Really Cool Women\'s Book Club

Boys in the Trees by Carly Simon on December 21st at Lori’s house December 7, 2017

Filed under: Upcoming books — Susan @ 2:58 pm

In the trees is just about the only place in Carly Simon’s world that there aren’t boys, suggests this unputdownable memoir by the beloved singer and the first artist in history to win a Grammy Award, an Academy Award, and a Golden Globe Award for the same song (“Let the River Run” from the movie Working Girl). Growing up the privileged but congenitally anxious daughter of a high-flying publishing executive, Simon learned early on – perhaps from her mother, who moved a much younger male “assistant” into the house when the Simon sisters were small – to crave love and attention. Some of this she got, of course, from performing, even though she famously suffers from crippling stage fright. The rest she sought from men – and her encounters with guys known mostly by their bold-faced first names – Mick, Warren, Jack – are well (and sometimes painfully honestly) documented here. (And yes, she finally reveals who her song “You’re So Vain” refers to – sort of.) But it is the story of her marriage to fellow musician and Martha’s Vineyard resident James Taylor – whom she met first as a young teenager – that is the most resonant. Although the union lasted two decades, and produced two children – and despite the fact that Simon and Taylor are now not in touch – it is clear that JT is Simon’s real-life torch song, the original man who got away.

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Winter 2017/2018 book picks and places November 20, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Susan @ 2:47 am

Boys in the Trees by Carly Simon on December 21st at Lori’s house

Thanks, Obama by David Litt on February 1st at Karen’s house

You don’t have to say you love me by Sherman Alexie on March 15th at JoLynne’s house

 

Time to vote for books November 13, 2017

Filed under: Nominated Books — Susan @ 11:04 pm

Please go to Survey Monkey at link below and vote for 3 books.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NN7T6KW

Boys in the Trees:  A memoir by Carly Simon

In the trees is just about the only place in Carly Simon’s world that there aren’t boys, suggests this unputdownable memoir by the beloved singer and the first artist in history to win a Grammy Award, an Academy Award, and a Golden Globe Award for the same song (“Let the River Run” from the movieWorking Girl). Growing up the privileged but congenitally anxious daughter of a high-flying publishing executive, Simon learned early on – perhaps from her mother, who moved a much younger male “assistant” into the house when the Simon sisters were small – to crave love and attention. Some of this she got, of course, from performing, even though she famously suffers from crippling stage fright. The rest she sought from men – and her encounters with guys known mostly by their bold-faced first names – Mick, Warren, Jack – are well (and sometimes painfully honestly) documented here. (And yes, she finally reveals who her song “You’re So Vain” refers to – sort of.) But it is the story of her marriage to fellow musician and Martha’s Vineyard resident James Taylor – whom she met first as a young teenager – that is the most resonant. Although the union lasted two decades, and produced two children – and despite the fact that Simon and Taylor are now not in touch – it is clear that JT is Simon’s real-life torch song, the original man who got away

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

The acclaimed, bestselling author—winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize—tells the enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families’ lives.One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, 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.When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another.Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together.

Hag-Seed (Hogarth Shakespeare) by Margaret Attwood

 William Shakespeare’s The Tempest retold as Hag-Seed
Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he’s staging a Tempestlike no other: not only will it boost his reputation, it will heal emotional wounds.
Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And also brewing revenge.
After twelve years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison. Here, Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him. It’s magic! But will it remake Felix as his enemies fall?
Margaret Atwood’s novel take on Shakespeare’s play of enchantment, retribution, and second chances leads us on an interactive, illusion-ridden journey filled with new surprises and wonders of its own.

Hunger by Roxane Gay

From the New York Times best-selling author of Bad Feminist, a searingly honest memoir of food, weight, self-image, and learning how to feed your hunger while taking care of yourself. “I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I was because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere. . . . I was trapped in my body, one that I barely recognized or understood, but at least I was safe.” New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and bodies, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as “wildly undisciplined,” Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she casts an insightful and critical eye on her childhood, teens, and twenties—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers into the present and the realities, pains, and joys of her daily life. With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and authority that have made her one of the most admired voices of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen. Hunger is a deeply personal memoir from one of our finest writers, and tells a story that hasn’t yet been told but needs to be.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides.  Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.
Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster. 

New Boy (Hogarth Shakespeare) by Tracy Chevalier

Arriving at his fifth school in as many years, diplomat’s son Osei Kokote knows he needs an ally if he is to survive his first day – so he’s lucky to hit it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school. But one student can’t stand to witness this budding relationship: Ian decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy and the golden girl. By the end of the day, the school and its key players – teachers and pupils alike – will never be the same again.
The tragedy of Othello is transposed to a 1970s suburban Washington schoolyard, where kids fall in and out of love with each other before lunchtime, and practice a casual racism picked up from their parents and teachers. Peeking over the shoulders of four 11 year olds – Osei, Dee, Ian, and his reluctant ‘girlfriend’ Mimi – Tracy Chevalier’s powerful drama of friends torn apart by jealousy, bullying and betrayal will leave you reeling.

Reasonable Creatures by Katha Pollitt

Pollitt, a prize-winning poet whose incisive political and social commentary appears in the Nation and other journals, here gathers previously published works that have in common a “concern for women’s entitlement to full human rights.” She brings a lively wit and considerable erudition to analyzing topics ranging from date rape to media-bashing of Hillary Clinton, and she consistently sees past the ephemeral quality of specific newsmaking events to locate issues of enduring importance. For example, in her 1987 essay about the famous Baby M case, Pollitt focuses not on the characters and morals of Mary Beth Whitehead and William and Elizabeth Stern but on the nature of the transaction between them, “an inherently unequal relationship involving the sale of a woman’s body and a child.” One wishes only that Pollitt had taken the occasion of book publication to supply the sources of her data or to direct the reader to the salient passages in the works she cites. These, however, are minor lapses in a collection of major interest.

Shrill by Lindy West

Shrill is an uproarious memoir, a feminist rallying cry in a world that thinks gender politics are tedious and that women, especially feminists, can’t be funny.
Coming of age in a culture that demands women be as small, quiet, and compliant as possible–like a porcelain dove that will also have sex with you–writer and humorist Lindy West quickly discovered that she was anything but.
From a painfully shy childhood in which she tried, unsuccessfully, to hide her big body and even bigger opinions; to her public war with stand-up comedians over rape jokes; to her struggle to convince herself, and then the world, that fat people have value; to her accidental activism and never-ending battle royale with Internet trolls, Lindy narrates her life with a blend of humor and pathos that manages to make a trip to the abortion clinic funny and wring tears out of a story about diarrhea.
With inimitable good humor, vulnerability, and boundless charm, Lindy boldly shares how to survive in a world where not all stories are created equal and not all bodies are treated with equal respect, and how to weather hatred, loneliness, harassment, and loss, and walk away laughing. Shrill provocatively dissects what it means to become self-aware the hard way, to go from wanting to be silent and invisible to earning a living defending the silenced in all caps

Soonish by Zach and Kelly Weinersmith

What will the world of tomorrow be like? How does progress happen? And why do we not have a lunar colony already? What is the hold-up?
In this smart and funny book, celebrated cartoonist Zach Weinersmith and noted researcher Dr. Kelly Weinersmith give us a snapshot of what’s coming next — from robot swarms to nuclear fusion powered-toasters. By weaving their own research, interviews with the scientists who are making these advances happen, and Zach’s trademark comics, the Weinersmiths investigate why these technologies are needed, how they would work, and what is standing in their way.
New technologies are almost never the work of isolated geniuses with a neat idea. A given future technology may need any number of intermediate technologies to develop first, and many of these critical advances may appear to be irrelevant when they are first discovered. The journey to progress is full of strange detours and blind alleys that tell us so much about the human mind and the march of civilization.
To this end, Soonish investigates ten different emerging fields, from programmable matter to augmented reality, from space elevators to robotic construction, to show us the amazing world we will have, you know, soonish.

Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years by David Litt:

More than any other presidency, Barack Obama’s eight years in the White House were defined by young people – twenty-somethings who didn’t have much experience in politics (or anything else, for that matter), yet suddenly found themselves in the most high-stakes office building on earth. David Litt was one of those twenty-somethings. After graduating from college in 2008, he went straight to the Obama campaign. In 2011, he became one of the youngest White House speechwriters in history. Until leaving the White House in 2016, he wrote on topics from healthcare to climate change to criminal justice reform. As President Obama’s go-to comedy writer, he also took the lead on the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the so-called “State of the Union of jokes.”

The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau by Graeme Macrae Burnet

Manfred Baumann is a loner. Socially awkward and perpetually ill at ease, he spends his evenings quietly drinking and surreptitiously observing Adèle Bedeau, the sullen but alluring waitress at a drab bistro in the unremarkable small French town of Saint-Louis. One day, she simply vanishes into thin air and Georges Gorski, a detective haunted by his failure to solve one of his first murder cases, is called in to investigate the girl’s disappearance. He sets his sights on Manfred.
As Manfred cowers beneath Gorski’s watchful eye, the murderous secrets of his past begin to catch up with him and his carefully crafted veneer of normalcy falters. His booze-soaked unraveling carries him from Saint-Louis to the back alleys of Strasbourg. Graeme Macrae Burnet’s masterful play on literary form featuring an unreliable narrator makes for a grimly entertaining psychological thriller that questions if it is possible, or even desirable, to know another man’s mind.

The Man Who Touched His own Heart by Robb Dunn

The Man Who Touched His Own Heart tells the raucous, gory, mesmerizing story of the heart, from the first “explorers” who dug up cadavers and plumbed their hearts’ chambers, through the first heart surgeries-which had to be completed in three minutes before death arrived-to heart transplants and the latest medical efforts to prolong our hearts’ lives, almost defying nature in the process.
Thought of as the seat of our soul, then as a mysteriously animated object, the heart is still more a mystery than it is understood. Why do most animals only get one billion beats? (And how did modern humans get to over two billion-effectively letting us live out two lives?) Why are sufferers of gingivitis more likely to have heart attacks? Why do we often undergo expensive procedures when cheaper ones are just as effective? What do Da Vinci, Mary Shelley, and contemporary Egyptian archaeologists have in common? And what does it really feel like to touch your own heart, or to have someone else’s beating inside your chest?
Rob Dunn’s fascinating history of our hearts brings us deep inside the science, history, and stories of the four chambers we depend on most.

The Sellout by Paul Beatty:

The Sellout is the first book by an American author to win the UK’s prestigious Man Booker Prize.
A biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality – the black Chinese restaurant.

You don’t have to say you love me by Sherman Alexie

Family relationships are never simple. But Sherman Alexie’s bond with his mother Lillian was more complex than most. She plunged her family into chaos with a drinking habit, but shed her addiction when it was on the brink of costing her everything. She survived a violent past, but created an elaborate facade to hide the truth. She selflessly cared for strangers, but was often incapable of showering her children with the affection that they so desperately craved. She wanted a better life for her son, but it was only by leaving her behind that he could hope to achieve it. It’s these contradictions that made Lillian Alexie a beautiful, mercurial, abusive, intelligent, complicated, and very human woman.
When she passed away, the incongruities that defined his mother shook Sherman and his remembrance of her. Grappling with the haunting ghosts of the past in the wake of loss, he responded the only way he knew how: he wrote. The result is a stunning memoir filled with raw, angry, funny, profane, tender memories of a childhood few can imagine, much less survive. An unflinching and unforgettable remembrance, YOU DON’T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME is a powerful, deeply felt account of a complicated relationship.

 

Dispatches by Michael Herr on November 9th at 6:30 at Big Grove hosted by Heidi November 8, 2017

Filed under: Upcoming books, dates and places — Susan @ 4:05 pm

From its terrifying opening pages to its final eloquent words, Dispatches makes us see, in unforgettable and unflinching detail, the chaos and fervor of the war and the surreal insanity of life in that singular combat zone. Michael Herr’s unsparing, unorthodox retellings of the day-to-day events in Vietnam take on the force of poetry, rendering clarity from one of the most incomprehensible and nightmarish events of our time.

Dispatches is among the most blistering and compassionate accounts of war in our literature.

 

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates on September 28th at 6:15 at Radio Maria hosted by Danda September 11, 2017

Filed under: Upcoming books — Susan @ 5:44 pm

Readers of his work in The Atlantic and elsewhere know Ta-Nehisi Coates for his thoughtful and influential writing on race in America. Written as a series of letters to his teenaged son, his new memoir, Between the World and Me, walks us through the course of his life, from the tough neighborhoods of Baltimore in his youth, to Howard University—which Coates dubs “The Mecca” for its revelatory community of black students and teachers—to the broader Meccas of New York and Paris. Coates describes his observations and the evolution of his thinking on race, from Malcolm X to his conclusion that race itself is a fabrication, elemental to the concept of American (white) exceptionalism. Ferguson, Trayvon Martin, and South Carolina are not bumps on the road of progress and harmony, but the results of a systemized, ubiquitous threat to “black bodies” in the form of slavery, police brutality, and mass incarceration. Coates is direct and, as usual, uncommonly insightful and original. There are no wasted words. This is a powerful and exceptional book.

 

All the light we cannot see by Anthony Doerr at Big Grove on August 16th at 6PM August 9, 2017

Filed under: Books,Past Meetings — Susan @ 9:47 pm

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.
Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).

 

Upcoming books and places July 6, 2017

Filed under: Upcoming books, dates and places — Susan @ 6:43 pm

All the light we cannot see by Anthony Doerr on August 17th at Susan’s house

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates on September 28th at Danda’s house

Dispatches by Michael Herr on November 9th at Heidi’s house