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Book Discussions at the Library July 2013

June 24, 2013 by Reader's Connection

The Franklin Road Library will host a discussion of Dina Bennett’s Peking to Paris : Life and Love on a Short Drive around Half the World on Monday, July 1st at 6:30 p.m.

Peking to Paris : Life and Love on a Short Drive around Half the WorldWhy did a woman who suffers from carsickness, has no sense of direction and hates roughing it accompany her husband on a grueling five-week, 7,800-mile rally through China, Mongolia, Russia and Europe? After selling their software company and settling on a ranch in Colorado, Bennett and her husband, Bernard, grew restless. After two decades of marriage, they had “grown nonchalant about our togetherness. We needed a new project, something that would pull us off our separate paths and merge us into a team again.” At a lunch stop for the Colorado Grand classic car tour, Bernard had a chance encounter that offered up a challenge: a 35-day race following the silk route taken by Genghis Khan  on the centenary of the original Peking to Paris Motor Challenge. All they needed was determination, money and a classic car . . . [Bennett’s] writing captures the beauty of the austere landscape, changing social dynamics with other teams and the nuances of her shifting relationship with her husband. A fun ride, worth the trip. — Kirkus Reviews


Masha Hamilton’s The Camel Bookmobile will be discussed at the Wayne Library on Monday, July 1st at 6:30 p.m.

The Camel Bookmobile

New York City librarian Fiona Sweeney has taken an unusual assignment in Kenya–running a bookmobile service powered by camel and serving isolated, seminomadic villages like Mididima, where teenaged library customer Kanika lives with her grandmother, Neema. Taban, a young man severely scarred as a toddler by a hyena, is shunned by most of the community, but he and Kanika share a friendship and a sweet anticipation of Sweeney’s every visit. Matani, Mididima’s schoolmaster, is a champion of the service, but even he can’t do anything when several missing books threaten the village’s reputation and set off a chain of events that expose misguided motives, hidden agendas, illicit romance, and tragedy. This third novel from international journalist Hamilton presents a rare and balanced perspective on issues surrounding cultural intrusion and the very meaning and necessity of literacy, using rich and evocative prose that skillfully exposes the stark realities of poverty and charity in today’s Africa. — Library Journal


Madeleine Albright’s Prague Winter : A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948 will be discussed at Central Library on Tuesday, July 2nd at 6:00 p.m.

Prague Winter : A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948Albright learned, when secretary of state under President Bill Clinton, that her ancestry was Jewish and that many of her relatives perished in the Holocaust. Impelled to research her family history, she here integrates her discoveries and a historical narrative of Czechoslovakian politics in the WWII era, focusing on “why we make the choices we do.” Born in 1937 to a Czech diplomat, Albright recalls her earliest memories of German-bombed England, to which her family had escaped from their Nazi-conquered homeland. She fondly remembers her elder cousin, Daša, but wonders why Daša’s younger sister, Milena, had been left behind in Prague. A prewar picture of the three girls poignantly depicts the stakes of Albright’s core concern, which she applies to numerous political crises that afflicted Czechoslovakia. Should the country have fought in 1938? Should its exiled leaders have assassinated Reinhard Heydrich in 1942? Could Democrats have staved off the Communists in 1948? Through the connection of her father to Czechoslovak leaders, Albright shows the impact on individuals of such historical questions, accessing political history for a wide readership, which she seals with her powerfully somber accounting of the fates of her extended family, Milena included. No reader will close her memoir unmoved — Booklist


Moby Dick

Aren’t gams supposed to be legs? Didn’t I used to read about Rita Hayworth’s beautiful gams? It turns out that a gam is also a social get-together that occurs when two whaling ships meet at sea. Captain Ahab doesn’t seem to have the time for them, though. Not a social networking guy.

The Shared Reading Group at Spades Park will continue to read and discuss Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. It’s not too late to climb aboard. The crew of the Pequod has yet to harvest a whale.

We will meet every Friday, July 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th from 10:00 until 11:30. Our fearless faciliator Anja is usually the first to read aloud, but you can probably read if you want to. If not, not. Refreshments are served.


John Le Carré’s A Most Wanted Man will be discussed at the Warren Library on Thursday, July 11th at 10:30 a.m.

A Most Wanted ManWhen private British bankers Brue Frres took on some unusual clients at the time of the former Soviet Union’s collapse, the prospect of terrorist ties or involvement in state security organs was but a dim shadow on the horizon. Now, though, a young and curiously charming Chechen with the marks of torture on his body has arrived as a stowaway in Hamburg and bearing the key to a Brue lockbox. Sheltered by Annabel, a fiery German human rights attorney, the Chechen needs a safe berth. Relying on assumptions of fair dealing, Annabel and Tommy Brue craft a wily deal that protects the refugee and releases the funds. British and German agents act as guarantors of the deal, but no one anticipates the CIA’s crashing the party. In le Carr’s inimitable way, the individual’s striving to do the right thing offers an eloquent but feathery counterweight to the relentless pressure of the “espiocrats,” the author’s neologism for the new spies operating within the the ethics of expedience. The old spy master hasn’t lost his touch. — Library Journal


2013 Pulitzer Prize finalist Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, by Katherine Boo, will be discussed at the Fountain Square Library on Thursday, July 11th at 1:30 p.m.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai UndercityHalf an acre. 335 huts. 3,000 people. And a concrete wall that is supposed to hide them from view: this is Annawadi, the Mumbai slum that comes vibrantly to life in this book’s pages. Ms. Boo says that she chose Annawadi because the scale of this “sumpy plug of slum” bordering a lake of sewage was small, and its location was fraught with possibilities. Annawadi sits beside the road to the Mumbai airport, on “a stretch where new India and old India collided and made new India late.” In 2008, at the time the events in the book unfolded, scavenging and trash sorting were the children of Annawadi’s most promising career choices. — The New York Times


Steve Sheinkin’s Bomb : The Race to Build-and Steal-The World’s Most Dangerous Weapon will be discussed at the Irvington Library on Thursday, July 11th at 1:30 p.m.

Bomb : The Race to Build-and Steal-The World's Most Dangerous WeaponIn late December 1938, German chemist Otto Hahn discovered that uranium atoms could be split, and just a few months later the race to build an atomic bomb was on. The story unfolds in three parts, covering American attempts to build the bomb, how the Soviets tried to steal American designs and how the Americans tried to keep the Germans from building a bomb. It was the eve of World War II, and the fate of the world was at stake, “[b]ut how was a theoretical physicist supposed to save the world?” It’s a true spy thriller, ranging from the football stadium at the University of Chicago to the mountains of Norway, from the deserts of New Mexico to laboratories in East Tennessee, and all along the way spies in the United States were feeding sensitive information to the KGB. Groups of photographs are sprinkled throughout the volume, offering just enough visual support for the splendid character development in the writing, and thorough documentation is provided in the backmatter. It takes a lot of work to make a complicated subject clear and exciting, and from his prodigious research and storytelling skill, Sheinkin has created a nonfiction story young people will want to read. A superb tale of an era and an effort that forever changed our world. — Kirkus Reviews


The Pike Library will host a discussion of J. K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy on Monday, July 15th at 6:30 p.m.

The Casual VacancyThe wires have been abuzz for months with the news that Rowling was writing a new book–and this one a departure from her Potter franchise, a book for grown-ups. The wait was worth it, and if Rowling’s focus remains on tortured adolescents (as if there were any other kind), they’re teenagers trapped without any magic whatsoever in a world full of Muggles . . . The setting is a northerly English town full of council estates and leafy garden suburbs inhabited by people who, almost without exception, are not very happy and really not very likable . . . The reader will be surprised at some of Rowling’s victims and the ways she chooses to dispose of them, but this is less a book about mayhem than about the grimness of most lives. It is skillfully, often even elegantly written, and . . . Rowling manages to keep the story tied together and moving along nicely . . . this Rowling person may have a career as a writer before her. — Kirkus Reviews



Eagle Library‘s Romance Potluck book discussion will meet on Wednesday, July 17th, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.

This month’s theme is “Hot! Hot! Hot!” If you can’t think of any steamy titles that you might want to discuss, you can click on our destiny-killing cover art, and hop a couple blogposts back for some suggestions.





Portal, the Indianapolis Science Fiction and Fantasy Discussion Group, will meet at the Glendale Library on Sunday, July 28th from 1:00 to 3:00. The theme this month will be “The Best of Timelines, the Worst of Timelines: Time Travel.”


John Grisham’s The Summons will be discussed at the Southport Library on Monday, July 29th at 6:30 p.m.

The SummonsRay Atlee is a professor of law at the University of Virginia. He’s forty-three, newly single, and still enduring the aftershocks of a surprise divorce. He has a younger brother, Forrest, who redefines the notion of a family’s black sheep. And he has a father, a very sick old man who lives alone in the ancestral home in Clanton, Mississippi. He is known to all as Judge Atlee, a beloved and powerful official who has towered over local law and politics for forty years. No longer on the bench, the Judge has withdrawn to the Atlee mansion and become a recluse. With the end in sight, Judge Atlee issues a summons for both sons to return home to Clanton, to discuss the details of his estate. It is typed by the Judge himself, on his handsome old stationery, and gives the date and time for Ray and Forrest to appear in his study. Ray reluctantly heads south, to his hometown, to the place where he grew up, which he prefers now to avoid. But the family meeting does not take place. The Judge dies too soon, and in doing so leaves behind a shocking secret known only to Ray. And perhaps someone else. — Random House


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