Our next pick is The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda.
Our next book club will be April 2nd at 8:00PM on Zoom.
The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda (346 pages)
At a birthday party on a sweltering day in the 1970s, 17 people consume poisoned sake and soft drinks that were delivered as a gift to the wealthy Aosawa family. Only the blind daughter of the household, Hisako Aosawa, doesn’t partake. Instead, she sits and listens as everyone around her moans, vomits and dies in agony. Who instigated this massacre? Why? How? You will finish Onda’s “The Aosawa Murders” more puzzled than you began, and that’s the beauty of this stubbornly nonlinear novel.
Indeed, why should answers to mysteries that implicate and devastate scores of people over decades ever come easily? “The Aosawa Murders” all but demands rereading. Fortunately, that’s no hardship. After turning the last page, it’s a delight to plunge back into the dark, intoxicating world Onda conjures and discover pieces of the puzzle that you missed the first time.
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (210 pages)
When Elwood Curtis, a black boy growing up in 1960s Tallahassee, is unfairly sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, he finds himself trapped in a grotesque chamber of horrors. Elwood’s only salvation is his friendship with fellow “delinquent” Turner, which deepens despite Turner’s conviction that Elwood is hopelessly naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. As life at the Academy becomes ever more perilous, the tension between Elwood’s ideals and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Based on the real story of a reform school that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers.
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart (384 pages)
The body–especially the body in pain–blazes on the pages of Shuggie Bain . . . This is the world of Shuggie Bain, a little boy growing up in Glasgow in the 1980s. And this is the world of Agnes Bain, his glamorous, calamitous mother, drinking herself ever so slowly to death. The wonder is how crazily, improbably alive it all is . . . The book would be just about unbearable were it not for the author’s astonishing capacity for love. He’s lovely, Douglas Stuart, fierce and loving and lovely. He shows us lots of monstrous behavior, but not a single monster–only damage. If he has a sharp eye for brokenness, he is even keener on the inextinguishable flicker of love that remains . . . The book leaves us gutted and marveling: Life may be short, but it takes forever.
A Burning by Megha Majumdar (293 pages)
After witnessing a terrorist attack, Jivan, a poor Muslim woman living in the slums of Kolkata, makes a comment on Facebook criticizing her government’s response to the tragic event. It’s an action with terrible consequences, as she’s taken into custody and accused of aiding the attackers. In her exquisitely plotted debut novel, Megha Majumdar writes with absorbing urgency as she details Jivan’s plight. Beyond Jivan, Majumdar introduces two key perspectives: the protagonist’s former gym teacher, PT Sir, who has ties to the right-wing political party that seeks to seal her fate, and Lovely, an outcast with dreams of being an actor and the only person who can prove Jivan’s innocence. In moving between their three voices, Majumdar reveals the intersections of their ambitions and fears, coalescing into an unnerving investigation of corruption, class and tragedy.
Our next pick is Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley.
Our next book club will be February 26th at 8:00PM on Zoom.
Book club is this Friday, at 8:00pm on Zoom. Here are Garret’s picks:
Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 477 pages
From the award-winning, bestselling author of We Should All Be Feminists and Half of a Yellow Sun—the story of two Nigerians making their way in the U.S. and the UK, raising universal questions of race, belonging, the overseas experience for the African diaspora, and the search for identity and a home.
Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.
The Fifth Season, N. K. Jemisin, 468 pages
This is the way the world ends. . .for the last time.
It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.
This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.
Read the first book in the critically acclaimed, three-time Hugo award-winning trilogy by NYT bestselling author N. K. Jemisin.
Go Tell It on the Mountain, author James Baldwin, 256 pages
In one of the greatest American classics, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy’s discovery of the terms of his identity. Baldwin’s rendering of his protagonist’s spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves.
With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin tells the story of the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935. Originally published in 1953, Baldwin said of his first novel, “Mountain is the book I had to write if I was ever going to write anything else.”
Devil in a Blue Dress, Walter Mosley, 263 pages
Los Angeles, 1948: Easy Rawlins is a black war veteran just fired from his job at a defense plant. Easy is drinking in a friend’s bar, wondering how he’ll meet his mortgage, when a white man in a linen suit walks in, offering good money if Easy will simply locate Miss Daphne Money, a blonde beauty known to frequent black jazz clubs.
Our next pick is The Hidden Girl by Ken Liu.
Our next book club will be January 15th at 8:00PM on Zoom.
Book club is tomorrow at 8:00pm on Zoom. Here are Erik’s picks:
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – Historical Fiction – 552 pages
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.
By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.
But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.
In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.
The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu – Science Fiction, Short Stories – 411 pages
From award-winning author Ken Liu comes his much anticipated second volume of short stories.
Ken Liu is one of the most lauded short story writers of our time. This collection includes a selection of his science fiction and fantasy stories from the last five years — sixteen of his best — plus a new novelette.
In addition to these seventeen selections, The Hidden Girl and Other Stories also features an excerpt from the forthcoming book three in the Dandelion Dynasty series, “The Veiled Throne“.
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore – Fiction, Humor – 444 pages
The birth of Jesus has been well chronicled, as have his glorious teachings, acts, and divine sacrifice after his thirtieth birthday. But no one knows about the early life of the Son of God, the missing years—except Biff, the Messiah’s best bud, who has been resurrected to tell the story in the divinely hilarious yet heartfelt work “reminiscent of Vonnegut and Douglas Adams” (Philadelphia Inquirer).
Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healings, kung fu, corpse reanimations, demons, and hot babes. Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the Savior’s pal may not be enough to divert Joshua from his tragic destiny. But there’s no one who loves Josh more—except maybe “Maggie,” Mary of Magdala—and Biff isn’t about to let his extraordinary pal suffer and ascend without a fight.
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynold – Nonfiction – 294 pages
This is NOT a history book.
This is a book about the here and now.
A book to help us better understand why we are where we are.
A book about race.
The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning reveals the history of racist ideas in America, and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited.
Through a gripping, fast-paced, and energizing narrative written by beloved award-winner Jason Reynolds, this book shines a light on the many insidious forms of racist ideas–and on ways readers can identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives.
I love this book. Parable of the Sower is powerful, timely, and important. I’m listening to a podcast about it too.
Octavia’s Parables. https://pca.st/podcast/68fbfb40-92d4-0138-ee75-0acc26574db2
The Book of the Living, verse 26: Embrace diversity
Unite—Or be divided, robbed, ruled, killed
By those who see you as prey.
Or be destroyed.
Trump sees the American people as prey. How will you embrace diversity to protect what is important to you?
Our pick for this month is Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler.
Next book club will be November 20th at 8:00pm on Zoom.
Book club is this Friday on Zoom at 8:00pm. Here are Andrew’s picks:
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
When global climate change and economic crises lead to social chaos in the early 2020s, California becomes full of dangers, from pervasive water shortage to masses of vagabonds who will do anything to live to see another day. Fifteen-year-old Lauren Olamina lives inside a gated community with her preacher father, family, and neighbors, sheltered from the surrounding anarchy. In a society where any vulnerability is a risk, she suffers from hyperempathy, a debilitating sensitivity to others’ emotions.
Precocious and clear-eyed, Lauren must make her voice heard in order to protect her loved ones from the imminent disasters her small community stubbornly ignores. But what begins as a fight for survival soon leads to something much more: the birth of a new faith . . . and a startling vision of human destiny.
All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries (book 1) by Martha Wells
A murderous android discovers itself in All Systems Red, a tense science fiction adventure by Martha Wells that interrogates the roots of consciousness through Artificial Intelligence.
As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure.
In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.
But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.
On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.
But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.
The Wild Wisdom of Weeds: 13 Essential Plants for Human Survival by Katrina Blair
The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is the only book on foraging and edible weeds to focus on the thirteen weeds found all over the world, each of which represents a complete food source and extensive medical pharmacy and first-aid kit. More than just a field guide to wild edibles, it is a global plan for human survival.
Katrina Blair’s philosophy in The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is sobering, realistic, and ultimately optimistic. If we can open our eyes to see the wisdom found in these weeds right under our noses, instead of trying to eradicate an “invasive,” we will achieve true food security. The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is about healing ourselves both in body and in spirit, in an age where technology, commodity agriculture, and processed foods dictate the terms of our intelligence. But if we can become familiar with these thirteen edible survival weeds found all over the world, we will never go hungry, and we will become closer to our own wild human instincts–all the while enjoying the freshest, wildest, and most nutritious food there is. For free!
The thirteen plants found growing in every region across the world are: dandelion, mallow, purslane, plantain, thistle, amaranth, dock, mustard, grass, chickweed, clover, lambsquarter, and knotweed. These special plants contribute to the regeneration of the earth while supporting the survival of our human species; they grow everywhere where human civilization exists, from the hottest deserts to the Arctic Circle, following the path of human disturbance. Indeed, the more humans disturb the earth and put our food supply at risk, the more these thirteen plants proliferate. It’s a survival plan for the ages.
New York Times bestselling author Sarah Kendzior documents the truth about the calculated rise to power of Donald Trump since the 1980s and how the erosion of our liberties made an American dema-gogue possible.
The story of Donald Trump’s rise to power is the story of a buried American history – buried because people in power liked it that way. It was visible without being seen, influential without being named, ubiquitous without being overt. Sarah Kendzior’s Hiding in Plain Sight pulls back the veil on a history spanning decades, a history of an American autocrat in the making. In doing so, she reveals the inherent fragility of American democracy – how our continual loss of freedom, the rise of consolidated corruption, and the secrets behind a burgeoning autocratic United States have been hiding in plain sight for decades.
In Kendzior’s signature and celebrated style, she expertly outlines Trump’s meteoric rise from the 1980s until today, interlinking key moments of his life with the degradation of the American political system and the continual erosion of our civil liberties by foreign powers. Kendzior also offers a never-before-seen look at her lifelong tendency to be in the wrong place at the wrong time – living in New York through 9/11 and in St. Louis during the Ferguson uprising, and researching media and authoritarianism when Trump emerged using the same tactics as the post-Soviet dictatorships she had long studied.
It is a terrible feeling to sense a threat coming, but it is worse when we let apathy, doubt, and fear prevent us from preparing ourselves. Hiding in Plain Sight confronts the injustice we have too long ignored because the truth is the only way forward.
Our next book is Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
Our next book club will be October 9th at 8:00 PM on Zoom.