Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

Fifteen members were at our monthly discussion for The Aviator's Wife, about the story of Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  Members said "Great choice and loved the book.  Charles was larger than life character" and "Thought it was going to be a dry non-fiction book, actually it was fiction, enjoyed it very much."   One person said she liked the voice the author gave the characters, being that she was from Minnesota had heard about Charles Lindbergh but hadn't read much.  A school librarian (now retired) said she really liked the book and was amazed how well Melanie Benjamin had taken the information she had gathered and compared it to reading a non-fiction book.

One member said she, like others had mentioned, gained a lot of information about the Lindberghs through this book.  "I had no idea she was a skilled pilot."  Many of us remembered and had read the book A Gift from the Sea. The group learned she was the 1st Woman Glider Pilot in 1931. {We also learned Emily Howell Warner, USA, was the first woman to be hired as a major airline pilot -- Frontier Airlines.}

We saw Anne as her father had called her "reliable Anne," always obedient but very strong to recognize her own strength.  When Charles went off on his flights without her she ran the household and when he left on his frequent trips to Germany, she managed it all.  She had strength like her mother had, was independent.  We talked about the abduction of their child, how that affected their whole family.

One member said she was "disappointed, heard in history class of a great American hero, disappointed in some of his choices" and felt a little by the group.  One member felt he possibly had some autism spectrum issues going on, but was definitely a very military trained man. Anne always tried to protect his public persona and what she thought he should be remembered for.   Some felt that he chose Anne because she was a part of the "crew" and a very obedient spouse.

"But the eyes are blind.  One must look with the heart" is a quote from the front of the book. "Charles had taught Anne to follow Polaris, the brightest star, never wavering and that's how she remembered him. She knew bad things, but was looking with her heart, choosing to see the good things," is what someone shared.

Many of us love these historical fictions and this one did not disappoint us in the least. and some expressed that they would like to read more about Charles and Anne Lindbergh.  We thought it was well-written and although disappointed to hear about Charles' other events in his life, he was still the first person to cross the Atlantic Ocean from New York to Paris.  I think we enjoyed reading and knowing his wife was there, always to support and lead him, a strength to the end.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Moloka'l by Alan Brennert

Sixteen members participated in the discussion of Moloka'i at the Park Grove Library in October.  EVERYONE liked it and had varied reasons they liked it.

"Beautiful cover, very attractive and made me want to pick it up" someone said. "I would have never picked it up but I loved it."  "Liked the main character and the story through her eyes." "It was well-written" said another.  One member said they wished he had talked about more of the effects of the disease on those affected by leprosy or Hansen's Disease.  There was a lot of research that went into this book, someone mentioned, and another said the author "made everything very vivid, you could see how they looked with leprosy. It was tough for me to read, almost too vivid.  Loved all the characters, but I can see why someone was very afraid."  "I wanted to find out what happened to Rachel, it was so real to me, even though it was fiction, this was what real people had happen to them" another commented.

The historical fiction about the leper colony on the Hawaiian Island Moloka'i were hard to read from some of the members perspective.  One said "having a 5 year old taken away from her family was tough."  Another said "I couldn't understand mother's reaction, was heart-broken over it, but understood that she had to do it for her other children."

We talked about how we experienced in our own way, very contagious diseases and the quarantine that has gone on around us, how isolated we felt.  One person was hospitalized and had to have everyone around them gowned & gloved, and upon going home did not have contact with other family members, isolated in her bedroom.  Others talked about having measles and quarantined.  We also talked about the fear of disease and how they must have felt that back in this time periods.  Our fears included H1N1, measles, polio, Ebola and even Aids.

We were glad for the workers that came to the Island to care for those who were diseased and they were not.  There were many that helped make sure the whole island and the people were taken care of.

Rachel found family where ever she was, with the young girls who she shared the facility with and Sister Catherine to Uncle Pono and Haleola.  Having Rachel connect with her sister at the end was so good and then her daughter Ruth.  "She always had family, she had that as a child and maintained that all her life.  She was easy to love" someone said.  Great story to read!


Two women thought it would be interesting to start a book club through the Park Grove Library Branch in 2006 and with the staff, they did it!  AND WE ARE GLAD THEY DID!  Those two members, Diane & Char, and two other charter members of the Park Grove Book Club are still a strong part of the book club that has about 20 members to this day.  {one person missing from pic}

Knowing that we have read 100 books and wanted to celebrate, the library staff worked to collect as many of the 100 books and had almost all of them!  Their display was a wonderful sight to see and celebrate!

Before our book club discussion, the current book club members were photographed!  The South Washington County Bulletin took this picture and published it in the paper in October.  They had mentioned, in the paper, that the four charter members had read all 100 books.  I asked Diane & Char if they have read all 100, and Char & Diane answered - they have!  What a feat to have read all 100 books.  If she is unable to be at Book Club she will email her thoughts to our group about a book we discussed.  Even through traveling, the book club has a draw, a connection.   

To those of us and you who have been a part of this book club, you have shared your thoughts, your joys, your excitement and your disappointment many times over.  We have shared laughter, tears, thoughts from our soul and connected with the authors' stories we have read over the years.  We have developed friendships and helped each other through struggling times in our lives.  Connecting through books, through words and through each other lives, we have made a group that is in itself "a story."  


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Fifteen members were at Book Club this month to discuss Goldfinch.  As we went around the table with our answer to did we like the book, many said they hadn't finished it, some hadn't even started; the thoughts on this Pulitzer Prize Fiction 2014 winner were diverse not only for the dark subject matter but because of the length of the book.  At the end, with some of those comments, many said, "I'm glad I read it."

One member said she had a "love/hate relationship with the book.  She loved the author and her descriptions, life long friends, but hated the content, it was so dark, so heavy."  She did, though, love the goldfinch print and ordered a copy of it online.  Another person said "it was the longest, darkest, heaviest book she's read and didn't like drugs and language, not something we've experienced." This is one person that said, "glad I read it."  "Cheer up things can't get any worse and it did" one person said, "liked the author didn't like the book."  Someone said "I had the hardest time reading a book this long, other than Gone with the Wind. Like it or not?  I didn't like it; I can appreciate it."  Our leader for this book said she chose it because it received a Pulitzer Prize, but she said "I just wonder why it got it!  A lot needs to be chopped out."

"I liked it" a member said there were quirky characters. She had read it a year ago but couldn't read the whole book again, she couldn't finish it the second time.  "In the end, I did like it -- I found the plot interesting, the characters interesting, but wish they had cut out the big chunk.  I didn't need 20-50 more instances to know it was a problem."  One member said she "really liked the book, the length was a little 'off putting' but felt by the end of the book I knew who the people were.  I couldn't put it down."  Reading the book on a long trip, one person said she liked the actors that were reading the parts.  She said she had started reading but got into it more listening.  It was 27 disks, each one over an hour.

Discussion was about parts of the book like the engagement scene -- the cocktail party kept ramping up a level of tension and you knew something is going to happen, someone said.   Sometimes in order to convey emotion or tension, that was what was happening.  "It hit a nerve, he is feeling I was feeling."  Someone said they don't remember mother having emotional time.  Her love of the painting came when she was a child.  She use to just lay down and look at it for hours.  Discussed about the painting being a sham.

Leon Wieseltier said "But if a serious book really catches on, it may be less important that its strictly literary quality is not as great as one might have hoped and more important that it's touched a nerve, that it is driven by some deep human subject and some true human need."  I think it did that for many of the readers in our club.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

The group of eleven book club members varied on whether they liked the book or were frustrated with it.  One member could not finish it .  One person said they liked "the author's descriptive writing style" and another said she liked "the short chapters and that the story was told from a variety of perspectives."  One person said "they had a hard time getting into the story, though she agreed that the writer was able to craft colorful descriptions of characters and settings."  One member found the cast of characters interesting, also and another said the strong female characters were appealing.  Some of the members said that they were disappointed with the ending, and another said she was frustrated with the lack of closure in the ending.  One member said was a good effort for a first time author.

There were three themes members noted through the story.  The first was the interweaving of tenderness and violence, cowardice and courage.  The second theme was the exploration of the difference between solitude and loneliness and the third was how traumatizing experiences early in life affect the remainder of one’s years.

One thing that some found frustrating was how the failure to communicate resulted in so many avoidable problems. For instance, Talmadge often withheld information from Angelene, supposedly to shelter her. But it ended up causing her far more angst than the truth would have had he been more forthcoming.
One member pointed out that the Nez Pearce Indians seemed accurately portrayed. They traditionally were very good with horses, and were partial to Appaloosas.

Thanks again to one member who brought apples, plums, and apliums (a cross between an apple and a plum) to share. Very much in keeping with the orchard theme of our book! Another also treated us to some of the harvest from her garden, in the form of delicious chocolate chip zucchini cookies.

A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison

What a great discussion we had with this book.  It brought out the discussion of sex slavery which is prevalent all through out the world.  There were fourteen of us at book club, one person didn't read it, but all of us thought it was a good book to read and learn from.  It was very well written, someone shared and we agreed.

One person commented "How helpless the girls were, they  have no control over their future, lose faith."  The author could have been more graphic and he didn't go there; it is horrifying on it's own, it doesn't need help."  Another said that if it gets too graphic I'm not reading it, but she said the instant they lost their parents, wanted to find out what happened.  Someone said "I love books about India, colorful with foods & smells, do I want more description of the horrible things?"  

The question many of us had was "what can we do about this?"  "The girls are like commodities, they just keep on giving and in this book, they all came out ok."  This book raises awareness of the issue and we can talk and have conversations about it.  "You can get invested in it, and see from their heart that things need to change."  The women were also supporting each other a lot of times in this book.  

We liked the storyline with Thomas in it.  We talked about him not having control over his daughters death and then witnessing the kidnapping, but there was control in what he was doing with this search.  We liked that the author added the quote "Someone once asked Mother Teresa how she dealt with world poverty.  Do you know what she said?  'You do the thing that's in front of you."

We liked the blue lotus flower that Ahalya planted for Sita.  It means purity, rebirth, divinity, unstained and awakening to spiritual reality.  Ahalya gave her baby the name of the lotus flower.  We liked that Thomas had a bracelet, a daily reminder, a brother - to forge on to find Sita.   

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Cross Gardener by Jason F Wright

Park Grove Book Club's June evening was spent on the Mississippi River at one of our gracious members home.  Potluck goodies were shared with a few "apples" sprinkled among the feast.  Thirteen members attended and most liked the book (8) with some (5) rating it with a neutral review.

One member said "Didn't want to read it cause I lived that life, just started it and continued to read and wanted to see who the cross gardener was.  I read it in 24 hours."  Another "Glad I didn't read the cover, liked it until I read about the car accident and it felt like a movie at Hallmark Channel."  "I thought it was 'spiritual fluff' on grief and what to do.  Father wasn't paying attention to his daughter.  Wasn't in the mood for grieving." "Wanted to hear more about the characters in the story" another member said about the book.

Two of the wives of the orchardists left the farm.  We loved Emma Jane and glad she was a part of the orchard.  We talked about the women in the book.  "Women couldn't give life, the orchard was the giver of life, brings him back to life.  Also hard work centers yourself.  The cycle picks you up and carries you through." someone shared.

There were different ways people were shown grieving in the book.  Was interesting to see his in-laws at the cemetery.  He realized that he's not the only one.  "Grief is overwhelming, you can't see it."

We talked about the first part of the book, "life was too rosy I knew something was going to happen."  We wondered who the Cross Gardener was.  A couple people in the group had it all figured out, and most of us where wondering how they knew!  

It was a good discussion on grief, how we each grieve differently with our losses and the journey we take with it.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

May brought us the end of the school days (well, almost) and a journey that would be an inspiration to those who read this month's book club book "Wild From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail."  Seventeen members attending this discussion at the Park Grove Branch Library (Washington County Library Book Club, in Cottage Grove, MN). Most everyone gave it a positive review, with a few "mixed."

"Well written, I hope I can achieve something like this in my life" one of our members said, and another added "Wish I was brave enough (to have an adventure like this) maybe when I was younger I would have, now I'm not in shape."  "Admire her perseverance through childhood and through the choices she made.  She made them and she owned them" another participant shared, adding "Would have liked to have heard more about nature."  Another added, about the choices made "Her choices weren't always good, but she was honest about them, I admire she stayed with her mother all that time."

"Last October saw Cheryl's talk at Concordia College in St. Paul, it was just like sitting down having a conversation with her, she's very warm and comfortable."  Another said "Saw Cheryl, saw movie, read book.  She is very open, she shared but wasn't in a shameful way.  It was like she was running way.  Have you ever tried to run away?  Did you have everything thought out ahead of time?"

A few members have been to the area where Cheryl walked, on the Pacific Coast Trail.  Another person said they backpacked the Rockies, "tied themselves together through the snow stuff."  Another took "Amtrak and stayed at hostels along the route from San Diego to Seattle.  It felt good to meet people and sharing.  I've done that, watching people eat, like Cheryl.  So hungry."  Another said she has hiked Glacier in bear country, "you need to talk and sing as you go.  It took courage for her to go by herself."

We talked about the point of view of walking and grief.  She was at such a low point in her life, she didn't need to go to the Boundary Waters, she needed to go to some place distant."  She was in "deep grief and had to do something."   "The world moves very fast, walking is slow, getting inside your head is good."  "The cure for grief is motion."  "She may have been different if she stayed at home."

One person said that about hiking by yourself, the hardest is the solitude and being by yourself, but how restorative it is to be in nature.  Another member shared "Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv reflects the different aspects of what loss of nature can give you -- insomnia, obesity, health issues with kids not getting outside in nature.  They are wired.  Excellent source as what is happening to our kids." Another said "there is a comfort of living with woods, connection to the land."

We talked at length about Cheryl's choices, "while remorseful she never felt ashamed."  We talked about the incident when she had to put her family's horse down.  She didn't have the money to do this.  Was it a sign of strength or character?  "It is what it is, I can own it and move on." someone said. "Buck up Buttercup" was a saying her mom use to tell her.

There was so much discussed about this book and the adventure Cheryl Wild had throughout her life so far.  Many members had read the book twice, some have heard Cheryl talk, and some have watched the movie.  We could have discussed this book for a couple of hours more.  I hope our members add their thoughts to this discussion below.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Tuesday, May 26 Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Please join us for discussion of Cheryl Strayed's book this month.  We are going to meet at a members house in June, you are welcomed to join us, but please contact the Park Grove Library for more information. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Thirteen members liked, loved or enjoyed the book this month.  They liked the love between two women in very different society. One member said she loved the "interplay between the characters Hetty and Sarah" and that it went over the course of their life as they grew and changed.

One member said half way through the book she had to look up the amazing facts based in the book and doesn't remember reading about abolishment in school.  Another said it jaded her because she didn't know a lot about slavery other than what we have read with books.  Hetty (Handful) and the other slaves were so bold and so strong.  One incident that struck a few members was when Charlotte refused to step out of the way for a white woman.

A former teacher in our group said that she enjoyed reading the book because it made the story fun, you were able to get the conversation.  One member said she found it interesting to read about the quilt made by Charlotte.  One member said she wasn't too fond of another book Kidd wrote, The Secret Life of Bees, but this one she couldn't put down.

Someone read this from page 96, Handful (Hetty)  in the hardcover novel second paragraph: "It was early in the springtime, and the tree buds were popping open while we sat there.  Those days I did a lot of fretting and fraying.  I was watching Miss Sarah in society, how she wore her finery and going whichever way she pleased.  She was wanting  to get a husband soon and leave.  The world was a Wilton carpet stretched out for her, and it seemed like the doors had shut on me, and that's not even right --the doors never had opened in the first place.  I was getting old enough to see they never would."  NEVER WOULD tough words to hear.

We talked about Sarah's struggle against her family, society, religion.  She wanted to read, to be a great attorney and then she couldn't read books.  We talked about how Hetty was free in her mind, but Sarah wasn't and she was in a different type of slavery.  Sarah was a product of society, wanted her family to succeed.  Charlotte and Hetty resisted slavery, but Sarah didn't do that (until later).  The Graveyard of failed hopes is an "all-female establishment," Sarah was quoted as she not only fought for abolition of slavery but for women's right.

We talked about "the myth" that people were happy to be slaves.  Do some people really believe that?  They were smiling, content, but some commented they were also filled with fear and they might be sold off.  We talked about 12 Years a Slave which some had seen.

We also talked about slavery is still around, sex slaves even in our area.  It is hard to make an impact.  What do you do?  Raise strong girls.

We could have talked a lot more about this book but we ran out of time.  Some of us mentioned the connection with Gee's Bends quilts which was a play some of us saw "Gee's Bend" a play at Park Square Theatre a few years ago.  To read more of why and what inspired her to write this books click HERE to go to the page.  To read more about the real story of the Grimke sisters click HERE   I also found this link interesting, click HERE

Saturday, April 4, 2015

4.14.15 Book Club Special Edition with Lorna Landvik at Park Grove Library

Lorna Landvik gave the Park Grove Library Book Club a special treat, so we shared treats with others that came to visit and hear her speak.  It was fun, it was entertaining and we learned a secret which we vowed not to share.  We laughed, we were entertained, we reminisced about characters in the book Patty Jane's House of  Curl and we asked questions we were wondering about when we had discussed the book last month.

Two things we have learned from our recent Book Club Special Editions (this one and one late last year with William Kent Krueger):  you have to have perseverance.  Lorna said she had 30 rejections of her first book, this one, and took her three years to get published.

She shared her life journey with us, including going to California to be a stand-up comic which is in her book "BEST TO LAUGH."

She shared with us that when she was in 1st grade--yes, 1st grade, she knew what she wanted to do.  She read Dick & Jane & Spot "I do see spot jump" and knew she wanted to write.  She had an influential 6th grade teacher who would play the piano everyday (inspirational and creative).  She wrote a poem about snow in 6th grade and shared that with us.  It was wonderful.

 Here is the article written in Goodreads:  "How can you compensate those who excite, inspire, build confidence and open doors you didn’t know existed? If it were up to me, the base salary of public school teachers would start at $100,000, with frequent opportunities for advancement. (And cappuccino machines in every teachers’ lounge, on-site masseuses . . . or at the very least a full stock of supplies they didn't have to pay for). 
I have often spoken of Mr. Spaeth, my sixth grade teacher/renaissance man who taught us everything from fractions to presidential history to pirate songs (in a lovely tenor voice). At recess, he was not a teacher to stand back, but a full participant in our games of Bombardment and Kick Ball and catching one of his powerfully-thrown fly balls or tagging him out was a giddy triumph. 
He read to us daily and his encouragement and belief in my own writing, made me believe in it. His inscription, ‘Best of luck for a fine literary career’ was not just written in my autograph book, but in my heart. 
In his class, we listened to a radio program called, ‘Let’s Write’ to which teachers submitted their students’ work. Twice my poems were read over the air and hearing my words coming over the crackly P.A. system absolutely thrilled me (even as my built-in Norwegian-Lutheran modesty propelled me to lean over my desk, cradling my head in my arms). 
Here’s the poem:

I love the feeling of icy snow,
The tingling coldness, the peppermint glow
The skies are dull with a hint of blue
Then down come the snowflakes crisp and new
They drift and float and come a’dancing
I almost hear Rudolph’s swift legs a’ prancing!
But the feel of the flakes is the best of all
Touch me, touch me, they seem to call."

She shared her life journey with us, including going to California to be a stand-up comic which is in her book "BEST TO LAUGH."

Sharing her process of writing "Patty Jane's House of Curl" was so interesting.  She had Patty Jane and Harriet in her head before she had started the story-line.  We asked questions and received many fun answers about her writing and the book.

When introduced, one of book club members shared that Lorna Landvik was the most read author during our almost 100 books read at Park Grove Library Book Club.  We have read Tall Pines Polka, Angry Housewives eating BonBons and this last one, Patty Jane's House of Curl.  We have enjoyed her fun style of writing and that she is a local author.

It was a treat to have her join us for our Book Club Special Edition and thanks are to be given to the Park Grove Branch Library for allowing us to have this event and to the Washington County Library System.

Patty Jane's House of Curl by Lorna Landvik

Eight members of the book club were able to share their thoughts on this month's selection and "like" was what most felt about it, with one saying they loved it.  Some had never read her books before, some had read some of her books before and one person had read this book before!  One member said it was "fun to read," another said "it was light hearted," and one person said "it was interesting, provocative."  One member said that it took her 30-40 pages before she could get into the book.

One member said that she could connect with the location of the storyline. We loved that it was in the area, I think a lot of us could see the big house at the end of the story.  We had a good discussion on where women meet to talk, do we even do that anymore?  Where do we connect with other women and meet others?  The beauty shop isn't what it use to be.  We discussed about one aunt's beauty shop in a small town. Community Centers, like the one in Inver Grove or Cottage Grove Senior Center or coffee shops are places now where we meet others -- or Book Clubs!

We had a discussion about Thor leaving (one person found it frustrating and she said "I don't get the Crazy Lady who kidnapped Thor) and about Avel's death (one member said I lost my husband suddenly and I cried throughout).  We talked about Nora saying "until I can handle things, I'll pretend I can handle things" and how we do that in our own life at times.

We were enjoyed the "uffda" and Ione in the story.  We were so glad she was able to travel and see the world.  One member said "Ione reminded me of my mother-in-law" with the way she was more 'closed' until later in life she opened up more.

We found some parts of the book interesting. Someone liked in Ch 14 Inky suggestions box note about subscribing to better magazines "True Confessions is cheaper than National Geographic."  One member said "As a young teen we would sneak into my friends moms bedroom and read those."  Another liked the "Bills Hardware Calendar" as that was important to communities many years ago and some people still want them, have to have them!  Those who are from out of state loved that Lorna Landvik in the novel, just referred to the University of MN as the "U."  Why of course we Minnesota born and bred didn't even think about it.  We all refer to it as the "U" but those from out of state have a "U" where they were from.

We liked the part of Harriet's singing voice and we talked about how Harriet "faced her ghost" and almost cost her her own life.  Patty Jane was close to losing it, but Clyde Chuka saved her.  What causes one person do do one thing but not another we discussed.  How resilient are you?  In Ch 13 we liked the part where Clyde Chuka says:  "We're allotted one great love--and some of us are lucky enough to find it.  That love is sort of our pilot light and when it goes out...then it's out for good."  But when Patty Jane and Clyde Chuka finally connect and she finds Thor Clyde asks "So would you have turned off your pilot light?" Patty Jane smoothed the lines etched into Clyde's forehead "I would  have told him I'd switched to electric." (Ch23).

We have some questions to ask when Lorna Landvik visits our library soon (we are all so excited) and one we wrote "Did she know when she started the book, that Avel was going to die?"  So looking forward to our visit!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

A dozen members were able to share in the discussion of "Unbroken:An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive."  Most enthusiastically liked the book, a couple were more tepid and all agreed it was heavy reading. One member said "I loved it, I couldn't put it down." Another initially bought it as a gift for a family member and found herself hooked going out to get her own copy. As a runner herself, another said she was enthralled by the running aspects of the story. One person said she resisted reading “Unbroken” because she wondered what all the fuss was about, then read it and was riveted. One member said the book was ok, having read Hillenbrand’s “Seabiscuit” also and thought both were too "wordy."

Reading Unbroken left many wondering how much abuse someone can take and survive, it left some members unable to sleep, and some having to put it down at times because of how dark it became. One person commented "I marveled at what it would take to render myself able to deliver the level of curelty born upon Louis Zamperini, and how much would I be able to take in his position." 
One member found Louis’ tale a gripping one, especially the whole experience adrift at sea in the Pacific. Her father was a gunner on a tanker in the Pacific during WWII. He returned shell shocked and ashamed. Her father-in-law was a Pacific scout during the war and never talked about his experiences. He and his wife had separate beds because he would sometimes vigorously thrash at night after returning home.  

All the research Laura Hillenbrand did was amazing along with the great index information. The beginning of the book layed out the foundation of his youth, which one member said shows that a juvenile troublemaker can work through his issues and even become a hero. Others shared that the Olympic training taught him to focus, to be persistent and probably gave Louis the thought that he couldn’t envision anything but winning. "He had the tenacity to push to win at all costs." 

One reader said it gave her an appreciation for the "Greatest Generation." We were surprised by how horrific the statistics of the war was. The plane Superman had 500 plus bullets in the Battle of Nobu. One member shared pictures that her father-in-law had taken of the planes while he was in the Pacific. The Minnesota History Center "Greatest Generation" exhibit has a WWII fighter plane with combat sounds and flashing lights so you can experience what they may have felt and heard. The discussion among the group marveled at how flight crews relied on each other and had to carry on with replacements when their crew suffered loss. 

Several in the group were astounded that we hadn’t heard of this tale sooner. Why? The consensus was that there were so many stories, everyone simply did what needed to be done and everyone sacrificed. As a result, war experiences weren’t discussed as anything exceptional. And society in general tended to keep quiet about war experiences. Several noted family members who experienced dramatic events in and around WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War and rarely, if ever, spoke of that time.

 A member said there are online videos conducted by University of Southern California with interviews of Louis Zamperini and another shared that the Billy Graham Foundation is going to make a film concentrating on the redemption aspects of the story. We found that part of the story fascinating, what an impression Billy Graham had on his life. We were glad to read this book and learn so much about the sacrifices made during the war, Louis story from his youth to his old age and his ability to succeed through all the horrific acts done to him.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


Park Grove Library is sponsoring a Winter Jacket Author Event with Woodbury author Christopher Valen.  His new book Death's Way is the 5th of his John Santana mystery series, which takes place in St. Paul.

AND....rumor has it that Lorna Landvik is coming to visit Park Grove Library through a special Book Club Edition in April.  Date is still pending.  We will be reading her book, Patty Jane's House of Curl in March and moving The Mockingbird Next Door: Life w/Harper Lee by Marja Mills to the end of our list (although now with the new sequel by Harper Lee to come out, we might have to move this one up!)  

If you were able to visit us with our December Book Club Special Edition with William Kent Krueger and thought you might enjoy our book club, we welcome you with open arms.  Please join us on any of the upcoming book club discussions or author visits supported by Park Grove Library.

Tuesday, Febraury 24 "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand will be discussed.  Join us for this popular book!


2.24   Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand
3.24   Patty Jane's House of Curl Lorna Landvik
4.28   The Invention of Wings Sue Monk Kidd
5.26   Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail Cheryl Strayed
6.23   The Cross Gardener Jason F. Wright
7.28   A Walk Across the Sun Corban Addison
8.25   The Orchardist Amanda Coplin
9.22   The Goldfinch Donna Taft
10.27 Moloda'l Alan Brennert
11.17 The Aviator's Wife Melanie Benjamin
12.15 Little Heathens:  Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm Mildred Armstrong Kalish
1.26   A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Betty Smith
2.23   All the Light We Cannot See Anthony Doerr
3.22   The Fault in Our Stars John Green
4.26   The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie:A Flavia de Luce Novel Alan Bradley
5.24   Shotgun Love Songs Nikolas Butler
6.28   The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Deborah Moggach
7.26   A Confederacy of Dunces John Kennedy Toole
9.27   Lucky Us Amy Bloom
10.25 The Mockingbird Next Door: Life w/Harper Lee Marja Mills

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Star for Mrs. Blake by April Smith

Our January meeting had a dozen of us discussing this historical fiction of a program the United States Government started shortly after WWI called "Gold Star Mothers pilgrimage."  One person stated they thought the book was going to be dry, not very interesting, but the novel immediately had brought me in.  Another said they got caught up in it, read it really fast and really enjoyed it.  One member said it brought out racism, how it was for women back then, the discrimination. Ten members loved the book, one liked it and one was neutral in their view.

Our leader for the book, choose this because she was downloading the library media program and choose a book right away on the list, A Star for Mrs. Blake.  She said "I wouldn't have read it, but by serendipity it served well and was a good book."  We all agreed.

We talked about the time that these women went.  Here many were suffering the effects of the depression and they are now in a fancy hotel and with food that is above anything they would have back home.  We talked about that when their soldier sons died, these women had been asked if they would like to bring their sons home.  Many probably couldn't afford the burial.

The storyline involves women who were diverse, including their age difference, some were immigrants, they were of different faith and some had more money than others.  One woman in the group in the beginning was, Selma, a Black seamstress.  We learned in the story about the segregation back then and a few of us mentioned we missed hearing more about Selma.

Someone in the group mentioned this from the book "Doesn't matter who you are, Black, White, Jewish, Catholic -- doesn't mater -- we are all going to die." {I couldn't find it in the book, but if someone from our group knows where it is they could post it in the comments.}  They were in this mission to find out about where their sons died and where they were buried.

We are introduced to many characters in the story, Linwood, Hammond, Lily, Perkins, Griffin Reed besides the ladies on their pilgrimage.  We talked about the secrets that many carried through out the story:  Cora -- her son's father; Bobbie's -- heart condition; Griffin -- his mask; Katie -- shameful about not being able to afford bringing both sons home; Lily -- the kiss Perkins gave her; Hammond -- his path chosen but did he really want to be in the military?  We talked about the characters and what happened at the end of the novel.
Cora was a great character in the story and we talked about her experience with many characters in the book.  Will she go back to Linwood?  Does she know that Griffin doesn't make it back to the States?  What will her life be like with her grandson?  Faith was a part of this story.  We saw faith by the military in taking meticulous care of their soldiers (even the women on the pilgrimages).  Faith in humanity, the people cared for the fallen soldiers graves.  And finally, faith in the shared experiences, a bond, even though there were many differences.

The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith

More treats in December!  A member hosted our evening discussion and we all brought an appetizer to share and even, a book to pass along if we wanted.

We had a great discussion by an author who is well-published, 100 books to his name our discussion leader has shared.  There are 15 books to this series (16 counting a different version of the #1 book).

The series takes place in the country of Botswana, just above South Africa. The main character in the story is Mma Ramotswe, proprietor of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.  Most liked the book and we had quite a good discussion with it.  One person said they liked the "respecting elders and good manners" that are a part of this book, but imagine part of Botswana, and they liked that women aren't oppressed by their husbands.  Mr. JLB was a kind man and represents the men well in Botswana.  He had high ethical standards in his business.

We liked how they often had 'Bush Tea' and even in the hot summer days they sat under a tree and had hot tea, considered it to be a pleasantry offered to guests.  We liked this, and someone said it is like time to relax, to just talk.  Life is slow and simple and enjoyable there someone shared.  "It wouldn't fit in New York."  Someone said that the community is "so generous, so straightforward, they take care of each other.  Don't have all the drama."  Another member stated they enjoyed reading the book because it was this way, it was a great place to "get away."  Someone said they also liked the simplicity of the book, they felt like they were in the country, listening to them speak (which is how the author wrote the book).  Another said they liked how simple life was.

We liked the characters in the book and how Mma Ramotswe was influenced by her past, by her father.   A member shared this line from the book and we nodded in agreement.  “We find what we are looking for in life, her father had once said to her, which was true--if you look for happiness, you will see it; if you look for distrust and envy and hatred--all those things--you will find those too.”
Alexander McCall Smith, The Full Cupboard of Life