Every month we meet to discuss one of a wide variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction. We welcome all branch members who have read that month’s selection. Meeting are currently scheduled by Zoom. Contact the chairs for a Zoom invite.
1. A GIRL CALLED SAMPSON, by Amy Harmon, 411 pages, Fiction. Based on the life of Deborah Sampson who fought in the Revolutionary War, was wounded, had her sex discovered by a doctor, honorably discharged, petitioned for a pension, and won $4 a month, During World War II a Liberty Ship from the US fleet was christened with her married name, the S.S. Deborah Gannett.
2. THE ACCIDENTAL PRESIDENT: Harry S, Truman and the Four Months that Changed the World , by A.J. Baime, 448 pages, Non-fiction. The story begins with the death of FDR and coincides with the last months of World War II. Truman faced conflict with the Soviet union over Poland and Eastern Europe; diplomatic crisis from Argentina to Austria; ending the war in Europe; Lend Lease; China; secret agreements; the Atomic bomb (that Truman only learned of his first day as president); defeating Japan; creating the U.N. ; transitioning from a wartime economy; forming his own cabinet and more. The author makes no excuses for Truman but instead argues how fortunate the country was to have had such a practical, hard working leader of integrity. Susan Wilson
3. ANXIOUS PEOPLE, by Frederik Backman, 335 pages, Fiction. A charming novel about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined. Character rich novel with everyone’s grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions ready to boil over. And no one is who they appear to be. I have read 6 books by the author beginning with a Man Called Ove. Janette Maher
4. THE HENNA ARTIST, by Alka Joshi, 342 pages, Fiction. Escaping from an abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist – and confidante – to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own…Known for her original designs and sage advice, Lakshmi must tread carefully to avoid the jealous gossips who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. she perseveres, applying her talents and lifting up those that surround her as she does. Linda Bochte
5. HORSE, by Geraldine Brooks, 401 pages, Non-Fiction. A discarded painting in a junk pile, a skeleton in an attic, and the greatest racehorse in American history: from these strands, a Pulitzer Prize winner braids a sweeping story of spirit, obsession, and injustice across American history Kentucky, 1850. Based on the remarkable true story of the record-breaking thoroughbred, Lexington, who became America’s greatest stud sire, Horse is a gripping, multi-layered reckoning with the legacy of enslavement and racism in America. Linda Bochte
6. MIDNIGHT LIBRARY, by Matt Haig, 335 pages, Fiction. Between life and death there is a library. Every book contains a different life, different choices. You can undo every decision you regret. A little like the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”. In the Midnight Library you get to explore the choices we make that compose our life. Janette Maher.
7. PERSONAL LIBRARIAN, BY Marie Benedict, 341 pages, Non-Fiction. The remarkable, little-known story of Belle da Costa Greene, J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian-who became one of the most powerful women in New York despite the dangerous secret she kept in order to make her dreams come true. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and well-known advocate for equality. Belle’s complexion isn’t dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white-her complexion is dark because she is African American. Linda Bochte
8. PUSHOUT, by Monique W. Morris, 278 pages, Non-Fiction. Written by a local author who for four years chronicled the criminalization of black girls in school. Founder of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute and one of the Vps of the NAACP. Black girls are the fastest growing population in the juvenile justice system. A look at our cultural beliefs, policies and programs that criminalizes and dehumanizes young black girls. Jeanette Maher
9. THESE PRECIOUS DAYS, by Ann Patchett, 320 pages, Non-Fiction. The book is a collection of essays (from 4 to 65 pages). Each is beautifully written and any number will appeal to an individual reader. They are personal stories written over a period of time, some happy, some sad, some fully, all wise and infused with the author’s grace, wit and warmth. Judy Peak
10.THIS IS HAPPINESS, by Nisll Williams, 398 pages, Fiction. This is a new novel by the Irish author who has previously been long-listed for the Booker Prize. It was names be book of the year by the Washington Post. It is the story of Noel Crowe, a 17 year old living with his grandparents, of Christy, a man who arrives in the rural community to introduce the long awaited electricity, and his long lost love, and of the idiosyncrasies and traditions of the community as it experiences the changes that electricity brings. It is a wonderful Irish story told with compassion and complexity. Judy Pea