Reading Group Books 2008
Annotation:The Faith Club began in post 9/11 New York City when Ranya Idliby, an American Muslim of Palestinian descent, recruited Suzanne Oliver, a Christian, and Priscilla Warner, a Jew, to write a children's book about their three religions. Although they hoped the project would illuminate the similarities of their three faiths, it became clear that they first had to recognize their stereotypical thinking, admit their ignorance, and explore their own faiths.
Annotation:This discussion of industrial farming, organic food, and what it is like to hunt and gather for food starts with a simple question: what should we have for dinner? From Iowa cornfields to food-science laboratories, from feedlots and fast-food restaurants to organic farms and hunting grounds, after reading this account of the evolution of the modern diet, it is likely that dinner will never look, or taste, the same again.
Annotation:Liesel Meminger, a foster child living outside Munich during World War II, scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can't resist--books--in this unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul. Zusak changed the narrator three times before hitting the right chord—the Holocaust as viewed by Death--not the typical Grim Reaper-- but a being who finds humanity’s capacity for both compassion and cruelty frightening.
Annotation:This book has been lauded for its outstanding characterization of two conjoined twins, joined at the head but with separate brains. Alternating narratives tell their life story, capturing a “contradictory longing for independence and togetherness.” Rarely has the experience of being a sister been so poignantly and memorably captured.
Annotation:An extraordinary novel of life under Nazi occupation--discovered and published 62 years after the author's tragic death at Auschwitz. Némirovsky was a successful writer living in Paris before being arrested and deported to Auschwitz in 1942. Her two daughters escaped and carried with them this manuscript that describes the tumultuous exodus from Paris on the eve of the Nazi invasion and life in a German-occupied village.
Annotation:Bellingham author Janey Bennett, in her first novel, cleverly braids the lives of a runaway groom, a Greek village priest and a small boy into a twisted rope of despair, hope and forgiveness. Set on the Greek island of Crete, a small village becomes the backdrop for a fast-moving plot that spins the reader through a tale of violence, lies, truth and the strength of the human spirit.
Annotation:At once heartbreaking, romantic, and completely unforgettable, this is the epic and intimate story of young Lillian Leyb, who emigrates to America after her family is destroyed in a Russian pogrom. Spanning the years from 1924 to 1926, we follow Lillian working as a seamstress in New York’s Yiddish theater district and then moving across the United States to Seattle and eventually to Alaska. The driving force behind her iron will to survive is the search for her three-year-old daughter, Sophie, who may have been rescued by a Jewish family who survived the pogrom.
Annotation:An estimated 300,000 child soldiers now fight in the more than fifty violent conflicts raging around the globe. Far removed from the world of journalists and policymakers, Beah at age 13 became one of these young warriors in Sierra Leone. Now in his mid-twenties, he courageously tells of the horrific road that led him to wield an AK-47 and, fueled by trauma and drugs, commit terrible acts. A Long Way Gone brings a rare voice of frontline realism to a widely publicized (and widely misunderstood) human-rights crisis.
Annotation:Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation, is determined to take his future into his own hands. He leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and based on the author's own experiences, the text is coupled with poignant drawings by acclaimed artist Ellen Forney that reflect Junior’s life as told through the cartoons he draws. Although published for a young adult audience, there is plenty of provocative substance here for adult discussions.
Annotation:Described as a literary thriller, this is a story about a young woman working at a homeless shelter who becomes fascinated with photographs taken by one of her clients, photos that suggest he might be tied to her own past in mysterious ways. Plotted like a mystery, this reads like the best literary fiction, including references to The Great Gatsby. Flirting with reality and fantasy, Bohjalian peppers the text with actual photos taken by the once-homeless man who inspired this story.
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Titles suggested by staff and patrons for lively book group discussions. WCLS purchases multiple copies of each to provide quantities that can accomodate most book group sizes.