Welcome to the Bloggy Book Club, where we shall read to our heart's content.

Scroll down the blog for this month's discussion questions. Read the book and comment on the blog. And have fun!!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

2009 Reading Selections

Genre: Pulitzer Prize Winner
Author: Anne Tyler
Price: $7.99
Pages: 388
Description: Maggie Moran's mission is to connect and unite people, whether they want to be united or not. Maggie is a meddler and as she and her husband, Ira, drive 90 miles to the funeral of an old friend, Ira contemplates his wasted life and the traffic, while Maggie hatches a plan to reunite her son Jesse with his long-estranged wife and baby. As Ira explains, "She thinks the people she loves are better than they really are, and so then she starts changing things around to suit her view of them." Though everyone criticizes her for being "ordinary," Maggie's ability to see the beauty and potential in others ultimately proves that she is the only one fighting the resignation they all fear.

Genre: Current (Best-Seller List or Movie)
Author: Richard Yates
Price: $10.17
Pages: 368
Description: April and Frank Wheeler are a young, ostensibly thriving couple living with their two children in a prosperous Connecticut suburb in the mid-1950s. However, the self-assured exterior masks a creeping frustration at their inability to feel fulfilled in their relationships or careers. Frank is mired in a well-paying but boring office job and April is a housewife still mourning the demise of her hoped-for acting career. Determined to identify themselves as superior to the mediocre sprawl of suburbanites who surround them, they decide to move to France where they will be better able to develop their true artistic sensibilities, free of the consumerist demands of capitalist America. As their relationship deteriorates into an endless cycle of squabbling, jealousy and recriminations, their trip and their dreams of self-fulfillment are thrown into jeopardy.

Genre: Educational (Self-Help/Philosophy/Spiritual Growth)
Author: Brother Lawrence
Price: $5.95
Pages: 64
Description: The Practice of the Presence of God is one of the most enduring spiritual classics of all time. It is a collection of letters from and conversations with Brother Lawrence, a humble layman who served as a cook at a monastic community in 17th century France. Although he never advanced beyond being the cook at the community, he developed the unique gift of being able to pray incessantly with God throughout the entire day, even during his work.

Genre: Fun
Author: Winifred Watson
Price: $12.15
Pages: 256
Description: A major film released in 2008, Miss Pettigrew Lives for Day is a delightful, funny, lighthearted novel. Miss Pettigrew, an approaching-middle-age governess, was accustomed to a household of unruly English children. When her employment agency sends her to the wrong address, her life takes an unexpected turn. The alluring nightclub singer, Delysia LaFosse, becomes her new employer, and Miss Pettigrew encounters a kind of glamour that she had only met before at the movies. Over the course of a single day, both women are changed forever.

Genre: General Fiction
Author: Meg Wolitzer
Price: $6.99
Pages: 351
Description: In her latest novel, Wolitzer takes a close look at the opt out generation: her cast of primary characters have all abandoned promising careers (in art, law, and academia) in favor of full-time motherhood. When their children were babies, that decision was defensible to themselves and others; 10 years on, all of these women, whose interconnected stories merge during their regular breakfasts at a Manhattan restaurant, harbor hidden doubts. Do their mundane daily routines and ever-more tenuous connections to increasingly independent children compensate for all that lost promise? Wolitzer centers her narrative on comparisons between her smart but bored modern-day New York and suburban mommies and the women of the generation preceding them, who fought for women's liberation and equality. Contemporary chapters, most of which focus on a single character in this small circle of friends, alternate with vignettes from earlier eras, placing her characters' crises in the context of the women, famous and anonymous, who came before. Wolitzer's novel offers a hopeful, if not exactly optimistic, vision of women's (and men's) capacity for reinvention and the discovery of new purpose.

Genre: Mystery
Author: Elizabeth Ironside
Price: $10.17
Pages: 240
Description: In 1925 beautiful, bohemian Diana Pollexfen was celebrating her 30th birthday. The celebrations soured when her husband died, poisoned by a cocktail that had been liberally laced with some of Diana’s photographic chemicals. Sixty years later, Diana’s grand-niece, Helena, is also turning 30, but with rather less fanfare. An overworked attorney in London, Helena’s primary social outlet is an obsessive love affair. By way of distraction, Helena starts looking through her great-aunt’s papers and soon develops another obsession: Determining just who did kill George Pollexfen in that lovely, sunlit garden between the wars.

General Non-Fiction
Author: C. S. Lewis
Price: $9.59
Pages: 112
Description: Lewis, the Oxford don whose Christian apologetics make it seem like he's got an answer for everything, experienced crushing doubt for the first time after his wife's tragic death. A Grief Observed contains his epigrammatic reflections on that period: "Your bid--for God or no God, for a good God or the Cosmic Sadist, for eternal life or nonentity--will not be serious if nothing much is staked on it. And you will never discover how serious it was until the stakes are raised horribly high," Lewis writes. "Nothing will shake a man--or at any rate a man like me--out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself." This book is a beautiful and unflinchingly honest record of how even a stalwart believer can lose all sense of meaning in the universe, and how he can gradually regain his bearings.

Great Books
Author: Henry James
Price: $4.95
Pages: 80
Description: "Daisy Miller" is Henry James's classic story of a young American woman who while traveling in Europe is courted by Frederick Winterbourne. Originally published in The Cornhill Magazine in 1878, "Daisy Miller" is a novel that plays upon the contrast between American and European society that is common to James' work. The title character's youthful innocence is sharply contrasted with the sophistication of European society in this fatefully tragic tale.

Foreign (Author or Subject)
Author: Greg Mortenson
Price: $8.51
Pages: 358
Description: Some failures lead to phenomenal successes, and this American nurse's unsuccessful attempt to climb K2, the world's second tallest mountain, is one of them. Dangerously ill when he finished his climb in 1993, Mortenson was sheltered for seven weeks by the small Pakistani village of Korphe; in return, he promised to build the impoverished town's first school, a project that grew into the Central Asia Institute, which has since constructed more than 50 schools across rural Pakistan and Afghanistan. Coauthor Relin recounts Mortenson's efforts in fascinating detail, presenting compelling portraits of the village elders, con artists, philanthropists, mujahideen, Taliban officials, ambitious school girls and upright Muslims Mortenson met along the way.

Miscellany (Poetry, Compilations, Plays, etc.)
Title: N/A
Author: Robert Frost
Price: N/A (You can look these up online.)
Info: Read 6 poems by Frost--3 group poems and 3 of your choice
Group Assigned Poems:
1. The Road Not Taken
2. Fire and Ice
3. Birches

Author: General George S. Patton Jr.
Price: $12.24

Description: Adored by many, loathed by some, General George S. Patton, Jr., was one of the most brilliant military strategists in history. This book is the personal and candid account of his celebrated, relentless crusade across western Europe during World War II. First published in 1947, this absorbing narrative draws on Patton's vivid memories of battle and his detailed diaries, from the moment the Third Army exploded onto the Brittany Peninsula to the final Allied casualty report. The result is not only a grueling, human account of daily combat and heroic feats--including a riveting look at the Battle of the Bulge--but a valuable chronicle of the strategies and fiery personality of a legendary warrior. Patton's letters from earlier military campaigns in North Africa and Sicily, complemented by a powerful retrospective of his guiding philosophies, further reveal a man of uncompromising will and uncommon character, which made "Georgie" a household name in mid-century America.

Historical (Fiction or Non-Fiction)
Author: Cormac O'Brien
Price: $15.25
Pages: 296
Description: The book features outrageous and uncensored profiles of all the presidents' wives. You'll discover that Dolley Madison loved to chew tobacco. Mary Todd Lincoln was committed to an asylum, and Mamie Eisenhower never missed an episode of As the World Turns. You'll also learn why Hillary Clinton went to work for Wal-Mart (long before she started campaigning for a higher minimum wage). Complete with biographies of every first lady, Secret Lives of First Ladies tackles rough questions that other history books are afraid to ask: How many of these women owned slaves? Which ones were cheating on their husbands? And why did Eleanor Roosevelt serve hot dogs to the Kings and Queens of England? American history was never this much fun!


Meems said...

Wow... what a great selection and to have you as the leader is the best treat! I wish you had been my English teacher. LOL

Rissalee said...

Meems! You are too kind!!! ME?? An ENGLISH teacher?? :o) Glad you like the selection and I hope you will read along!

Meems said...

I clicked over to Amazon to check out Breathing Lessons... they've changed all the covers of Anne's books... all updated and modern now. Mine is a very old copy...

N.T. said...

The Patton Book and the CS Lewis book look interesting. I might join you for those.

fthluvhope said...

Great, well-rounded list! I think I have read 4, and the others will be new experiences! ;)

gigi said...

got my request in at the local library - they are transferring it from another branch - should be reading sometime this week! whew! i'm out of breath already!! "Breathing Lessons" should help me!