Seniors Book Club April Selection

Born a crimeThe Seniors Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, April 11 in the 2nd floor Training Room to discuss the memoir  Born a Crime: stories from a South African childhood by Trevor Noah.

About the book …

One of the comedy world’s fastest-rising stars tells his wild coming of age story during the twilight of apartheid in South Africa and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. Noah provides something deeper than traditional memoirists: powerfully funny observations about how farcical political and social systems play out in our lives. Trevor Noah is the host of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, where he gleefully provides America with its nightly dose of serrated satire. He is a light-footed but cutting observer of the relentless absurdities of politics, nationalism and race–and in particular the craziness of his own young life, which he’s lived at the intersections of culture and history. In his first book, Noah tells his coming of age story with his larger-than-life mother during the last gasps of apartheid-era South Africa and the turbulent years that followed. Noah was born illegal–the son of a white, Dutch father and a black Xhosa mother, who had to pretend to be his nanny or his father’s servant in the brief moments when the family came together. His brilliantly eccentric mother loomed over his life–a comically zealous Christian (they went to church six days a week and three times on Sunday), a savvy hustler who kept food on their table during rough times, and an aggressively involved, if often seriously misguided, parent who set Noah on his bumpy path to stardom. The stories Noah tells are sometimes dark, occasionally bizarre, frequently tender, and always hilarious–whether he’s subsisting on caterpillars during months of extreme poverty or making comically pitiful attempts at teenage romance in a color-obsessed world; whether’s he’s being thrown into jail as the hapless fall guy for a crime he didn’t commit or being thrown by his mother from a speeding car driven by murderous gangsters.

Trevor Noah’s website

NPR interview highlights

Interviews on Youtube

A “Guardian Live” interview

“The View” interview

Discussion questions

A Huffington Post book review

A Guardian review

Map of South Africa

History of Apartheid

 

Seniors Book Club March Selection

The Seniors Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, March 14 in the 2nd floor Training Room to discuss the novel  Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney.Lillian Boxfish takes a walk

About the book…

It’s the last day of 1984, and 85-year-old Lillian Boxfish is about to take a walk.

As she traverses a grittier Manhattan, a city anxious after an attack by a still-at-large subway vigilante, she encounters bartenders, bodega clerks, chauffeurs, security guards, bohemians, criminals, children, parents, and parents-to-be—in surprising moments of generosity and grace. While she strolls, Lillian recalls a long and eventful life that included a brief reign as the highest-paid advertising woman in America—a career cut short by marriage, motherhood, divorce, and a breakdown.

A love letter to city life—however shiny or sleazy—Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk paints a portrait of a remarkable woman across the canvas of a changing America: from the Jazz Age to the onset of the AIDS epidemic; the Great Depression to the birth of hip-hop. (Author’s website)

Meet Chicago’s modern-day flaneuse: an interview with Kathleen Rooney

Interview with author Kathleen Rooney

Kathleen Rooney describes the process of writing Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk

The real Lillian Boxfish: Margaret Fishback 

In praise of walking (and witty women) 

Chicago Tribune review

 

 

Seniors Book Club February Selection

Trouble with goats and sheepThe Seniors Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, February 14 in the 2nd floor Training Room to discuss the novel  The Trouble with goats and sheep by Joanna Cannon.

About the book …

England, 1976. Mrs. Creasy is missing and the Avenue is alive with whispers. The neighbors blame her sudden disappearance on the heat wave, but ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly aren’t convinced, and decide to take matters into their own hands.

Spunky, spirited Grace and quiet, thoughtful Tilly go door to door in search of clues. The cul-de-sac starts to give up its secrets, and the amateur detectives uncover more than they ever imagined. A complicated history of deception begins to emerge—everyone on the Avenue has something to hide.

During that sweltering summer, the lives of all the neighbors begin to unravel. The girls come to realize that the lies told to conceal what happened one fateful day about a decade ago are the same ones Mrs. Creasy was starting to peel back just before she disappeared…

“A thoughtful tale of loyalty and friendship, family dynamics and human nature” (Kirkus Reviews), this glorious debut is part coming-of-age story, part mystery. The Trouble with Goats and Sheep radiates an unmistakable warmth and intelligence and is “rife with tiny extraordinaries” (The New York Times Book Review). “Joanna Cannon is an author to watch” (Booklist, starred review).

“An astute, engaging debut” (Publishers Weekly), The Trouble with Goats and Sheep is a quirky and utterly charming tale of a community in need of reconciliation and two girls learning what it means to belong.

About Joanna Cannon

Joanna Cannon’s Blog

An interview with Joanna Cannon

A video interview with Joanna Cannon

The Story behind Goats and Sheep

Publisher’s Reading Guide

A Virtual Book Club discussion

A Guardian book review

A New York Times book review

The Sheep and the Goats in the Bible

1976 UK heat wave

Jesus on the Drainpipe story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seniors Book Club January Selection

The Seniors Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, January 10 in Forsyth Hall to discuss The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey.

About the book

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them. (Publisher)

About the author

Eowyn (A-o-win) LeMay Ivey was raised in Alaska and continues to live there with her husband and two daughters. Her mother named her after a character from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

Eowyn works at the independent bookstore Fireside Books where she plays matchmaker between readers and books. The Snow Child, her debut novel, appeared in 2012; her second, To the Bright Edge of the World, was published in 2016. Her short fiction appears in the anthology Cold Flashes, University of Alaska Press 2010, and the North Pacific Rim literary journal Cirque.

Prior to her career as a bookseller and novelist, Eowyn worked for nearly a decade as an award-winning reporter at the Frontiersman newspaper. Her weekly articles about her outdoor adventures earned her the Best Non-Daily Columnist award from the Alaska Press Club. Her articles and photographs have been published in the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Magazine, and other publications.

Eowyn earned her BA in journalism and creative writing through Western Washington University’s honors program and studied creative nonfiction in University of Alaska Anchorage’s graduate program. She is a contributor to the blog 49Writers and a founding member of Alaska’s first statewide writing center.

The Snow Child is informed by Eowyn’s life in Alaska. Her husband is a fishery biologist with the state of Alaska. While they both work outside of the home, they are also raising their daughters in the rural, largely subsistence lifestyle in which they were both raised.

As a family, they harvest salmon and wild berries, keep a vegetable garden, turkeys and chickens, and they hunt caribou, moose, and bear for meat. Because they don’t have a well and live outside any public water system, they haul water each week for their holding tank and gather rainwater for their animals and garden. Their primary source of home heat is a woodstove, and they harvest and cut their own wood.

These activities are important to Eowyn’s day-to-day life as well as the rhythm of her year. (from LitLovers)

Myths and Legends: The Snow Maiden

Homesteading in Alaska

A conversation with Eowyn Ivey

NPR book review

Book review in The Guardian

Book review in The Globe and Mail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seniors Book Club November Selection

Hillbilly ElegyThe Seniors Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, November 8 in the “Aquarium” Room to discuss the memoir Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance.

About the book…

From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans.

The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside.

J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.

But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.

A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country. (From the publisher.)

About the author…

An author interview

Discussion questions

Video interviews

A New York Times book review

A salon.com book review

A New Republic book review

A New Yorker commentary

Poverty in the United States (Wikipedia)

Historical background about the Appalachian region

On J.D. Vance moving back to Ohio

J.D. Vance initiative “Our Ohio Renewal”