WWII is such a complicated subject

The next Bagels and Books meeting will be on Tuesday Nov 15 at 2:30 in the Trustees Room of the Maynard Library.  It’s open to everyone and this month the group will be discussing WWII stories.  As always, any kind of book that touches on the war in any way is open to discussion.


Jim Shepard was a guest at the Concord Festival of Authors breakfast to introduce his novel The Book of Aron, set in Poland as the country is being invaded and as the holocaust is taking shape.  The story is told from the viewpoint of an 8 year old boy whose lack of concern for the law becomes an asset when his Jewish family is imprisoned in the ghetto.  One of the other main characters is the real life doctor, children’s rights advocate, and radio host who ran a Jewish orphanage in the ghetto and who – it is believed – died at Treblinka with the children he was caring for.

What happened was horrible and the author does not turn away from that horror but it is also the story of how one individual can be the personification of integrity, bravery and morality.  The Jewish tradition says that there are 36 righteous people in each generation who save the world – Janusz Korczak must have been one of them.

This book was the winner of the Sophie Brody Medal for excellence in Jewish literature and was chosen as one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post, The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed.  It is not an easy read but it is an important one.

In case you are not stressed enough by your unread pile…

President Obama has given his list of required reading – the books that he used to formulate his view of the world.  Get ready for some intensive reading.  (I have read two so maybe I can cut the hours down to 75)


more WWII suggestions from Lynette

The One Man by Andrew Gross

Karolina’s Twins by Roland Balson. (He has written several on the war/holocaust)

The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain ( many topics besides the war; very well-done)

The German Girl by Armando Lucas Cortes – reading now

Coming later is Moonglow by Michael Chabon

The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman

Nonfiction. The Mathews Men and the war against Hitler’s U-boats by William Geroux

and if that isn’t enough here’s a link with more:


One of my favorites from this link is The Book Thief which was our first Maynard Reads Together selection.



I discovered after our meeting that I can’t be at the Nov 15th one because I am having an eye fixed and raised the possibility that we might have to change the date.


Lynette has graciously agreed to lead the discussion and I am so grateful.  She has agreed to send me your recommendations so I’ll just miss your company  – not your book lists – but I am really grateful that we don’t have to reschedule.

Thank you Lynette

Good meeting today

Next meeting – Nov 15 at 2:30 in the Trustees Room at the Maynard Library (77 Nason Street) – just a hint that you are invited even if you haven’t been to the library before. We’ll be discussing WWII books and there are so many of all varieties:

Here are a few suggestions from Lynette.


The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waalwar
The Lady in Gold. By Anne-Marie O’Connor
Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides
Lost in Shangri-la by Mitchell Zuckoff
A higher call. By Adam Makos
Citizens of London. By Lynne Olson


The Unlikely Spy by Daniel Silvia,  stand alone on WWII in UK
The guernsey literary and potato peel society by Annie Barrows


If you like mysteries consider the series by Susan Elia MacNeal which begins with Mr. Churchill’s Secretary

For a classic satire check out Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

If you are a sci fi and fantasy fan you might consider Connie Willis’ futuristic duo – Blackout and All Clear where the time-traveling research staff at Oxford University return to Britain during the WWII bombings.

And mentioned in our discussions today:

Gone to Soldiers – Marge Piercy – focuses on women during WWII
Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell


Two – count ’em – two book groups at the Maynard Library this week.

On Monday the Cookbook Club meets with our very topical apple cookbook – The Apple Lover’s Cookbook.  I can’t wait to try making the Pork and Apple Pie with Cheddar-Sage Crust. Our apple detective Carol has found 11 varieties of apple for our tasting – many of which I have never tried.  Going to be a great lunch.  What are you planning on making?

On Tuesday at 2:30 in the Trustees Room we will be starting our fall/winter session of Books and Bagels.  We’ll be talking about the books that we have read and loved or hated or were just very bored with since our last meeting.  AND we’ll be choosing topics for the rest of our series.  The only suggestion I have come up with is perhaps a month with the classics but I hope you have been thinking and will have some possibles. And – as always – there will be tea and cookies to help us with our serious considerations.

Hope to see everyone at both these groups.



Actually is October NOW

Our first meeting of this group this fall is in just a couple of weeks.  I hope you are planning on joining us to share what you have been reading over the last few months and that you are thinking about what you’d like to read.

I got a list from University of St Thomas (I have a granddaughter there) of books that their professor has selected as the 10 most important American novels and it made me think that maybe we’d like to choose a classic for one of our monthly subjects.  Let me know what you think.  And if we did that, should we limit it to America or go world-wide?

Here’s the list with a few I haven’t read – are these familiar to you?

10. The Professor’s House, Willa Cather.

9. Beloved, Toni Morrison.

8. All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren.

7. Quicksand, Nella Larsen.

6. Tracks, Louise Erdrich.

5. The Bostonians, Henry James.

4. Daughter of Earth, Agnes Smedley; The Disinherited, Jack Conroy (tie).

3. The Awakening, Kate Chopin.

2. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

1. Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison.



which means that we are pretty close to the kick off meeting for this season’s Bagels and Books.  We are meeting this year on the 3rd Tuesday of the month at 2:30 in the Trustees Room at the Maynard Library.

If you haven’t been before – this is a different book discussion group because we don’t all read a book and then talk about it together.  We choose a topic or a place or an author or some other subject that interests us and then we all share information about the books we have read about it.  And we are pretty flexible about how close that connection has to be.

At the first meeting we’ll be sharing our summer reading.  Our last meeting was in March so you should have several books to recommend (or possibly warn against).  We’ll choose topics for the rest of our meetings at that session.  And there will be cookies and tea – hope to see you there.



Man Booker Short List announced

I always have mixed feelings about the winners of the Man Booker – which is indeed a prestigious award but sometimes the books are a bit beyond me.  Any of you have a favorite Man Booker winner?

LONDON — The shortlist for this year’s Man Booker Prize for Fiction, among the most prestigious literary honors in the world, includes six books by authors from Britain, Canada, South Africa and the United States, the prize committee said on Tuesday.

The nominees for the award, which comes with a cash prize of £50,000, or around $66,400, were chosen from a longlist of 13 names, which was announced in July.

The shortlisted books are:

■ The Canadian author Madeleine Thien’s “Do Not Say We Have Nothing,” about the legacy of the Cultural Revolution in China.

■ The American writer Paul Beatty’s “The Sellout,” a satire on black life in the United States.

■ The Canadian-British author David Szalay’s “All That Man Is,” a series of nine stories about male protagonists.

■ The Scottish writer Graeme Macrae Burnet’s “His Bloody Project,” a historical thriller inspired by a multiple homicide in the 19th century.

■ The South African-born British novelist Deborah Levy’s “Hot Milk,” a coming-of-age story about a young Anglo-Greek woman.

■ “Eileen,” the debut novel by the American author Ottessa Moshfegh, which centers on a young woman working at a juvenile detention center in 1960s New England.