July Book – Call the Midwife -From Caroline

After a lightening round of voting, the July Book has been selected. We will be reading Call the Midwife. See below for the other “almost reads”


CALL THE MIDWIFE, A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times” Jennifer Worth
(2012) – 352 pages
The highest-rated drama in BBC history, Call the Midwife will delight fans of Downton Abbey
The author became a midwife at age 22, learning her trade in the 1950s from the nun midwives at the convent of St. Raymund Nonnatus and working among impoverished women in the slums of the London Docklands. Her frank, sometimes graphic memoir describes scores of births, from near-catastrophes to Christmas miracles, and details her burgeoning understanding of the world and the people in it. It’s stocked with charming characters: loopy sister Monica Joan, the convent’s near-mystic cake-gobbler and mischief-maker; Father Joseph Williamson, focused on delivering prostitutes rather than babies; handyman/poultry salesman/drain cleaner/toffee-apple pusher Frank; and posh Camilla Fortescue-Cholmeley-Browne (“Chummy”), an outrageously warm-hearted debutante who devoted her life to midwifery and missionary work. Worth depicts the rich variety of life in the slums, where loving, doting mothers of nine rubbed elbows with neglectful, broken young women turning tricks to support their husbands’ night life. She draws back the veil usually placed over the process of birth, described here as both tribulation and triumph. In birth after birth, as women and midwives labored to bring babies into the world through hours of pain and occasional danger, Worth marveled at the mothers’ almost- uniform embrace of their babies. “There must be an inbuilt system of total forgetfulness in a woman,” she writes. “Some chemical or hormone that immediately enters the memory part of the brain after delivery, so that there is absolutely no recall of the agony that has gone before. If this were not so, no woman would ever have a second baby.”

UNBROKEN, A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” Laura Hillenbrand
(2010) – 473 Pages
1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE • Hailed as the top nonfiction book of the year by Time magazine • Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for biography and the Indies Choice Adult Nonfiction Book of the Year award

On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.
The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.
Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.


Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), Mindy Kaling
(2011) – 222 Pages
Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?

Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!

In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.


June Read Picks

See below for a few selections from Melissa. Feel free to cast your vote and let her know which you find most intriguing by answering the poll.

1) The Damnation of Theron Ware by Harold Frederic – [From Melissa: I’ve been meaning to re-read this for a while. It’s been over 20 years since the last time but I liked it then.]

An 1896 novel by American author Harold Frederic. It is widely considered a classic of American literature by scholars and critics, though the common reader often has not heard of it. The novel reveals a great deal about early 20th century provincial America, religious life, and the depressed state of intellectual and artistic culture in small towns. It is written in a realistic style. Click here for more.

2) The Awakening by Kate Chopin – [From Melissa: This is another one I want to re-read. I adored it when I read it in college and wonder how I would feel about it now]

First published in 1899. Set in New Orleans and the Southern Louisiana coast at the end of the nineteenth century, the plot centers on Edna Pontellier and her struggle to reconcile her increasingly unorthodox views on femininity and motherhood with the prevailing social attitudes of the turn-of-the-century South. It is one of the earliest American novels that focuses on women’s issues without condescension. It is also widely seen as a landmark work of early feminism, generating mixed reaction from contemporary readers and criticism.
Click here for more.
3) John the Revelator by T.J. Beitleman – [From Melissa: Written by a local author and teacher at ASFA. In the spirit of supporting local authors and because I am hoping it will be good, I’m putting it up for consideration. Also, I think he might be willing to come speak to us]

Every prophet needs a home where they can hate him,” says the black buzzard of the title character’s nightmares. Part reluctant Tiresias, part locusts-and-honey outcast, teenaged John stumbles into the darker thickets of human insight—the high arts of vice and violence—and the small Alabama town he calls home will never be the same when he comes out the other side. T.J. Beitelman’s John the Revelator is the novel that Francesca Lia Block would write if someone dragged her kicking and screaming to Alabama and she started writing from the darkest corners of the Southern Gothic tradition. Click here for more.:

4) Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto – [From Melissa: Although I am not a fan of the noir genre, I love the show he wrote, True Detective, and am interested to see what kind of dialogue we have in this book]

From the creator, writer, and executive producer of the HBO crime series True Detective, comes a dark and visceral literary debut set along the seedy wastelands of Galveston.
On the same day that Roy Cady is diagnosed with a terminal illness, he senses that his boss, a dangerous loan-sharking bar-owner, wants him dead. Known “without affection” to members of the boss’s crew as “Big Country” on account of his long hair, beard, and cowboy boots, Roy is alert to the possibility that a routine assignment could be a deathtrap. Which it is. Yet what the would-be killers do to Roy Cady is not the same as what he does to them, which is to say that after a smoking spasm of violence, they are mostly dead and he is mostly alive.
Click here for more.

March Meeting

We really throw our new members into the fire around here! Carolyn wasn’t chased away after meeting#1 and is back for her second meeting as a host!

She will tickle our tastebuds with a shrimp and artichoke casserole. She suggests a delicious salad and crusty bread as well as apps and wine as accompianments. Please leave a comment below to let us know if you can come and what you will bring.

Also ** important** please see the “update” blog post below. In addition to questions to consider in advance of our meeting there is a reminder that we are skipping our April meeting and reconvening in May to discuss Goldfinch.

Looking forward to seeing everyone next week.

Note on Parking at Carolyn’s:  park either at the top of the drive way and come in by pool (there’s room for 4 or 5 cars) or in front of house (my drive is a ‘double wide’) so cars can get by!  **Basically, there’s no need to park in circle and walk!

Update: No April Meeting! & March Discussion Questions


After unanimous excitement about Donna Tartt’s 784 page Goldfinch segued into reality, we took an unofficial vote at our February meeting to use both April and May to read Tartt’s epic. This means NO APRIL Book club meeting.

We will however be meeting in March -host and location TBD. Kim will be leading our discussion (she even postponed her vacation for us!) and has sent the following questions for us to review in advance of our meeting to stimulate conversation (and keep our club a BOOK club rather than a delightful supper club 🙂

by M. L. Stedman

Topics and Questions for Discussion

1. Did the title itself evoke certain image(s) in your mind’s eyes ? Did that initial “image” change, after you finished the book?

2. The island, “Janus Rock,” is named after the Roman God, Janus, the two faced god of doorway, “always looking both ways, torn between two ways of seeing things (page 65). Did the name of Island, Janus Rock, impact on your reading of the story, and how?

3. As you were turning pages of this fiction, what mood(s) dominated your feelings: empathy, disgust, disappointment, depression …………?
After you finished the book, what was your dominating feeling?

4. Which character(s) won your sympathy? Did your notion of what was right or the best, shift over the course of your reading?

5. How do you feel about the ending of the story?


If you hate THE LIGHTHOUSE BETWEEN OCEANS, try A WEEK IN WINTER, more uplifting and entertaining fiction by Maeve Bynch.☺

Kim Oh