July Book Pick- “When Breath Become Air”


Get your Jackie O shades and hankies ready for our July read -it promises to be a tear-jerker. See below for a teaser as well as for two other books Linda put up for the vote.

“When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithu, is a memoir written while a thirty-something neurosurgeon is dying of cancer. (4.4 of 5.0 on Goodreads, 21,482 votes) It helps the quality of his writing that he was an undergraduate Lit major. He so beautifully ponders the question “what makes a life worth living?” that the result is actually inspiring. I thoroughly enjoyed the book.


Almost Reads:

“Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande (4.4 of 5 with 38,137 ratings on Amazon) which is a look not only at dying but the appropriate meaning of health care, which the author contends should be about enabling well-being rather than about ensuring survival. In a society that values independence, what happens when that independence is no longer possible? Gawande posits that we should deal openly with the inevitable bodily decline, consider what matters to us, and adapt our society and health profession to help people achieve their objectives.


“The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman” an autobiographical book by John Perkins (4.4 5.0  on Amazon, with 66 reviews) is a powerful but controversial book another book club to which I belong just read. Perkins describes how as a highly paid professional, he helped the U.S. cheat poor counties out of trillions of dollars by lending them more money than they could possibly repay and after non-payment, took over their economies. Some of the historical data, particularly in Latin American countries, seem to support his thesis that the deaths of key political leaders resulted when cooperation was not forthcoming. I read the book, found it fascinating and a page-turner, but hold my opinion until we discuss it, if we choose this one.


“The Lovers – Afghanistan’s Romeo and Juliet” by Rod Nordland (5.0 of 5.0 with 20 ratings on Amazon). This is the true story of how a  young Afghani couple defied their families and escaped an honor killing for the sake of love. The lovers were from different tribes but grew up on neighboring farms in the hinterlands of Afghanistan. At the time the book was written (released in Jan 2016), the couple lived under constant threat to their lives as her family vows to kill in order to restore the family’s honor. The book also puts a human face on the ongoing debate about women’s rights in the Muslim world. Despite a decade of American good intentions, women in Afghanistan are still subjected to some of the worst human rights violations in the world. The New York Times predicted “The Lovers” will do for women’s rights generally what Malala’s story did for women’s education.

June Book Pick

We will kick off summer with a fun lighthearted read of “Be Frank with Me” by first time author Julia Claiborne Johnson. If you are looking for some other exciting reads see below for the other almost reads suggested by Kim Hall.

be frank with me

My top pick for a lighthearted Spring Break read is Be Frank With Me, the debut novel by Julia Claiborne Johnson that’s just out and already finding enthusiastic fans everywhere.  Here’s the set-up:  Mimi Banning is a single mother whose first book won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award and topped the bestseller charts.  Paralyzed by success and attention she doesn’t want, Mimi retreats into near-total seclusion in the hills of LA and hasn’t written a thing since.  When she loses all of her savings in a Ponzi scheme, though, she is forced to write that elusive second novel.  Her kind-hearted publisher sends her an assistant, Alice Whitley, who expects to help with the book but instead gets handed the daily care of Mimi’s 9-year-old son, Frank.  He seems to be “on the spectrum”:  brilliant; a sharp dresser; obsessed with old movies; not really able to get along with the other fourth graders.  He’s also very funny!  Frank’s story shows that it’s possible to make peace with the world without giving up your essential self, the sometimes even slightly crazy things that make you you.  Hold onto these parts of yourself, the book gently reminds us – and hold onto those you love.  One of my friends told me it was the best book she’d read since All The Light We Cannot See. “It’s very dear,” she said.  Yes.


Other Suggested Reads:

“A Little Life” Hanya Yanagihara

“The Marriage of Opposites” Alice Hoffman

April Book Club

Spring and flung and what better way to celebrate the warmer weather than a light and fun romance read. We will convene at Kim Hall’s to discuss Kim Oh’s pick “The Rosie Project”. The dinner menu includes shrimp-black bean-corn dish and Kim suggests salads, apps, wine, dessert and/or a fruit-veggie side. Please let us know if you can come and what you will bring by leaving a comment below.