By Mary Ann Stemper
Those who have attended all three monthly book circles since they began in February report an unexpected benefit; they are reading more. “I’ve read more in the last two months than I read in two years,” one said. Others agreed. People who like to read also like to talk about and share books.
The selections for Saturday, April 2 were from books that friends had recommended; a wide variety of authors and books held the spotlight for 90 minutes.
Children’s author and illustrator Patricia Polacco was a favorite of a daughter who taught second grade for many years. Books like Thunder Cake, Thank You, Mr. Frater and The Keeping Quilt reflect the author’s rich story telling heritage from her Ukrainian Russian mother and her Irish father. Ironically, one of the participants has the same Ukrainian background. Small world.
A son in law recommended a bestselling nonfiction selection by Erik Larson, Dead Wake; The Last Crossing of the Lusitania. Larson has made a career of well-researched books about historical events including Isaac’s Storm about the Galveston Tidal Wave.
Ordinary Acrobats recommended itself from an end cap of sale books. It’s an interesting blend of the author’s own experience and the history of the circus. Nearly all participants had strong childhood memories of the circus.
Ordinary Grace was endorsed by a friend on the strength of its beautifully written prose. Like many of the St. Paul author’s mysteries, this one is set in northern Wisconsin but has a spiritual depth not found in his earlier works. When speaking of language, Richard Russo’s Empire Falls got a mention. It’s been mentioned at a previous book circle
The very popular, The Book Thief was judged by a friend and her daughter as about the best book they ever read. Set in WWII, it reminded the presenter of Anthony Doerr’s prize winning recent bestseller, All the Light You Cannot See also set in WWII. She remains lukewarm to both but thought they were worth reading. It is amusing that the local library can’t seem to keep The Book Thief on the shelf; someone keeps stealing it. She offered two slim volumes about WWII, Eli Wiesel’s Night and John Hershey’s Hiroshima both old and unforgettable reads.
Kendra Elliott’s Vanished accompanied one reader and her granddaughter who recommended it to New Orleans on her Kindle. It was perfect for travel, engaging but not demanding of total attention.
T.C.Boyle’s The Tortilla Curtains was suggested by a friend who said it was different from his other books and set memorably and dramatically in a Malibu Canyon flood.
A fan of cop stories offered two favorite authors, Tony Hillerman who writes about Navajo policing and Nevada Barr who favors crime solving in the National Parks.
Session 4 is set for 9:30 on Saturday May 7. Taking a Challenge selections in May will be either a Book that Scared You or A Book that Has a one Word Title.