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Betty's Book Group - Selections for January-June 2022
January 24, 2022, Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck. ©1937. Fiction. This classic fiction story of an unlikely pair, two migrant workers in California during the Great Depression, who grasp for their American Dream. George and his simple-minded friend Lenny dream, as drifters will, of a place to call their own - a couple of acres and a few pigs, chickens, and rabbits back in Hill Country where land is cheap. But after they come to work on a ranch in the fertile Salinas Valley of California, their hopes, like “the best laid schemes o’mice an’ men”, begin to go awry.
February 28, 2022, All That She Carried, by Tiya Miles. ©2021. Non-Fiction. A renowned historian traces the life of a single object handed down through three generations of Black women to craft an extraordinary testament to people who are left out of the archives.
March 28, 2022, Anxious People, by Fredrik Backman. ©2020. Fiction. Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage.
April 25,2022, Eleanor – A Life, David Michaelis. ©2020. Non-Fiction. A breakthrough portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt, America’s longest-serving First Lady, an avatar of democracy whose ever-expanding agency as diplomat, activist, and humanitarian made her one of the world’s most widely admired and influential women.
May 23, 2022,The Nickel Boys, Colson Whitehead. ©2019. Fiction. When Elwood Curtis, a black boy growing up in 1960s Tallahassee, is unfairly sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, he finds himself trapped in a grotesque chamber of horrors.
June 27, 2022, Born A Crime, Trevor Noah. ©2016. Non-Fiction. Trevor Noah tells his wild coming-of-age tale during the twilight of apartheid in South Africa. It’s a story that begins with his mother throwing him from a moving van to save him from a potentially fatal dispute with gangsters,
Betty's Book Group - Past Selections for July - December 2021
July 26. 2021, The Four Winds by Kristen Hannah. ©2021. Historical fiction set in Texas in1934. Millions are out of work and drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance.
August 23. 2021. Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman's Awakening by Manal al-Sharif. ©2017. Nonfiction memoir by a devout woman from a modest family in Saudi Arabia who became the unexpected leader of a courageous women’s rights movement.
September 27, 2021. The Once and Future Witches. by Alice Harrow. ©2020. Fantasy. In 1893, there's no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.
But when the Eastwood sisters join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women's movement into the witch's movement.
October 25, 2021. Think Again, the Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant. © 2021. A nonfiction book about the benefit of doubt, and about how we can get better at embracing the unknown and the joy of being wrong. Evidence has shown that creative geniuses are not attached to one identity, but constantly willing to rethink their stances and that leaders who admit they don't know something and seek critical feedback lead more productive and innovative teams.
November 22, 2021. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson. ©2019. Fiction. Inspired by the true and historical blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek showcases a bold and unique tale of the Packhorse Librarians in literary novels—a story of fierce strength and one woman's belief that books can carry us anywhere—even back home.
December 27, 2021. Caste by Isabelle Wilkerson. ©2020. Please note change in date. In this brilliant nonfiction book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.
Selections for December 1919 - June 2020
December 28, 2020, Tell the Wolves I’m Home, by Carol Rifka Brunt. ©2013. This is a moving story of love, grief, and renewal as two lonely people become the unlikeliest of friends and find that sometimes you don’t know you’ve lost someone until you’ve found them
January 25. 2021, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones on the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk. © 2019. In a remote Polish village, Janina devotes the dark winter days to studying astrology, translating the poetry of William Blake, and taking care of the summer homes of wealthy Warsaw residents... Then a neighbor, Big Foot, turns up dead. Soon other bodies are discovered, in increasingly strange circumstances.
February 22, 2021, Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debbie Irving. ©2014. Debbie didn't understand why her diversity efforts lacked traction. As a teacher, she found her best efforts to reach out to students and families of color left her wondering what she was missing. Then, in 2009, one "aha!" moment launched an adventure of discovery and insight that drastically shifted her worldview and upended her life plan.
March 22, 2021, Last Train to Paradise by Les Standiford ©2003. The fast-paced and gripping true account of the extraordinary construction and spectacular demise of the Key West Railroad—one of the greatest engineering feats ever undertaken, destroyed in one fell swoop by the strongest storm ever to hit U.S. shores.
April 26, 2021, The Island by Victoria Hislop ©2005. The Petrakis family lives in the small Greek seaside village of Plaka. Just off the coast is the tiny island of Spinalonga, where the nation's leper colony once was located—a place that has haunted four generations of Petrakis women. There's Eleni, ripped from her husband and two young daughters and sent to Spinalonga in 1939, and her daughters Maria, finding joy in the everyday as she dutifully cares for her father, and Anna, a wild child hungry for passion and a life anywhere but Plaka. And finally there's Alexis, Eleni's great-granddaughter, visiting modern-day Greece to unlock her family's past.
May 24, 2021, Permanent Record by Edward Snowden. © 2019. In 2013, twenty-nine-year-old Edward Snowden shocked the world when he revealed that the United States government was secretly pursuing the means to collect every single phone call, text message, and email. The result would be an unprecedented system of mass surveillance with the ability to pry into the private lives of every person on earth. Six years later, Snowden reveals for the very first time how he helped to build this system and why he was moved to expose it.
June 28, 2021, The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore. ©2017. The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War. Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive, until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.
PAST BOOK SELECTIONS of 2020
Small Great Things: A Novel, by Jodi Picoult. Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?
The Library Book, by Susan Orlean. On the morning of April 29, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual fire alarm. Orlean delivers a mesmerizing and uniquely compelling book that manages to tell the broader story of libraries and librarians in a way that has never been done before.
Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owen. a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.