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Book Club Bash Choices: August 2014


A Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdam (Soho $15). A deeply moving story told simultaneously from the perspective of chimpanzees and humans that illuminates the universal truths that transcend species. (Tony)

City of Thieves by David Benioff (Plume $16).  During the Germans' siege of Leningrad, two Russian prisoners embark on an absurd mission to win their freedom. What follows is a thrilling adventure and coming-of-age story. (Tony)

Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem (Vintage $15.95). A multigenerational story that explores community and family through the broken dream of the American Communist Party and two unforgettable women who embrace and reject it. (Tony)

The Good Lord Bird by James McBride (Riverhead $16). This brilliant romp of a novel is about a young boy born a slave who joins John Brown's antislavery crusade and must pass as a girl to survive. Though very funny at times, none of the brutality is lessened, and the characters, including Brown, are so well and humanely developed that you pull for them all the way. Winner of the National Book Award. (Nancy)

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom (Random House $26). When Eva's mother leaves her at her father's house and drives away, Eva, thirteen, begins a relationship with her older half-sister Iris. The two girls develop a love and admiration for each other as the novel progresses against the backdrop of World War II. Bloom's prose is spare and poetic. (Mamie)

The Most Beautiful Book in the World: 8 Novellas by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt (Europa $15). Recalls O.Henry's stories because of the ironic twists at the end. The title story, about a group of women prisoners, shows that the smallest gesture can bring the most happiness. (Mamie)

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (Penguin $17). An enthralling story of love, adventure and discovery featuring a young woman whose fascination with the natural world leads to research in evolution in the forefront of Darwin's theories. (Nancy)

The Stories of Jane Gardam by Jane Gardam (Europa $26.95) is a huge collection of three decades of her powerful short stories, every one different and satisfying, and none afraid of looking into the great terrifying secrets of love and grief, death, ageing and faith in a mere handful of pages. These stories are mischievous--sly, dark, humorous, and brilliant. (Nancy)

The Story of Land and Sea by Katy Simpson Smith (Harper $26.99, August 26). A story of love and loss set on the North Carolina coast during the later part of the Revolutionary War and told from the shifting viewpoints of a 10 year old white girl, Tabitha, her family, their slave Moll, and Moll's young son Davy. This is an exceptionally written novel in which the characters' hard lives are redeemed by moments of beauty and mercy. (Sarah)

Testing the Current by William McPherson (NYRB Classics $15.95). An absolutely gorgeous coming of age story, first published in 1984, and reissued by the New York Review of Books. Set in the American Midwest of 1933, it's a world of wealth and privilege, prejudice and hypocrisy, as seen through a sensitive boy's wisdom and naivete. (Sarah)

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani (Riverhead $16). Lush in every sense of the word: exquisite period details, forbidden love, beautiful NC mountain setting, and, oh yes, horses. (Rosemary)



Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick (Penguin $18). A history that illustrates how Bunker Hill ignited the American Revolution, focusing on how the people and personalities drove events rather than the politics. (Kent)

A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II by Adam Makos (Berkley $17). More than a combat tale, it's what these pilots did after the war that's truly surprising. Makos also offers a look into the lives and thoughts of German civilians during WWII. (Rosemary)

The Lost Carving: A Journey to the Heart of Making by David Esterly (Penguin $16). Esterly recounts his year spent recarving a fire-destroyed, 17th century masterpiece by woodcarver Grinling Gibbons. A beautiful meditation on craftsmanship and art history. (Kent)

Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation by John Carlin (Penguin $16). Politics, sports, forgiveness and revelation interweave in the story of how Nelson Mandela courted South Africa through rugby. (Rosemary)

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese by Michael Paterniti (Dial $16). A travelogue and biography of Castilian Spain, an obsession with tracking down a story, and an ode to the timeless art of storytelling. (Kent)

Teen/Young Adult Fiction

Countdown by Deborah Wiles (Scholastic $7.99). The year is 1962, President Kennedy and Khrushchev are in the spotlight, and American life is about to change dramatically. In this largely autobiographical novel, Wiles paints a vivid picture of this momentous decade. (Carol)

The Giver by Lois Lowry (Laurel-Leaf $6.99). A masterpiece of children's literature, the Giver presents a chilling society where choices, emotions, and creativity have been eliminated. Expertly written and deeply provocative. (Carol) 

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