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!”
Sonya – Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker, 5.0: A non-fiction book with all of the data behind why we sleep, and more importantly, why we should get 8 hours sleep. I always knew that sleep was important, but this book laid it out in an understandable way on exactly why. It is hopefully changing the way I sleep!
Dave, The Good Soldier Svejk, Jaroslav Hasek, 3.75: We saw this image everywhere while walking around Prague, including museums and restaurants. He considers this the Czech Republic’s version of The Confederacy of Dunces.
Mimi, A Life of My Own: A Memoir by Claire Tomalin, 4.75: She is a British biographer and the biography she did of Samuel Pepys was absolutely brilliant. She also did one of Austen. This is her own memoir.
Kjerste, Lethal White (A Cormoran Strike Novel Book 4) by Robert Galbraith, 4.5: She can say no more than she did give it a 4.5 – nothing more without giving anything away.
Maribeth: Nothing to recommend this month.
Catherine, Mrs.: Novel by Caitlin Macy, 4.0: It is an entertaining book for vacation reading – wealthy people in Manhattan connected through a preschool.
- A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, 5.0
Shealgh, Washington Black: A Novel by Esi Edugyan, 5.0: This made the Giller short list and the Booker short list. The writing is beautiful, never really know where it is going, the story and adventure is fabulous. Do stay away from reviews which tell too much of the plot.
Paul, Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff, 4.5: It is pretty much straight Lovecraft – good people, bad people and worse people – strange protagonist, written from an African American viewpoint. If you like Lovecraft, you will like this book.
Kathleen, Of Love and War / It’s What I do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War – both books are by Lynsey Addario, 4.5. Both books specialize in the effects of love and war. She worked her way up to be one of the best known photojournalists of all time. She is a photojournalist of war and effects of war, especially on women and children. And how this life affects personal relationships. She was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and fired upon. The photos are devastating and beautiful.
Karen, River of Darkness by Buddy Levy, 5.0: Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish Conquistador, along with his 3 brothers, conquered the Inca Empire. This is the true story of Gonzalo Pizarro and his expedition from Quito, Ecuador to search for El Dorado. It quickly disintegrated and his lieutenant, Orellana, went for help, but ended up traveling via the Amazon to the Atlantic, the first European to do so. The story is riveting – Gonzalo’s incompetence, his savagery towards the enslaved natives and Orellana’s discoveries of civilizations, some friendly, some hostile, along the Amazon.
Eric, Murder at the Lanterne Rouge (An Aimee Leduc Investigation Book 12) by Cara Black, 4.0: A series of books set in Paris in the 1990s. Protagonist is a young woman who is the private investigator and a computer expert – set in different neighborhoods of Paris, entertaining in the descriptions of the city.
Kris, A Chill in the Air: An Italian War Diary, 1939-1940 by Iris Origo, 4.9: Origo is probably best known for War in Val d’Orcia about life in WWII on her family’s estate in Tuscany and all that this privileged family did for others at the risk of their own lives. A Chill in the Air is comprised of diary entries in the year or so leading up to Italy’s entry into WWII. There are events and descriptions (e.g. of Mussolini) that will remind you of our times. It is short, succinct, perceptive and well-written.
Pam, Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics, by Stephen Greenblatt, 5.0: Greenblatt has provided a fascinating look into several of Shakespeare’s tyrants. He notes that in Shakespeare’s time it was dangerous to directly criticize the current ruler or state, so he did it at an “oblique angle” by creating in his plays tyrants from much earlier ages–Richard III, King Lear, MacBeth, Coriolanus and others. He explores the narcissism, misogyny, bullying, corruption and ambition that drove them and eventually brought them to their own destruction, and sometimes, the state’s as well. He also looks at the nobility and the common people who put the tyrants in power, or who supported them, and were also complicit in the erosion of the state. As did Shakespeare, Greenblatt uses the oblique angle in this interesting book, written for such times as these that we find ourselves in.
Tim, Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics, by Stephen Greenblatt, 5.0: Fascinating read and outstanding. World-renowned Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt explores the playwright’s insight into bad (and often mad) rulers. In exploring the psyche (and psychoses) of the likes of Richard III, Macbeth, Lear, Coriolanus, and the societies they rule over, Stephen Greenblatt illuminates the ways in which William Shakespeare delved into the lust for absolute power and the catastrophic consequences of its execution.
- Foundation’s Fear by Gregory Benford 3/5
- Foundation and Chaos by GregoryBear 3.8/5
- Foundation’s Triumph by David Brin 4/5
- The three books comprise the second foundation trilogy that is based on and a prelude to the first book of the original Foundation trilogy. The Authors have taken Asimov’s blending of his robot series and foundation series as a starting point. By and large I loved the original Foundation Trilogy and thought that the attempt to make one unifed series by Asimov was a mistake. The second trilogy is in my opinion convoluted and I started reading the first book in 1997 and finished it this year in order to get to the book by David Brin. I finished the last two books in under three weeks. They were better that the first but not great.
- The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker 5.0: A 2018 novel that recounts the events of the Iliad, chiefly from the point of view of Briseis. Well written and a quick read.
- A Tear at the Edge of Creation by Marcelo Gleiser 4.0: Gleiser walks us through the basic and cutting-edge science that fueled his own transformation from a believer that under Nature’s apparent complexity there is a simpler underlying reality ( This Theory of Everything would unite the physical laws governing very large bodies (Einstein’s theory of relativity) and those governing tiny ones (quantum mechanics) into a single framework) into a doubter. This scientific quest led him to a new understanding of what it is to be human.
Marla, To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, 5.0: About time travel.
Jon, The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco: He is finishing it up from last month’s book club.
Billie, Natural Causes by Barbara Ehrenreich, 5.0: She writes about the unecessary testing and medical procedures, a lot of which is B.S., really well-written book. A life changing book.