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. Looks like we’ll be doing it again on June 18th, if you’d like to join us.
Here’s some of the books we discussed.
The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre by Robin Talley
Melody McIntyre, stage manager extraordinaire, has a plan for everything. What she doesn’t have? Success with love. Every time she falls for someone during a school performance, both the romance and the show end in catastrophe. So, Mel swears off any entanglements until their upcoming production of Les Mis is over.
Of course, Mel didn’t count on Odile Rose, rising star in the acting world, auditioning for the spring performance. And she definitely didn’t expect Odile to be sweet and funny, and care as much about the play’s success as Mel.
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Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead
Joan, a young American dancer, helps a Soviet ballet star, the great Arslan Rusakov, defect in 1975. A flash of fame and a passionate love affair follow, but Joan knows that, onstage and off, she is destined to remain in the background. She will never possess Arslan, and she will never be a prima ballerina. She will rise no higher than the corps, one dancer among many.
After her relationship with Arslan sours, Joan plots to make a new life for herself. She quits ballet, marries a good man, and settles in California with him and their son, Harry. But as the years pass, Joan comes to understand that ballet isn’t finished with her yet, for there is no mistaking that Harry is a prodigy. Through Harry, Joan is pulled back into a world she thought she’d left behind–back into dangerous secrets, and back, inevitably, to Arslan.
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The Mysterious World of Sherlock Holmes by Bruce Wexler
Over a century since his first appearance in print, Sherlock Holmes remains an iconic figure today. This unique companion is a collector’s dream, allowing fans to delve into the criminal environment of foggy, gas-lit Victorian London-the world of the all-time greatest detective. The book brings to life the elements of Holmes’s success, the crime scene of his day, his history in film and television, and the present-day Holmes legacy. Featured throughout are famous figures such as Holmes’s faithful sidekick, Dr. Watson; his nemesis, Professor Moriarty; and Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Filled with more than 150 images-many of the works by the great original illustrators of Conan Doyle’s stories-this volume presents an excellent mix of information to satisfy legions of Holmes collectors, mystery fans, and historians fascinated by a bygone era.
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Rustlers of West Fork by Louis L’Amour
Louis L’Amour adds his own special brand to the life and adventures of one of America’s favorite fictional cowboys, Hopalong Cassidy. In The Rustlers of West Fork, the quick-thinking, fast-shooting cowpuncher heads west to deliver a fortune in bank notes to his old friend, Dick Jordan. When he arrives at the Circle J, he discovers that the rancher and his daughter, Pam, are being held prisoner by a desperate band of outlaws led by the ruthless Avery Sparr and his partner Arnold Soper. Even if Hopalong Cassidy can free Jordan and Pam, he will have to lead them across rough and untamed Apache country, stalked by the outlaws who have vowed to gun him down. But Hopalong is no stranger to trouble, and before his guns or his temper cool, he’s determines to round up Sparr and his gang and bring the outlaws to justice … dead or alive!
The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick: How a Spectacular Hoax Became History by Peter Lamont
A rope rises up into the air. A boy climbs up the rope and when the boy gets to the top he vanishes into thin air,” explains Lamont, winner of the Jeremy Dalziel prize in British History, about a tall tale that found its way into legend. The rope trick is one of the most successful hoaxes of all time, created by an amateur magician and printed in the Chicago Tribune in 1890. Despite a later admission that the story was false, it continued to spread in newspapers and journals throughout the world. Some claimed to have seen the trick performed on trips to India. Others added their own spin to the tale. Using the original legend as a starting point, Lamont, who has performed as a magician and psychic, explores how easily people will believe stories that are fed to them as truth despite all logical senses and their outright impossibility.
Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand
Seabiscuit was one of the most electrifying and popular attractions in sports history and the single biggest newsmaker in the world in 1938, receiving more coverage than FDR, Hitler, or Mussolini. But his success was a surprise to the racing establishment, which had written off the crooked-legged racehorse with the sad tail. Three men changed Seabiscuit’s fortunes:
Charles Howard was a onetime bicycle repairman who introduced the automobile to the western United States and became an overnight millionaire. When he needed a trainer for his new racehorses, he hired Tom Smith, a mysterious mustang breaker from the Colorado plains. Smith urged Howard to buy Seabiscuit for a bargain-basement price, then hired as his jockey Red Pollard, a failed boxer who was blind in one eye, half-crippled, and prone to quoting passages from Ralph Waldo Emerson. Over four years, these unlikely partners survived a phenomenal run of bad fortune, conspiracy, and severe injury to transform Seabiscuit from a neurotic, pathologically indolent also-ran into an American sports icon.
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No I Don’t Want to Join a Bookclub by Virginia Ironside
Marie Sharp is heading toward sixty and is just fine with it. She’s already had plenty of excitement in her life: sex and drugs in the freewheeling sixties, career and children, marriage and divorce. Now she’s ready to settle into a quiet, blissfully boring routine. No Italian classes or gym memberships or bicycle trips across Europe, thank you very much! Marie just wants to put her feet up and “start doing old things.”
She’s even sworn off men! But as it turns out, life still has some surprises in store, the biggest of which is a new grandson on the way. What’s more, Archie, her old childhood crush, suddenly reenters her life, and her closest friend falls seriously ill. Armed with a biting sense of humor, Marie wrestles with a life that refuses to follow her plans—and may still offer more possibilities than she realizes.
How To Be Perfectly Unhappy by the Oatmeal
Matthew Inman–Eisner Award-winning creator of The Oatmeal and #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You— serves yet another helping of thoughtful hilarity in this charming, illustrated book for anyone who is irked by the question: “Are you happy?”
In How To Be Perfectly Unhappy, Inman explores the surprising benefits of forgetting about “happiness,” and embracing instead the meaningful activities that keep us busy and interested and fascinated
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What We Don’t Talk About by Charlot Kristensen
Adam and Farai are an interracial couple that have been together for two years. Farai has finally persuaded Adam to introduce her to his parents, but the visit to the in-laws turns out to be a horrible experience for Farai. Several situations during the introductory dinner make her feel uneasy and ostracised. When confronted about this experience Adam tries to play down the whole situation and does not show any understanding for his partner’s concern. This puts a further strain on their relationship and Farai starts to wonder if she can be with a man who’s family does not accept her and who is not willing to face the difficulties related to an interracial relationship.
Yes, I’m Hot in This by Huda Fahmy
At some point in our lives, we’ve all felt a little out of place. Huda Fahmy has found it’s a little more difficult to fade into the crowd when wearing a hijab.
Huda Fahmy navigates the sometimes-rocky waters of life from the unique perspective of a Muslim-American woman, breaking down misconceptions of her culture one comic at a time. From recounting the many questions she gets about her hijab every day (yes, she does have hair) and explaining how she runs in an abaya (just fine, thank you) to dealing with misconceptions about Muslims, Yes, I’m Hot in This tackles universal feelings from an point of view we don’t hear from nearly enough.
Raceless by Georgina Lawton
Raised in sleepy English suburbia, Georgina Lawton was no stranger to homogeneity. Her parents were white; her friends were white; there was no reason for her to think she was any different. But over time her brown skin and dark, kinky hair frequently made her a target of prejudice. In Georgina’s insistently color-blind household, with no acknowledgement of her difference or access to black culture, she lacked the coordinates to make sense of who she was.
It was only after her father’s death that Georgina began to unravel the truth about her parentage—and the racial identity that she had been denied. She fled from England and the turmoil of her home-life to live in black communities around the globe—the US, the UK, Nicaragua, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, and Morocco—and to explore her identity and what it meant to live in and navigate the world as a black woman. She spoke with psychologists, sociologists, experts in genetic testing, and other individuals whose experiences of racial identity have been fraught or questioned in the hopes of understanding how, exactly, we identify ourselves.
Where the Grass is Green and the Girls are Pretty by Lauren Weisberger
A seat at the anchor desk of the most-watched morning show. Recognized by millions across the country, thanks in part to her flawless blond highlights and Botox-smoothed skin. An adoring husband and a Princeton-bound daughter. Peyton is that woman. She has it all. Until… Skye, her sister, is a stay-at-home mom living in a glitzy suburb of New York. She has degrees from all the right schools and can helicopter-parent with the best of them. But Skye is different from the rest. She’s looking for something real and dreams of a life beyond the PTA and pickup. Until…
Max, Peyton’s bright and quirky seventeen-year-old daughter, is poised to kiss her fancy private school goodbye and head off to pursue her dreams in film. She’s waited her entire life for this opportunity. Until… One little lie. That’s all it takes. For the illusions to crack. For resentments to surface. Suddenly the grass doesn’t look so green. And they’re left wondering: will they have what it takes to survive the truth?
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When I was White by Sarah Valentine
At the age of 27, Sarah Valentine discovered that she was not, in fact, the white girl she had always believed herself to be. She learned the truth of her paternity: that her father was a black man. And she learned the truth about her own identity: mixed race.
And so Sarah began the difficult and absorbing journey of changing her identity from white to black. In this memoir, Sarah details the story of the discovery of her identity, how she overcame depression to come to terms with this identity, and, perhaps most importantly, asks: why? Her entire family and community had conspired to maintain her white identity. The supreme discomfort her white family and community felt about addressing issues of race–her race–is a microcosm of race relationships in America.
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His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
Afi Tekple is a young seamstress in Ghana. She is smart; she is pretty; and she has been convinced by her mother to marry a man she does not know. Afi knows who he is, of course—Elikem is a wealthy businessman whose mother has chosen Afi in the hopes that she will distract him from his relationship with a woman his family claims is inappropriate. But Afi is not prepared for the shift her life takes when she is moved from her small hometown of Ho to live in Accra, Ghana’s gleaming capital, a place of wealth and sophistication where she has days of nothing to do but cook meals for a man who may or may not show up to eat them. She has agreed to this marriage in order to give her mother the financial security she desperately needs, and so she must see it through. Or maybe not?
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