Monthly Archives: December 2014

Reading Selections: 2nd Quarter 2015

April 20, 2015

worst hard time.jpg The Worst Hard Time

Author: Timothy Egan

Non-Fiction: 340 pages

“On April 14, 1935, the biggest dust storm on record descended over five states, from the Dakotas to Amarillo, Texas. People standing a few feet apart could not see each other; if they touched, they risked being knocked over by the static electricity that the dust created in the air. The Dust Bowl was the product of reckless, market-driven farming that had so abused the land that, when dry weather came, the wind lifted up millions of acres of topsoil and whipped it around in “black blizzards,” which blew as far east as New York. This ecological disaster rapidly disfigured whole communities. Egan’s portraits of the families who stayed behind are sobering and far less familiar than those of the “exodusters” who staggered out of the High Plains. He tells of towns depopulated to this day, a mother who watched her baby die of “dust pneumonia,” and farmers who gathered tumbleweed as food for their cattle and, eventually, for their children.”

–The New Yorker 

“[A] fierce, humane account of the dreams and extremes that crashed head on during the nearly decade-long calamity of the Dust Bowl.”

–The New York Times

May 18, 2015

sinclair lewis.jpgMain Street

Author: Sinclair Lewis

Fiction: 451 pages

Overview: “Main Street, the story of an idealistic young woman’s attempts to reform her small town, brought Lewis immediate acclaim when it was published in 1920. It remains one of the essential texts of the American scene. Lewis Mumford observed: “In Main Street an American had at last written of our life with something of the intellectual rigor and critical detachment that had seemed so cruel and unjustified [in Charles Dickens and Matthew Arnold]. Young people had grown up in this environment, suffocated, stultified, helpless, but unable to find any reason for their spiritual discomfort. Mr. Lewis released them.”  

June 15, 2015

naoki higashidaThe Reason I Jump

Author: Naoki Higashida

Non-Fiction: 176 pages

“This is a guide to what it feels like to be autistic. . . . In Mitchell and Yoshida’s translation, [Higashida] comes across as a thoughtful writer with a lucid simplicity that is both childlike and lyrical. . . . Higashida is living proof of something we should all remember: in every autistic child, however cut off and distant they may outwardly seem, there resides a warm, beating heart.” –Financial Times (UK)


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Reading Selections: 1st Quarter 2015

January 12, 2015

in the bleak midwinter.jpgIn the Bleak Midwinter

Author: Julia Spencer-Fleming

Fiction: 308 pages

From the Back Cover: “Heavy Snow…Icy Desires…Cold-Blooded Murder
“Clare Fergusson, St. Alban’s new priest, fits like a square peg in the conservative Episcopal parish at Miller’s Kill, New York. She is not just a “lady,” she’s a tough ex Army chopper pilot, and nobody’s fool. Then a newborn infant left at the church door brings her together with the town’s police chief, Russ Van Alstyne, who’s also ex-Army and a cynical good shepherd for the stray sheep of his hometown. Their search for the baby’s mother quickly leads them into the secrets that shadow Miller’s Kill like the ever-present Adirondacks. What they discover is a world of trouble, an attraction to each other-and murder…”


February 9, 2015

ta-henisi coates.jpgThe Case for Reparations

Author: Ta-Nehisi Coates

Essay: 50 pages

The Case for Reparations was trumpeted well in advance of its publication via a most provocative trailer.  It made its literary debut as the feature piece for the June 2014 issue of The Atlantic magazine.  It blew me away shortly thereafter.  The subtitle says it all.  Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.  Compelling, controversial, and certain to generate a memorable discussion.  Let’s talk about it.


  March 16, 2015

secret daughter project final.jpg

The Secret Daughter Project

Secret Daughter

Author: June Cross

Non-Fiction: 304 pages

Secret Daughter

Author: Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Fiction: 346 pages

The writing is on the wall.  The Monday Evening Book Group is breaking new ground, embracing intellectual terra incognito.  An experiment in form has been proposed.  Two authors and two tales. Fact and fiction.  A shared title, similar themes, and a discussion group divided.  Physical copies of the works and dossiers assigned by pure chance.  Won’t you please join us for a literary lab moderated by Annette Newcomb?


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