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!”
Next meeting, 9/20, will be book pick night. Please click on “About” for more information.
The evening’s book discussion was Nutshell by Ian McEwan lead by Dave: The first item of discussion was whether or not the book is part of the series of modern authors’ takes on Shakespeare’s plays (i.e. Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood on The Tempest) and Tom settled it by looking it up and found that it is not part of that series. It was an enthusiastic discussion, and it was generally agreed that though there were some similarities to Hamlet, it was not a plot-driven similarity.
Pam, Salvage the Bones: A Novel by Jesmyn Ward, 5.0: An novel about a dad and his 4 kids who live in poverty – each is trying to survive the loss of the mom, the elder daughter’s way of coping is sex – each had their own way of coping. Set over just 12 days. Hurricane Katrina is brooding. The book is worth reading just for the writing itself – powerful, poetic, good description of Katrina.
Mimi, Pictures at a Revolution: 5 Movies & the Birth of the New Hollywood, by Harris, 4.75: It is the story of the 5 movies nominated for best picture in 1967, Dr. Doolittle, Bonnie and Clyde, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night, The Graduate. It is about how the movies were conceived, cast, politics, funded, stories about the cast. She read about the book in Nick Hornby’s book, 10 Years in the Tub. Tom also highly recommends it – fun and gossipy yet a lot of meat to it.
Miller & Shales: Live from New York (NF): I must be on a show business kick. The story of how SNL came to be. Interesting. I guess if you’re a fanatic, then it would be a must-read. 3.5
Perry, The Old Man (FIC) – Thomas Perry just isn’t the same since he married off Jane Whitefield. Clever, but I wasn’t blown away. 3
Russo, Trajectory (FIC) – latest short story collection from Richard Russo. As usual, his stories are funny & well-written, but there wasn’t one that totally grabbed me. 4.
Helen, Lolita by Nabokov: Confusing and hard book to read but definitely a 5.0
Tim: Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, 5.0: equal parts history, romance, suspense. Page-turner – as good as The Rook by Daniel O’Malley. Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine witch who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos.
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson, 5.0: America’s most approachable astrophysicist distills the past, present, and (theoretical) future of the cosmos into a quick and thoroughly enjoyable read for a general audience. It does help to know some science.
A Twist in Time by Julie McElwain, 4.0: In this sequel to a Murder in Time, we meet an irritated Kendra Donovan, whose attempt to get back to her own time has failed. When Duke of Aldridge’s nephew is accused of murder, Kendra quickly shifts into FBI agent mode to clear his name. What follows is a fast-paced murder investigation throughout London. It was a fun read but not as good as the first book.
Leah, 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, 5.0: Set in Japan, Japanese author, magical realism, set in the real world in 1984 and in an alternate 1984. Switches between the two main characters, certain little details they notice. Raises interesting questions – the two main characters don’t know who the other is – interesting dynamic figuring it out. Recommends starting with Wind up Bird Chronicle if you have never read anything by Murakami.
Sonya, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson, 4.76: At least 4 others in the book group have already read this one, and they all seem to agree – well worth reading. About a “older” man in his late 60’s who is a widower and retired, lives in a small village in England and how hidden prejudices run us all to some extent whether we acknowledge them or not. Love the characters (except for his shallow son who I wanted to slap!). Very fun.
Dave, Watch on the Rhine by Lillian Hellman, 5.0: A play in 3 acts. She lived from 1905 – 1984, very popular author, until she got caught in the McCarthy era. The play is a genre work, set in WWII – somewhat propagandish, set in the drawing room of a rich heiress, stock characters – black butler, French maid, refugee resistance family, totally evil eastern European. It is a drawing room comedy which starts out slowly and ends up very powerful. Dashiel Hammet was her partner/lover.
Shelagh, Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery, 4.7: Reminds her of Diane Ackerman – lovely way of combing facts and figures, observing, personal observations, describes their whole consciousness – Sy drops her filter as a human, and observes how they absorb info. Loves her infectious enthusiasm. Great read.
Tom, Henry David Thoreau, A Life by Laura Walls, 5.0: Read Tom’s full review in his newsletter. This bio had a lot of advance press – calling it the the definitive biography, it is not a challenging format – wonderfully done straight up biography, doesn’t dump everything she has learned into the book – feels very judicious – how deeply and constantly connected he was to his friends, community and other people and how that built his identity – almost a page-turner.
Kjerste, Erotic Stories by Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal, 4.0: Very fun read, and totally admit picking it up because of the title. Set in London, woman’s parents are from India – interesting how widows are treated, and how they take their identity back.
Kathleen, The House Among the Trees by Julia Glass, 5.0: This book is about a children’s author, as the book starts, he has died – how his money is going elsewhere and about all of the various characters. After finishing the book, started another book but didn’t like it after reading this one – uggghhh.
Marla, Return to Oak Pine by Ron Carlson: Takes place in a small town in Wyoming, an ill man returns to his town, 30 years previous, he was part of a rock band, goes through how these people have changed. This books wasn’t quite as good as his others.
Kitty, Hamlet by Shakespeare, 5.0: That guy can really write….!