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Book Discussions at the Library October 2012

September 24, 2012 by Reader's Connection

The beginnings of the American Civil War will be discussed in October, and the coming of Hitler’s Third Reich. We’ll be reading twentieth-century classics, and the first Richard Jury mystery, and a new novel about a woman who survives the sinking of a trans-Atlantic ocean liner.

Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts : Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin will be discussed twice in October.
Franklin Road Library on Monday, October 1st at 6:30 p.m.
Central Library on Tuesday, October 2nd at 6:00 p.m.

In the Garden of Beasts : Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's BerlinAfter offering the position to several other candidates who declined, President Roosevelt selected [Professor William] Dodd, who had studied in Germany, to be ambassador there. Dodd pulled up stakes, bringing his wife, son, and daughter with him to Berlin. Hitler and his Nazi Party had recently gained control of the government, and they were relentlessly working to consolidate their power over the nation. Larson . . . has written a brilliant and often infuriating account of the experiences and evolving attitudes of the Dodd family during Hitler’s critical first year in power. Dodd is seen here as a decent but frustratingly naive figure who keeps obtusely expecting “moderate” Nazis to emerge, even as the outrages against Jews and even American citizens intensify. His 24-year-old daughter, Martha, is attractive, flirtatious, and initially entranced by the apparent dynamism and revolutionary spirit of the Nazis. With the benefit of hindsight, of course, the Dodds seem almost criminally ignorant, but Larson treats them with a degree of compassion that elevates them to tragic status. — Booklist


The Wayne Library will host a discussion of Adam Goodheart’s The Civil War Awakening on Monday, October 1st at 6:30 p.m.

The Civil War AwakeningGoodhart, a historian and journalist who will be writing a column on the Civil War for the New York Times online, makes sophisticated use of a broad spectrum of sources for an evocative reinterpretation of the Civil War’s beginnings. Wanting to retrieve the war from recent critics who dismiss the importance of slavery in the Union’s aims, he reframes the war as “not just a Southern rebellion but a nationwide revolution” to free the country of slavery and end paralyzing attempts to compromise over it. The revolution began long before the war’s first shots were fired. But it worked on the minds and hearts of average whites and blacks, slaves and free men. By 1861 it had attained an irresistible momentum. Goodheart shifts focus away from the power centers of Washington and Charleston to look at the actions and reactions of citizens from Boston to New York City, from Hampton Roads, Va., to St. Louis, Mo., and San Francisco, emphasizing the cultural, rather than military, clash between those wanting the country to move forward and those clinging to the old ways. — Publishers Weekly


Ron Rash’s novel The Cove will be discussed at the Brightwood Library on Tuesday, October 2nd at 6:00 p.m.

The CoveIn the Appalachians of North Carolina near the end of WWI, lonely Laurel Shelton lives with her brother, newly returned from the war, in a forbidding place known as the cove. Shunned all of her life by the townsfolk of Mars Hill because they believe she is a witch, Laurel despairs of ever making a life for herself. But one day a stranger appears carrying a silver flute and a note explaining that his name is Walter and that he is mute. But Walter is hiding his true identity, for he is well aware that it would place their lives in grave danger. Meanwhile, Chauncey Feith, a dimwitted and ambitious army recruiter, stokes the locals’ hatred and fear of “the enemy,” while Laurel’s brother and others who actually served in the war regard his posturing with great contempt. Poet and literary novelist Rash effortlessly summons the rugged Appalachian landscape as well as the small-mindedness and xenophobia of a country in the grip of patriotic fervor, drawing striking parallels to the heated political rhetoric of today. A powerful novel that skillfully overlays its tragic love story with pointed social commentary. — Booklist


Author Robert Snow will offer his insights when his book Looking for Carroll Beckwith: The True Story of a Detective’s Search for His Past Life is discussed at the Warren Library on Thursday, October 4th at 10:30 a.m. Captain Snow will sell and sign copies of the book after the discussion.

Looking for Carroll Beckwith: The True Story of a Detective's Search for His Past Life

Indianapolis police homicide commander Snow offers a dryly nonplused account of his discovery of his “past life” as 19th-century portrait painter Carroll Beckwith. Snow participated in (and taped) a therapeutic “recovered memory” session as a lark, and, once hypnotized, was jolted by a series of clear images and recollections that seemed even then strangely plausible, despite his cop’s hard-nosed, empirical perspective. Later, when he walked into a New Orleans gallery at random and confronted a painting that had appeared to him in his vision, he determined to put his detective’s investigative skills to work and research congruencies between his “memories” and the artist’s life. Surprisingly, the evidence that he painstakingly assembled through retrieving Beckwith’s journals and work from obscurity seemed fully to confirm that Snow’s “recollections” were authentic. Snow relates all this ruefully, hardly eager to be perceived as “New Age.” — Cahners Business Information


The Shared Reading Group plans to meet at the Spades Park Branch on October 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th. That’s every Friday, from 10:00 to 11:30. Facilitator Anja Saak will read a chapter, and then others will take turns reading. Unless we all become suddenly shy.

As I Lay Dying


We are moving through William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying very slowly. If you’re not joining the group because you feel you’ll be left behind, forget that. Catching up will be no problem. We had some new attendees, today, in fact (9/21), and it was wonderful to have new faces at the table.

Spades Park’s regular monthly book discussion will be held on Wednesday, October 24th and is listed below.




Randy Alcorn’s novelization Courageous, based on the screenplay by Alex and Stephen Kendrick, will be discussed at the East 38th Street Library on Monday, October 8th at 6:00 p.m.


From the creators of Fireproof comes an inspiring new story about everyday heroes who long to be the kinds of dads that make a lifelong impact on their children. As law enforcement officers Adam Mitchell, Nathan Hayes, and their partners willingly stand up to the worst the world can offer. Yet at the end of the day, they face a challenge that none of them are truly prepared to tackle: fatherhood. While they consistently give their best on the job, good enough seems to be all they can muster as dads. But they’re quickly discovering that their standard is missing the mark. They know that God desires to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, but their children are beginning to drift farther and farther away from them. Will they be able to find a way to serve and protect those who are most dear to them? When tragedy hits home, these men are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, their faith, and their fathering. Can a newfound urgency help these dads draw closer to God . . . and to their children? — Publisher’s description


J. D. Mason’s novel Beautiful Dirty Rich will be discussed at the Flanner House Library on Monday October 8th at 6:30 p.m.

Beautiful Dirty Rich

A gripping new novel from bestselling author J.D. Mason about a wealthy Texas family and the one woman who holds– and will reveal–all their dirty secrets. Desdimona Green has been the name on everyone’s lips in Blink, Texas. Twenty-five years ago, at the age of eighteen, she shot and killed one of the wealthiest men and pillars of the community, oil baron Julian Gatewood. The Gatewood family was considered untouchable, so the whole state of Texas was rocked to its core over Julian’s murder. They were even more shocked to discover that Desi is Julian’s daughter and her mother had been his lover for years. But when Desi gets out of jail and promptly inherits millions from Julian’s estate, everyone knows that there is much more to the story–and Desi Green is the keeper of the Gatewood secrets, including what happened the night Julian died. When a famous true crime reporter shows up on her doorstep wanting the full story, Desi agrees to reveal all, much to the horror of the Gatewoods, who will do anything to stop her. But Desi has more than a few tricks up her sleeve. — McMillan Palgrave


On Thursday, October 11th at 1:30 p.m., Charlotte Rogan’s The Lifeboat will be discussed at the Fountain Square Library

The LifeboatRogan’s elegantly written debut draws the reader into the confidences of Grace Winter, a 22-year-old newlywed then widow fighting for her life. In 1914, during a transatlantic crossing, the ship carrying Grace and her husband suffers a crippling explosion and begins to sink. Henry secures a place for his wife on an overcrowded lifeboat, but once among the debris and wreckage, the survivors realize that the boat is unstable. Some passengers will have to die so others can live. The castaways begin to battle the sea and the weather while engaging in a psychological battle of wills against one another. As life and death loom on the crest of every wave, it is unclear who will turn on whom and what will happen to this collection of desperate humanity. VERDICT Within the framework of a simple narrative that draws readers in on waves of fear and desperation, this stunning and suspenseful tale of survival offers a terrifying vision of human nature. Rogan’s portrait of a protagonist who considers time, memory, and the loss of innocence in her shifting ruminations is unforgettable. — Library Journal


The Irvington Library will host a discussion of Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises on Thursday, October 11th at 1:30 p.m.

The Sun Also RisesPublished in 1926 to explosive acclaim, The Sun Also Rises stands as perhaps the most impressive first novel ever written by an American writer. A roman à clef about a group of American and English expatriates on an excursion from Paris’s Left Bank to Pamplona for the July fiesta and its climactic bull fight, a journey from the center of a civilization spiritually bankrupted by the First World War to a vital, God-haunted world in which faith and honor have yet to lose their currency, the novel captured for the generation that would come to be called “Lost” the spirit of its age, and marked Ernest Hemingway as the preeminent writer of his time. — Publisher’s note


Also at Irvington: This month’s Teen Book Discussion will feature Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones, Book One of the Mortal Instruments series. A copy of the book is available for checkout from the Information Desk. This program is funded by a grant from the Library Foundation.

City of BonesThis urban-fantasy series opener spices its fight against evil with sexual tension. Fifteen-year-old geek hipster Clary thought she was just a normal kid, but normal kids don’t see invisible people, and normal kids’ mothers don’t suddenly disappear, seemingly captured by horrific monsters. But like many fantasy heroines, Clary isn’t normal, and she’s got all the secret parentage, dramatic revelations and amazing magic powers to prove it. Clary is a Shadowhunter, brought up as a mundane but born to fight demons. She and her mundane friend Simon fall in with a trio of Shadowhunter teens, and are soon embroiled in a quest to understand Clary’s past–and incidentally save the world. Rich descriptions occasionally devolve into purple prose, but the story’s sensual flavor comes from the wealth of detail: demons with facial piercings, diners serving locusts and honey, pretty gay warlocks and cameo appearances from other urban fantasies’ characters. Complicated romantic triangles keep the excitement high . . . Lush and fun. — Kirkus Reviews


A Gathering of Old Men

A Gathering of Old Men by Ernest J. Gaines will be discussed at the Pike Library on Monday, October 15th at 6:30 p.m.

In lieu of any reviews that I can legally use, here’s a fragment from the video “An Obsession of Mine: The Legacy of Ernest J. Gaines.” The video hadn’t been finished or fully entitled, then, and IndyPL doesn’t own it, but this little bit of it is lovely; and there’s a lovely quote about graveyards from Gathering. (And Gaines’s “obsession” turns out to be a graveyard where some of his ancestors are buried.)


P. D. James’s Death Comes to Pemberley will be discussed at the Lawrence Library on Tuesday, October 16th at 10:15 a.m.

Death Comes to PemberleyHistorical mystery buffs and Jane Austen fans alike will welcome this homage to the author of Pride and Prejudice from MWA Grand Master James, best known for her Adam Dalgliesh detective series. In the autumn of 1803, six years after the events that closed Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Darcy, the happily married mistress of Pemberley House, is preparing for Lady Anne’s annual ball, “regarded by the county as the most important social event of the year.” Alas, the evening before the ball, Elizabeth’s sister Lydia, who married the feckless Wickham, bursts into the house to announce that Captain Denny, a militia officer, has shot her husband dead in the woodland on the estate. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam, who purists may note behaves inconsistently with Austen’s original, head out in a chaise to investigate. Attentive readers will eagerly seek out clues to the delightfully complex mystery, which involves many hidden motives and dark secrets, not least of them in the august Darcy family. In contrast to Pride and Prejudice, where emotion is typically conveyed through indirect speech, characters are much more open about their feelings, giving a contemporary ring to James’s pleasing and agreeable sequel. — Publishers Weekly


The Spades Park Library will host a discussion of Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog on Wednesday, October 24th at 6:00 p.m.

The Elegance of the HedgehogFrance-based author Barbery teaches philosophical lessons by shrewdly exposing rich secret lives hidden beneath conventional exteriors. René Michel has been the concierge at an apartment building in Paris for 27 years. Uneducated, widowed, ugly, short and plump, she looks like any other French apartment-house janitor, but Mme Michel is by no means what she seems. A “proletarian autodidact,” she has broad cultural appetites–for the writings of Marx and Kant, the novels of Tolstoy, the films of Ozu and Wenders. She ponders philosophical questions and holds scathing opinions about some of the wealthy tenants of the apartments she maintains, but she is careful to keep her intelligence concealed, having learned from her sister’s experience the dangers of using her mind in defiance of her class. Similarly, 12-year-old Paloma Josse, daughter of one of the well-connected tenant families, shields her erudition, philosophical inclinations, criticism–and also her dreams of suicide. But when a new Japanese tenant, Kakuro Ozu, moves in, everything changes for both females. He detects their intelligence and invites them into his cultured life. Curious and deeply fulfilling friendships blossom among the three, offering Paloma and René freedom from the mental prisons confining them — Kirkus Reviews


Portal, the Indianapolis Science Fiction and Fantasy Discussion Group, will meet at Glendale Library on Sunday, October 28th from 1:00 to 3:00.

Their theme this month will be Beyond Twilight ~  Vampires and Zombies: Alive and Well


The Man with a Load of Mischief, the first of Martha Grimes’s Richard Jury mysteries, will be discussed at the Southport Library on Monday, October 29th at 6:30 p.m.

The Man with a Load of Mischief

At the Man with a Load of Mischief, they found the dead body stuck in a keg of beer. At the Jack and Hammer, another body was stuck out on the beam of the pub’s sign, replacing the mechanical man who kept the time. Two pubs. Two murders. One Scotland Yard inspector called in to help. Detective Chief Inspector Richard Jury arrives in Long Piddleton and finds everyone in the postcard village looking outside of town for the killer. Except for one Melrose Plant. A keen observer of human nature, he points Jury in the right direction: into the darkest parts of his neighbors’ hearts. — Penguin Putnam



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