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Book Club Bash Choices: August 2015

Our Bash events are always well attended.  Everyone likes a book party! Our August-September '15 Bash sessions had almost 300 guests in all. If you couldn't get here, you can still find out about the great books we discussed. 


All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews (McSweeney's $16). The powerful story of two sisters: Elf is a gifted pianist who desperately wants to end her life. Yoli is doing all she can to keep her sister alive, but must make a harrowing choice. Beautifully told from Yoli's point of view. (Tony)

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill (Vintage $15). This refreshingly original novel tells the profound and moving story of a marriage and parenthood in bits and pieces of “shimmering prose.” Chosen by the New York Times as one of the best books of 2014. (Nancy)

F: A Novel by Daniel Kehlmann (Vintage $15.95). When Arthur Friedland is hypnotized by the Great Lindemann the lives of his three sons are forever changed. F is something of a literary puzzle and a marvelous tragicomedy about faith, fraud, forgery, family, and fate. (Tony)

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (Washington Square $16). A delightful story about a grumpy widower who decides that he has nothing left to live for until he is dragged backed to life by the annoying new neighbors. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll want to drive a Saab. (Tony)

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan (Vintage $15.95). A tale of a WWII Japanese prisoner-of-war camp and the Australian prisoners who must build what comes to be known as the Death Highway. A searing and honest look at the lives of POWs, it continues to explore some of the characters' lives—Japanese and Australian—after the war. (Mamie)

The Same Sky by Amanda E. Ward (Ballantine $15). The lives of Carla, an adolescent girl emigrating across Mexico, and Alice, who owns a restaurant in Texas with her husband, will intersect in a profound and surprising way. A gripping, compelling story of family, heartache, child immigration and societal responsibility. (Belinda)

Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan (Ballantine $16). Once again, Horan takes a deep, long look at the intimate history of yet another creative man and his muse, this time, Robert Louis Stevenson and his American wife, Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne, who hopes to be a painter or writer herself. (Sandra)


What the Living Do by Marie Howe (W. W. Norton $14.95) is a collection of poems that reflects on growing up, friendship, and how to recognize value and beauty in the everyday. It is a tribute to Howe's brother, whose death of AIDS was a lesson for her in what it means to live. (Mamie)


Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor's Reflections on Race and Medicine by Damon Tweedy (Picador $26). Tweedy brings us a very personal view of the role race has played for him as a medical student, a doctor, and even as a patient. This is a thoughtful, provocative, and very readable account, full of engrossing stories of real people whose well-being, and even survival, are affected by racial perceptions. (Sarah)

Brother, I'm Dying by Edwidge Danticat (Vintage $15). Danticat came to the United States from Haiti at the age of 12, after being separated from her parents for 8 years. This moving and en-gaging memoir is a tribute to her father and his brother, Joseph, with whom she and her brother lived until they could join their parents. An intimate story that gives insight into the immigrant experience and how government policy and official actions affect personal lives. (Sarah)

The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild by Lawrence Anthony (St. Martin's Griffin $17.99). Anthony accepts a rogue group of elephants for his reserve in South Africa, and he has to try to bond with them for their own safety as well as the guests' at the inn. He quickly realizes that they have a lot to teach him about life, loyalty and freedom. (Sandra)

Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived by Ralph Helfer (Harper Perennial $14.99). Raised together in a small German circus town, a boy and an elephant form a bond. Tested through a series of amazing adventures, that bond will last their entire lives. (Lisa)

33 Days: A Memoir by Leon Werth (Melville $16). This is Werth’s firsthand account of the mass exodus from Paris in June 1940, where he and his wife encountered unparalleled destruction and unexplainable humanity. (Lisa)

The Way of Tea and Justice: Rescuing the World's Favorite Beverage from Its Violent History by Becca Stevens (Jericho $16). An Episcopalian priest, Stevens has a dream to establish the Thistle Stop Cafe to employ women from around the globe in recovery from addiction/abuse/prostitution: a place of welcome and serenity, aided by the ancient, healing properties of tea. She discusses these women's lives as well as the history of tea. (Belinda)

When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation, 1940-1944 by Ronald C. Rosbottom (Back Bay $18). Through countless compelling stories, tells how Nazi occupation drained the light from Paris and how many of its residents resisted in ways large and small, showing how hope can still flourish in the rituals of daily life (Sandra)

Fiction for Young Adults and Children

Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper (Margaret K. McElderry $7.99). This 17th century historical drama interweaves the lives of Little Hawk, a Native American boy, and a New England colonist, John Wakely, revealing often overlooked truths about many of the early Pilgrim settlers. A tale of friendship in the midst of intolerance. For ages 10-14. (Cindy)

Girls Like Us by Gail Giles (Candlewick $16.99, pb due Oct. 13). A moving story of two very different girls in a special ed class who are suddenly placed in a home together after graduation. For ages 13+. (Carol)

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (HarperCollins $7.99). The incredible story of a family's escape from Saigon and flight to America with high hopes for a happy life. Recipient of both the National Book Award and Newbery Honor. For ages 8-12. (Carol)

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