Do you belong to a book group? I belong to one that had its annual meeting this week to pick the books for the entire year. I love the process because you all know I love to talk about books. Anyone in the group can nominate up to three books. They're supposed to be books that are available in paperback, so we don't do recent books. The books are a mix of fiction and nonfiction. And, once they're nominated, we meet and discuss all the titles, and then we vote on the books we'll read in the current year. Here are the books we're reading in 2015. If you're in a book group, feel free to tell us what you're reading this year.
The book that received the most votes this year was Gabrielle Zevin's The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. I'm not leading the February discussion of this book, but it was the best book I read in 2013, so I'm looking forward to the discussion. It's the story of a publisher's rep, an eccentric bookstore owner on a island, and the gift left in the bookstore that changed lives in the entire island community.
Our April book is nonfiction, Lauren Kessler's Dancing with Rose: Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer's. Kessler, the daughter of a woman who suffered from Alzheimer's, was devastated by the disease. To better understand the disease that took her mother, the journalist becomes a caregiver at an Alzheimer's facility, and learns lessons that challenge what we know about the disease.
Every summer, we have a potluck and read and discuss a book that might appeal to teens. Members encourage their children and friends to read the book and come to the meeting. This June, the book will be Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity. It's a novel about a British spy plane that crashes in Occupied France in 1943. The female pilot and her passenger are friends. One has a chance to survive. The other has already lost the game. When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's told she must confess her mission or face execution. Verity's "confession" of her life may be enough to save her. Or it might not.
William Landay's Defending Jacob is our July selection. How far would a parent go to defend their child? Andy Barber, an assistant district attorney, is as shocked as anyone else in his town when a young boy is stabbed to death in a park. However, he's even more stunned when his own son, Jacob, is accused of the crime. He believes in his son's innocence, even as evidence mounts, his marriage starts to fall apart, and the murder trial starts to destroy the family. How far will Andy go to defend his son?
The woman who suggested Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behavior, our August book, said she loves monarch butterflies. Ron Charles said, "Kingsolver has written one of the more thoughtful novels about the scientific, financial and psychological intricacies of climate change. And her ability to put these silent, breathtakingly beautiful butterflies at the center of this calamitous and noisy debate is nothing short of brilliant."
I'm leading the discussion of William Kent Krueger's award-winning Ordinary Grace. A man in his fifties looks back at the summer when he was thirteen, a life-changing summer of tragedy in a small Minnesota town.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's memoir, This Child Will Be Great, is the October selection. The woman who became the President of Liberia after fourteen years of civil conflict, tells of her life, and her rise to power.
In December, we'll discuss TaraShea Nesbit's debut novel, The Wives of Los Alamos. It's an unusual book, told as a collective "we", of the women who left behind their familiar lives, and their parents and extended families, unable to tell them where they were going as they followed their scientist husbands to New Mexico. There, they lived under dismal military conditions without even knowing what project their husbands were working on.
Those are the books we've selected for the next year's reading. What is your book group reading in 2015?