Book Bash Choices: April '10

The store was packed for our April '10 Book Club Bash programs. Fiction or nonfiction, there's something for everyone. 

Fiction

CUTTING FOR STONE Abraham Verghese, pb $15.95. 
A big, beautiful, ambitious novel set in Ethiopia and the world of a mission hospital.  History, politics, medicine (lots of medicine) and several love stories are combined skillfully in this epic story.  The plot follows the lives of twin boys, Shiva and Marion, at Missing Hospital in Addis Ababa.  Some of the medical scenes are easily as exciting as a James Bond car chase. (Nancy)

HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET Jamie Ford, pb $15. 
An innocent love between a young Chinese American and a Japanese American that begins in pre-war Seattle, transcends the prejudices of the Old World and drives them to make promises to each other to help them get through the internment.(Sandra)

PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION Sara Houghteling, pb $15.
A fictional account of the Nazis’ theft of art from the homes and galleries of Paris.  (Sandra)

SONGS FOR THE MISSING Stewart O'Nan, pb $15.
O'Nan takes us gracefully and thoughtfully into the worlds of a missing child's family, friends and community.  He dwells much less on grief than on the ways in which people's relationships and senses of themselves are affected. (Sally)

THE SPARE ROOM Helen Garner, pb $14. 
A long-time friendship between two elderly women is sorely tested when one is stricken with cancer and comes to stay with her friend while she receives alternative treatment at a clinic.  As the visit lengthens and the clinic is revealed to use questionable methods, the hostess's patience and hospitality wear thin, causing her to doubt her ability to care for someone in such denial.  Short and powerful.  (Nancy)

THE SWEET IN-BETWEEN Sheri Reynolds, pb $14.
Kenny Lugo is approaching her 18th birthday with more than usual coming-of-age stress.  Her dad’s in prison, she’s struggling over her sexual identity and self-worth, and she’s being raised by her dad’s girlfriend.  Once the government support checks stop, will all that Kenny knows of family also end?   Sheri Reynolds finds nuggets of humanity in some of the roughest-around-the-edges characters.  (Rosemary)

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU Jonathan Tropper, hc $25.95 pb due June 2010.
Take four adult children and their eccentric mother, and put them together for seven days in one house while they sit Shiva for their father.  This darkly comic novel brilliantly explores the complexity of relationships and the power of the past to rule the present.
(Sally)

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN Lionel Shriver, pb $13.99. 
A brilliant, literary page-turner in which a wife and mother writes a series of compelling and introspective letters to her estranged husband dissecting her married life and her mothering of son Kevin and daughter Celia in the aftermath of Kevin's Columbine-like slaying of nine people in his high school.   Guaranteed to provoke meaningful discussion. (Nancy)

Nonfiction

THE BISHOP’S DAUGHTER Honor Moore, pb $16.95. 
"Does it matter, even when someone is dead, that his most fervently held private life, and the unnecessarily explicit details of his marriage, are exposed against his wishes?"  These are the words of two of Honor Moore's siblings after the publication of this memoir.  This is an amazing portrait of the family of a beloved Episcopalian priest whose life was not always what it seemed. (Sandra)

THE GEOGRAPHY OF BLISS:  ONE GRUMP’S SEARCH FOR THE HAPPIEST PLACES IN THE WORLD Eric Weiner, pb $13.99.
In the last two decades, psychologists and economists have learned a lot about happiness, including who's happy and who isn't. The Dutch are, the Romanians aren't, and Americans are somewhere in between. Eric Weiner -- a peripatetic journalist and self-proclaimed grump -- wanted to know why. So with science as his compass, he spent a year visiting the world's most and least happy places, and the result is a charming, funny and illuminating travelogue called The Geography of Bliss.
(Nancy)

MY STROKE OF INSIGHT Jill Bolte Taylor, pb $15. 
A young brain scientist gets a unique research opportunity, the chance to observe her own massive stroke.  Now recovered, she has plenty to share about what she experienced, how she recovered and what she learned about her brain, her mind and her soul. (Warren)

ORACLE BONES Peter Hessler, pb $15.99.
If you think China’s economy, image, and values are changing, imagine how it must seem to the native Chinese.  Hessler (a Beijing-based correspondent for many years) presents China’s past, and probes for its future, through the eyes of ordinary Chinese citizens from different classes and clans.  The composite picture of a transforming China is fascinating.  (Rosemary)

THE PERIODIC TABLE Primo Levi, pb $14.00. 
"Not a chemical treatise…nor an autobiography" but rather a linked set of tales, meditations and memories inspired  by Levi’s experience as a Jewish chemist in Fascist Italy.  Levi is a careful observer and a gifted storyteller;  some would say that this book properly belongs in fiction. (Warren)

THINKING IN PICTURES:  AND OTHER REPORTS FROM MY LIFE WITH AUTISM Temple Grandin, pb $15. 
She designed her own treatment for autism, and now she treats us to a view of the world from behind her eyes, a remarkable, wordless world, but one overflowing with catalogued and associated visual images. (Warren)

TIME BITES:  VIEWS AND REVIEWS Doris Lessing, pb $14.95.
Born in 1919,  Ms. Lessing won the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature.  These mostly informal essays range from a wonderful criticism of Pride and Prejudice to Sufism and speculation about the sex life of Tolstoy. (Sally)

Young Adult

IF I STAY Gayle Forman, pb $8.99.
Imagine you’re a talented 17 year old with all of life ahead of you.  Then, in an instant, everything is taken away.  When life and death are stripped to the essentials, what would you choose?  What matters most? (Rosemary)

NATION, Terry Pratchett, pb $8.99.
Pratchett is a master of satire and subtle social skewering.  In NATION, survivors of a tsunami must band together, bringing religious beliefs, social class structure, and human conduct under the author’s microscope. If you know his Discworld novels, you know that with Terry Pratchett you NEVER know what to expect. (Rosemary)