April 18, 2018: “Read & Tell”

The book discussion this evening was on Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward – lead by Pam.

Next book club meeting on 5/16:  Book Picks Night

Bring a book to recommend, each person gets to talk about their recommended book for a couple minutes, and after all have talked about their book, we each get to vote for 6 books. We then negotiate dates for leading the book discussions for the top 6 books.  All selected book club books are available at Phinney Books in paperback and, you get 15% off of the book.  There are only a few guidelines for selected books:

  • Must be in paperback
  • Must be available for purchase from Phinney Books


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, The Humans: A Novel, by Matt Haig, 4.75:  Based on part of the description, you could possibly describe this book as sci-fi but really it is just what the title says – being human. An alien takes over a human body and is repulsed but eventually becomes aware of how amazingly wonderful it is to be human. He is a thoughtful writer, made me laugh and shed a few tears.  I recommended another of his books to a friend who is suffering from depression – Reasons to Stay Alive.

Dave:  Other than the book club book, he read bits and pieces about a lot of things, including neuroscience.

Karen, The Arcanum: The Extraordinary True Story by Janet Gleeson, 5.0: It is about pasionn, greed, enslavement, theft – in essence, about porcelain. In the 18th century, the  royalty coveted porcelain – came only from China – and was very very very expensive – they would do anything for it.  One rich person traded 600 soldiers for 60 porcelain vases – it is a really thrilling read.

Tom, Country Dark by Chris Offutt, 4.8:  Read his review in the Phinney Book Newsletter #182.  He compares the author to Raymond Carver – he comes from rural Kentucky, and hasn’t published fiction for 20 years.  It is set in the 50’s through 70’s – comes back from Korea – country noir – well told and observed, page turner, phenomenal – 4.8.

Happiness by Aminta Forna, 4.7

Paul, Ideas of Heaven by Joan Silber, 4.74:  It is 5 or 6 stories that are linked together by a minor character who will be the major character in another story.  The general themes are “people becoming who they really are” and “people who have an idea of what will satisfy them or make them happy and what happens when they don’t get that.”

Deanna, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, 4.5:  Loved reading it – a story over many generations and how the government and political decisions carried down to a personal level – the writing was beautiful – felt timeless.

Kris, House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea, 5.0:  A family saga – mexican-american family – revolves around 2 events – funeral of matriarch and the 70th b-day of one of her sons – reaches back in time to tell the story – different mothers – really rich!

Pam, Brother I am Dying  by Edwidge Danticat, 4.0:  A memoir of growing up in Haiti – takes you right into the nasty gangs, she and her brother stayed behind in Haiti while parents went on to the U.S. – aunt and uncle raised them for awhile, but the dad and uncle were quite close – back and forth between the U.S. and Haiti – gave a good feeling for the life and the extreme poverty there.

Marla, Ill Will by Dan Shaon, 4.0:  This is a dark tale – really well written – about damaged people who go around damaging other people – not a favorite read.

Mimi, The Immortalitsts by Chloe Benjamin, 4.0:  About 4 siblings who live on the lower Eastside during a hot summer – they see a gypsy woman who predicts their lives – it is about how each of them deal with the information they were given – everything from short to long lives – how do you choose to live your life?

Jennifer, The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, 4.75:  It is a young adult’s book which handles complex themes – two children who sneak away from their abusive mother by evacuating themselves from London – follows these children from 41 to 43 during WW2 – presents the time period really well.

Jon:  Went rafting down the green river in Utah which has an amazing landscape – found it a shame that Humboldt didn’t make it to that area – rivers cutting through rock and seeing the layers – he would have been quite fascinated!

Tim, The Immortal Irishman by Timothy Egan 4.8/:  (the Irish revolutionary who became an American hero).  This is the epic story of one of the most fascinating and colorful Irishman in nineteenth-century America. Meagher’s live sweeps through some of the key events in Irish and American history. After first showing his resistance to English rule and his violent opposition to it, we see him in the United States, where the almost equally vexing treatment of the Irish by American immigrants who had established themselves in the country a bit earlier than these Irish newcomers. Meagher stood out as one of the great public speakers of the age, and his heroism on the battlefields of the Civil War makes him a major, if peripheral figure in that conflict. But the genius of this books is how much it makes us understand so many things. The Irish Question, Resistance to English rule, Migration to America, The abuse of the Irish in the United States, The reasons why many went to war against the South, The Question of Slavery, The Civil War itself, along with many of its greatest battles, The end of the War, Western expansion, and we finally learn just how wild the wild west could be. All these aspects of Irish and American life are masterfully told..

The Magic of Recluce by L.E. Modesitt Jr 4.5:  Lerris, a bored magician’s apprentice, embarks on a quest for knowledge–called the dangergeld–during which he encounters the magic of the Chaos wizards and battles the Archenemy of Order.

Einstein’s Unfinished Symphony by Marcia Bartusiak 4.0:  (THE STORY OF A GAMBLE, TWO BLACK HOLES AND A NEW AGE OF ASTRONOMY).  Marcia Bartusiak reports on an aspect of Astronomy. She tells us about the new generation of observatories, showing the motivations of the detectors’ creators and the gamble they made to prove Einstein right when all other attempts had failed. She traces the quest of astronomers to build the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors, the most accurate measuring devices humans have created, and the discovery of gravitational waves, revealing the brilliance, personalities, and luck required to start a new age of astronomy.

Sabbath as Resistance by Walter Brueggemann 4.0:  (Saying No to the CULTURE OF NOW)  Discussions about the Sabbath often center around moralistic laws and arguments over whether a person should be able to play cards or purchase liquor on Sundays. In this volume, the author writes that the Sabbath is not simply about keeping rules but rather about becoming a whole person and restoring a whole society. Importantly, Brueggemann speaks to a 24/7 society of consumption, a society in which we live to achieve, accomplish, perform, and possess. We want more, own more, use more, eat more, and drink more. Keeping the Sabbath allows us to break this restless cycle and focus on what is truly important.



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