BOOK SISTERS meets Monday nights throughout the year at 6:30pm to 8pm in Room B5. Expect lively conversation as we review contemporary and classic books related to our lives and the world around us. Members volunteer to partner with one another to lead discussions. See upcoming Book Sisters dates and book selections below. Contact Sally Davies for more information or visit the Facebook private group and request to join.
January 15 | The Lonely Hearts Book Club by Lucy Gilmore
Sloane Parker lives a small, contained life as librarian in a small, contained town. She never thinks of herself as lonely, but she looks forward to the time every day when old Arthur McLachlan comes to browse the shelves and cheerfully insult her. Their sparring is such a highlight of her day that when Arthur doesn’t show up one morning, she’s concerned. And then another day passes, and another.
Facilitators: Sally Davies and Vicki Sledge
February 26 | The Ride of Her Life by Elizabeth Letts
In 1954, 63-year-old Maine farmer Annie Wilkins embarked on an impossible journey. With no money and no family, she had lost her farm, and her doctor gave her two years to live. But Annie wanted to see the Pacific Ocean. She headed south with only her ex-racehorse, her mutt, and a belief that Americans would treat a stranger with kindness. She rode more than 4,000 miles, meeting ordinary people and celebrities, and receiving many offers – of homes, jobs and marriage.
Facilitators: Paula Mathison and Beth Robinson
APRIL 8 | The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles
Paris 1939: Odile Souchet has it all: a handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, she stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her library. Montana 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager whose interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor’s past, she finds they share a love of language and the same longings, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them.
Facilitators: Dottie Wills and OPEN
MAY 20 | Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau
In 1970s Baltimore, 14-year-old Mary Jane loves cooking with her mom, singing in the choir, and enjoying her family’s subscription to Broadway Showtunes of the Month Club. Shy and bookish, she lands a summer job as nanny for the daughter of a local doctor. A respectable job, Mary Jane’s mother says. In a respectable house. The house may look respectable, but inside it’s a mess. The doctor is a psychiatrist who has cleared his summer for one job – helping a famous rock star dry out.
Facilitators: Harriet Martin and Anne Weger
JUNE 24 | Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson
Eleanor Bennett’s death leaves behind a puzzling inheritance for her two children, Byron and Benny: a black cake, made from a recipe with a history, and a voice recording. In her message, Eleanor shares a story about a young swimmer who escapes her home under suspicion of murder. The tale, the secrets, and the mystery of a lost child challenge what the siblings thought they knew.
Facilitators: Susan Bennett and Carol Gallman
August 5 | The Spectacular by Fiona Davis
Marion knows she should be happy. Her high school sweetheart is about to propose and sweep her off to life in the suburbs. But Marion feels trapped and exchanges her predictable future for the dazzling life of a Rockette. Meanwhile, the city reels from a string of bombings orchestrated by a person the press has nicknamed “Big Apple Bomber.” The police turn to a young doctor who espouses a radical new technique: psychological profiling. As he and Marion are pulled into the police search, she realizes she needs to take a terrifying risk. In doing so, she may be forced to sacrifice everything she’s worked for, as well as the people she loves the most.
Facilitators: Judy Heike and OPEN
September 16 | Horse: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks
A discarded painting, a skeleton in an attic, and the greatest racehorse in American history become elements in a story of spirit, obsession, and injustice. Kentucky 1850: An enslaved groom and a foal forge a bond of understanding that will carry the horse to record-setting victories. New York City 1954: A gallery owner becomes obsessed with a 19th-century equestrian oil painting. Washington D.C. 2019: Jess, a Smithsonian scientist, and Theo, an art historian, find themselves unexpectedly connected through their shared interest in the horse – one studying its bones, the other uncovering its history. Based on the true story of the record-breaking thoroughbred Lexington, Horse is a novel of art and science, love and obsession, and our unfinished reckoning with racism.
Facilitators: Jan Johnson and Jarren Mohanna
October 28 | Homecoming by Kate Morton
It’s Christmas Eve 1959 in a small town in Australia, and Isabel wants to get her large family out of the house for a picnic. Her husband is travelling, and she’s struggling to be the doting mother she’s expected to be. Tragedy strikes, and no one in that small town is ever the same again. Fast forward to 2018: young Jess discovers that her grandmother fell when climbing to her attic. Jess is eager to understand why Nora was intent on going there, and how she can piece together an old family tragedy.
December 9 | Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing: A Memoir by Matthew Perry
In an extraordinary story that only he could tell, Matthew Perry lays bare the fractured family that raised him, the desire for recognition that drove him to fame, and the void inside him that could not be filled even by his dreams coming true. But he also details the peace he found in sobriety and the ubiquity of Friends, sharing stories about castmates and other stars he met along the way. Frank, self-aware, and with his trademark humor, Perry vividly depicts his lifelong battle with addiction and what fueled it, despite seemingly having it all. This unforgettable memoir is both intimate and eye-opening – as well as a hand extended to anyone struggling with sobriety.
Facilitators: Mary Sue Brown and Colleen Witmer
Lunch Box Ladies
3rd Thursdays | 11:30am – 1:00pm | Room B21
We read and meet to discuss one book per month January-November. We do not meet in December.
Expect a lively discussion of the scheduled book. The facilitator will share information about the author and will prepare some discussion questions to get the ball rolling. Everyone is welcome to share their thoughts and comments about the book. Feel free to bring your own lunch to eat while we meet. Contact Kristina Stacey to join the book club.
DATE CHANGE! January 26, 2024 | Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt, Marin Ireland, et al.
After Tova Sullivan’s husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she’s been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago.
Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn’t dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors—until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova.
Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it’s too late.
Shelby Van Pelt’s debut novel is a gentle reminder that sometimes taking a hard look at the past can help uncover a future that once felt impossible.(368 pages)
February 15, 2024 | The Burning: Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot by Tim Madigan
On the morning of June 1, 1921, a white mob numbering in the thousands marched across the railroad tracks dividing black from white in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and obliterated a black community then celebrated as one of America’s most prosperous. 34 square blocks of Tulsa’s Greenwood community, known then as the Negro Wall Street of America, were reduced to smoldering rubble.
And now, 80 years later, the death toll of what is known as the Tulsa Race Riot is more difficult to pinpoint. Conservative estimates put the number of dead at about 100 (75% of the victims are believed to have been black), but the actual number of casualties could be triple that. The Tulsa Race Riot Commission, formed two years ago to determine exactly what happened, has recommended that restitution to the historic Greenwood Community would be good public policy and do much to repair the emotional as well as physical scars of this most terrible incident in our shared past.
With chilling details, humanity, and the narrative thrust of compelling fiction, The Burning will recreate the town of Greenwood at the height of its prosperity, explore the currents of hatred, racism, and mistrust between its black residents and neighboring Tulsa’s white population, narrate events leading up to and including Greenwood’s annihilation, and document the subsequent silence that surrounded the tragedy. (321 pages)
March 21, 2024 | Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this powerful debut novel reveals an incredible story of love, redemption, and terrible secrets that were hidden for decades.
New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.
An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.
For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power. The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten. (496 pages)
April 18,2024 | Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results.
But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.
Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist. (390 pages)
May 16, 2024 | The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks
With more than two million copies of her novels sold, New York Times bestselling author Geraldine Brooks has achieved both popular and critical acclaim. Now, Brooks takes on one of literature’s richest and most enigmatic figures: a man who shimmers between history and legend. Peeling away the myth to bring David to life in Second Iron Age Israel, Brooks traces the arc of his journey from obscurity to fame, from shepherd to soldier, from hero to traitor, from beloved king to murderous despot and into his remorseful and diminished dotage.
The Secret Chord provides new context for some of the best-known episodes of David’s life while also focusing on others, even more remarkable and emotionally intense, that have been neglected. We see David through the eyes of those who love him or fear him—from the prophet Natan, voice of his conscience, to his wives Mikhal, Avigail, and Batsheva, and finally to Solomon, the late-born son who redeems his Lear-like old age. Brooks has an uncanny ability to hear and transform characters from history, and this beautifully written, unvarnished saga of faith, desire, family, ambition, betrayal, and power will enthrall her many fans. (320 pages)
June 20, 2024 | Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
Set in the mountains of southern Appalachia, Demon Copperhead is the story of a boy born to a teenaged single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father’s good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. Relayed in his own unsparing voice, Demon braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, derelict schools, athletic success, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Through all of it, he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even the superheroes have abandoned rural people in favor of cities.
Many generations ago, Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield from his experience as a survivor of institutional poverty and its damages to children in his society. Those problems have yet to be solved in ours. Dickens is not a prerequisite for listeners of this novel, but he provided its inspiration. In transposing a Victorian epic novel to the contemporary American South, Barbara Kingsolver enlists Dickens’ anger and compassion, and above all, his faith in the transformative powers of a good story. Demon Copperhead speaks for a new generation of lost boys, and all those born into beautiful, cursed places they can’t imagine leaving behind. (560 pages)
July 18, 2024 | Verity by Colleen Hoover
Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.
Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of the night her family was forever altered.
Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents could devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue loving her. (336 pages)
August 15, 2024 | Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.
Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. One of her relatives was shot. Another was poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more Osage were dying under mysterious circumstances, and many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered.
As the death toll rose, the newly created FBI took up the case, and the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to try to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including a Native American agent who infiltrated the region, and together with the Osage began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history. (416 pages)
September 19, 2024 | Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
From the best-selling author of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom.
These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won’t protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.
Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. (416 pages)
October 17, 2024 | Don’t Forget to Write by Sara Goodman Confino
In 1960, a young woman discovers a freedom she never knew existed in this exhilarating, funny, and emotional novel by the bestselling author of She’s Up to No Good.
When Marilyn Kleinman is caught making out with the rabbi’s son in front of the whole congregation, her parents ship her off to her great-aunt Ada for the summer. If anyone can save their daughter’s reputation, it’s Philadelphia’s strict premier matchmaker. Either that or Marilyn can kiss college goodbye.
To Marilyn’s surprise, Ada’s not the humorless septuagenarian her mother described. Not with that platinum-blonde hair, Hermès scarf, and Cadillac convertible. She’s sharp, straight-talking, takes her job very seriously, and abides by her own rules…mostly. As the summer unfolds, Ada and Marilyn head for the Jersey shore, where Marilyn helps Ada scope out eligible matches―for anyone but Marilyn, that is.
Because if there’s one thing Marilyn’s learned from Ada, it’s that she doesn’t have to settle. With the school year quickly approaching and her father threatening to disinherit her, Marilyn must make her choice for her future: return to the comfortable life she knows or embrace a risky, unknown path on her own. (334 pages)
November, 21, 2024 | The Book of Rosy: A Mother’s Story of Separation at the Border by Rosayra Pablo Cruz and Julie Schwietert Collazo
Compelling and urgently important, The Book of Rosy is the unforgettable story of one brave mother and her fight to save her family.
When Rosayra “Rosy” Pablo Cruz made the agonizing decision to seek asylum in the United States with two of her children, she knew the journey would be arduous, dangerous, and quite possibly deadly. But she had no choice: violence—from gangs, from crime, from spiraling chaos—was making daily life hell. Rosy knew her family’s one chance at survival was to flee Guatemala and go north.
After a brutal journey that left them dehydrated, exhausted, and nearly starved, Rosy and her two little boys arrived at the Arizona border. Almost immediately they were seized and forcibly separated by government officials under the Department of Homeland Security’s new “zero tolerance” policy. To her horror Rosy discovered that her flight to safety had only just begun.
In The Book of Rosy, with an unprecedented level of sharp detail and soulful intimacy, Rosy tells her story, aided by Julie Schwietert Collazo, founder of Immigrant Families Together, the grassroots organization that reunites mothers and children. She reveals the cruelty of the detention facilities, the excruciating pain of feeling her children ripped from her arms, the abiding faith that staved off despair—and the enduring friendship with Julie, which helped her navigate the darkness and the bottomless Orwellian bureaucracy.
A gripping account of the human cost of inhumane policies, The Book of Rosy is also a paean to the unbreakable will of people united by true love, a sense of justice, and hope for a better future. (256 pages)