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Archive for February, 2013
and there are hundreds. For people who say that books are disappearing, they should realize that they would take films with them. I have a list (will leave a copy at the library) that is 9 pages long (two columns and small print) but I am just choosing a few to list here – arbitrary picks but tried to pull from a variety of subjects. Hope you’ll choose a favorite of yours to read and perhaps to watch and join us on March 16 to share.
Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions by Ben Mezrich The amazing inside story about a gambling ring of M.I.T. students who beat the system in Vegas — and lived to tell how. Robin Hood meets the Rat Pack when the best and the brightest of M.I.T.’s math students and engineers take up blackjack under the guidance of an eccentric mastermind.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford by Ron Hansen Jesse James was a fabled outlaw, a charismatic, spiritual, larger-than-life bad man whose bloody exploits captured the imagination and admiration of a nation hungry for antiheroes. Robert Ford was a young upstart torn between dedicated worship and murderous jealousy, the “dirty little coward” who coveted Jesse’s legend. The powerful, strange, and unforgettable story of their interweaving paths—and twin destinies that would collide in a rain of blood and betrayal—is a story of America in all her rough, conflicted glory and the myths that made her.
The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe A breath-taking epic, a magnificent adventure story, and an investigation into the true heroism and courage of the first Americans to conquer space.
Charlie Wilson’s War by George Crile In a little over a decade, two events have transformed the world we live in: the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of militant Islam. Charlie Wilson’s War is the untold story behind the last battle of the Cold War and how it fueled the new jihad. George Crile tells how Charlie Wilson, a maverick congressman from east Texas, conspired with a rogue CIA operative to launch the biggest, meanest, and most successful covert operation in the Agency’s history.
Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy It began with Benny Hogan and Eve Malone, growing up, inseparable, in the village of Knockglen. Benny—the only child, yearning to break free from her adoring parents… Eve—the orphaned offspring of a convent handyman and a rebellious blueblood, abandoned by her mother’s wealthy family to be raised by nuns. Eve and Benny—they knew the sins and secrets behind every villager’s lace curtains…except their own. It widened at Dublin, at the university where Benny and Eve met beautiful Nan Mahlon and Jack Foley, a doctor’s handsome son. But heartbreak and betrayal would bring the worlds of Knockglen and Dublin into explosive collision.
A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr The lawyer had not wanted the case at first — it was too big, too complicated, too risky. It concerned a cluster of childhood leukemia victims in a small town north of Boston where the city wells had been poisoned by industrial chemicals. Two of the nation’s largest corporations, each with a plant near the wells, stood accused. Against his better judgment, the lawyer found himself drawn into the case. In this book, you’ll meet the Harvard Law professor who told the lawyer that this case was worth a billion dollars, that it was the sort of lawsuit that would ring the alarm in corporate boardrooms across America. And you’ll meet his adversaries, foremost among them a crafty old trial lawyer, chairman of the litigation department at one of the biggest and most feared law firms in Boston. The case turned into an epic struggle that took nine years of the lawyer’s life. At the heart of the legal system, he was confronted by powerful and well-connected interests who would do anything to win. In the end, the struggle nearly cost the lawyer his sanity. He sacrificed everything — home, friends, and reputation — not for money, but for what he believed to be the truth.
Dune by Frank Herbert Set on the desert planet Arakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib. He would avenge the traitorous plot against his noble family – and would bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream. A blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer In April 1992, a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. He had given $25,000 in savings to a charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet and invented a life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter. Jon Krakauer brings Chris McCandless’s uncompromising pilgrimage out of the shadows and illuminates it with meaning in this mesmerizing and heartbreaking tour de force.
L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy L.A. Confidential is an epic crime novel that stands as a steel-edged time capsule–Los Angeles in the 1950s, a remarkable era defined in dark shadings.
Election by Tom Perrotta In one of the funniest most insightful most surprisingly touching novels of recent times Perrotta ‘captures the texture of high-school life in a refreshingly unromantic manner.’
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. On the heels of their arranged wedding, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle together in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An engineer by training, Ashoke adapts far less warily than his wife, who resists all things American and pines for her family. When their son is born, the task of naming him betrays the vexed results of bringing old ways to the new world. Named for a Russian writer by his Indian parents in memory of a catastrophe years before, Gogol Ganguli knows only that he suffers the burden of his heritage as well as his odd, antic name.
Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen (aka Karen Blixen) In this book, the author of Seven Gothic Tales gives a true account of her life on her plantation in Kenya. She tells with classic simplicity of the ways of the country and the natives: of the beauty of the Ngong Hills and coffee trees in blossom: of her guests, from the Prince of Wales to Knudsen, the old charcoal burner, who visited her: of primitive festivals: of big game that were her near neighbors—lions, rhinos, elephants, zebras, buffaloes—and of Lulu, the little gazelle who came to live with her, unbelievably ladylike and beautiful.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (graphic novel) Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro A tragic, spiritual portrait of a perfect English butler and his reaction to his fading insular world in post-war England. A wonderful, wonderful book.
A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean Maclean writes “in my family, there is no clear line between religion and fly-fishing.” Nor is there a clear line between family and fly-fishing. It is the one activity where brother can connect with brother and father with son. In Maclean’s autobiographical novella, it is the river that makes them realize that life continues and all things are related.
Mystic River by Dennis Lehane When Jimmy Marcus’ daughter is found murdered, his childhood friend Sean Devine is assigned to the case. His personal life unraveling, the investigation takes Sean back into a world of violence and pain he thought he’d left behind. It also puts him on a collision course with Jimmy Marcus – a man with his own dark past who is eager to solve the crime with brutal justice. And then there is Dave Boyle, a man who hides monstrous secrets beneath a bland facade – secrets his wife, Celeste, is only beginning to suspect. As the race for a killer heats up, all are pulled closer toward an abyss that will force them to face their true selves – and will mark them as irrevocably as the past itself.
Atonement by Ian McEwan On a hot summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives–together with her precocious literary gifts–brings about a crime that will change all their lives. As it follows that crime’s repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century, Atonement engages the reader on every conceivable level, with an ease and authority that mark it as a genuine masterpiece.
which, we hope, will be a different situation than this past Saturday. Hope everyone got through the storm with minimal hassles and that being housebound you got some good reading. Join us on Saturday to talk about it.
We are actually in the month so hope you are reading – or thinking about reading – books that feature love and/or romance (they aren’t always the same) and planning to join us on February 16 at 10:30 to share.
I really enjoyed Love, Life and Elephants (described below) – a slightly different choice for me – and am moving on to The Fault in Our Stars by John Green which has been recommended by two people whose judgment I trust – Jan Rosenberg and my granddaughter.