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Book Club Bash Choices: September 2016

We had to skip the spring due to our move (#1). But Bash was up and running again, now in our new location.


13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad (Penguin $16.00). Does anyone you know not have an issue with food and weight? This stunning novel-in-stories is at the same time funny and darkly true as it takes readers through the life of Elizabeth, whose identity changes along with her weight. (Sandra)

The Golden Age by Joan London (Europa $17.00). Set mostly in a children's hospital named The Golden Age, this historical novel tells a story of the polio epidemic in Australia in the early 50s. However, current topics of displacement and isolation are interwoven in the story to help readers relate to those currently having to escape dangers in war-torn countries. (Sandra)

Mon Amie Americaine by Michele Halberstadt (Other Press $14.95). Molly of New York and Michele of Paris are two colleagues whose friendship is tested by a debilitating illness. How strong are the bonds of their friendship, and can they be sustained? (Sandra)

Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann (Random House $26.00; PB $16.00 due September 20, 2016). A novella and three short stories, this is a perfect book club story collection. All of the pieces are filled with tension and complexity, proving once again that the National Book Award-winning McCann is one of our most talented writers. (Mamie)

Miss Jane by Brad Watson (W.W. Norton $25.95). A beautifully rendered portrait of a woman born with a genital defect that, in rural Mississippi in the early 20th century, limits her prospects for a "normal" life. Jane Chisholm is an extraordinary character. (Tony)

The Last Flight of Poxl West by Daniel Torday (Picador $16.00). We see Poxl West through the eyes of his fifteen-year-old nephew, Eli Goldstein, and through Poxl's own memoir of World War II. Eli is in thrall to the war hero in his uncle's pages, but finds that the real story lies somewhere between truth and fiction. (Tony)

Black Light by Galway Kinnell (Counterpoint $13.95). Kinnell's year in Iran inspired this stark, lyrical tale of a carpet mender who murders a man in a fit of passion and flees into the dessert where his life is forever changed. Published in 1966, this was the award winning poet's only novel. (Tony)

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (Vintage $16.00). Set against a devastating flu pandemic, this inventive dystopian narrative focuses on a handful of characters who are connected to an actor who dies of a heart attack during a production of King Lear hours before the pandemic strikes. Finalist for 2014 National Book Award. (Tony)

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (Riverhead Books $27.95; PB $16.00 due September 13, 2016). This gorgeously written novel is a portrait of a mostly happy, successful marriage over the course of a lifetime. The first half ("the fates"), is the husband's story, the second half ("the furies"), is told from the wife's perspective. There are many layers of topics for discussion. (Abbe)

They May Not Mean to, But They Do by Cathleen Schine (Farrah Straus & Giroux $26.00). This dark comedy of manners explores the dynamics of aging within a tightly-knit family. Cathleen Schine examines many of the less attractive qualities of old age with a light touch and an irreverent sense of humor. (Warning: You will laugh at inappropriate things.) (Abbe)

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, translated by Marian Schwartz (Yale University Press $20.00). It took Russian scholar Marian Schwartz ten years to complete this new translation. Her aim was to provide a translation as true to the intent, connotations and nuances of Tolstoy's words as possible. (Samantha)

The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories by Anthony Marra (Hogarth $16.00). Covering a century of change in Russia, these are tightly interwoven stories about family, sacrifice, the legacy of war, and the redemptive power of art. (Kent)


Words Under the Words: Selected Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye (Eighth Mountain Press $15.95). This book by the Palestinian-American Nye contains beautiful and accessible poems for personal reading and for use as an opener for book club meetings. “Poetry causes us to pause,” Nye said, and this is true of each of the poems in this collection. (Mamie)


Hold Still by Sally Mann (Little Brown and Company $18.99). Before I read this book, I knew that Mann had taken controversial photographs of her children and dead people. After reading this book, I understand her and her unconventional artist’s perspective. Much to discuss about this fascinating person. (Mamie)

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald (Grove Press $16.00). To cope with the death of her father, Macdonald decided to buy and train a goshawk, one of the fiercest of raptors. Told in exquisite prose, her compelling story reads like fiction. With unabashed honesty she explains how her journey through grief intersected with her realization of the trials, joys and limitations of a relationship between a human and a being of another species. (Samantha)

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (Spiegel & Grau $16.00). The NYU law professor and attorney chronicles his career working within a criminal justice system that has inhumanely punished the poor and disadvantaged. (Kent)

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli (Riverhead $18.00). ​An elegant, entertaining, and mind-bending distillation of modern physics that reveals the architecture of the universe. (Kent)​

To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science by Steven Weinberg (Harper $15.99). The story of the emergence of scientific thought; a lucid and insightful perspective on how we go about considering and analyzing the world around us. (Kent)

Fiction for Young Adults and Children

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Hyperion $9.99). A contemporary psychological thriller with a hint of romance written by an expert in cognitive science, this series opener has twists and turns that lead to a conclusion you will never see coming. (Cindy)

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty (Hyperion $7.99). A chilling mystery set at the historic Biltmore Estate in 1899, this debut novel introduces a four-toed, golden-eyed heroine and a nocturnal black-cloaked interloper in a haunting story SIBA hails as one of the "best in Southern literature.” (Cindy)



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