Saturday, September 28, 2013



Kim Douglas
Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf
No meeting, annual tea


Melissa Peters Stone
Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell
Lisa Motherwell
The Price of Salt, or Carol, by Patricia Highsmith
Elana Okrent
House: A Memoir, by Michael Ruhlman
New book choosing meeting

The Price of Salt, or Carol, by Patricia Highsmith
Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell
In a Dark Dark Wood, by Ruth Ware
Kim D.
Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf
Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
House: A Memoir, by Michael Ruhlman


APRIL 2012 (host: Melissa, Redmond)

A Visit from The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is
the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan
brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host
of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music
pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling,
exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.

JUNE 2012 (host: Ara Jane, Ravenna)

The Information, by Martin Amis

Fame, envy, lust, violence, intrigues literary and criminal--they're
all here in The Information. How does one writer hurt another writer?
This is the question novelist Richard Tull mills over, for his friend
Gwyn Barry has become a darling of book buyers, award committees, and
TV interviewers, even as Tull himself sinks deeper into the
sub-basement of literary failure. The only way out of this
predicament, Tull believes, is the plot the demise of Barry.

JULY 2012 (host: Kim D, Ballard)

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

 In State of Wonder, pharmaceutical researcher Dr. Marina Singh sets off into the Amazon jungle to find the remains and effects of a colleague who recently died under somewhat mysterious circumstances. But first she must locate Dr. Anneck Swenson, a renowned gynecologist who has spent years looking at the reproductive habits of a local tribe where women can conceive well into their middle ages and beyond. Eccentric and notoriously tough, Swenson is paid to find the key to this longstanding childbearing ability by the same company for which Dr. Singh works. Yet that isn’t their only connection: both have an overlapping professional past that Dr. Singh has long tried to forget. In finding her former mentor, Dr. Singh must face her own disappointments and regrets, along with the jungle’s unforgiving humidity and insects, making State of Wonder a multi-layered atmospheric novel that is hard to put down. Indeed, Patchett solidifies her well-deserved place as one of today’s master storytellers. Emotional, vivid, and a work of literature that will surely resonate with readers in the weeks and months to come, State of Wonder truly is a thing of beauty and mystery, much like the Amazon jungle itself.

SEPTEMBER 2012 if in paperback (host: Kristin, Redmond)

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is
simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white
striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of
breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is
only open at night. But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is
underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have
been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their
mercurial instructors.
 Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

OCTOBER 2012 (host: Marisol, Wallingford)

The Leftovers by Tom Perotta

What if—whoosh, right now, with no explanation—a number of us simply
vanished? Would some of us collapse? Would others of us go on, one
foot in front of the other, as we did before the world turned upside
down? That’s what the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, who lost many
of their neighbors, friends and lovers in the event known as the
Sudden Departure, have to figure out. Because nothing has been the
same since it happened—not marriages, not friendships, not even the
relationships between parents and children.

FEBRUARY 2013 (host: Gael, Ballard)

Late Edition: A Love Story, by Bob Greene 

 A loving and laughter-filled trip back to a lost American time when the newspaper business was the happiest game in town. In a warm, affectionate true-life tale, New York Times bestselling author Bob Greene (When We Get to Surf City, Duty, Once Upon a Town) travels back to a place where—when little more than a boy—he had the grand good luck to find himself surrounded by a brotherhood and sisterhood of wayward misfits who, on the mezzanine of a Midwestern building, put out a daily newspaper that didn't even know it had already started to die.
“In some American cities,” Greene writes, “famous journalists at mighty and world-renowned papers changed the course of history with their reporting.”  But at the Columbus Citizen-Journal, there was a willful rejection of grandeur—these were overworked reporters and snazzy sportswriters, nerve-frazzled editors and insult-spewing photographers, who found pure joy in the fact that, each morning, they awakened to realize: “I get to go down to the paper again.”
At least that is how it seemed in the eyes of the novice copyboy who saw romance in every grungy pastepot, a symphony in the song of every creaking typewriter.  With current-day developments in the American newspaper industry so grim and dreary, Late Edition is a Valentine to an era that was gleefully cocky and seemingly free from care, a wonderful story as bracing and welcome as the sound of a rolled-up paper thumping onto the front stoop just after dawn.

MARCH 2013 (host Kim D, Ballard)

Swamplandia, by Karen Russell

Thirteen-year-old Ava Bigtree has lived her entire life at
Swamplandia!, her family’s island home and gator-wrestling theme park
in the Florida Everglades. But when illness fells Ava’s mother, the
park’s indomitable headliner, the family is plunged into chaos; her
father withdraws, her sister falls in love with a spooky character
known as the Dredgeman, and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, defects
to a rival park called The World of Darkness. As Ava sets out on a
mission through the magical swamps to save them all, we are drawn into
a lush and bravely imagined debut that takes us to the shimmering edge
of reality.

APRIL 2013

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (Lisa, Northgate)

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who
has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest
Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind
courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become
the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost
Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and
Zelda Fitzgerald.

JUNE 2013 (Katie)

Arcadia, by Lauren Groff
In the fields of western New York State in the 1970s, a few dozen idealists set out to live off the land, founding what would become a commune centered on the grounds of a decaying mansion called Arcadia House. Arcadia follows this romantic, rollicking, and tragic utopian dream from its hopeful start through its heyday and after. 

Arcadia's inhabitants include Handy, a musician and the group's charismatic leader; Astrid, a midwife; Abe, a master carpenter; Hannah, a baker and historian; and Abe and Hannah's only child, the book's protagonist, Bit, who is born soon after the commune is created. 

While Arcadia rises and falls, Bit, too, ages and changes. If he remains in love with the peaceful agrarian life in Arcadia and deeply attached to its residents--including Handy and Astrid's lithe and deeply troubled daughter, Helle--how can Bit become his own man? How will he make his way through life and the world outside of Arcadia where he must eventually live?

With Arcadia, her first novel since her lauded debut, The Monsters of Templeton, Lauren Groff establishes herself not only as one of the most gifted young fiction writers at work today but also as one of our most accomplished literary artists.

JULY 2013 (Volunteer Park, Jill)

Dangerous Liaisons

Published just years before the French Revolution, Laclos's great
novel of moral and emotional depravity is a disturbing and ultimately
damning portrayal of a decadent society. Aristocrats and ex-lovers
Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont embark on a sophisticated
game of seduction and manipulation to bring amusement to their jaded
lives. While Merteuil challenges Valmont to seduce an innocent convent
girl, he is also occupied with the conquest of a virtuous married
woman. Eventually their human pawns respond, and the consequences
prove to be more serious-and deadly-than the players could have ever

SEPTEMBER 2013 (Gael, Ballard)

Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me, by Ellen Forney

Shortly before her thirtieth birthday, Forney was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Suffering from (but enjoying) extreme mania, and terrified that medication would cause her to lose creativity, she began a long struggle over many years to find mental stability while retaining her creativity. 

Searching to make sense of the popular idea of the 'crazy artist', she finds inspiration from the lives and work of other artists and writers who suffered from mood disorders, including Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O'Keeffe, William Styron, and Sylvia Plath. She also researches the clinical aspects of bipolar disorder, including the strengths and limitations of various treatments and medications, and what studies tell us about the conundrum of attempting to "cure" an otherwise brilliant mind.

Darkly funny and intensely personal, Forney's memoir provides a humorous but authentic glimpse into the effects of a mood disorder on an artist's work, as she shares her own story through black-and-white graphic images and prose.


Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (Lisa M's house, Northgate)

England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years, and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. The quest for the king’s freedom destroys his adviser, the brilliant Cardinal Wolsey, and leaves a power vacuum. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell is a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people and a demon of energy: he is also a consummate politician, hardened by his personal losses, implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph? In inimitable style, Hilary Mantel presents a picture of a half-made society on the cusp of change, where individuals fight or embrace their fate with passion and courage. With a vast array of characters, overflowing with incident, the novel re-creates an era when the personal and political are separated by a hairbreadth, where success brings unlimited power but a single failure means death.

Host: Kim D.

The Round House by Louise Erdrich 

The Round House won the National Book Award for fiction.
One of the most revered novelists of our time—a brilliant chronicler of Native-American life—Louise Erdrich returns to the territory of her bestselling, Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves with The Round House, transporting readers to the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. It is an exquisitely told story of a boy on the cusp of manhood who seeks justice and understanding in the wake of a terrible crime that upends and forever transforms his family.
Riveting and suspenseful, arguably the most accessible novel to date from the creator of Love Medicine, The Beet Queen, and The Bingo Palace, Erdrich’s The Round House is a page-turning masterpiece of literary fiction—at once a powerful coming-of-age story, a mystery, and a tender, moving novel of family, history, and culture. 

DECEMBER 2013 (off for holiday--possible group tea)
Organizer: Kristin

Queen Mary Tea Room?

HOST: Lisa

Wild by Cheryl Strayed (is in paperback)

A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe “and built her back up again.

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State “and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise. But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.

Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

Host: Marisol

Not About Madonna, by Whit Hill (Lisa M will provide copies)

It is a memoir of Whit's life, as reflected through the lens of her
junior year as a dance major at the University of Michigan -- sharing
a tiny room with Madonna Ciccone. It is a book about two very
different women who became close then drifted apart. It is about women artists in America, the secret life of dancers, and the sweet,
disco-tinged innocence of life in the late 1970s. It is about mothers
and daughters, loss and poverty, hope and fulfillment.

"When I first met Madonna Ciccone, my initial assessment, even as I watched her leg soaring into an effortless front extension, was that I had little to learn from any young whippersnapper from Michigan ... I felt no instant flush of warmth and trust the day we met ... but somehow, a few days later, she was my roommate." So begins Whit Hill's lively, engaging memoir that includes her college days with Madonna, and her subsequent life as a dedicated choreographer, struggling to make ends meet as her old friend achieved worldwide acclaim. Whit begins her reminiscence at age 19, and takes us through two marriages, two children, a career in dance and songwriting, and the loss of her relationship with a mother who hasn't spoken to her in nearly 30 years. Her style is lyrical, funny, poignant, and she gives readers plenty to think about -- including Madonna. But, Whit prefaces, "if you're looking for dirt on a pre-fame Madonna, there are quite a few volumes of literature out there that will meet your needs better than this one ... This books is a lot of things. And even though she's in it, this book is not about Madonna."

MARCH 2014
HOST: Ara Jane

Black Swan Green, by David Mitchell

Black Swan Green tracks a single year in what is, for thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor, the sleepiest village in muddiest Worcestershire in a dying Cold War England, 1982. But the thirteen chapters, each a short story in its own right, create an exquisitely observed world that is anything but sleepy. A world of Kissingeresque realpolitik enacted in boys’ games on a frozen lake; of “nightcreeping” through the summer backyards of strangers; of the tabloid-fueled thrills of the Falklands War and its human toll; of the cruel, luscious Dawn Madden and her power-hungry boyfriend, Ross Wilcox; of a certain Madame Eva van Outryve de Crommelynck, an elderly bohemian emigrĂ© who is both more and less than she appears; of Jason’s search to replace his dead grandfather’s irreplaceable smashed watch before the crime is discovered; of first cigarettes, first kisses, first Duran Duran LPs, and first deaths; of Margaret Thatcher’s recession; of Gypsies camping in the woods and the hysteria they inspire; and, even closer to home, of a slow-motion divorce in four seasons.

Pointed, funny, profound, left-field, elegiac, and painted with the stuff of life, Black Swan Green is David Mitchell’s subtlest and most effective achievement to date.

APRIL 2014
HOST: Gael

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

While the distance between rich and poor is growing in the U.S., the gap between the haves and have-nots in India is staggering to behold. This first book by a New Yorker staff writer (and Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter for the Washington Post) jolts the reader’s consciousness with the opposing realities of poverty and wealth in a searing visit to the Annawaldi settlement, a flimflam slum that has recently sprung up in the western suburbs of the gigantic city of Mumbai, perched tentatively along the modern highway leading to the airport and almost within a stone’s throw of new, luxurious hotels. We first meet Abdul, whose daily grind is to collect trash and sell it; in doing so, he has “lifted his large family above subsistence.” Boo takes us all around the community, introducing us to a slew of disadvantaged individuals who, nevertheless, draw on their inner strength to not only face the dreary day but also ponder a day to come that will, perhaps, be a little brighter. Sympathetic yet objective and eloquently rendered.

JUNE 2014

Fault in Our Stars by John Green (movie out June 6)
HOST: Movie theater/Kim D.

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love. 

Hazel Grace is a sixteen-year-old cancer patient, caught up in the effort it takes to live in a body that everyone knows is running out of time. When she reluctantly agrees to return to her local teen cancer support group to satisfy her mother, the last thing she expects is an encounter with destiny. New to the group, Augustus Waters is handsome, bitingly sarcastic, and in remission. He is also immediately taken with Hazel, and what begins as a casual friendship soon escalates into a full romance. Through an impressive exchange of books and words, philosophies and metaphors, Hazel and Augustus tear apart what it means to be both star-crossed lovers and imminently mortal. Green's much-anticipated novel is breathtaking in its ability to alternate between iridescent humor and raw tragedy. Hazel and Augustus are both fully realized, complex characters that each defy what it means to be a cancer patient in a unique way. While Hazel fixates about how her death will eventually hurt her loved ones, Augustus obsesses about how he will be remembered; the two are drawn together by the justified anxiety they feel over endings. If The Fault in Our Stars has a fault, it is not that Green's writing is too complex for teens, as some suggest, but that at times the complexity of Green's voice overshadows the narrative.

JULY 2014
HOST: Lisa

Tell Me, by Kim Addonizio (poetry)

Told in the cracked, smoky voice of someone who has loved and lost a lot and has come out the stronger for it these poems by the author of The Philosopher's Club and Jimmy & Rita crackle with energy yet do not betray the slightest slackening of craft. Addonizio moves from bars to cafes to one-night stands and back to bars singing a sophisticated version of the blues. She may wonder "who has the time for anything/ but their own pleasures and sorrows," but her work never succumbs to melancholy. 

Addonizio writes of herself, her passions and predicaments, without ever seeming 'confessional' or narcissistic, because what she relates is true of all mankind — especially womankind — Carolyn Kizer. Many of the poems in TELL ME can be read as intensified versions of the barroom ballad — songs of good and bad love, songs of the allure and the failure of drink. But regardless of the subject, Kim Addonizio's poems are stark mirrors of self-examination, and she looks into them without blinking.

HOST: Francine

Boy Kings of Texas, by Domingo Martinez

Lyrical and gritty, this authentic coming-of-age story about a border-town family in Brownsville, Texas,
insightfully illuminates a little-understood corner of America.
Domingo Martinez lays bare his interior and exterior worlds as he struggles to make sense of the violent and the ugly, along with the beautiful and the loving, in a Texas border town in the 1980s. Partly a reflection on the culture of machismo and partly an exploration of the author’s boyhood spent in his sister’s hand-me-down clothes, this book delves into the enduring, complex bond between Martinez and his deeply flawed but fiercely protective older brother, Daniel. It features a cast of memorable characters, including his gun-hoarding former farmhand, Gramma, and “the Mimis”— two of his older sisters who for a short, glorious time manage to transform themselves from poor Latina adolescents into upper-class white girls. Martinez provides a glimpse into a society where children are traded like commerce, physical altercations routinely solve problems, drugs are rampant, sex is often crude, and people depend on the family witch doctor for advice. Charming, painful, and enlightening, this book examines the traumas and pleasures of growing up in South Texas and the often terrible consequences when different cultures collide on the banks of a dying river.

January, 2015
Host: Katie, Shoreline
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

February 2015
Ara Jane
Longbourn - Jo Baker

March 2015
The Woman Upstairs,by Claire Messud

Kim D.
Let Me Finish, Roger Angell

The Country Girls - Edna O'Brien (park)

Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown

Kim R.
Adverbs, by Daniel Handler

KristinThe Secret Place, Tana French (paperback out August 4)

The Stone Mattress, by Margaret Atwood (paperback out June 23)

DECEMBER (tea instead of meeting)


Pioneer Girl, the Annotated Autobiography, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Book-choosing meeting at Lisa's

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter, Ara Jane

The Storied Life of AJ Fikery, by Gabrielle Zevin, Katie
Kristin Lavransdatter Book 1: The Wreath, by Sigrid Undset, Gael
Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Kristin
Girl on the Train, Jill
The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit, Kim R