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Book Discussions at the Library November 2012

October 23, 2012 by Reader's Connection

Addie is coming! Addie is coming!

Oh, I’m sorry. Our authors this month include an Anthony Award winner, a National Book Award winner, two Nobel Prize winners, and Addie Bundren. No, wait, Addie is a fictional character. I have to pull myself together.

Nina Sankovitch’s Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading will be discussed at the Warren Library on Thursday, November 1st at 10:30 a.m.

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical ReadingWhen Sankovitch lost her older sister to cancer, she was determined to “live her life double” in order to make up for her family’s painful loss. But after three years spent at a frenetic pace, Sankovitch decided to slow down and rediscover the pleasure of books in order to reconnect with the memory of her sister. Despite the day-to-day responsibilities of raising four sons–and the holidays, vacations, and sudden illnesses that accompany a large family–Sankovitch vowed to read one book a day for an entire year and blog about it. In this entertaining bibliophile’s dream, Sankovitch (who launched and was profiled in the New York Times) found that her “year of magical reading” was “not a way to rid myself of sorrow but a way to absorb it.” As well as being an homage to her sister and their family of readers, Sankovitch’s memoir speaks to the power that books can have over our daily lives. Sankovitch champions the act of reading not as an indulgence but as a necessity, and will make the perfect gift from one bookworm to another. — Publishers Weekly

As noted in an earlier Reader’s Connection post Sankovitch’s website is partly broken. The links to her reviews of her 365 books aren’t working; but you can look the list over, and if you see something that interests you, enter some keywords (chesterton, thursday) in the search field at the top of the page, and you’ll be taken to a review.


Addie! Addie!

We’re going to hear from Addie Bundren this month!

As I Lay Dying Addie is the character who actually dies in William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. Most of the other characters have several chances to speak, but Addie is given only one chance. Our Shared Reading Group has been moving slowly through the novel, and I’m guessing that we’ll finally hear Addie’s voice in November.

It’s not too late to join us. We’ll meet at the Spades Park Branch on November 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th. That’s every Friday, from 10:00 to 11:30. Every chapter is discussed after it is read aloud, and we’ll probably have a lot to say about Addie.


Mary McGarry Morris’s novel The Lost Mother will be discussed at the Franklin Road Library on Monday, November 5th at 6:30 p.m.

The Lost Mother“They said it was bad for everyone, but nobody else the boy knew had to live in the woods.” Thus begins the harrowing story of 12-year-old Thomas and eight-year-old Margaret in Morris’s powerful sixth novel. Reduced to living in a tent in Vermont during the Depression, the children and their father, Henry Talcott, a butcher who must travel daily seeking work, are barely surviving their abandonment by the children’s reluctant mother. The shattered family aches with the desire to bring home beautiful, troubled Irene while Henry crumbles into a “whipped man… worn down and grim,” and Thomas takes on the role of caretaker. Henry’s longtime friend Gladys shows the family rare kindness, but a longstanding animosity between her crotchety father and Henry makes it impossible for the Talcotts to accept her charity. In typical Morris fashion, the author paints a brutal landscape and authentic characters with delicacy and precision . . . once again proving herself a storyteller of great compassion, insight and depth. — Publishers Weekly


On Monday, November 5th at 6:30 p.m., An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-Year_Old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny, by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski, will be discussed at the Wayne Library.

An Invisible ThreadAccording to an old Chinese proverb, there’s an invisible thread that connects two people who are destined to meet and influence each other’s lives. With Tresniowski, Schroff tells how, as a busy advertising sales executive in New York, she easily passed panhandlers every day. One day, 11-year-old Maurice’s plea for spare change caused Schroff to turn around and offer to buy him lunch. Thereafter, Schroff and Maurice met for dinner each week and slowly shared their life stories. Maurice’s tales about his crack addict mother, absent father, and array of drug-dealing uncles were only part of his desperate longing for a life in a safe neighborhood in an apartment with more than one room. As they grow to depend on each other, Maurice asks Schroff to attend his school’s parents’ night, where his teacher asks Schroff not to abandon the boy . . . As Schroff relates Maurice’s story, she tells of her own father’s alcoholism and abuse, and readers see how desperately these two need each other in this feel-good story about the far-reaching benefits of kindness. — Publishers Weekly


Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America will be discussed at Central Library on Tuesday, November 6th at 6:00 p.m.

The Devil in the White CityDaniel Burnham, the main innovator of the White City of the 1892 World’s Fair, made certain that it became the antithesis of its parent city, born to glow and gleam with all that the new century would soon offer. While the great city of the future was hastily being planned and built, the specially equipped apartment building of one Herman Webster Mudgett was also being constructed. Living in a nearby suburb and walking among the hundreds of thousands of visitors who would eventually attend the fair, Mudgett, a doctor by profession more commonly known as H.H. Holmes, was really an early serial killer who preyed on the young female fair goers pouring into Chicago . . . Both intimate and engrossing, Larson’s elegant historical account unfolds with the painstaking calm of a Holmes murder. – Library Journal


Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch mystery The Closers will be discussed at the Brightwood Library on Tuesday, November 6th at 6:00 p.m.

The ClosersHarry Bosch returns to his old homestead-the Los Angeles Police Department-in Connelly’s latest novel (after The Narrows). Assigned with his former partner to the unsolved case squad, Bosch immerses himself in his old habits to solve their first case: the kidnapping-murder of a young woman 17 years ago. New DNA evidence leads the detectives to an ex-con with no obvious connection to the girl. But when Bosch and his partner start asking the right questions of the wrong people, a hornet’s nest erupts. After having Bosch narrate in Lost Light and The Narrows, Connelly switches back to the third person here, and his compelling style makes even the most mundane details fascinating. Fans and newcomers alike will love seeing Bosch back in uniform, stirring up trouble. — Library Journal


Ben Mcintyre’s Double Cross: True Stories of the D-Day Spies will be discussed at the Fountain Square Library on Thursday, November 8th at 1:30 p.m.

Double Cross: True Stories of the D-Day Spies
Despite massive efforts by the Abwehr, the German espionage service, the where and when of the D-Day landings were perhaps the most successfully kept secrets of WWII. As a result, the Germans were required to maintain forces all across their “Atlantic Wall.” When the Normandy invasion began, the ability of the Germans to rush in reinforcements was severely hindered. The maintenance of the secret, as well as the continued deception foisted on the Germans, is chronicled superbly by Macintyre, a writer for The Times of London. The success was, in no small part, due to a varied crew of double agents. Some, like the Polish exile and fierce patriot Roman Garby Czerniawski, had admirable motives; others, including a neurotic Frenchwoman with an obsessive attachment to her dog, and an anti-Nazi German prone to financial manipulations, defy easy categorizations. The control and management of this corps by Allied intelligence officials were effective but frustrating, nerve-racking, and came close to disaster at least once. Macintyre has written a tense, exciting real-life spy story that illuminates a largely obscure aspect of WWII. — Booklist

Following Ezra: What One Father Learned about Gumby, Otters, Autism, and Love from His Extraordinary Son, by Tom Fields-Meyer, will be discussed at the Irvington Library on Thursday, November 8th at 1:30 p.m.

	 Following Ezra A father celebrates his son’s differences and advises others on how to view autism as a parallel journey rather than a restrictive label . . Fields-Meyer approaches autism from a topical perspective, creating a loving tribute that favors “following” his son’s interests instead of imposing behavioral or social expectations . . . Advised early on to “grieve for the child he didn’t turn out to be,” Fields-Meyer quickly realized that there was nothing to grieve, and no sense of blame. Together with his wife and Ezra’s brothers, he adapted to life at a slower pace, allowing frustration and wonderment alike to play out naturally. Characteristics of autism, which can include repetition, fixation, facial nuances, lessened eye contact and a superb memory for obscure minutiae are not treated as symptoms to normalize but as opportunities to enter Ezra’s world—whether that means learning the running times of animated films or appreciating honest insights. — Kirkus Reviews


Julia Glass’s novel The Widower’s Tale will be discussed at the Pike Library on Monday, November 19th at 6:30 p.m.

The Widower's TalePercy Darling is a recently retired Massachusetts librarian who, for reasons I won´t disclose, allows his treasured (though unused) barn to be turned into a preschool; and The Widower’s Tale begins on the first day of school. Percy, whose life will never be the same, is the widower in question, and he’s the novel’s central character; but other stories are being told, here. A gay preschool teacher named Ira, a Guatemalen gardener named Celestino, and Percy’s grandson Robert all bear parts of the narrative. One of the book’s fascinations for me was to watch author Julia Glass tell the story from four male points of view, while allowing her female characters to shine brilliantly. Percy’s two daughters are the first to come to mind, but love interests and friends and obsessive female neighbors all play a part. Also amazing is the way the four narratives flow into each other, how Robert’s roommate helps Celestino and how Ira’s would-be husband helps . . . I’m getting ahead of myself. The story–and with all these interactions it really is all one story–moves through some sorrowful territory, but there are grins along the way. — Reader’s Connection


Unbowed, a memoir by Wangari Muta Maathai, will be discussed at the Lawrence Library on Tuesday, November 20th at 10:15 a.m.

UnbowedThe mother of three, the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate, and the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, Wangari Maathai of Kenya understands how the good earth sustains life both as a biologist and as a Kikuyu woman who, like generations before her, grew nourishing food in the rich soil of Kenya’s central highlands. In her engrossing and eye-opening memoir, a work of tremendous dignity and rigor, Maathai describes the paradise she knew as a child in the 1940s, when Kenya was a “lush, green, fertile” land of plenty, and the deforested nightmare it became. Discriminated against as a female university professor, Maathai has fought hard for women’s rights. And it was women she turned to when she undertook her mission to restore Kenya’s decimated forests, launching the Green Belt Movement and providing women with work planting trees. Maathai’s ingenious, courageous, and tenacious activism led to arrests, beatings, and death threats, and yet she and her tree-planting followers remained unbowed. — Booklist


Portal, the Indianapolis Science Fiction and Fantasy Discussion Group, will meet at Glendale Library on Sunday, November 25th from 1:00 to 3:00.

Their theme this month will be Enchanted Journeys and Fantasy Worlds



The Southport Library will host a discussion of David Baldacci’s novel The Winner on Monday, November 26th at 6:30 p.m.

The WinnerThe premise is another Baldacci blockbuster: the national lottery has been fixed 12 times by a man who demands access to his handpicked winners’ windfalls and who now, to protect his secret, aims to kill the last and lovable illicit winner, LuAnn Tyler. To save her baby girl from a hardscrabble life, bright, beautiful and dirt poor LuAnn accepts the offer of the mystery man known as Jackson to reap nearly $100 million in a forthcoming drawing. Jackson is a marvelous mad hatter of a villain who’s not only a modern Moriarity but a master of disguise; his ability to shift from old to young, male to female springs many of the novel’s twists . . . The ensuing mayhem draws in press, the FBI and the White House, sees LuAnn herself shift from hunted to huntress (with help from a romantic interest), and will have readers gasping . . .unlike many thrillers, this is flat-out fun to read. — Publishers Weekly



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