in the town of Consilience seems to be the answer to their prayers. No one is unemployed and everyone gets a comfortable, clean house to live in . . . for six months out of the year. On alternating months, residents of Consilience must leave their homes and function as inmates in the Positron prison system. Once their month of service in the prison is completed, they can return to their “civilian” homes


November 13, 2017

A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.”Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul.


December 11, 2017

The Whistler by John Grisham

We expect our judges to be honest and wise. Their integrity and impartiality are the bedrock of the entire judicial system. But what happens when a judge bends the law or takes a bribe?  Lacy Stoltz is an investigator for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct. She is a lawyer, not a cop, and it is her job to respond to complaints dealing with judicial misconduct. After nine years with the Board, she knows that most problems are caused by incompetence, not corruption. But a corruption case eventually crosses her desk. A previously disbarred lawyer is back in business with a new identity. He claims to know of a Florida judge who has stolen more money than all other crooked judges combined. And not just crooked judges in Florida. All judges, from all states, and throughout U.S. history.


Non-Fiction Book Club 2016 Schedule

Meets the first Tuesday of the month (usually) at 1 pm in the Antiques Room

January 10, 2017
Will in the World by Stephen Greenblatt (2004) How Shakespeare became Shakespeare. Young man from a small provincial town moves to London in the late 1580s and becomes the greatest playwright of his age.

February 7, 2017
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (1996) Christopher McCandless cut all ties and hitchhiked to Alaska, then walked alone into the wilderness. Why did he do it?

March 7, 2017
The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson (2015) Adventures of an American in Britain. In 1995, Bill Bryson takes a motoring trip to explore England’s green and pleasant land. This is an uproarious and endearing account.

April 4, 2017
The Big Burn by Timothy Egan (2009) Teddy Roosevelt and the great wildfire of 1910 that swept Montana and Idaho; the U.S. Forest Service comes of age.

May 2, 2017
Elephant Company by Vicki Croke (2014) Inspiring true story of an unlikely hero and the animals that helped him save lives in WWII.

June 6, 2017
First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s First Ladies by Kate Anderson Brower (2016) From Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama: how these presidential wives filled the most underestimated and challenging job in the world.

July and August: No Meetings


September 12, 2017
Isaac’s Storm: A Man, A Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson (1999) On September 8, 1900, winds of 140 mph hit Galveston, Texas. Because the science of weather forecasting was in its infancy, nobody was prepared. Local U.S. meteorologist Isaac Cline, a tragic yet heroic figure, saw the warning signs but failed to act quickly enough.

October 3, 2017
Putin Country, A Journey Into the Real Russia by Anne Garrels (2015) Former NPR correspondent reports from her 20-year experience visiting Russia and observing everyday life under Putin’s regime.

November 7, 2017
Lights Out by Ted Koppel (2015) Renowned journalist imagines what would be the impact of cyber attack on America’s power grid.

December 5, 2017
The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean (1998) Enjoy this tale of beauty and obsession, of a variety of weird characters stealing rare orchids from the wild swamps of southern Florida, of a watery world where Seminoles and alligators share space.