2012 - 2013 Season
- Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James - what could have been a decent story bogged down by some unbelievable characters, poor writing, and can you believe it, too much sex!
- Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand - unbelievable true story of Olympian Louis Zamperini's struggle for survival after crash landing during WWII. Everyone loved the book (though some agreed it bogged down during the post-childhood/pre-crash section with interesting and necessary information that was not compelling. This booked sparked some lively discussion on the nature of morals, perception and right and wrong.
2011 - 2012 Season
- State of Wonder by Ann Patchett - I missed the discussion on this one but as usual some loved it and others (me, for example) didn't.
- Little Bee by Chris Cleave - We had one person who didn't care for the book, but almost all of us read it, which says something. It's a powerful story of a Nigerian refugee and how her life due to an accidental meeting effects a British couple and how they affect her. It's a relativily quick read but a powerful story that can be disturbing at times.
- In the Garden of the Beast by Eric Larson - story of America's first ambassador to Nazi Germany and of his family.
- The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo by Stieg Larsson - thriller with a finacial journalist investigating the disapearance of someone four decades earlier with the help of a female investigator.
- The Girl who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson (pb 752 pg, kindle) - sequel to the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
- The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson (pb 832 pg, kindle) - third book in the Millenium Trilogy.
- Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl (pb 320 pg, kindle) - memoirs of the NY Times restaurant critic.
- Room by Emma Donoghue (pb 352 pg, kindle) - story of a young boy and his mother held captive in a single room for the boy's entire life.
2010 - 2011 Season
- Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman by Elizabeth Buchan - if you really have never heard a story about a middle aged woman who is dropped by her husband for a younger gal, well then, read this. Otherwise, it's a been there done that story.
- Sarah's Key by Tatiania de Rosnay - it's really too bad many of our members didn't read this book, the story of the Jewish round-up in Paris in 1942 juxtaposed with the story of a modern American woman living in Paris. Though reminiscent of The Virgin Blue (read during the 2004 - 2005 season), in the way it moves backward and forward in time, and though some of the characters were merely stereotypes, it's such a quick, easy read that it would be worth it for the historical story alone.
- The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister (hc, 256 pages) - the lives of eight students gathering for a weekly cooking class unfold through this story as each seeks something more than just the delicious recipes they produce.
- The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine (hc, 304 pages) - story of a mother and two adult daughters forced to live together in a austen-like, high-brow chicklit story .
- Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (pb, 320 pg) - story of a Chinese-American in Seattle contrasting his experiences during WWII with those in the 1980s after losing his wife to cancer. Some of us liked this, others, not so much.
- Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (pb, 304 pg) - thirteen intertwined short stories about the lives of coastal Mainers.
- On the Occassion of My Last Afternoon by Kaye Gibbons (pb, 304pg) - story of a young girl growing up in a dysfunctional family on a southern plantation during the Civil War.
- Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel (pb, 432 pg) - story of the famous scientist and his illegitimate daughter. We didn't end up meeting as many members abandoned this book.
2009 - 2010 Season
- The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls - if you think your family or parents are strange, well you've got nothing on the Walls family. This memoir reads more like fiction and at times makes you scratch your head in wonder as to the thought process of some people. An easy read that we all enjoyed and recommend.
- Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson - the story of how one man affects the lives of so many people in Pakistan by building schools. It's a truely inspriational story, one that should be read anyone fighting the "war on terror."
- Saturday by Ian McEwan
- Empire Falls by Richard Russo
- Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain - well this will make you think twice about eating out in restaurants, or at the very least what you order in those restaurants. And if you weren't a Tony Bourdain fan before reading this, don't expect that to change. But if you love Tony Bourdain then this book can be your drug for the week.
- The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian - fast-paced suspense thriller that tells the story of a young girl, recovering from an attack, and her investigation into the homeless man who may somehow be related not only to her past but to that attack. This book is a quick read that will keep you on your toes - to say any more than that, might spoil it. Oh, but a working knowledge of The Great Gatsby couldn't hurt, either.
- The Invisible Wall by Harry Bernstein - bittersweet, coming of age memoir of a young boy growing up in a small town in Northern England during World War I - the invisible wall is actually present and divides the two sides of the street, one Jewish, one Christian on which young Harry lived.
- The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein - the story of a man and his dog and what happens during the course of the dog's life, told from the dog's point of view. Lessons in auto racing are really used as metaphors for life lessons; there are many and they are relevant. It's a quick pace that will leave you angry, happy and tearful at times.
- The Help by Katheryne Stockett - excellent story of three woman and the lives they touch in various ways set against their improbable and nearly impossible activities during the civil rights movement in the 1960s. You'll want to keep reading this one but hate for the story to end.
2008 - 2009 Season
- Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin - we read this book as the Democratic Party was solidifying its choice for the 2008 election and finished it well-before we elected Barak Obama as president. Yet, having this book under our belts, though long and involved gave us another insight into the motivations behind, not only President Lincoln but President Obama when our country yet again was divided.
- Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
- Queen of the Road by Doreen Orion - quirky, light fun as self-proclaimed Jewish American Princess (no, Queen really), takes off with her husband for a one-year adventure on a converted bus across the country. This should be a must read for anyone considering a similar trip, not to mention the drink recipes that precede each chapter are intriguing.
- Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
- Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher - not sure why, but it seems only the Jews in the group enjoyed this easy (when I tell you most of us finished this book in 90 minutes, I'm not kidding) read. Perhaps it has something to do with relating to dysfunctional family backgrounds, if you get it, you'll like it.
- The Reader by Bernard Schlink - by far the longest conversation we've ever had about a book took place for this one. Back and forth on the subject matter of the holocaust and what could/should an uneducated disadvantaged person do to sexual abuse and at what age does it constitute that for a male as opposed to a female. It's a short quick read and definitely worth a go.
- Inidignation by Philip Roth - an easy read, this book tells the story of a young man, the son of a butcher, who to escape that domineering father attends a small college in Ohio during the early years of the Korean War. No one disliked this book but I didn't get the feel that anyone passionately liked it. Basically, there are better books out there to read, but this won't be a waste of your time either.
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society - this book is confusing at first, written as a series of letters, telegrams and journal entries by, to or about Juliet Ashton, the central character, unusually a features writer for a post WWII London newspaper, in search of her next book. A letter from a resident of Guernsey (a Channel Island), sets her off on a path towards learning their story of occupation and survial during the war and changes her life forever.
- Devil in the White City - this book was a fascinating juxtaposition of the architects and personalities behind the 1893 Chicago World Fair and the country's first known serial killer that operated in the background, killing anywhere from 20 to 200 people.
2007 - 2008 Season
- My Life in France by Julia Child - an easy book co-authored with Julia's nephew, about her time living in France. It chronicles the publication of her first few cookbooks and the start of her PBS television series. It's by no means a "deep" read but interesting and for anyone who likes to cook, it will make you want to go out and try some of her recipes.
- Shadow of the Wind by
We really enjoyed this book (well at least those of us who read it). Amazed that it's a translation from the original Spanish, the words weave a beautiful story of a young boy becoming a man, with many strands that come together like a spider's web, where no detail goes unused. Definitely one of our overall favorites.
- The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
Okay I missed this meeting so have no idea what the ladies talked about. I did read the book though on a flight home from California and enjoyed it. A bit odd at first (told from the first person, even during the birth of said person, eventually I grew accustomed to the voice of the story teller as it followed her life from birth to death. Not one of my all time favorites but definitely worth a read.
- Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
I missed this gathering too - I know, my bad. But I really enjoyed this book as it tells the story of Lily and Snow Flower, two girls growing up in 19th century China. They're bound by a promise and it follows their story from the time of that promise (including the unbelievable foot binding experience), through death, with all the happiness and misfortunes that fell in between. It totally reminded me of The Good Earth and makes me want to go read that classic tale again.
- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Everyone who read this book (and you who didn't know who you are) really enjoyed it. It's definitely one of my personal favorites of the year with the best ending to a story I've read in a long while, thinking about it still brings a smile to my face. Water for Elephants tells the story of Jacob and his experiences with a traveling circus during the Great Depression as told by him, while he sits somewhat neglected and bereft of dignity in a nursing home during the present day. I think it would be a great companion piece to Grapes of Wrath, which we read a few years ago.
- The Number One Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
This book tells the story of MMa Ramotswe, her back story and her life as the head of the Number One Ladies Detective Agency, the only female private detective in Botswana. Through the narrative we get a good feel for what led MMa Ramotswe (aka Precious) to open the agency and how she conducts her business, though not one involved mystery is presented but a series of short mysteries that she solves. The book is good, enjoyable and hard to believe written by a man for its decidedly female perspective, but still not sure it makes for good book club material as it doesn't lead to many thought provoking conversations.
2006 - 2007 Season
- My Sister's Keeper by - Wow! This is a heavy, heavy book that will make you wonder about your own parenting style and what's best for you, your children and your family. A difficult subject matter but it makes for a lively discussion.
- Light on Snow by Anita Shreve - this was a good, and easy read though the subject matter wasn't so much. I find Anita Shreve books to be quick reads and this was no exception. She does create some lovely images (e.g., Vermont in the winter) that stay with you long after you finish.
- Curious Incident of the Dog and the Night by Mark Haddon - very interesting book that gives you a peak into the mind of those who suffer from Ausperger's syndrome.
- The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards - okay I have to admit, I didn't finish this one but Becky (my teen) liked it though she had to say it pissed her off because of the actions of the main character.
- Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess - I have to admit, I didn't read this book. We picked it because of a local connection (her sister lives in the next town. But my teenage daughter enjoyed it and felt it appropriate more for 13 year-olds than "your age" as she put it.
- The Other Bolelyn Girl by Philippa Gregory - this was great - made for some discussion but for those who like romance novels but don't like history - it's a great way to make the latter go down with a spoonful of sugar. I love historical fiction and this kept me riveted.
- The Human Stain by Phillip Roth - the intriguing story of a college professor accused of being a racist, what let him to that point and how his life unfolds afterward.
2005 - 2006 Season
- Kite Runner by Housan Kholedi - is there anyone left on the planet who hasn't read this book? There probably shouldn't be. It's not an easy read, as the subject matter hard but so worthwhile. Kite Runner tells the story of two boys growing up in Afghanistan, one of privilege the other, not so much, how they develop a deep friendship that gets shattered with a single act and later, atoned how one atones to the other.
- Chocolate by Joanne Harris - An easy read is the story of a chocolate maker, her young daughter and how she carves a life for the two of them, in a small provincial French town.
- Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote - we went back to our classic mode for this quick read that tells the story of Holly Golightly and her quest to find a "home." Honestly, from your webmistress, not much of this story remains in my mind - so take that for what it's worth.
- Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden - the tale of a young girl as she moves from her fishing village in rural Japan to Kyoto where she is "owned" by Granny and Mother and eventually trained to become one of the leading Geisha of the 1930s and 40s, definitely worth a read.
- The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd - Many of our group enjoyed this book but others weren't impressed (aka, thought it was fluff), of the story of a woman, disillusioned with her marriage, who retreats to a shore community and begins an affair with a man, hiding from his own life in a monastery.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - in our "We Should Read the Classic's phase" again we decided to return to this Jane Austen novel, which tells the story of Elizabeth Barret during Vitorian England and her quest to find a husband. We actually enjoyed it and I must say, that your lovely webmistress didn't find it as bad as I thought it would be.
2004 - 2005 Season
- Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides - hermaphrodites aren't just for Greek Myths but as Jeffrey Egenides shows us in this story, they may happen in a Greek-American family. The story shows us how they cope and tribulations the hermaphrodite must go through to just find an identity, another one enjoyed by most.
- The Namesake by Jumpa Lahiri - I think we're big fans of Ms. Lahiri though most preferred Interpreter of Maladies, this glimpse into an Indian family, their life in India compared to here and the growth and assimiliation of their son very is interesting.
- The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier - Ms. Chevalier definitely has the ability to create images that stick with you, and some of the more horrific ones from this parallel story of a young woman in modern day France, tracking down her family's history during the anti-Catholic struggles of 16th century France, and the story of that family will linger with you long after you put this book down.
- She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb - How does Wally Lamb manage to get into a woman's head so well? Even after reading it, it's hard to believe a man could so well understand the psyche of an overweight, under appreciated woman.
- Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner - So here's a bit of fluff that will suit your beach-reading needs, but not much more as follow the story of woman as she searches for love and self-esteem after being publicly humiliated by her former boyfriend through his weekly newspaper column.
- Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton
- Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - ah, yes another classic, and one not to be missed as you follow the story of migrant workers through the Great Depression.
- The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Micahel Chabon - Here's a book you will either love or hate, and sad to say, most of our book club fell into the latter category. It tells the story of two young men, who meet and forge a friendship during WWII, whilst creating a comic book hero to rival Superman.
2003 - 2004 Season
- The Dive From Clausen's Pier by Ann Packer
- The Photograph by Penelope Lively
- Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
- Madam Secretary by Madeleine Albright
- Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
We learn early on that Lily Owens does not have an idealic life in 1960s South Carolina, living with an abusive father, fleeting memories of her dead mother and raised by her nanny Rosaleen. When Rosaleen is assaulted during a trip to town to register to vote, and defends herself against a group of white men, Lily takes it upon herself to "rescue" Rosaleen and go searching for her "mother" or at least her mother's memory, in a town her mother once knew. There they meet the Boatwright sisters and Lily learns the secrets of her mother's life and death, and what it means to be a part of a family.
- The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
- House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus
- Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
2002 - 2003 Season
- John Adams by David McCullough
- Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
- The Red Tent by Anita Diamont
- Blessings by Anna Quindlen
- Back When We Were Grown-ups by Ann Tyler
- The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
- The Human Stain by Philip Roth
- Nanny Diaries by Emma Mclaughlin, Nicola Kraus
- Three Junes by Julia Glass
- Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
2001 - 2002 Season
- Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas by James Paterson
- Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
- Girl with the Pearl Earing by Tracy Chevalier
- Animal Husbandry by Laura Zigman
- An Italian Affair by Laura Frasier
- A Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson
- Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
- An Unfinished Marriage by Joan Anderson
- The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen