Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Voting for Books

I told my preschooler that it was Election Day so I was going to go vote today.  This was the response: "We're having a pretend election at school too. You stick your head in a box with a tablecloth on top. And you make a red x if you are a red pepper, and a green x if you are a green pepper."  There's another election coming up here at the library, not for how ripe you like your bell peppers, but for next years' book group selections.  And unlike most elections, the voters will have a lot of say about on what's on the ballot.

Here are some titles that seem discussable and interesting to me, and hopefully borrowable in quantity for our book group. I'm looking forward to seeing what other members of the book groups recommend. Book group members, let me know which titles you'd like to add to this list.

Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League by Jonathan Odell.  A Great Group Read of 2015 by Reading Group Choices. In 1950s Mississippi two mothers, one black, one white, who don't get along, find themselves thrown together by circumstance.

A Mother's Reckoning by Sue Klebold.  Also a Great Group Read by Reading Group Choices and a book I heard discussed on What Should I Read Next?  Klebold is the mother of one of the Columbine shooters, and all profits from her memoir are going to mental health charities.

Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson. This is a nonfiction but reads-like-fiction account of the hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900. Alice who works at the library recommended it to me and it's of particular interest after this season's similarly record-setting hurricanes.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal. This was an Amazon best book of the month and follows a future celebrity chef through the stages of her life. Voted an Indies Choice best debut novel by the American Booksellers Assocation. 

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. This novel is set in 1862 in a cemetery on the night after Abraham Lincoln's 11 year old son was buried, and it's peopled by ghosts. An Amazon best book of the month that got a lot of attention.

Moonglow by Michael Chabon. The fictional memoir of Chabon's grandfather, complete with a deathbed confession and a family secret, tells the story of an entire era. I'm hoping it will be as great as Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. A New York Times Notable selection.

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong. A heart-warming account of a thirty-something year old daughter's year with her father, a history professor who has Alzheimer's. 

The Refugees is a collection of short stories about Vietnamese refugees written over the past twenty years by Viet Thanh Nguyen. It's a New York Times Notable pick, and Nguyen won a Pulitzer Prize for an earlier novel. 

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. Some years the book group reads a classic, so I thought of this 1932 comic novel which "parodies the romanticised, sometimes doom-laden accounts of rural life popular at the time" (Wikipedia). Recommended by my sister, who also suggested the forgotten classics Fanny Fern's Ruth Hall and Dorothy Whipple's Greenbanks to me. I'll never be able to get enough copies of those for the book group, so Cold Comfort Farm it is.

Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart. This based-on-a-true-story novel is about one of America's first female deputy sheriffs, and it's set right here in New Jersey in 1914. NPR's Morning Edition has the story.

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