After being forced into retirement at the end of 2015, one of the first things I wanted to do was join a book club where people actually READ the books! Now, I already organize a book club for women artists, but we meet every other month, so I knew I could handle another one. So, I trotted to the local library and found one that meets monthly. Then I found another that meets every other month at a local restaurant (called Pub Fiction). Okay, I thought, I can handle these. I still have my quest going of reading a book by an author from each state (I’m reading alphabetically, and I’ve read through Georgia). Then I found a group on Facebook called Read the World. And, so it goes, I’m up to six book clubs now! I can handle this! I have already read as many books this year as I did all year long last year, and my reading choices have become more varied, and to me more interesting. Here is what I read in July:
SOME LUCK by Jane Smiley: This is the first book in a trilogy (Last Hundred Years trilogy) that follows the Langdon Family in Denby Iowa from 1920 through 1953. Each chapter moves you forward another year. Thankfully, there is a family tree in the front, so it is easy to keep the characters straight. The details about farming life were well researched. By the end of the book, there are six children born into the family, each with a story of their own. The book weaves through the Depression, World War II, and even to Washington D.C. and the FBI. I will continue this trilogy, I want to see what happens to these people I came to care about. (Book club selection)
ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes: This is the third book I have read by JoJo Moyes, and they are all completely different, in story and in tone. Talk about a tear jerker! It is the story of Louisa and Will. Will was quite the daredevil – jumping out of planes, and also the successful, if ruthless businessman. This all comes to an end when an accident leaves him in a wheelchair. Louisa, who has lived a “safe” and boring life is hired to be his companion. After a rocky start to their relationship, Louisa endears herself to Will. Then Louisa learns her six-month contract is based on the amount of time Will has given his parents before he is going to commit suicide. It’s hard to put down, as Louisa sets out to give Will a reason to live, while Will encourages her to grow. It was worth the two month wait to get it from the library, and I think the wait will be just as long for the sequel, After You.
THE GREATS OF CUTTERCANE by Terry Kay: I became reacquainted with Terry Kay thanks to a book club. In fact, he came and spoke to us as he lives right down the road in Athens, Ga. This is a book of short stories based on the people of Cuttercane Georgia revolving around the magical legend of Asa’s Spring. Terry Kay generally writes in a very lyrical voice, but some of these stories are down right funny! They are the type of stories I heard growing up in the South! Enjoyable read.
OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon: It took me awhile to jump on this bandwagon! This is the 600 page story of Claire, a nurse from World War II, who wakes up in 18th century Scotland, where her path crosses that of Jamie Frasier. What follows is suspense, passion, true love, tragedy and more. However, it is not for the faint of heart, as it has it’s fair share of both violence and sex. Jamie and Claire come alive – and I will continue with the series of – how many books now? Eight? There will probably be a 9th one by the time I get there.
THE PUPPY DIARIES: RAISING A DOG NAMED SCOUT by Jill Abramson: I don’t normally read dog books – the dog always dies and I always cry. But, I saw it on the shelf at the library and couldn’t resist that little face. Plus it said on the cover it is a “marvelously entertaining chronicle of a puppy’s first year”. It lived up to that. Abramson wrote a popular column for The New York Time’s website about the raising and training of Scout. it still is a pretty light read. But if you love dogs, as I do, it is enjoyable. Also – I should note – I had a dog named Scout.
THE BOOK OF LIES by Brad Meltzer: This is a twisted tale! Cal Harper works for a rescue mission picking up vagrants that need shelter. He stumbled upon a man who who has been shot, and he ends up being his long lost father. They join forces and begin searching for the lost Book of Cain, and what they believe to be the weapon used in the Bible. His father was shot with a gun that was used in an unsolved murder in 1932 – of Jerry Siegel’s father. Why is this important? Jerry Siegel created Superman. So, you get a bit of both The Bible and comic book lore. And of course, there is a mysterious girl who has befriended his father. I’ve read Brad Meltzer’s books before, but this book kind of jumped around and kind of went into la-la land. But the premise was original I must say. (book club selection)
THE SPARROW: A NOVEL by Mary Doria Russell: I have to admit, I started this book more than once. If it wasn’t a book club selection, I might not have finished it. But, even with the struggle to read it, the pay off was worth it. It is a complicated science fiction book about a Jesuit linguist, Emilio Sandoz, who leads a group of scientists and explorers to the planet Rakhat, where they make contact with two races, the Runa and the Jana’ata. The story shifts between 2016- 2019, when they are on Rakhat, to 2060 at the Vatican. Sandoz is being interrogated after being rescued from Rakhat, returning a broken and mutilated man and the only survivor from the expedition. Did the priest really murder a child and become a prostitute? And, what happened to the other members of the party. It definitely provoked some lively discussion in the book club, leading to discussions about God, moral behavior and exploring new worlds. Plus, I loved the fact they travelled in space in asteroids. Oh, and there is a sequel – Emilio goes back to Rakhat (Children of God), and I miss Emilio.
I will be volunteering at the Decatur Book Festival over Labor Day weekend. This is one of the largest book festivals in the U.S. I managed to get slots during the lectures by two of the authors I read this month, Terry Kay and Brad Meltzer!!! Woohoo!
What have you been reading, and any thoughts on the books I’ve been reading? In August I will tackle American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and I just might read Winnie the Pooh!