Really Cool Women\'s Book Club

Books, Dates and Places February 12, 2016

Filed under: Upcoming books, dates and places — Susan @ 5:29 pm

The votes are in and here are the results along with where and when.

 

The Forever War – Dexter Filkins at Karen’s house on March 31st, 2016

Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas Friedman at JoLynne’s house on May 12th, 2016

 

The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs at Ann’s house on June 23rd

 

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Time to Vote February 3, 2016

Filed under: Nominated Books — Susan @ 3:57 pm

I have been asked several times to pull past books for us to revote on so here are the “almost” winners from 2oo9-2010. Please go to the survey monkey link below and vote for 3 by February 13th. Thanks!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/789FVW3

 

Crazy Heart:  A Novel by Thomas Cobb

Shelter Me by Juliette Fay

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

The Forever War – Dexter Filkins

Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas Friedman

Stop Me if You’ve Heard This Before by Jim Holt

World According to Garp by John Irving

Telex from Cuba by Rachel Kushner

The Given Day by Dennis Lehane

Let the World Spins by Colin McCann

The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs

Lamb in His Bosom by Caroline Miller

The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley

The Theory of Light and Matter by Andrew Porter

A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve

Jamestown by Mathew Sharpe

 

 

Crazy Heart:  A Novel by Thomas Cobb

Singer and guitarist Bad Blake was once a first-rate country-and-western star, but now he’s 57, an alcoholic, a failure at four marriages, and playing in third-rate clubs. The biggest gig he can get is opening for Tommy Sweet, the kid Bad got started and whose career has now eclipsed Bad’s. Bad meets Jean Craddock when she comes to interview him and they fall in love. Her little boy, Buddy, inspires Bad to search for his own long-lost son, but there’s no happy ending there. And when Bad, hungry for a drink, loses Jean’s son, things take a downturn, despite Bad’s fling with AA. This first novel has the authentic patter and ambience of those seedy one-night-stands, but the plot is thin and the ending is very downbeat. There will be heavy promotion and advertising, so requests may warrant purchase.  

Shelter Me by Juliette Day

Four months after her husband’s death, Janie LaMarche remains undone by grief and anger. Her mourning is disrupted, however, by the unexpected arrival of a builder with a contract to add a porch onto her house. Stunned, Janie realizes the porch was meant to be a surprise from her husband—now his last gift to her.As she reluctantly allows construction to begin, Janie clings to the familiar outposts of her sorrow—mothering her two small children with fierce protectiveness, avoiding friends and family, and stewing in a rage she can’t release. Yet Janie’s self-imposed isolation is breached by a cast of unlikely interventionists: her chattering, ipecac-toting aunt; her bossy, over-manicured neighbor; her muffin-bearing cousin; and even Tug, the contractor with a private grief all his own.

As the porch takes shape, Janie discovers that the unknowable terrain of the future is best navigated with the help of others—even those we least expect to call on, much less learn to love.

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living happily on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. Nollop was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the immortal pangram,* “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Now Ella finds herself acting to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of the island’s Council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet as they fall from a memorial statue of Nevin Nollop. As the letters progressively drop from the statue they also disappear from the novel. The result is both a hilarious and moving story of one girl’s fight for freedom of expression, as well as a linguistic tour de force sure to delight word lovers everywhere.

 The Forever War – Dexter Filkins

In instant classic of war reporting, The Forever War is the definitive account of America’s conflict with Islamic fundamentalism and a searing exploration of its human costs. Through the eyes of Filkins, a foreign correspondent for the New York Times, we witness the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s, the aftermath of the attack on New York on September 11th, and the American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Filkins is the only American journalist to have reported on all these events, and his experiences are conveyed in a riveting narrative filled with unforgettable characters and astonishing scenes. 

Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas Friedman 

In this brilliant, essential book, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas L. Friedman speaks to America’s urgent need for national renewal and explains how a green revolution can bring about both a sustainable environment and a sustainable America.

Friedman explains how global warming, rapidly growing populations, and the expansion of the world’s middle class through globalization have produced a dangerously unstable planet–one that is “hot, flat, and crowded.” In this Release 2.0 edition, he also shows how the very habits that led us to ravage the natural world led to the meltdown of the financial markets and the Great Recession. The challenge of a sustainable way of life presents the United States with an opportunity not only to rebuild its economy, but to lead the world in radically innovating toward cleaner energy. And it could inspire Americans to something we haven’t seen in a long time–nation-building in America–by summoning the intelligence, creativity, and concern for the common good that are our greatest national resources.

Hot, Flat, and Crowded is classic Thomas L. Friedman: fearless, incisive, forward-looking, and rich in surprising common sense about the challenge–and the promise–of the future.

Stop Me if You’ve Heard This Before by Jim Holt

From the best-selling author of Why Does the World Exist? comes this outrageous, uproarious compendium of absurdity, filth, racy paradox, and gratuitous  offensiveness―just the kind of mature philosophical reflection readers have come to expect from the ever-entertaining Jim Holt. Indeed, Stop Me If You’ve
Heard This
 is the first book to trace the evolution of the joke all the way from the standup comics of ancient Athens to the comedy-club Seinfelds of today. After exploring humor’s history in Part One, Holt delves into philosophy in Part Two: Wall Street jokes; jokes about rednecks and atheists, bulimics and politicians; jokes you missed if you didn’t go to a Catholic girls’ school; jokes about logic and existence itself . . . all became fodder for the grand theories of Aristotle, Kant, Freud, and Wittgenstein in this heady mix of the high and low, of the ribald and profound, from America’s most beloved philosophical pundit. 15 illustrations

World According to Garp by John Irving

This is the life and times of T. S. Garp, the bastard son of Jenny
Fields–a feminist leader ahead of her times.  This is the life and death
of a famous mother and her almost-famous son; theirs is a world of sexual
extremes–even of sexual assassinations.  It is a novel rich with “lunacy
and sorrow”; yet the dark, violent events of the story do not undermine a
comedy both ribald and robust.  In more than thirty languages, in more than
forty countries–with more than ten million copies in print–this novel
provides almost cheerful, even hilarious evidence of its famous last line:
“In the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases.”

Telex from Cuba by Rachel Kushner

From the National Book Award Finalist and New York Times bestselling author of The Flamethrowers, an astonishingly wise, ambitious, and riveting novel set in the American community in Cuba during the years leading up to Castro’s revolution—a place that was a paradise for a time and for a few. The first novel to tell the story of the Americans who were driven out in 1958, this is a masterful debut with a unique and necessary lens into US-Cuba relations.

Young Everly Lederer and K.C. Stites come of age in Oriente Province, where the Americans tend their own fiefdom—three hundred thousand acres of United Fruit Company sugarcane that surround their gated enclave. If the rural tropics are a child’s dreamworld, Everly and K.C. nevertheless have keen eyes for the indulgences and betrayals of the grown-ups around them—the mordant drinking and illicit loves, the race hierarchies and violence.

In Havana, a thousand kilometers and a world away from the American colony, a cabaret dancer meets a French agitator named Christian de La Mazière, whose seductive demeanor can’t mask his shameful past. Together they become enmeshed in the brewing political underground. When Fidel and Raúl Castro lead a revolt from the mountains above the cane plantation, torching the sugar and kidnapping a boat full of “yanqui” revelers, K.C. and Everly begin to discover the brutality that keeps the colony humming. Though their parents remain blissfully untouched by the forces of history, the children hear the whispers of what is to come.

Kushner’s first novel is a tour de force, haunting and compelling, with the urgency of a telex from a forgotten time and place. 

The Given Day by Dennis Lehane

From Dennis Lehane, New York Times bestselling author of Mystic River and Shutter Island, comes the paperback edition of The Given Day, an unflinching family epic that captures the political unrest of a nation caught between a well-patterned past and an unpredictable future. This beautifully written novel of American history tells the story of two families—one black, one white—swept up in a maelstrom of revolutionaries and anarchists, immigrants and ward bosses, Brahmins and ordinary citizens, all engaged in a battle for survival and power at the end of World War I. 

Let the World Spins by Colin McCann

In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground. In the streets below, a slew of ordinary lives become extraordinary in bestselling novelist Colum McCann’s stunningly intricate portrait of a city and its people.

Let the Great World Spin is the critically acclaimed author’s most ambitious novel yet: a dazzlingly rich vision of the pain, loveliness, mystery, and promise of New York City in the 1970s.

The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs

From the bestselling author of The Know-It-All comes a fascinating and timely exploration of religion and the Bible. A.J. Jacobs chronicles his hilarious and thoughtful year spent obeying―as literally as possible―the tenets of the Bible.

Raised in a secular family but increasingly interested in the relevance of faith in our modern world, A.J. Jacobs decides to dive in headfirst and attempt to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year. He vows to follow the Ten Commandments. To be fruitful and multiply. To love his neighbor. But also to obey the hundreds of less publicized rules: to avoid wearing clothes made of mixed fibers; to play a ten-string harp; to stone adulterers.

The resulting spiritual journey is at once funny and profound, reverent and irreverent, personal and universal and will make you see history’s most influential book with new eyes.

Jacobs’s quest transforms his life even more radically than the year spent reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica for The Know-It-All. His beard grows so unruly that he is regularly mistaken for a member of ZZ Top. He immerses himself in prayer, tends sheep in the Israeli desert, battles idolatry, and tells the absolute truth in all situations—much to his wife’s chagrin.

Throughout the book, Jacobs also embeds himself in a cross-section of communities that take the Bible literally. He tours a Kentucky-based creationist museum and sings hymns with Pennsylvania Amish. He dances with Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn and does Scripture study with Jehovah’s Witnesses. He discovers ancient biblical wisdom of startling relevance. And he wrestles with seemingly archaic rules that baffle the twenty-first-century brain.

Jacobs’s extraordinary undertaking yields unexpected epiphanies and challenges. A book that will charm readers both secular and religious, The Year of Living Biblically is part Cliff Notes to the Bible, part memoir, and part look into worlds unimaginable. Thou shalt not be able to put it down. 

Lamb in His Bosom by Caroline Miller

In 1934, Caroline Miller’s novel Lamb in His Bosom won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature. It was the first novel by a Georgia author to win a Pulitzer, soon followed by Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind in 1937. In fact, Lamb was largely responsible for the discovery of Gone With the Wind; after reading Miller’s novel, Macmillan editor Harold S. Latham sought other southern novels and authors, and found Margaret Mitchell.

Caroline Miller was fascinated by the other Old South not the romantic inhabitants of Gone With the Wind, but rather the poor people of the south Georgia backwoods, who never owned a slave or planned to fight a war. The story of Cean and Lonzo, a young couple who begin their married lives two decades before the Civil War, Lamb in His Bosom is a fascinating account of social customs and material realities among settlers of the Georgia frontier. At the same time, Lamb in His Bosom transcends regional history as Miller’s quietly lyrical prose style pays poignant tribute to a woman’s life lived close to nature the nature outside her and the nature within.

The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley

 Hailed as a masterpiece-the finest work yet by an American novelist of the first rank-The Man in My Basement tells the story of Charles Blakey, a young black man who can’t find a job, drinks too much, and, worst of all, stands to lose the beautiful home that has belonged to his family for generations. But Charles’s fortunes take an odd turn when a stranger offers nearly $50,000 to rent out Charles’s basement-and soon, as the boarder transforms the basement into a prison cell, Charles finds himself drawn into circumstances almost unimaginably bizarre and profoundly unsettling.

The Theory of Light and Matter by Andrew Porter 

The narrators of Porter’s Flannery O’Connor Award–winning collection tend to be young and clear-eyed beyond their years as they give voice to the secrets—family, their own—that haunt them. In the opening story, Hole, the narrator ruminates on the loss of a childhood friend and the slippery nature of guilt, memory and truth. In Storms, a young man considers his relationship with a troubled sister, who abandoned her fiancé in Spain without a passport or money. The narrator of River Dog wonders if he should or could hate his brother for the things he did to other people, and for what they did to his brother. In the title story, a young woman ponders the nature of a May/December romance. If the events and secrets of these characters’ pasts have not overtaken their lives, then their reverberations still threaten to corrupt the years yet to come. Throughout, Porter shows how love and pain often come hand in hand.

A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve

At an inn in the Berkshire Mountains, seven former schoolmates gather to celebrate a wedding–a reunion that becomes the occasion of astonishing revelations as the friends collectively recall a long-ago night that indelibly marked each of their lives. Written with the fluent narrative artistry that distinguishes all of Anita Shreve’s bestselling novels, A Wedding in December acutely probes the mysteries of the human heart and the endless allure of paths not taken. 

Jamestown by Mathew Sharpe

 A group of “settlers” (more like survivors) arrive in Virginia from the ravished island of Manhattan, intending to establish an outpost, find oil, and exploit the Indians controlling the area. But nothing goes quite as planned (one settler, for instance, keeps losing body parts). At the heart of the story is Pocahontas, who speaks Valley Girl, Ebonics, Old English, and Algonquin—sometimes all in the same sentence. And she pursues a heated romance with settler Johnny Rolfe via text messaging, instant messaging, and, ultimately, telepathy.
Deadly serious and seriously funny, Matthew Sharpe’s fictional retelling of one of America’s original myths is a history of violence, a cross-cultural love story, and a tragicomic commentary on America’s past and present.