First Read of the New Year!

life in motio

January 2015 is already on the radar! For those who like to read ahead (unlike me who would most likely forget everything if I read it now), the book we will discuss is a Shirley-suggestion-original but a Carolyn Matthews pick:



Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland


“Picture a ballerina in a tutu and toe shoes. What does she look like?”

live in motion 2

As the only African American soloist dancing with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland has made history. But when she first placed her hands on the barre at an after-school community center, no one expected the undersized, anxious thirteen-year-old to become a ground-breaking ballerina. When she discovered ballet, Misty was living in a shabby motel room, struggling with her five siblings for a place to sleep on the floor. A true prodigy, she was dancing en pointe within three months of taking her first dance class and performing professionally in just over a year: a feat unheard of for any classical dancer. But when Misty became caught between the control and comfort she found in the world of ballet and the harsh realities of her own life (culminating in a highly publicized custody battle), she had to choose to embrace both her identity and her dreams, and find the courage to be one of a kind. With an insider’s unique point of view, Misty opens a window into the life of a professional ballerina who lives life center stage: from behind the scenes at her first auditions to her triumphant roles in some of the most iconic ballets. But in this beautifully written memoir, she also delves deeper to reveal the desire and drive that made her dreams reality. Life in Motion is a story of passion and grace for anyone who has dared to dream of a different life.



The other two reads suggested were:


Mean Streak by Sandra Brown

From #1 New York Times best-selling author Sandra Brown comes a heart-pounding story of survival, that takes the age-old question, “Does the end justify the means?” and turns it on its head. Dr. Emory Charbonneau, a pediatrician and marathon runner, disappears on a mountain road in North Carolina. By the time her husband Jeff, miffed over a recent argument, reports her missing, the trail has grown cold. Literally. Fog and ice encapsulate the mountainous wilderness and paralyze the search for her. While police suspect Jeff of “instant divorce,” Emory, suffering from an unexplained head injury, regains consciousness and finds herself the captive of a man whose violent past is so dark that he won’t even tell her his name. She’s determined to escape him, and willing to take any risks necessary to survive. Unexpectedly, however, the two have a dangerous encounter with people who adhere to a code of justice all their own. At the center of the dispute is a desperate young woman whom Emory can’t turn her back on, even if it means breaking the law. Wrong becomes right at the hands of the man who strikes fear, but also sparks passion. As her husband’s deception is revealed, and the FBI closes in on her captor, Emory begins to wonder if the man with no name is, in fact, her rescuer from those who wish her dead – and from heartbreak. Combining the nail-biting suspense and potent storytelling that has made Sandra Brown one of the world’s best loved authors, MEAN STREAK is a wildly compelling novel about love, deceit, and the choices we must make in order to survive.



Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones


Nicole Mones has mined the endless riches of China once again in The Last Chinese Chef. This time she hits the trifecta: the personal stories of Sam and Maggie, the history and lore of Chinese cuisine, and an inside look at cultural dislocation. Maggie McElroy is a widowed American food writer who is suddenly confronted with a paternity claim against her late husband’s estate–by a Chinese family. Her editor offers her another reason to go to Beijing: write an article about a rising young Chinese-American-Jewish chef, Sam Liang. Having sold the home she had with her late husband Matt and reduced her possessions to only the barest necessities, with her life feeling as though it is contracting around her, Maggie embraces the oppportunity to sort out her feelings about Matt’s supposed infidelity and do some work at the same time.

She and Sam hit it off right away, even though he is involved in a very important competition for a place on the Chinese national cooking team for the 2008 Olympics. They travel together to the south of China where she meets her husband’s possible daughter–with Sam standing by to act as translator–and where Maggie meets much of Sam’s family. He has been welcomed back with open arms, even though he occasionally feels that he has one foot in China and one in Ohio. The Beijing uncles and the Hangzhou uncle are a raucous, loving, argumentative bunch of foodies who advise Sam about menus, encourage a romance with Maggie, make him start over again when the dish isn’t perfect, and alternately praise and criticize his cooking.

Maggie loves being in the middle of it all and finds herself more and more drawn to Sam. She begins, with Sam’s help, to see food as “healing” and understands the guanxi or “connectedness” that takes place around food. At the beginning of each chapter is a paragraph taken from a book entitled The Last Chinese Chef, written by Sam’s grandfather and translated by Sam and his father. Mones has written that book, too, which is an explanation of the place of food in Chinese history and family life. The novel is rich with meaning and lore and an examination of loving relationships. Don’t even touch this book when you’re hungry. The descriptions make the aromas and textures float right off the page.


February 2013 Book Selection

Are you a planner? Do you like to get ahead of the ball. Well you can get a whole year* ahead on your reading!

You can also get excited  about the great book pick Kim Oh has brought to our calendar. In February of 2013 we will be discussing the new book  Please Look After Mom by Korean author Kyung-sook Shin.

A quick preview:

 This novel from widely acclaimed Korean author Shin focuses on motherhood and family guilt. Park So-nyo, mother of four now-adult children, has gone missing in a Seoul train station on the way to visit them. The novel is told in four parts, from the perspectives of, first, her daughter, and then, her firstborn son, her husband, and finally, So-nyo herself. Composed almost entirely in second-person narration, the writing is sharp, biting, and intensely moving. So-nyo’s children continually battle with their own guilt for not taking better care of her while reminiscing about the times when they were young, growing up in incredible poverty in the countryside. The children come to terms with their mother’s absence in their own ways, and their father repents for a lifetime of neglect. When So-nyo’s voice enters the narrative, the portrait of a troubled but loving family is complete. Secrets are revealed, and the heart of a mother is beautifully exposed. This Korean million-plus-copy best-seller is an impressive exploration of family love, poverty, and triumphing over hardship. –Julie Hunt –


This brings our current list to:

  • October:  Some Assembly Required, Anne Lamott: Connie O’Brien with Shirley
  • November: Caleb’s Crossing, Geraldine Brooks, host: TBD
  • December: PARTY, June’s
  • January: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce
  • February: Please Look After Mom -Kyung Sook Shin


The “others” proposed but not picked for Feb include:

Left Neglected, by Lisa Genova, July 2011

The Surrendered, Chang-Rae Lee, March 2011,


*Well maybe just a calendar year, but 5 months is still quite impressive.

November Book Selection

Rachel announced “The Boy who Harnessed the Wind” as our November read. This fascinating and uplifting story about overcoming adversity and creating life and light for others is sure to be a good read. November book club will fall on Thursday, November 11th. More details to follow.

Flappers for Fall!

We will be transported back to the Roaring Twenties for our October read of the Jonathan Zeitz’s  “Flapper”. With words like “Modern” “Sex” and “Madcap” in the subtitle I don’t know how this read could keep our toes from tapping.

Learn more about Alabama native and flapper original Zelda Fitzgerald, often viewed as the prototype flapper, and then come share your thoughts over a delicious dinner and a glass of wine.

We will convene a on the 2nd Thursday of the month,  which lands on October 14th.