Really Cool Women\'s Book Club

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen at Heidi’s house on April 6th March 6, 2011

Filed under: Books — Susan @ 4:12 pm

At first, the worst week of Janzen’s life—she gets into a debilitating car wreck right after her husband leaves her for a guy he met on the Internet and saddles her with a mortgage she can’t afford—seems to come out of nowhere, but the disaster’s long buildup becomes clearer as she opens herself up. Her 15-year relationship with Nick had always been punctuated by manic outbursts and verbally abusive behavior, so recognizing her co-dependent role in their marriage becomes an important part of Janzen’s recovery (even as she tweaks the 12 steps just a bit). The healing is further assisted by her decision to move back in with her Mennonite parents, prompting her to look at her childhood religion with fresh, twinkling eyes. (She provides an appendix for those unfamiliar with Mennonite culture, as well as a list of shame-based foods from hot potato salad to borscht.) Janzen is always ready to gently turn the humor back on herself, though, and women will immediately warm to the self-deprecating honesty with which she describes the efforts of friends and family to help her re-establish her emotional well-being.


February 23rd, 2011 at Farren’s hosted by Danda-Drop City by TC Boyle

Filed under: Past Meetings — Susan @ 4:09 pm

Cool Women in Attendance:

  • Danda, Heidi, Susan, Marci


  • Farren yummies

Memorable Moments:

  • Susan promises not to recommend any more TC Boyle books
  • Really, aren’t we important enough for the back table?!
  • Marci has now cleansed a naked stranger

Drop City by TC Boyle at Danda’s house February 23rd, 2011

Filed under: Books — Susan @ 4:06 pm

Drop City is funny, evocative, and well-paced, shifting between the hippies and the Alaskan locals–primarily Sess and his new bride Pamela (a city dweller who arranged stays with several trappers over a few weeks to determine whom she would marry)–until the two cultures collide. Balanced between plot and character, Boyle excels at describing the physical world and his characters’ interaction with it, whether portraying the harshness (or sheer beauty) of the Alaskan wilderness, the simple survival routines of its grizzled inhabitants, or the sounds wafting through Drop City: “the goats bleating to be milked or fed, the single sharp ringing note of a dog surprised by its own hunger, the regular slap of the screen door at the back of the house–and underneath it all, like the soundtrack to a movie, the dull hum of rock and roll leaking out the kitchen windows.” Truly American in spirit, Drop City is a strong novel of freedom and those in pursuit of lives of liberty. –Michael Ferch


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks at Susie’s house on January 12th, 2011

Filed under: Books — Susan @ 4:03 pm

From a single, abbreviated life grew a seemingly immortal line of cells that made some of the most crucial innovations in modern science possible. And from that same life, and those cells, Rebecca Skloot has fashioned in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks a fascinating and moving story of medicine and family, of how life is sustained in laboratories and in memory. Henrietta Lacks was a mother of five in Baltimore, a poor African American migrant from the tobacco farms of Virginia, who died from a cruelly aggressive cancer at the age of 30 in 1951. A sample of her cancerous tissue, taken without her knowledge or consent, as was the custom then, turned out to provide one of the holy grails of mid-century biology: human cells that could survive–even thrive–in the lab. Known as HeLa cells, their stunning potency gave scientists a building block for countless breakthroughs, beginning with the cure for polio. Meanwhile, Henrietta’s family continued to live in poverty and frequently poor health, and their discovery decades later of her unknowing contribution–and her cells’ strange survival–left them full of pride, anger, and suspicion. For a decade, Skloot doggedly but compassionately gathered the threads of these stories, slowly gaining the trust of the family while helping them learn the truth about Henrietta, and with their aid she tells a rich and haunting story that asks the questions, Who owns our bodies? And who carries our memories? —Tom Nissley


January 12th, 2011 at Boltini’s hosted by Susie-The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Filed under: Past Meetings — Susan @ 3:59 pm

Cool Women in Attendance:

  • Lori, Marci, Heidi, Susan, Susie


  • Boltini Yummies

Memorable Moments

  • The book was well received
  • Girl talk

December 1, 2010 at Jane Addams Book Shop hosted by Susan-Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris

Filed under: Past Meetings — Susan @ 3:56 pm

Cool Women in Attendance:

Heidi, Danda, Susan, Susie


Boltini Yummies

Memorable Moments:

-Book not well received

-Girl talk