October Book Pick – Go Set a Watchman

The most-talked about book of 2015 will be the focus of our group’s discussion this October. Our state’s literary queen and my hometown’s most celebrated dweller will certainly be interesting fodder for our monthly feast. So put aside what you have head and read and let’s pick up with Scout, er Jean Lousie in her later years.

I kind of fee a synopsis of the book here is unnecessary, but since Katherine sent one I will include it as well as her other suggestions below:


Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee. From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird. Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch—”Scout”—returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town, and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past—a journey that can only be guided by one’s own conscience. Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor, and effortless precision—a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context, and new meaning to an American classic.
The Truth According to Us, Annie Barrows.  -delightfully eccentric as Guernsey yet refreshingly different. . . . It’s an epic but intimate family novel with richly imagined characters, an intriguing plot and the social sensibilities you would expect of a story set in the South. . . . The traumatized girls, Willa and Bird, are exquisitely portrayed and the lasting damage caused by the abandonment is sensitively rendered. Willa’s indomitable spirit, keen sense of adventure and innate intelligence reminded me of two other motherless girls in literature: Scout Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Flavia de Luce in Alan Bradley’s big-hearted British mystery series. If Guernsey is a tribute to the power of books, The Truth According to Us is a testament to the toxicity of secrets. . . . Just as we did in Guernsey, we empathize with the characters as if they’re our neighbors. . . . Macedonia is a great place to spend some time this summer. The temperatures are soaring, but it’s nothing compared to the heat generated by this sizzling story.”—The Washington Post

The Boys in the Boat, Daniel James Brown. The kind of nonfiction book that reads like a novel. Centered around the life of Joe Rantz—a farmboy from the Pacific Northwest who was literally abandoned as a child—and set during the Great Depression, The Boys in the Boat is a character-driven story with a natural crescendo that will have you racing to the finish. In 1936, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew team raced its way to the Berlin Olympics for an opportunity to challenge the greatest in the world. How this team, largely composed of rowers from “foggy coastal villages, damp dairy farms, and smoky lumber towns all over the state,” managed to work together and sacrifice toward their goal of defeating Hitler’s feared racers is half the story. The other half is equally fascinating, as Brown seamlessly weaves in the story of crew itself. This is fast-paced and emotional nonfiction about determination, bonds built by teamwork, and what it takes to achieve glory. —Chris Schluep

July Discussion Questions_The Red Notice

Here are a few questions + some interesting links from Melissa to mull over in advance of our meeting this Thursday:

1. Does it seem that Mr. Browder’s character or perspective changes in any way throughout the course of the events described in the book?

2. Do you believe that the book fairly and accurately represents the facts?

3. Do you believe that there may be other, and possibly conflicting, opinions?

4. How were Mr. Browder’s purchases of vouchers different from the oligarchs’?

5. Do you think Mr. Browder was naive or intentionally ignored (at least initially) problems with Putin’s government?

6. What do you think was the intent behind the activist approach and the media campaigns?

7. Who do you think is the hero of this book?

8. Why do you think Mr. Browder wrote (or had a ghost writer write) this book?

9. Do you think there will be any repercussions from the publication of the book?

10. Would you invest in a fund run by Bill Browder?

A couple of interesting things on the internet:




HSBC Shuts Russia’s Hermitage as Browder Sued in London



AUGUST 2015 Book Read

Please note I have pushed our previously chosen August read -Americanh to September so that we can end summer on a fun “beachy” note. (also b/c I will miss our August meeting and want to be sure to be present for the discussion of Americanah -my pick and my favorite book of the year)

Our August read comes to us from Audrey via her daughter, who promises “Where did you go Bernadette” is the perfect summer read (as in beach not school assignment! See below for the synopsis as well as the other two books Audrey suggsted for our group.


 Where Did You Go Bernadette. Maria Semple

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle–and people in general–has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic. To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence–creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

Almost reads:

1.) Rules of Civility, Amore Towles

The New York Times bestselling novel that “enchants on first reading and only improves on the second” (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

This sophisticated and entertaining first novel presents the story of a young woman whose life is on the brink of transformation. On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society—where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve. With its sparkling depiction of New York’s social strata, its intricate imagery and themes, and its immensely appealing characters, Rules of Civility won the hearts of readers and critics alike.


2.) Moloka’i, Alan Brennert

This richly imagined novel, set in Hawai’i more than a century ago, is an extraordinary epic of a little-known time and place—and a deeply moving testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.

Rachel Kalama, a spirited seven-year-old Hawaiian girl, dreams of visiting far-off lands like her father, a merchant seaman. Then one day a rose-colored mark appears on her skin, and those dreams are stolen from her. Taken from her home and family, Rachel is sent to Kalaupapa, the quarantined leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka’i. Here her life is supposed to end—but instead she discovers it is only just beginning.

With a vibrant cast of vividly realized characters, Moloka’i is the true-to-life chronicle of a people who embraced life in the face of death. Such is the warmth, humor, and compassion of this novel that “few readers will remain unchanged by Rachel’s story” (mostlyfiction.com



July Meeting

Katherine is our host and is taking advantage of this bounteous summer season to plan a scrumption AL-based menu for our July meeting. She will be serving garden tomatoes, cream corn and Gulf coast shrimp. She is encouraging everyone to tap their gardens (or local farmer’s market) for a AL inspired food and local brews. Please let us know if you can come and what you will bring.