February 5, 2010

The Best Books Club: 1st Quarter 2010

We had a really nice turnout for our first meeting of the year. It was decided we would meet quarterly, assigning three books to each quarter. This way we can take turns reading the books so difficult to find here in our little town, and in case you did not get to one, you still have something to discuss when you come to the next quarterly meeting.
We discussed the books we read over the holidays and then turned our attention to the dozen books spread out in front of us on the table. I appreciated the guidance I had in choosing our selection from the many readers and reviewers at Goodreads.com.
For our first quarter, we will be reading:

THE GOOSE GIRL, by Shannon Hale.
She can whisper to horses and communicate with birds, but the crown princess Ani has a difficult time finding her place in the royal family and measuring up to her imperial mother. When she is shipped off to a neighboring kingdom as a bride, her scheming entourage mounts a bloody mutiny to replace her with a jealous lady-in-waiting, Selia, and to allow an inner circle of guards more power in the new land. Barely escaping with her life, Ani disguises herself as a goose girl and wanders on the royal estate. Does she have the pluck to reclaim her rightful place? Get ready for a fine adventure tale full of danger, suspense, surprising twists, and a satisfying conclusion. The engaging plot can certainly carry the tale, but Hale's likable, introspective heroine makes this also a book about courage and justice in the face of overwhelming odds. The richly rendered, medieval folkloric setting adds to the charm. Anne O'Malley
Copyright © American Library Association.


THE ROAD, by Cormac McCarthy.
Cormac McCarthy sets his new novel, The Road, in a post-apocalyptic blight of gray skies that drizzle ash, a world in which all matter of wildlife is extinct, starvation is not only prevalent but nearly all-encompassing, and marauding bands of cannibals roam the environment with pieces of human flesh stuck between their teeth. If this sounds oppressive and dispiriting, it is. McCarthy may have just set to paper the definitive vision of the world after nuclear war, and in this recent age of relentless saber-rattling by the global powers, it's not much of a leap to feel his vision could be not far off the mark nor, sadly, right around the corner. Stealing across this horrific (and that's the only word for it) landscape are an unnamed man and his emaciated son, a boy probably around the age of ten. It is the love the father feels for his son, a love as deep and acute as his grief, that could surprise readers of McCarthy's previous work. McCarthy's Gnostic impressions of mankind have left very little place for love. In fact that greatest love affair in any of his novels, I would argue, occurs between the Billy Parham and the wolf in The Crossing. But here the love of a desperate father for his sickly son transcends all else. McCarthy has always written about the battle between light and darkness; the darkness usually comprises 99.9% of the world, while any illumination is the weak shaft thrown by a penlight running low on batteries. In The Road, those batteries are almost out--the entire world is, quite literally, dying--so the final affirmation of hope in the novel's closing pages is all the more shocking and maybe all the more enduring as the boy takes all of his father's (and McCarthy's) rage at the hopeless folly of man and lays it down, lifting up, in its place, the oddest of all things: faith. --Dennis Lehane 

And our non-fiction selection, any food book by Michael Pollan.
Michael Pollan's last book , The Omnivore's Dilemma, launched a national conversation about the American way of eating; now In Defense of Food shows us how to change it, one meal at a time. Pollan proposes a new answer to the question of what we should eat that comes down to seven simple but liberating words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Pollan's bracing and eloquent manifesto shows us how we can start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich our lives, enlarge our sense of what it means to be healthy, and bring pleasure back to eating.



Speaking of food, we enjoyed some treats of the non-written kind, as well. Click on the links to find the recipes for Bacon Maui and Roasted Red Pepper & Cheddar Dip.

As always, you can check here for comments on the books we are reading, and are welcome to leave your own!
Thank you for participating!

1 comment:

M. Gray said...

I added The Road to my "to read" list. Yay! Thanks, Krista!

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