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Thursday Morning Book Discussion

 

Thursday Morning Book Discussion meets the 3rd Thursday of each month at 10:15 am

Coming clean by Kimberly Rae Miller

January 16, 2020

A stunning memoir about a childhood spent growing up in a family of extreme hoarders and hiding squalor behind the veneer of a perfect family. Kim Miller is an immaculately put-together woman with a great career, a loving boyfriend, and a beautifully tidy apartment in Brooklyn. You would never guess that she spent her childhood hiding behind the closed doors of her family’s idyllic Long Island house, navigating between teetering stacks of aging newspaper, broken computers, and boxes upon boxes of unused junk festering in every room—the product of her father’s painful and unending struggle with hoarding. In this coming-of-age story, Kim brings to life her experience of growing up in a rat-infested home, concealing her father’s shameful secret from friends for years, and of the emotional burden that ultimately led to an attempt to take her own life. And in beautiful prose, Miller sheds light on her complicated yet loving relationship with her parents that has thrived in spite of the odds. Coming Clean is a story about recognizing where we come from and the relationships that define us—and about finding peace in the homes we make for ourselves. (goodreads.com)

 

 

A judgement in stone by Ruth Rendell

February 20, 2020

What on earth could have provoked a modern day St. Valentine's Day massacre? On Valentine's Day, four members of the Coverdale family--George, Jacqueline, Melinda and Giles--were murdered in the space of 15 minutes. Their housekeeper, Eunice Parchman, shot them, one by one, in the blue light of a televised performance of Don Giovanni. When Detective Chief Superintendent William Vetch arrests Miss Parchman two weeks later, he discovers a second tragedy: the key to the Valentine's Day massacre hidden within a private humiliation Eunice Parchman has guarded all her life. A brilliant rendering of character, motive, and the heady discovery of truth, A Judgement in Stone is among Ruth Rendell's finest psychological thrillers. (goodreads.com)

 

 

 

Consumed by J.R. Ward

March 19, 2020

Anne Ashburn is a woman consumed... By her bitter family legacy, by her scorched career as a firefighter, by her obsession with department bad-boy Danny McGuire, and by a new case that pits her against a fiery killer. Strong-willed Anne was fearless and loved the thrill of fighting fires, pushing herself to be the best. But when one risky decision at a warehouse fire changes her life forever, Anne must reinvent not only her job, but her whole self. Shattered and demoralized, Anne finds her new career as an arson investigator a pale substitute for the adrenaline-fueled life she left behind. She doesn't believe she will ever feel that same all-consuming passion for her job again--until she encounters a string of suspicious fires setting her beloved city ablaze. Danny McGuire is a premiere fireman, the best in the county, but in the midst of a personal meltdown. Danny is taking risks like never before and seems to have a death wish until he teams up with Anne to find the fire starter. But Danny may be more than a distraction, and as Anne narrows in on her target, the arsonist begins to target her. (goodreads.com)

 

 

The Poisoned city by Anna Clark

April 16, 2020

When the people of Flint, Michigan, turned on their faucets in April 2014, the water pouring out was poisoned with lead and other toxins. Through a series of disastrous decisions, the state government had switched the city’s water to a source that corroded Flint’s aging lead pipes. Complaints about the foul-smelling water were dismissed: the residents of Flint—a largely poor African American city of about 100,000 people—were not seen as credible, even in matters of their own lives. It took 18 months of activism and a band of dogged outsiders to force the state to admit that the water was poisonous. But this was only after 12 people died and Flint's children suffered irreparable harm. The long battle for accountability and a humane response to this man-made disaster have only just begun. In the first full-length account of this epic failure, The Poisoned City recounts the gripping story of Flint’s poisoned water through the people who caused it, suffered from it, and exposed it. It is a chronicle of one town, but could also be about any American city, all made precarious by the neglect of infrastructure and the erosion of democratic decision-making. Cities like Flint are set up to fail—and for the people who live and work in them, the consequences may be mortal. (goodreads.com)

 

Little Faith by Nikolas Butler

May 21, 2020

Lyle Hovde is at the onset of his golden years, living a mostly content life in rural Wisconsin with his wife, Peg, daughter, Shiloh, and six-year old grandson, Isaac. After a troubled adolescence and subsequent estrangement from her parents, Shiloh has finally come home. But while Lyle is thrilled to have his whole family reunited, he’s also uneasy: in Shiloh’s absence, she has become deeply involved with an extremist church, and the devout pastor courting her is convinced Isaac has the spiritual ability to heal the sick. While reckoning with his own faith—or lack thereof—Lyle soon finds himself torn between his unease about the church and his desire to keep his daughter and grandson in his life. But when the church’s radical belief system threatens Isaac’s safety, Lyle is forced to make a decision from which the family may not recover. Set over the course of one year and beautifully evoking the change of seasons, Little Faith is a powerful and deeply affecting intergenerational novel about family and community, the ways in which belief is both formed and shaken, and the lengths we go to protect our own. (goodreads.com)

 

 

The life she was given by Ellen Marie Wiseman

June 18, 2020

For Francisco Cantú, the border is in the blood: his mother, a park ranger and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, raised him in the scrublands of the Southwest. Haunted by the landscape of his youth, Cantú joins the Border Patrol. He and his partners are posted to remote regions crisscrossed by drug routes and smuggling corridors, where they learn to track other humans under blistering sun and through frigid nights. They haul in the dead and deliver to detention those they find alive. Cantú tries not to think where the stories go from there. Plagued by nightmares, he abandons the Patrol for civilian life. But when an immigrant friend travels to Mexico to visit his dying mother and does not return, Cantú discovers that the border has migrated with him, and now he must know the whole story. Searing and unforgettable, The Line Becomes a River makes urgent and personal the violence our border wreaks on both sides of the line. (goodreads.com)

 

Tin man by Sarah Winman

July 16, 2020

This is almost a love story. Ellis and Michael are twelve when they first become friends, and for a long time it is just the two of them, cycling the streets of Oxford, teaching themselves how to swim, discovering poetry, and dodging the fists of an overbearing father. And then one day this closest of friendships grows into something more. But then we fast forward a decade or so, to find that Ellis is married to Annie, and Michael is nowhere in sight. Which leads to the question, what happened in the years between? This is almost a love story. But it's not as simple as that. (goodreads.com)

 

 

Voracious by Cara Nicoletti

August 20, 2020

As a young bookworm reading in her grandfather's butcher shop, Cara Nicoletti saw how books and food bring people to life. Now a butcher, cook, and talented writer, she serves up stories and recipes inspired by beloved books and the food that gives their characters depth and personality. From the breakfast sausage in Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods to chocolate cupcakes with peppermint buttercream from Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections, these books and the tasty treats in them put her on the road to happiness. Cooking through the books that changed her life, Nicoletti shares fifty recipes, including: * The perfect soft-boiled egg in Jane Austen's Emma * Grilled peaches with homemade ricotta in tribute to Joan Didion's "Goodbye to All That" * New England clam chowder inspired by Herman Melville's Moby-Dick * Fava bean and chicken liver mousse crostini (with a nice Chianti) after Thomas Harris's The Silence of the Lambs * Brown butter crêpes from Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl Beautifully illustrated, clever, and full of heart, Voracious will satisfy anyone who loves a fantastic meal with family and friends-or curling up with a great novel for dessert. (goodreads.com)

 

Lysia Cassatt Reading the morning paper by Harriett Scott Chessman

September 17, 2020

This richly imagined fiction entices us into the world of Mary Cassatt’s early Impressionist paintings. The story is told by Mary’s sister Lydia, as she poses for five of her sister’s most unusual paintings, which are reproduced in, and form the focal point of each chapter. Ill with Bright’s disease and conscious of her approaching death, Lydia contemplates her world with courageous openness, and asks important questions about love and art’s capacity to remember. (goodreads.com)

 

 

 

Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

October 15, 2020

In an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a freshman girl stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics who carry her away, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. Then a second girl falls asleep, and then another, and panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. As the number of cases multiplies, classes are canceled, and stores begin to run out of supplies. A quarantine is established. The National Guard is summoned. Mei, an outsider in the cliquish hierarchy of dorm life, finds herself thrust together with an eccentric, idealistic classmate. Two visiting professors try to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. A father succumbs to the illness, leaving his daughters to fend for themselves. And at the hospital, a new life grows within a college girl, unbeknownst to her—even as she sleeps. A psychiatrist, summoned from Los Angeles, attempts to make sense of the illness as it spreads through the town. Those infected are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, more than has ever been recorded. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what? (goodreads.com)

 

 

Reading with Patrick by Michelle Kuo

November 19, 2020

Recently graduated from Harvard University, Michelle Kuo arrived in the rural town of Helena, Arkansas, as a Teach for America volunteer, bursting with optimism and drive. But she soon encountered the jarring realities of life in one of the poorest counties in America, still disabled by the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. In this stirring memoir, Kuo, the child of Taiwanese immigrants, shares the story of her complicated but rewarding mentorship of one student, Patrick Browning, and his remarkable literary and personal awakening. Convinced she can make a difference in the lives of her teenaged students, Michelle Kuo puts her heart into her work, using quiet reading time and guided writing to foster a sense of self in students left behind by a broken school system. Though Michelle loses some students to truancy and even gun violence, she is inspired by some such as Patrick. Fifteen and in the eight grade, Patrick begins to thrive under Michelle's exacting attention. However, after two years of teaching, Michelle feels pressure from her parents and the draw of opportunities outside the Delta and leaves Arkansas to attend law school. Then, on the eve of her law-school graduation, Michelle learns that Patrick has been jailed for murder. Feeling that she left the Delta prematurely and determined to fix her mistake, Michelle returns to Helena and resumes Patrick's education — even as he sits in a jail cell awaiting trial. Every day for the next seven months they pore over classic novels, poems, and works of history. Little by little, Patrick grows into a confident, expressive writer and a dedicated reader galvanized by the works of Frederick Douglass, James Baldwin, Walt Whitman, W.S. Merwin, and others. In her time reading with Patrick, Michelle is herself transformed, contending with the legacy of racism and the questions of what constitutes a "good" life and what the privileged owe to those with bleaker prospects. Reading with Patrick is an inspirational story of friendship, a coming-of-age story of both a young teacher and a student, a resonant meditation on education, race, and justice in the rural South, and a love letter to literature and its power to transcend social barriers. (goodreads.com)