At the last meeting of the Bring Your Own Book Club, a bunch of book lovers chatted about the books we’ve all been reading lately including those listed below. Looks like we’ll be doing it again on November 4th at 3:30 PM. If you’d like to tell us about some books or hear what your fellow readers suggest, join our Zoom chat.
Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
After being rescued as infants from a sinking ocean liner in 1914, Marian and Jamie Graves are raised by their dissolute uncle in Missoula, Montana. There—after encountering a pair of barnstorming pilots passing through town in beat-up biplanes—Marian commences her lifelong love affair with flight. At fourteen she drops out of school and finds an unexpected and dangerous patron in a wealthy bootlegger who provides a plane and subsidizes her lessons, an arrangement that will haunt her for the rest of her life, even as it allows her to fulfill her destiny: circumnavigating the globe by flying over the North and South Poles.
A century later, Hadley Baxter is cast to play Marian in a film that centers on Marian’s disappearance in Antarctica. Vibrant, canny, disgusted with the claustrophobia of Hollywood, Hadley is eager to redefine herself after a romantic film franchise has imprisoned her in the grip of cult celebrity. Her immersion into the character of Marian unfolds, thrillingly, alongside Marian’s own story, as the two women’s fates—and their hunger for self-determination in vastly different geographies and times—collide.
I Have Some Questions For You by Rebecca Makkai
A successful film professor and podcaster, Bodie Kane is content to forget her past—the family tragedy that marred her adolescence, her four largely miserable years at a New Hampshire boarding school, and the 1995 murder of a classmate, Thalia Keith. Though the circumstances surrounding Thalia’s death and the conviction of the school’s athletic trainer, Omar Evans, are the subject of intense fascination online, Bodie prefers—needs—to let sleeping dogs lie.
But when The Granby School invites her back to teach a two-week course, Bodie finds herself inexorably drawn to the case and its increasingly apparent flaws. In their rush to convict Omar, did the school and the police overlook other suspects? Is the real killer still out there? As she falls down the very rabbit hole she was so determined to avoid, Bodie begins to wonder if she wasn’t as much of an outsider at Granby as she’d thought—if, perhaps, back in 1995, she knew something that might have held the key to solving the case.
Murder, She Barked by Krista Davis
Holly Miller’s life has gone to the dogs. She has no job, her boyfriend’s former flame is sniffing around, and a scruffy but lovable Jack Russell terrier is scattering crumbs all over her borrowed car. Just when she thought things couldn’t get worse, a troubling phone call about her grandmother sends her rushing home to the family inn on Wagtail Mountain.
The staff – and a frisky calico kitten named Twinkletoes – adopts Holly and her new dog on arrival. Someone in this friendly town is bad to the bone, though. One of the employees at the inn has been killed in a hit-and-run accident, which is looking anything but accidental. Now Holly and her furry companions will have to nose out the murderer before someone else gets muzzled.
Chef’s Kiss by TJ Alexander
Simone Larkspur is a perfectionist pastry expert with a dream job at The Discerning Chef, a venerable cookbook publisher in New York City. All she wants to do is create the perfect loaf of sourdough and develop recipes, but when The Discerning Chef decides to bring their brand into the 21st century by pivoting to video, Simone is thrust into the spotlight and finds herself failing at something for the first time in her life.
To make matters worse, Simone has to deal with Ray Lyton, the new test kitchen manager, whose obnoxious cheer and outgoing personality are like oil to Simone’s water. When Ray accidentally becomes a viral YouTube sensation with a series of homebrewing videos, their eccentric editor in chief forces Simone to work alongside the chipper upstart or else risk her beloved job. But the more they work together, the more Simone realizes her heart may be softening like butter for Ray.
Once Too Often by Dorothy Simpson
Just a week away from his only daughter’s wedding, Inspector Luke Thanet gets a phone call that saves him from writing his speech for the reception, but presents him with an even more challenging problem. Jessica Dander, a journalist for the regional newspaper, has been found dead with a broken neck at the foot of her own staircase. Was it simply an accident, or, as evidence suggests, was she pushed? And investigation just yields more questions. Who left Jessica’s front door open and why? Who called the police and disappeared before the authorities arrived? Why is her high-heeled shoe in an odd position on the third step from the top? Who was the mysterious prowler Jessica reported to the police? And who didn’t have reason to hate Jessica, an angry, irascible woman who may have let loose her fury on those around her just once too often? The further Thanet and his partner, Detective Sergeant Mike Lineham, dig into the victim’s relationships with family and acquaintances, the more their list of possible suspects grows. From her browbeaten husband, Desmond, to her lover to the prowler, it seems almost everyone had a reason to wish Jessica dead.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.
Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.
At the time of the crimes, the Golden State Killer was between the ages of eighteen and thirty, Caucasian, and athletic—capable of vaulting tall fences. He always wore a mask. After choosing a victim—he favored suburban couples—he often entered their home when no one was there, studying family pictures, mastering the layout. He attacked while they slept, using a flashlight to awaken and blind them. Though they could not recognize him, his victims recalled his voice: a guttural whisper through clenched teeth, abrupt and threatening.
If the Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy
Cindy loves shoes. A well-placed bow or a chic stacked heel is her form of self-expression. As a fashion-obsessed plus-size woman, she can never find designer clothes that work on her body, but a special pair of shoes always fits just right. With a shiny new design degree but no job in sight, Cindy moves back in with her stepmother, Erica Tremaine, the executive producer of the world’s biggest dating reality show. When a contestant on Before Midnight bows out at the last minute, Cindy is thrust into the spotlight. Showcasing her killer shoe collection on network TV seems like a great way to jump-start her career. And, while she’s at it, why not go on a few lavish dates with an eligible suitor? But being the first and only fat contestant on Before Midnight turns her into a viral sensation—and a body-positivity icon—overnight.
The Last White Man by Mohsin Hamid
One morning, a man wakes up to find himself transformed. Overnight, Anders’s skin has turned dark, and the reflection in the mirror seems a stranger to him. At first he shares his secret only with Oona, an old friend turned new lover. Soon, reports of similar events begin to surface. Across the land, people are awakening in new incarnations, uncertain how their neighbors, friends, and family will greet them.Some see the transformations as the long-dreaded overturning of the established order that must be resisted to a bitter end. In many, like Anders’s father and Oona’s mother, a sense of profound loss and unease wars with profound love. As the bond between Anders and Oona deepens, change takes on a different shading: a chance at a kind of rebirth–an opportunity to see ourselves, face to face, anew.
New Tricks by David Rosenfelt
Andy Carpenter gains possession of an adorable Bernese puppy whose owner was brutally murdered. Few can rival Andy’s affection for dogs, and he will do whatever it takes to insure that this little pup doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. However, his playful new friend is valued by several people, many of whom are willing to resort to violence to get what they want.
It will take more than Andy’s usual courtroom theatrics to save this dog, including a little help from his beloved Golden Retriever, Tara. Andy soon discovers that anyone around him is in danger, including his longtime girlfriend, Laurie, and he will have to muster all of his wits to save those he holds most dear.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled “quiet,” it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society–from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.
Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the 20th century and explores its far-reaching effects. She talks to Asian-American students who feel alienated from the brash, backslapping atmosphere of American schools. She questions the dominant values of American business culture, where forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. And she draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to reveal the surprising differences between extroverts and introverts.
Perhaps most inspiring, she introduces us to successful introverts–from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Finally, she offers invaluable advice on everything from how to better negotiate differences in introvert-extrovert relationships to how to empower an introverted child to when it makes sense to be a “pretend extrovert.”
I’ll Show Myself Out by Jessi Klein
In New York Times best-selling author and Emmy Award-winning writer and producer Jessi Klein’s second collection, she hilariously explodes the cultural myths and impossible expectations around motherhood and explore the humiliations, poignancies, and possibilities of midlife.
In interconnected essays like “Listening to Beyoncé in the Parking Lot of Party City”, “Your Husband Will Remarry Five Minutes After You Die”, “Eulogy for My Feet”, and “An Open Love Letter to Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent”, Klein explores this stage of life in all its cruel ironies, joyous moments, and bittersweetness.
Written with Klein’s signature candor and humanity, I’ll Show Myself Out is an incisive, moving, and often uproarious collection.
Born to Rock by Gordon Korman
eo Caraway – president of the Young Republicans club, 4.0 GPA, future Harvard student – had his entire future perfectly planned out. That was, until the X factor. As in Marion X. McMurphy, aka King Maggot, the lead singer of Purge, the most popular, most destructive band punk rock has ever seen. As in Leo’s biological father.
At first, Leo is horrified to find out his real father is punk rock’s most notorious bad boy. Not only is he not a punk rock fan, but he believes the X factor (the Maggot blood in his veins) is a dangerous time bomb just waiting to explode. And sure enough it does – when Leo stubbornly defends the unlikeliest of people, thereby getting himself falsely accused of cheating on a test.
Because of the blemish on his record, the once-star pupil finds his scholarship to Harvard taken away. So he accepts a job as a roadie with Purge’s summer revival tour, all the while secretly hoping to convince King Maggot to pay his tuition. But life on the road is even crazier than Leo bargained for, and before the summer is over, he will finally discover the surprising truth about his dad, his friends, and most important, himself.
Odder by Katherine Applegate
Odder spends her days off the coast of central California, practicing her underwater acrobatics and spinning the quirky stories for which she’s known. She’s a fearless daredevil, curious to a fault. But when Odder comes face-to-face with a hungry great white shark, her life takes a dramatic turn, one that will challenge everything she believes about herself―and about the humans who hope to save her.
Inspired by the true story of a Monterey Bay Aquarium program that pairs orphaned otter pups with surrogate mothers, this poignant and humorous tale told in free verse examines bravery and healing through the eyes of one of nature’s most beloved and charming animals.
The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden
Seventh-grader Zoey has her hands full as she takes care of her much younger siblings after school every day while her mom works her shift at the pizza parlor. Not that her mom seems to appreciate it. At least there’s Lenny, her mom’s boyfriend—they all get to live in his nice, clean trailer.
At school, Zoey tries to stay under the radar. Her only friend Fuchsia has her own issues, and since they’re in an entirely different world than the rich kids, it’s best if no one notices them.
Zoey thinks how much easier everything would be if she were an octopus: eight arms to do eight things at once. Incredible camouflage ability and steady, unblinking vision. Powerful protective defenses.
Unfortunately, she’s not totally invisible, and one of her teachers forces her to join the debate club. Even though Zoey resists participating, debate ultimately leads her to see things in a new way: her mom’s relationship with Lenny, Fuchsia’s situation, and her own place in this town of people who think they’re better than her. Can Zoey find the courage to speak up, even if it means risking the most stable home she’s ever had?
Meredith, Alone by Claire Alexander
She has a full-time remote job and her rescue cat Fred. Her best friend Sadie visits with her two children. There’s her online support group, her jigsaw puzzles and favorite recipes, her beloved Emily Dickinson, the internet, the grocery delivery man. Also keeping her company are treacherous memories of an unstable childhood, the estrangement from her sister, and a traumatic event that had sent her reeling.
But something’s about to change. Whether Meredith likes it or not, the world is coming to her door. Does she have the courage to overcome what’s been keeping her inside all this time?
How To Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix
Every childhood home is haunted, and each of us are possessed by our parents.
When their parents die at the tail end of the coronavirus pandemic, Louise and Mark Joyner are devastated but nothing can prepare them for how bad things are about to get. The two siblings are almost totally estranged, and couldn’t be more different. Now, however, they don’t have a choice but to get along. The virus has passed, and both of them are facing bank accounts ravaged by the economic meltdown. Their one asset? Their childhood home. They need to get it on the market as soon as possible because they need the money. Yet before her parents died they taped newspaper over the mirrors and nailed shut the attic door.
Sometimes we feel like puppets, controlled by our upbringing and our genes. Sometimes we feel like our parents treat us like toys, or playthings, or even dolls. The past can ground us, teach us, and keep us safe. It can also trap us, and bind us, and suffocate the life out of us. As disturbing events stack up in the house, Louise and Mark have to learn that sometimes the only way to break away from the past, sometimes the only way to sell a haunted house, is to burn it all down.
Lizzie Blake’s Best Mistake by Mazey Eddings
Lizzie has made endless mistakes. Kitchen fires, pyramid schemes, bangs (of the hair and human variety), you name it, she’s done it… and made a mess of it too. One mistake she’s never made is letting anyone get closer to her than a single hook-up. But after losing yet another bakery job due to her uncontrolled ADHD, she breaks her cardinal rule and has a two-night-stand that changes everything.
Once burned, twice shy, Rake has given up on relationships. And feelings. And any form of intimacy for that matter. Yet something about charming, chaotic Lizzie has him lowering his guard. For two nights, that is. Then it’s back home to Australia and far away from the pesky feelings Lizzie pulls from him. But when Lizzie tells him she’s got an unexpected bun in the oven, he’ll do whatever it takes to be a part of his child’s life… except be emotionally vulnerable, obviously. He’s never going to make that mistake again.
Through a series of mishaps, totally “platonic” single bed sharing, and an underground erotic baking scheme, Lizzie and Rake learn that even the biggest mistakes can have the most beautiful consequences.
Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle
Maybell Parish has always been a dreamer and a hopeless romantic. But living in her own world has long been preferable to dealing with the disappointments of real life. So when Maybell inherits a charming house in the Smokies from her Great-Aunt Violet, she seizes the opportunity to make a fresh start.
Yet when she arrives, it seems her troubles have only just begun. Not only is the house falling apart around her, but she isn’t the only inheritor: she has to share everything with Wesley Koehler, the groundskeeper who’s as grouchy as he is gorgeous—and it turns out he has very different vision for the property’s future.
Convincing the taciturn Wesley to stop avoiding her and compromise is a task more formidable than the other dying wishes Great-Aunt Violet left behind. But when Maybell uncovers something unexpectedly sweet beneath Wesley’s scowls, and as the two slowly begin to let their guard down, they might learn that sometimes the smallest steps outside one’s comfort zone can lead to the greatest rewards.