Phinney Books, 7:30pm – Each person can talk about a book they have read during the past month and rate it from 0 to 5. Zero – “I really disliked it.” Five – “Best book I have recently read!”
Book Discussion: Discussed “The Essex Serpent” by Sarah Perry – discussion lead by Kris.
Marla – The Agitator by Peter Duffy, 4.0: Written by the father of a friend of hers, in 1935 he was part of a group of communist union sailors – he cut down the nazi flag and threw it into the river.
Pam – Greek to Me, by Mary Norris – 4.8: The Comma Queen, Mary Norris, returns with her love affair with all things Greek. Much about the Greek language and alphabet, and how they helped form English; mythology, Greek tragedy, The Iliad and The Odyssey and her many solo travels to the magical islands. Stories about embarrassing moments of accenting the wrong part of a Greek word and maneuvering Greek men. She’s a hilarious and lively raconteur who’s a delight to read.
The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump, Michiko Kakutani, 5.0: A must-read in these times. “How did truth become an endangered species in contemporary America? This decline began long ago.….Kakutani takes a penetrating look at the cultural forces that contributed to this gathering storm. In social media and literature, television, academia, and political campaigns, Kakutani identifies the trends.” She cites the “great critics of authoritarianism,” including Orwell and Hannah Arendt. Her sections on Lenin and Hitler, in particular, are bone-chillingly relevant today. (Quoted text above is from the front bookflap.) Kakutani is a Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic and former chief book critic for The New York Times.
Tim – Alice Payne Arrives by Kate Heartfield, 3.0: When the news get really bad – read fantasy and mysteries. Time travel, not a great book but better than the news.
Jon – The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov, 3.0: The title of the book comes from a quote in a play by Schiller: “Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.” Very character driven but to the extent there is a plot it is about a scientist discovering parallel universes – communication between universes – how universe can affect other universes.
Mary Jane – Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gotley, 4.8: The author is a therapist, talks about the lives revealed, when she goes to her own therapist – so fascinating and very funny, great stories.
Mary Beth – Victoria the Queen by Julia Baird, 3.75: She read it because of the PBS series – the book is fascinating, very well written, but so long that it did flag a bit. Learned how powerful Prince Albert was. He had the power of a king which Victoria ceded to him. She let him rule a large percentage of the time and after his death, took up with a Scottish guy. The personalities part was great.
Billie – Cherokee America by Margaret Verble, 4.0: An epic novel that follows a web of complex family alliances and culture clashes in the Cherokee Nation during the aftermath of the Civil War, and the woman at its center. The matriarch, Check, is mixed race – but follows the Cherokee traditions as best she can in an increasingly white society that encroaches on their home.
Sonya – A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Nonfiction by Terry Pratchett, 4.5: Many musings by the author. As always, I find him very wise to the ways of humans. Also quite interesting that he considers, The Nation, his very best book which I liked, but not my favorite.
Dave – Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett, 5.0: Another disc world book by Terry – about vampires.
Mimi: Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Keefe, 5.0: The troubles in Belfast in the 70s – she is a mother of 10 kids. Depressed and a chain smoker – she is taken away and killed because she cradled a British soldier’s head as he was dying. There is much violence – an incredible book about how people who get so swept up in a cause that they forget others are human.
Paul – The Wall by John Lanchester, 2.5: There was nothing subtle – there is a wall and on the other side of the wall are “the others”. It’s a saving grace is that none of the main characters are heroic – ended up being plot driven – ended “so-what”.
Kris – The Library Book by Susan Orleans, 5.0: Non-fiction about the LA central library in 1986 when a devastating fire destroyed much of the structure and collection. It didn’t receive much press because it happened the same day Chernobyl blew. Wonderful job of tying together or using this one event to explore all of the events whether tangential or not. Kris even recognized a character in the book – “General Hershey Bar – dressed in khaki.”