Beartown Discussion Journal

Last year, in July, the Whitney Book Bistro discussed The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, a book about baseball. Since the Golden Knights took Las Vegas by storm this year, reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in June during their first season as a hockey team, it seemed fitting to read and discuss Beartown by Fredrik Backman, a book about hockey.  Although, of course, the books are never just about the sport.  They are about the players and the spectators, the lovers and the haters, with a lot of details in between. And Beartown is more about the culture of hockey and the community that relies on it.BeartownCover

Our discussion group was small—five women, one who hadn’t read the book and four who don’t care too much about sports in general. Our first responder had not liked the first part of the book at all, but had become more interested as the plot started to develop in the second half. Another had been a pediatrician in Minneapolis and shared how children had to start skating at four years old if they were to be able to play hockey in junior high. Kids would come in with injuries and parents would be angry that their children couldn’t keep playing. We continued to discuss our personal experiences with sports and injuries.  I was incredulous that people could experience the injuries and pain as described and continue to play. Another one of us was angry that people can allow someone to compete when injured or ill, as happened in The Boys in the Boat by Dan Brown.  One member reminded us how Benji would step on his broken foot because the physical pain was easier to deal with than the emotional pain.

We discussed the movie Concussion, starring Will Smith, “based on the true story of the doctor who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy, known as CTE in football players, and the uphill battle he faced in bringing the information to the public.”[i]We also discussed Dick Francis, who as a professional jockey probably understood the injuries and pain he describes in his heroes. One of us thought that people too often watch the sport specifically for the injuries and fighting, or the crashes in NASCAR. But then one of us is a NASCAR fan and described the skill and talent necessary to successfully drive a sports car at high speed. As always, issues and perspectives are so much more complex than they first appear.  If ever we needed more people in a discussion, it was then!

The second half of the novel deals with the aftermath of a rape and its effect on the girl, the family, the team and the town. We wondered how backward the town seemed in dealing with the rape, especially considering the evidence produced by the girl’s bruising.  Since I worked for several years at the Rape Crisis Center in Tucson, I felt that the author dealt with the rape too stereotypically.  We discussed the MeToo Movement, Bill Cosby, and more.

I liked the book because it explained the town’s obsession with hockey, but others found it not interesting enough and depressing. Hockey is a violent sport, especially as described in Beartown. It was a hot, humid and melancholy July evening.

I started moderating the Whitney Library book club over five years ago.  The group has been meeting for many more years.  I learned just before the meeting that one of our long-time members, Norm Henderson, passed away. He will be sorely missed.  My husband always reminds me to find out what Norm thought of the book! Our heartfelt condolences go out to Carol and her family.

  • Other Works Discussed:
  • The Art of Fielding(2011) by Chad Harbach
  • The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics(2013) by Daniel James Brown
  • Author Dick Francis and son author Felix Francis
  • Concussion(DVD) Will Smith, 2015
  • Smooth Talk(DVD) Laura Dern, 1985


[i]Landesman, P. (Director). (2016). Concussion[Video file]. United States: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Retrieved July 12, 2018, from


Necessary Lies Discussion Journal

Our discussion of Necessary Lies, by Diane Chamberlain, started quietly but had moments of intense passion. Our first responder said she liked the book—she found it so easy to read that it didn’t seem like a book club book! This prompted a discussion about NecessaryLies“good literature” versus “popular.” One member had a professor who kept murder mysteries hidden in a closet! Another member said she is often bothered by long, detailed descriptions that don’t necessarily add to the story and wondered if that was a trademark of some “good” literature that made it hard to read. We discussed James Patterson, a highly popular and prolific author, as well as our next book club pick, Landline, by Rainbow Rowell, which will give us the opportunity again to discuss our expectations and likes for entertainment and more.

Our second responder liked that Necessary Lies was filled with dialog and personal thoughts and discussions. She cared about the characters. She had lived in North Carolina, working on a doctoral thesis. She had travelled to schools in some poor areas, giving intelligence tests to young children, and she had had no knowledge of the Eugenics Program. Now she can’t help but wonder if she wasn’t somehow complicit in the selection of children for sterilization.

Another member shared that eugenics programs continue in other parts of the world, amounting to genocide.  Our own government admitted to the sterilization of “3,406 American Indian women without their permission between 1973 and 1976.”[1] She said this is the equivalent of one in four Native American women, significantly impacting the gene-pool for native people in the United States, and her anger was palpable.

The author included a link to a video of the actual North Carolina hearing she mentions at the end of her book and one of our members watched the entire two and half hour video.[2] She was still powerfully moved by the stories and the reality behind the fiction in Necessary Lies.

When we discussed the book more specifically, we were just as passionate.  Why hadn’t the discussion questions included anything about the relationship between Jane and her husband?  They must have been written by a man! When did we first realize that Jane and Robert were so mismatched? Times were different then. It was over 50 years ago! We’ve come a long way baby! The ACLU has fought hard for basic rights. Has intelligence testing changed? Was Ivy smart or just “street smart?” One of our male members was adamant that Robert knew exactly what he wanted in a wife and was at fault. Would we have taken little William from the family? Why in the world did Jane tell Mary Ella the truth when no good could come of it? Didn’t she need the proof to persuade Ivy that she was in danger? Did Mrs. Gardiner know of her husband’s abuse? Did Nonnie – how could she not? The social workers were evil! How could we know what it is like to be that poor? The discussion actually got overheated for a moment.

I am surprised that we never discussed Jane’s decision to hide Ivy. What would we have done?  It was a powerful, informative, yet easy-to-read book. We mostly agreed that the happy ending was a little bit unlikely, but would we have liked the book without it? Could we have handled it? Although there was more we could have discussed, I think we were ready, as the hour ended, to move back into our world, a world that is perhaps stranger than fiction but better because of it.

  • Other works discussed:
  • Call the Midwife (2005) by Jennifer Worth
  • A Fine Balance (2001) by Rohinton Mistry
  • The 100 year-old man who climbed out the window and disappeared (2012) by Jonas Jonasson
  • A Man Called Ove (2014) by Fredrik Backman.
  • Vinegar Girl (2016) by Anne Tyler

[1] U.S. National Library of Medicine. Web accessed 7-13-2016.

[2] Victims of sterilization tell their stories. Web accessed 7-13-2016.

Where’d You Go Bernadette Discussion Journal

Our discussion of Where’d You Go Bernadette was shorter than usual. Several people had been initially turned off by the epistolary format, but many had been hooked by the laugh-out-loud scene descriptions. Without looking at the discussion questions, we naturally covered many of them. It seemed for most to be an enjoyable read with some sharp WheredYouGoBernadetteCoverinsights into character and a fascinating description of Bernadette’s art – the Twenty Mile House.

But what was the point? I was most taken by that question. A couple of members drew a comparison with Carl Hiaasen. But is this book satire? Caricature? Realism? Bernadette was over the top in general, but we all agreed that she had been severely depressed since her loss of the Twenty Mile House, untreated, and self-absorbed. We agreed that she had a close relationship with Bee, but we were divided on her relationship with Elgin. Was it salvageable? How much of everything that happened is simply a plot device?

We discussed the different characters and agreed that the story was being told by Bee because she was the most likeable and steady. We laughed at various scenes and looked for parallels in other books. We all liked the virtual assistant – even if it was a member of the Russian Mafia! And to my surprise, no one seemed interested in Antarctica!

A pleasant read and a pleasant discussion! Our next book will be Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. I read aloud an excerpt from a lecture he gave in 2013 about the importance of libraries and the value of Science Fiction in opening doors to possibilities. His story may be different than those we’ve read before. We’ll meet next month and know.

  • Other works discussed:
  • Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen
  • Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain
  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Ordinary Grace Discussion Journal

With all the construction going on in our library this month, meeting in our usual location seemed like a gift! Although the discussion doesn’t officially start until 6:30pm, many of us arrived early to get settled in, look at the discussion questions, and visit. The room was bright and warm, soiled from years of use, too few tables for our large group, yet the friendly faces and lively chatter were refreshing.OrdinaryGraceCover

Everyone seemed to like the book. Because of the religious references and easy mystery, I had anticipated some possibly serious dislike, but members were impressed by the writing style, the nostalgia, the quintessentially American story. Several of us remarked on the food descriptions. Instead of expecting a novel of suspense, we accepted, as one member described, “a novel of characters.” One member had been so engaged by the writing that she never snuck a peek at the end (as she admitted often doing!).

Several members were particularly moved by the father’s sermon after the loss of his daughter. We discussed the title and the concept of grace. One member wished she had thought of the term “ordinary grace” when a family member would use gatherings as an audience during holiday dinners. Another reminded us of the author’s use of a quote from the Greek playwright Aeschylus, “the awful grace of God.” Still another had been inspired to lookup and find a multitude of meanings for the word grace and ordinary grace.

The mother, Ruth, was well liked by our group. She was not a typical minister’s wife, although her musical talent fit perfectly for the position. Nathan was so calm and caring, forgiving, and never seemed to raise his voice, even when justifiably angry. Emil Brands gave us the most lively part of the discussion. Was he “blind: to others, self-centered, recluse, or outcast? Was Ariel an angel? A typical infatuated teen?

As we discussed possible unanswered questions, everyone wanted to know what had happened to Nathan in the War. We wanted a better understanding of the relationship between Nathan and Gus. The wrapup at the end seemed too easy for some of us.

One member was incredibly disturbed by the immorality of listening in on private confessions and the devastating consequences. Small-town morality, homosexuality, and more than I can even remember filled out our discussion. As I watch a group of unrelated people, drawn together by the community of books – shared experiences that may never have been but that will always be better for our discussion – I can’t help but feel that all is as it should be.

  • Other works discussed:
  • The Body (1982 Short Story) by Stephen King
  • Stand by Me (1986 Film adaptation of The Body)
  • Dandelion Wine (1957) by Ray Bradbury
  • She’s Come Undone (1992) by Wally Lamb
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) by Harper Lee
  • Previous Whitney Book Bistro Selections:
  • Absolutely True Diary of A Part-Time Indian (2007) by Sherman Alexie
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (2003) by Mark Haddon
  • Nature Girl (2006) by Carl Hiaasen
  • The Round House (2012) by Louise Erdrich
  • Sacred Clowns (1993) by Tony Hillerman
  • Tallgrass (2007) by Sandra Dallas

Quiet: the power of introverts Discussion Journal

Quiet. Sometimes I wonder what that is. Birds and bugs in a forest could drown out the sound of a falling tree, even if someone were there to hear it! Is that a plane overhead? Or a motorcycle? A leaky faucet? Or just the roar of silence in my ears? And in our library, cell phones buzz and spout music and alarms, often without anyone attempting to silence them. Friends and tutors chatter. We answer phones and give directions. Babies even laugh more annoyingly than they cry. And we discuss books and movies QuietBookCoverwith a passion that sometimes needs to be shushed as much as anything else.

Perhaps that’s why Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking, seemed like a good fit for our book club. Well, that and the number of best books of 2012 recommendations I read.

I decided to break our discussion group into three smaller groups, with six people each, because Susan Cain mentions that smaller groups are more productive than larger ones. This makes reporting on (and moderating) the discussion quite challenging! In addition, the novelty of the arrangement was off-putting to some members and this book is a new kind of non-fiction for us – informative and anecdotal rather than strictly historical or biographical.

Several members had not finished the book or had only read at it. One member hadn’t read it because it felt like a textbook. For another, it just didn’t hold her interest. Yet another had read it months ago and was enjoying it even more listening to it on audio. One felt that she understood her sound-sensitive grandson better. One was moved to form an action plan to present to her employer to improve working conditions in her office. Still another could not follow the logic. And yet another was so taken with the book that it seemed to rekindle her spirit.

At the end, I asked what had stood out. In review, each group mentioned Susan Cain’s discussion of a culture of character versus personality and how modern politics are plagued by extroverts whose personality reigns. In particular, one member passionately mentioned the rush to war for non-existent weapons of mass destruction—an example of extroverts rushing in where introverts would have waited. Many of us seemed to like the book and find it relevant, although some of us also wanted more solutions!

But that’s just an opinion, based on my observation. I obviously didn’t hear it all! Reading non-fiction reminds me how important accuracy in reporting can be. Susan Cain’s book seemed well researched. But it is not that difficult to find research to fit an opinion. One member mentioned that although the example of Steve Wozniak was inspiring as related, it did not tell the whole story.

My discussion journals never tell the whole story either. We bring with us not only our own life histories and unique perspectives to the discussion at hand, but also our understanding of our discussion group members after years and many meetings. A video couldn’t capture it all. But I hope these journals remind us why we met – and choose to continue . . .

  • Other works mentioned:
  • Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  • In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
  • Mindset: the new psychology of success by Carol Dweck
  • Outliers: the story of success by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
  • Twenty Miles From a Match by Sarah Olds

The Rosie Project Discussion Journal

I’m pretty sure everyone liked The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. Some of us really liked the book. I suppose there is a spectrum of likeability. I hear and remember RosieProjectCovercomments. With fifteen smiling and reflective faces around the table, I make a judgment call and record it here. We didn’t take a survey.

Perhaps our discussion seemed quieter because we were on the stage. Sounds were muted and the air had a foggy quality—diffused light from high ceilings and shadows behind thick dark curtains. When I mentioned we were meeting in the theater, one member had worried that our group had gotten so big we needed an auditorium!

When I asked for someone to offer the first response, quiet chatter reigned. Finally, one member drew our attention and our discussion began. She found the book to be utterly believable and lifelike. Another had never before heard of Asperger Syndrome. Yet another described his experience with an obviously much-loved brother.

We spent much of the hour discussing spectrum disorders. Not just autism, though mainly so. The autistic stage is universal. Autism was not identified until 1944. Do all people with Aspergers have a good memory? Most also have SID (Sensory Input Disorder). Early training and socialization make a difference. Why are so many more boys diagnosed with Autism? Some previously diagnosed schizophrenics are now found to have autism. And in the future it may be schizophrenia again. How do we really know? Is psychology a science?

Bill Gates. Vladamir Putin. Steve Jobs. Our family members, friends, maybe that obnoxious man or woman we try to avoid. And my favorite – Mr. Darcy.

Loveable to some of us, obnoxious to others, Don Tillman described communication issues that made us laugh out loud. One member said the book had been written as a play and polished over eight years. Even though the main characters were from Australia, it seemed very American. Those who listened to the audio book said that the reader sounded American.

We discussed a lot of other books and movies, although none of the same ones Don Tillman mentions. Several of us mentioned The Big Bang Theory television show and the ever-more culturally recognizable Sheldon. Now our group has Don Tillman. And we are part of an even larger group. As of today, Amazon had 6,873 reviews of The Rosie Project—4072 five-stars ratings and 2034 four-star ratings.

Working in a library, I’ve had people ask about the value of fiction. Is it just entertainment, escape, relaxation? Aren’t we any different now that we have read this book, alone and as a group? Do we view the world any differently? Are we less biased or more accepting? The Rosie project was an engaging, easy to read story. Although it’s main character is Gregory Peck-handsome and perhaps not truly as awkward and obnoxious as many people we encounter, the issues raised are pertinent and brought us together. We didn’t always agree, but we listened and shared, exercised our brains and our hearts.

  • Other works discussed:
  •  Big Bang Theory (television show)
  • Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
  • Defending Jacob by William Landay
  • House Rules by Jodi Piccoult
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Some very interesting read-a-likes — just ask at your local library!

Nature Girl Discussion Journal

For the last ten years in the library, I have heard people mention Carl Hiaasen’s books as funny and environmental. His young adult book-to-movie, Hoot, was inspiring. Nature Girl did not come with ready book-discussion questions, and although the book covers aNatureGirlCover plethora of issues we could discuss — mental illness, sexuality, telephone sales, marriage, religion, and parenting — I found myself researching satire, parody, and humor. I was repulsed by the crudity and disturbed by the light-hearted treatment of a serious mental illness. A co-worker tried to encourage me to lighten up! Surely I had to admit that sewing a man’s chewed-off fingers onto the wrong parts of his hand is funny! And I suppose it is as absurd as suggesting we eat children to solve the Irish potato famine.

Book Bistro to the rescue! Everyone seemed to agree that the book was so absurd that I shouldn’t take anything in it too seriously. One member liked that Hiaasen’s female characters have substance. Another new member suggested that society is so used to absurdity that we require even more outrageous behavior and images to be shocked enough to respond. She was so enthusiastic and reminded us of parts that made us laugh out loud. I felt as if we were discussing a different book, and yet I recognized the story. It was cathartic, which is perhaps the point. In an interview with 60 Minutes, the author states that he likes writing fiction because he can make the bad guys have the ending they deserve, “and then light a cigarette.”

Carl Hiaasen is a journalist who writes a column for the Miami Herald. His work has also appeared in many well-known magazines. One member liked the bits of political and topical issues that pop into the story throughout and another had researched the story on the internet and drew our attention to the author’s name choices. Another member grew up in Miami and thus we discussed the area, the climate and the environment. After we watched the ten minute interview with 60 Minutes, drawing our attention to the reality in Carl Hiaasen’s absurdity, one member wondered if anyone else had noticed the similarity of Las Vegas to the maligned Miami!

Although we had mixed reactions to the book, we had a great discussion.

  • Other works discussed:
  • There’s Something About Mary (1998) (DVD) Cameron Diaz, Ben Stiller, Matt Dillon
  • Beauty Queens (2012) by Libba Bray (satire)
  • Edge of Eternity and Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  • A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift
  • Potato Factory by Bryce Courtenay
  • Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  • Jack Reacher books by Lee Child

The Language of Flowers Discussion Journal

I chose The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh because it covered a serious topic, aging out of foster care, and included an engaging subtopic, the language of flowers. In addition, over 3,000 Amazon reviewers had given the book 4.5 stars out of 5. Potentially, something for everyone.LanguageOfFlowersCover

The first responders could not identify with the main character. The overwhelming majority seemed to be unable to sympathize with Victoria’s abandonment of her baby, of her refusing assistance. The story was romanticized and unrealistic. And yet, didn’t that make it readable? Some members shared personal experiences. Others wondered how a professional midwife could not have known that Victoria needed more assistance and helped her with the constant nursing. One new member wanted to know more about Meredith, the social worker. Another felt that Meredith had set Victoria up for failure as she warned each family how difficult she was. We discussed mental illness and drug addiction. Even though the author has experience with foster children, we didn’t feel the book gave us a good picture of the foster system. So what was the point? We didn’t really get there.

One of the discussion questions asked us to define what makes a family. Catherine and Elizabeth were related, but were they family? As I listened and watched the discussion, about families now including all manner of support systems, not just blood relations, I couldn’t help but think about communities as families. Work families, library families, book club families. All needing support in different ways. All communicating in different ways. It makes me think of a story in Robert Fulghum’s All I need to know I learned in Kindergarten about a kid who plays hide-‘n-seek too well — “Get found kid!”

The room seemed filled to the brim with familiar and new faces, attentive and engaged. Although I know that everyone did not speak, the discussion moved between members and no one seemed to dominate. A large group has both the potential to bring in a lot of viewpoints and to make it more difficult for some to speak out. After the meeting, one member shared that she really liked the book. Another commented on learning about the Camellia Network, co-founded by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, “a support net(work) for youth aging out of foster care” ( I wonder now, looking back, if we shouldn’t have broken into smaller groups. It’s a work in progress!

  • Other works discussed:
  • Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth
  • White Oleander by Janet Fitch


The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Discussion Journal

I chose The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency for July because I knew that the series is No1LadiesDetectiveAgencyCoverincredibly popular, funny yet substantive, and I hoped its ease would make good summer/vacation reading. The ready availability of many books, including sound recordings, is also a big plus for our book club!

Since I heard Alexander McCall Smith speak at the American Library Association conference here in Las Vegas, I was ready to show some YouTube clips of his comedic routines, a YouTube sample of Botswana pumpkin cooking, and the sweeping shots of Botwana shown at the start of the HBO television series adapted from the book. We had cookies and bush tea (red rooibos from South Africa).

Then we had some technical difficulties. W-fi, plugs, connections, laptop, i-pad, dvd, television. In hindsight it is rather funny to think of taking a seemingly simple story, people who have chosen to take time reading and coming out to discuss a book, and then throwing in technical media! It all worked out in the end, but not necessarily as planned!

I had anticipated enthusiastic, devoted readers and some skeptical newcomers. What we had was a rather quiet group. Those who had re-read the book found it appealing again. Others seemed to like it as well. Since none of us have been to Africa, we couldn’t truly judge its reality.

Before the meeting, one member commented that he found the narrator to be unreliable, since he knew that it was a white male writing about a black female detective. In general, since the author was raised in Africa, we accepted his narration. We discussed the accuracy of the dialogue. I was enamored of the author’s language and read several sentences that I had highlighted throughout. I also mentioned his use of many archaic words I appreciated. We discussed HIV and how it is not spoken of directly. About how positive a view this is of Botswana. We noted that the book is more like a collection of short stories than a novel, and how the author himself says he is afflicted with “serial novelism.”

Every member spoke and brought out interesting aspects prompted by the discussion questions and on their own. As we wondered about Mma Ramotswe’s youthful acceptance of her abusive husband, one member mentioned reading Of Human Bondage. Another compared the opening lines of Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa with the opening lines “Mma Ramotswe had a detective agency in Africa, at the foot of Kgale Hill.” I marvel at the common association we all now share.

As always, if there is something I have missed or something you’ve thought of that you would like to add or share, make a comment!

  • Other works discussed:
  • Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham
  • Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen

The Dog Stars Discussion Journal

This week so far we have a hate-crime killing in Las Vegas which left two police officersDogStarsCover and three other people dead, and another school shooting, this time in Oregon, leaving two people dead and at least one wounded. I’m sure many other violent crimes became known during the same time period, and more remain behind closed doors, hidden for years, if ever even to see the light. Movies in our local theaters include Edge of Tomorrow, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Maleficient, Godzilla, and A Million Ways to die in the West. Pretty violent fare – with something for everyone, good and bad alike. Yesterday was election day, too, which in this social-media world sometimes seems more like spin-the-bottle dare than choice. In this environment our Book Bistro met to discuss the dystopian future presented by Peter Heller in The Dog Stars.

Several book club members liked the novel, one even more so after a second reading. Our first responder found the clipped, journal-like narrative style to be beautiful, like a long poem, and easy to read. Yet some didn’t like the writing style and struggled to read it. One member so fervently disliked the book that she felt if she were ever to ban a book, this would be it! Many of us had mixed feelings, but the majority felt that in a post-apocalyptic world, survival of the fittest, as described by Heller, would rule at first, civilization only later.

Some of the details seemed too easy. This limited point of view left a lot of questions and seemed almost like cheating. If flying out of the valley was too dangerous with the extra weight, why didn’t Hig pick up both father and daughter on the road? Why weren’t more people connecting by radio? We discussed global warming as a continued threat and disagreed about whether the ending was happy or bleak.

The meeting was surprisingly calm, but the members are a respectful group and avoided the potential divisiveness of opposing views—at least outwardly. I have in the past been told that a member was hesitant to speak out because of fear of confrontation. Several members did speak at once, which is unavoidable and even a good sign of passion. But some of us are better at interrupting. After the meeting, one member wondered why the discussion guide did not ask about Hig’s killing his wife. That would have been an excellent discussion point! Why that detail?

One of the reasons I write this journal is to offer an opportunity for members to add comments they would have liked to make. Or maybe, only on reflection, hours or days after the meeting, an answer comes to us! Post a comment here or give it to me at the library to post for you.

We answered only a couple of the questions from the discussion guide and finished early enough to introduce our next book, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall-Smith. Many of us were surprised that this bestseller had not been read by everyone. None of the four men in the group have read it! I asked them to think about the believability of a black, female narrator written by a white male. If you have read the book before, re-reading is a great time to pay attention to the language and how the author conveys his ideas. Reading Dog Stars, I couldn’t help but wonder, where was the library? So many books and all the time in the world . . .

Other works mentioned:

  • The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier
  • Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton
  • The Stand by Stephen King
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • “Time Enough At Last” episode Twilight Zone (DVD)  (Based on the short story by Lyn Venable)