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Book Discussions at the Library and Elsewhere February 2015

January 27, 2015 by Reader's Connection

The “elsewhere” part refers to discussions of novels by Khaled Hosseini, who will be our Marian McFadden lecturer on March 6th at Clowes Hall. Late in February, discussions of his novels will transpire at three off-library-site locations.

The lecture itself will be a ticketed event. Please see below.


The What Would Jane Austen Read  Book Club, described in a blog post last week, will meet at the College Avenue Library on Monday, February 2nd at 1:30 p.m.

Mitch Albom’s novel The First Phone Call from Heaven will be discussed at the Franklin Road Library on Monday, February 2nd at 6:30 p.m.

The First Phone Call from Heaven

Albom has a nose for “thin places”: places where the boundary between secular and sacred is porous, and ultimate meaning is easier to encounter. In his new novel, Coldwater, Mich., is this thin place, a town where people who have lost loved ones begin receiving phone calls from the dead in heaven. Sully Harding’s wife died while he was in prison, and their young son, Jules, hopes his mom will call, even while Sully smells a hoax. Albom weaves a thread of satire into a narrative braided from the lives of smalltown residents; Coldwater becomes a media hotspot as well as battleground for religious and antireligious zealots, all awaiting the revelation they expect. A historical thread–popping into the narrative like a change-up in baseball–deals with Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone and how the instrument came to be the premier human connector. This brisk, page-turner of a story climaxes at Christmas.– Publishers WeeklyThe First Phone Call from Heaven is also available as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook, and an audiobook on CD.


The Wayne Library will host a discussion of Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West by Dorothy Wickenden, on Monday, February 2nd at 6:30 p.m.Thursday, July 12th at 1:30 p.m.

Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the WestWickenden shares the story of her grandmother Dorothy Woodruff, who, along with close personal friend Rosamond Underwood, spent nine months teaching at a remote settlement school in northwestern Colorado in the early 20th century. This highly personalized and meticulously researched account is more than a simple family history: it tells a great backstory about American development in those years, an “alternative western,” in Wickenden’s words. These rich and well-educated young society women, tired of social conventions and frustrated by suffrage work, came face to face with another America in the years before World War I–one that was poor, diverse, remote, lacking in modern conveniences, occasionally violent, and yet spectacularly beautiful and “new.” Although far from being a scholarly account, the story here adds to our understanding of the complexity of women’s experiences in presuffrage America. As college students today do transformative volunteer work worldwide, so, too, did these two young women. Their lovingly preserved letters richly demonstrate how in seeking to assist others they also changed themselves. — Library Journal

Nothing Daunted is also available in large print.


The Crabby Cook Cookbook

One Dish at a Time

Hometown Harvest

Three cookbooks will be featured at the Cooking Chats discussion program at Glendale Library on Monday, February 2nd at 6:30 p.m.

The topic will be “Food and Memories,” and the featured titles will be The Crabby Cook Cookbook by Jessica Harper; One Dish at a Time by Valerie Bertenelli; and Hometown Harvest by the Gooseberry Patch group.

Cooking and cookbooks, favorite websites, cooking shows, recipes and techniques will be discussed. Check out one of the featured cookbooks, try some recipes and bring a sample to share.

Registration is required. Please call 275-4410 to register for this event.


Henry Wiencek’s Master of the Mountain : Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves will be discussed at Central Library on Tuesday, February 3rd at 6:00 p.m.

Master of the Mountain : Thomas Jefferson and His SlavesThat the author of the Declaration of Independence owned slaves, likely fathered several children with a slave, and used slaves as collateral to borrow funds to build Monticello is widely acknowledged. Historians often explain this paradox by claiming Jefferson was powerless to change the system, accusing those who now criticize Jefferson of “presentism.” Yet NBCC Award-winning historian Wiencek reveals that many of Jefferson’s contemporaries, such as Quaker plantation owners in the 1770s and a prominent Virginian, Edward Coles, in 1819, freed their slaves. Coles begged Jefferson to lend his voice to the antislavery movement, as did fellow revolutionaries such as Lafayette and Thomas Paine. But, Wiencek says that the founder who referred to blacks as “degraded and different” with “no place in our country,” had a “fundamental belief in the righteousness of his power.” Jefferson, asserts Wiencek, began to prevaricate about slavery after computing “the silent profit” of 4% per year from the birth of slave children. This meticulous account indicts not only Jefferson but modern apologists who wish to retain him as a moral standard of liberty. Wiencek’s vivid, detailed history casts a new slant on a complex man. — Publishers Weekly

Master of the Mountain : Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves is also available as a downloadable audiobook and an audiobook on CD.


The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel will be discussed at the Warren Library on Thursday, February 5th at 10:30 a.m.

The Monuments Men

WWII was the most destructive war in history and caused the greatest dislocation of cultural artifacts. Hundreds of thousands of items remain missing. The main burden fell to a few hundred men and women, curators and archivists, artists and art historians from 13 nations. Their task was to save and preserve what they could of Europe’s great art, and they were called the Monuments Men. (Coincidentally or not, this book appears only briefly after Ilaria Dagnini Brey’s The Venus Fixers: The Untold Story of the Allied Soldiers Who Saved Italy’s Art During World War II, Reviews, June 1.) Edsel has presented their achievements in documentaries and photographs. He and Witter (coauthor of the bestselling Dewey) are no less successful here. Focusing on the organization’s role in northwest Europe, they describe the Monuments Men from their initial mission to limit combat damage to structures and artifacts to their changed focus of locating missing items. Most had been stolen by the Nazis. In southern Germany alone, over a thousand caches emerged, containing everything from church bells to insect collections. The story is both engaging and inspiring. In the midst of a total war, armies systematically sought to mitigate cultural loss. — Publishers Weekly

The Monuments Men is also available as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook, an audiobook on CD and in large print.




The Shared Reading Group at Spades Park Library, having survived their celebration of Bobby Burns Day, will meet from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. on Friday, February 6th–and on every succeeding Friday: February 13th, 20th and 27th.

They will be reading and discussing Jean Toomer’s Cane. A poem will be read each week. Refreshments, which may include left-over haggis, will be eaten.




On Monday, February 9th, the Flanner House Library will host a discussion of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird at 6:30 p.m.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is more than a literary classic; it’s a 50-year testament to the ways a well-told story can inspire readers and impact a culture. Oprah Winfrey has called it America’s “national novel,” and Tom Brokaw remembers the “electrifying effect” it had on the country the year it debuted. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961, and in 1962 a movie adaptation garnered three Academy Awards (having been nominated for eight). Today, this treasured gem has sold more than 30 million copies. — BookPage


To Kill a Mockingbird is also available as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook, and an audiobook on CD.



Mary Beth Keane’s novel Fever will be discussed twice this month:
Irvington Library on Thursday, February 12th at 1:30 p.m.
Spades Park Library on Wednesday, February 25th at 6:00 p.m.

FeverIn this compelling historical novel, the infamous Typhoid Mary is given great depth and humanity by the gifted Keane. Irish immigrant Mary Mallon is eager to better her station in life and unafraid of hard work. When she is finally made a head cook, she is hired by some of the best families in Manhattan but unwittingly leaves a trail of disease in her wake. A “medical engineer” ultimately identifies her as a healthy carrier of typhoid fever and quarantines her on North Brother Island, where she is separated from her lifelong companion, Alfred Briehof, and forced to live in isolation. She is released three years later under the condition that she never cook again. But her inability to understand her condition, her passion for cooking, and the income she had become used to all conspire to lure her back into the kitchen. Keane not only makes of the headstrong Mary a sympathetic figure, she also brings the New York City of the early twentieth century to teeming life . . .  — Booklist

Fever is also on order as an audiobook on CD.



Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See will be discussed at the Pike Library on Monday, February 16th at 6:30 p.m.

All the Light We Cannot SeeA novel to live in, learn from, and feel bereft over when the last page is turned, Doerr’s magnificently drawn story seems at once spacious and tightly composed. It rests, historically, during the occupation of France during WWII, but brief chapters told in alternating voices give the overall–and long–­narrative a swift movement through time and events. We have two main characters, each one on opposite sides in the conflagration that is destroying Europe. Marie-Louise is a sightless girl who lived with her father in Paris before the occupation; he was a master locksmith for the Museum of Natural History. When German forces necessitate abandonment of the city, Marie-Louise’s father, taking with him the museum’s greatest treasure, removes himself and his daughter and eventually arrives at his uncle’s house in the coastal city of Saint-Malo. Young German soldier Werner is sent to Saint-Malo to track Resistance activity there, and eventually, and inevitably, Marie-Louise’s and Werner’s paths cross. — Booklist

All the Light We Cannot See is also available as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook and an audiobook on CD.



The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty will be discussed at the Lawrence Library on Tuesday, February 17th at 10:15 a.m.

The Husband's SecretCecilia is leading the perfect suburban life. She’s the envy of other school mothers, and she managed to marry one of the handsome Fitzpatrick boys. While her husband is away on a business trip, Cecilia accidentally finds a note to be opened in the event of his death. His alarmed reaction to her discovery and immediate early return from his trip pique Cecilia’s curiosity, and she opens the letter. A secret from her husband’s past is about to bring her perfectly sculpted world crumbling down. Weaving allusions to the Berlin Wall throughout, Moriarty (What Alice Forgot) shows how Cecilia struggles to live her life as she did before the secret burdened her marriage–like those Berliners who attempted normalcy after the infamous wall went up/came down. A simple confession of the truth can simultaneously shatter many different worlds. The secret creates a ripple effect in Cecilia’s community, involving more and more people and families. VERDICT Moriarty examines the ease with which darkness can spread into relationships. Weaving stories from multiple perspectives keeps this one interesting all while leaving the reader wondering what will happen next. — Library Journal

The Husband’s Secret is also available as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook, and an audiobook on CD.


Portal, the Indianapolis Science Fiction and Fantasy Discussion Group, will meet at the Glendale Library on Sunday, February 22nd at 1:00 p.m. The discussion topic will be “Back to the Future.”


Will Schwalbe’s memoir The End of Your Life Book Club will be discussed at the Southport Library on Monday, February 23rd at 6:30 p.m.

The End of Your Life Book Club

Schwalbe chronicles his book-related conversations with his mother after she was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer . . . While they waited together through interminable doctor visits, hospital stays and chemotherapy sessions, they discussed what they had been reading. This became the beginning of the “End of Your Life Book Club.” As Schwalbe points out, the name was appropriate not just because his mother was dying, but because any book could be your last. Books provided an avenue for the author and his mother to explore important topics that made them uneasy. As his mother told him, “That’s one of the things books do. They help us talk. But they also give us something we all can talk about when we don’t want to talk about ourselves.” They discussed books not as a sick or healthy person but as “a mother and a son entering new worlds together.”  . . . Schwalbe . . . introduces each of the authors with the insight of a veteran editor, highlighting their styles and strengths. Each chapter holds a subtle message fleshed out through their readings and discussions, and themes include gratitude, loneliness, feminism, faith, communication, trust and grief. In a heartfelt tribute to his mother, Schwalbe illustrates the power of the written word to expand our knowledge of ourselves and others. — Kirkus Reviews

The End of Your Life Book Club is also available as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook, an audiobook on CD, and in large print.


And now, the three discussions of Khaled Hosseini’s novels.

Hosseini’s appearance at Clowes Hall on March 6th at 7:00 p.m. will be a ticketed event.

Free tickets will be available beginning February 2nd at 10 a.m. online at (Ticketmaster will apply a charge) and in person at the Clowes Box Office, up to and including the day of the event.  Limit four free tickets per person.

Doors open at 6 p.m. Preferred seating is available for Friends of the Library until 6:45 p.m.

The preliminary discussions take place at a brewery, your blogger’s favorite coffee place, and a bookstore.

A Thousand Splendid Suns
A Thousand Splendid Suns
Monday, February 23rd, 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Sun King Brewery
135 N. College Avenue
And the Mountains EchoedAnd the Mountains Echoed
Thursday, February 26th, 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., which will almost certainly be too late for a Better Morning Muffin.
Hubbard and Cravens
4930 N. Pennsylvania Street
The Kite RunnerThe Kite Runner
Saturday, February 28th, 1:30 to 3:00
Bookmamas Bookstore
9 Johnson Avenue

Each of these novels is available as just about anything.

When I say available, I mean that these formats exist. You may have to make requests for some titles.

A Thousand Splendid Suns is also available as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook, an audiobook on CD, and in large print.

And the Mountains Echoed is also available as a downloadable e-book, an audiobook on CD, and in large print.

The Kite Runner is also available as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook, and an audiobook on CD.


LibraryReads February 2015

January 23, 2015 by Reader's Connection

Ten reviews of new books from librarians in nine states. The east and west coasts are both represented, as are a couple of Indiana’s neighbors; and “a wide-eyed Indiana girl” goes to Hollywood in one of the novels.


A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

A Spool of Blue Thread


In this book, we come to know three generations of Whitshanks–a family with secrets and memories that are sometimes different than what others observe. The book’s timeline moves back and forth with overlapping stories, just like thread on a spool. Most readers will find themselves in the story. Once again, Tyler has written an enchanting tale. — Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA





A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott

A Touch of Stardust


With the background of the making of Gone with the Wind, this is a delightful read that combines historical events with the fictional career of an aspiring screenwriter. Julie is a wide-eyed Indiana girl who, through a series of lucky breaks, advances from studio go-fer and assistant to Carole Lombard to contract writer at MGM. A fun, engaging page-turner! — Lois Gross, Hoboken Public Library, Hoboken, NJ





My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

My Sunshine Away


A crime against a 15-year-old girl is examined through the eyes of one of her friends–a friend who admits to being a possible suspect in the crime. This is a wonderful debut novel full of suspense, angst, loyalty, deceit, and most of all, love. — Alison Nadvornik, Worthington Libraries, Columbus, OH







The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy by Julia Quinn

The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy


At a dreaded music recital, a cellist catches Sir Richard Kenworthy’s eye, and he determines to marry her. Iris Smythe-Smith is a smart cookie and rightly suspicious of Sir Richard’s motives when he comes courting, but finds herself falling for his charm. Things seem to be working out well until Iris finds out what a big secret Richard is keeping. — Sharon Redfern, Rockville Public Library, Vernon, CT






Half the World by Joe Abercrombie

Half the World


Fifteen-year-old Thorn, determined to become a king’s soldier, is fighting not just physical opponents, but her world’s social mores. Girls are supposed to desire nothing more than a wealthy husband. Period. Thorn’s struggles to achieve her dream make for a riveting read. Second in a series, this book reads very well as a standalone. — Cynthia Hunt, Amarillo Public Library, Amarillo, TX





Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon

Finding Jake


Stay-at-home dad Simon Connelly receives the call every parent dreads: there’s been a shooting at his children’s school. Through flashbacks and present-day narratives, he mines his memory for clues to what may have happened. This is a refreshing take on the well trodden “bad kid” novels, and an excellent thriller to recommend to all who liked Defending Jacob or We Need to Talk About Kevin. — Alissa Williams, Pekin Public Library, Pekin, IL




A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic


Fantasy fans should enjoy this atmospheric novel, where London is the link between parallel universes, and magician Kell is one of two Travelers who can move between them. Now something sinister is disturbing their equilibrium, and Kell must try to unravel the plot with only feisty street thief Delilah Bard as an ally. — Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY





A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders

A Murder of Magpies


Loved this mystery! The acerbic narrator is 40-year-old British book publishing editor Samantha, whose best author goes missing after writing a tell-all book about a famous French fashion designer who died under suspicious circumstances. Very funny, and great secondary characters as well. — Ann-Marie Anderson, Tigard Public Library, Tigard, OR






The Siege Winter by Ariana Franklin and Samantha Norman

The Siege Winter


I couldn’t have been more excited when I learned Franklin wrote a new book. This wonderfully written novel takes place during King Stephen and Empress Matilda’s tumultuous civil conflict to claim England, no matter what cost to themselves or their subjects. The story conveys the brutality of the period without sacrificing the complex nature of the time and the people. — Elizabeth Carroll, Madison Public Library, Madison, WI




Dreaming Spies: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes by Laurie R. King

Dreaming Spies: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes


Considering that King is one of the finest mystery authors writing today, it’s no surprise that the latest in the Russell/Holmes series is an engaging read. Intrigue follows the duo as they board a liner bound for Japan and meet up with a known blackmailer and a young Japanese woman who is not all that she seems. Great historical research and rich atmosphere! — Paulette Brooks, Elm Grove Public Library, Elm Grove, WI


What Would Jane Austen Read?

January 22, 2015 by Reader's Connection

That’s the name of a book discussion group. They’ve been meeting for several years, but I just found out about them.

Click Jane’s picture for a schedule of future meetings at College Avenue Library.

Elizabeth K. Jarvis, the group’s facilitator, e-mailed:

This is a group that reads selections of 18th century literature that Jane Austen might have read. Well-known novels of Burney, Edgeworth, Fielding, Defoe, Sterne and others formed our earliest reading. If you enjoy Jane Austen, you may like some of the writers who influenced her. We now are reading lesser-known works which were popular in her day . . . As these are sometimes obscure works, the library often doesn’t have copies, so our members have to use on-line sources, purchase second hand copies (under $5) or use interlibrary loan to obtain the books.


A Casting of Yarns

January 19, 2015 by Reader's Connection

From Selector Emily Chandler:

The weather outside may be frightful, but this is the season when the knitting is most delightful! If you are a knitter or just like to read stories about knitters, here is a great list of fictional knitting books to curl up with during knitting breaks. Hopefully you will discover some hidden “purls” in these titles!

Tangled Up In Love


Betts, Heidi

Tangled Up In Love



Laced with Magic


Bretton, Barbara

Laced with Magic



While My Pretty One Knits


Canadeo, Anne

While My Pretty One Knits



Murder Tightly Knit


Chapman, Vannetta

Murder Tightly Knit




Dead Men Don’t Crochet


Hechtman, Betty

Dead Men Don’t Crochet



How To Knit a Heart Back Home


Herron, Rachael

How To Knit a Heart Back Home



The Friday Night Knitting Club


Jacobs, Kate

The Friday Night Knitting Club



The Shop on Blossom Street


Macomber, Debbie

The Shop on Blossom Street



Knit One, Kill Two


Sefton, Maggie

Knit One, Kill Two




Dinosaurs in the Hood, by Danez Smith

January 19, 2015 by Reader's Connection

I loved this angry, funny, distraught, sweet poem when I read it in the December issue of Poetry, and thought I would post it on MLK Day.

Click on the Poetry Foundation link.

I should warn you that there’s some coarse language in the poem, and you shouldn’t click the link if you want to avoid that.

Best wishes to everyone on Martin’s Day.