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Sunday, December 11, 2016

DECEMBER 2016 BOOKERS MINUTES & MUSINGS, 7 Women by Eric Metaxas

             “Be the light that flies not from darkness, but ever towards it.”

27 Bookers and one guest, Chuck Turner’s daughter, Amy Anderssen, enjoyed a special evening at the Club in celebration of our commitment to books, friends, and the joy of the holidays. Many thanks to Courtney Dickens for loaning us her centerpieces from the Christmas party, to Tim for his generosity in allowing us a private event, and to the staff of Pinnacle for a delicious meal. This may become an annual Bookers event as lots of positive vibes swirled around the room!
We are pleased to report that Jane Freer has undergone one round of chemotherapy without any symptoms other than feeling tired. She will begin another round on Monday and as always, our thoughts and prayers continue to swell for her continued progress. She appreciates the outpouring of love from the community! Also, we will be thinking of Kay Robinson and Chuck as he undergoes bladder surgery this week.

MN and I continue to search for Bookers’ books and so far, after many disappointments, we are still reading, eliminating, and hoping for a diamond in the rough discovery to fill out our calendar. As always, your suggestions are encouraged and welcomed. We only ask that you’ve read the selection before recommending it.

Eric Metaxas is a bestselling author, the host of a nationally syndicated radio program, and a senior fellow and lecturer at large at King’s College in New York where he lives with his wife and daughter. It is a rare talent when a male voice can capture the essence of women, but he was able to bypass the Venus/Mars benchmark and tell us the story of these seven remarkable females. This book is not about feminism…but an exploration of the common thread present in each of them, detailing how they were able to accomplish great things because they were women, not in spite of being a woman. Each one changed the world. Each story championed how education lifts people out of hopelessness and criminality because education removes the gulf between the rich and poor.

Many thanks and appreciation to first-time reviewer, Rebecca Brisendine, for her analysis of 7 Women. Our purpose in selecting this book was to enlighten, and to learn and appreciate the sacrifices these women endured in the name of benevolent goodwill toward humanity. Granted faith played a significant role in their resolve, and discussion of religion is uncomfortable for some, however, Rebecca guided us through the stories with temperance and insight into the secrets of what 
made these great women greater. Well done Rebecca!

Joan of Arc: Frances Bacon said of her, “God hangs the greatest weights upon the smallest wires.”

Susanna Wesley: Home-schooled before home schooling was cool. She persevered and believed she had an obligation to the community to raise responsible children.

Hannah More: Her words swayed public opinion. She set out to make goodness fashionable.

Saint Maria of Paris: Her life, a welter of contradiction, a mother to everyone, who saw past conventional thinking that faith can only be demonstrated inside the walls of a church.

Corrie Ten Boom: She trusted in a time when the smart thing to do was to trust no one. She never believed she was as spiritual as her sister was, as patient as her father was, or as smart as her brother, but because she was chosen to spread their message, she was all of that and more. Her belief that healing was linked to forgiveness allowed her to forgive her tormentors.

Rosa Parks: She was a simple woman who believed the Bible had a social mandate in its teachings – stand up for your rights. Educated by all white teachers, she learned she was a person of dignity and should not set her sights lower because she was black. She did not give up her seat on the bus that day because she was tired…she was tired of giving up. She’s a treasure to everyone who fights for equality of the human race.

Mother Teresa: Small in stature, a giant in faith, leading people to ask, “How does such moral authority and holiness come out of such a small person?” Pope Francis at her canonization ceremony answered that, “Let us carry her smile in our hearts and give it to those whom we meet along the journey, especially those who suffer.”
                                    COLOR CODING SYSTEM
                                    WHITE:         LIGHT READ
                                     PINK:             MODERATELY CHALLENGING
                                     RED:              CHALLENGING
January 10th:                          The Water is Wide, a memoir by Pat Conroy set in the 1960’s on an island off the coast of South Carolina. He was a teacher before he became a world-renowned author and this, his first book, narrates his experience as the only teacher on the island – his students, 18 black uneducated middle schoolers, some who can’t read or write or tell you what country they live in.
                                                PINK
                                                Reviewer: Beverly Dossett
                                                Home of Donna Walter
February 14th:                        Miss Jane by Brad Watson, set in rural Mississippi early 20th century and inspired by his aunt’s true story.
                                                DEEP PINK
                                                Reviewer: Jean Alexander
                                                Home of Pat Faherty
March 14th:                             Book TBD
Reviewer: Patty Evans
                                                Home of Jean Alexander
April 11th:                               The Girl Who Wrote In Silk, by Kelli Estes, debut
                                                PINK
                                                The protagonist discovers an elaborately stitched piece of fabric hidden in her deceased aunt’s island estate revealing a connection with a young Chinese girl mysteriously driven from her home a century before.
Reviewer: Pat Faherty
                                                Home of Rokhshie Malone
May 2nd                                  Earlier date due to travel conflict
                                                Book- TBD
                                                Reviewer: Barbara Creach
                                               Wine & Cheese evening meeting at the home of Melanie Prebis.

 Who do we know today capable of changing the world?
 Merry Christmas and happy reading,
JoDee


Thursday, November 17, 2016

NOVEMBER 2016 BOOKERS MINUTES & MUSINGS, Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

“He had not understood, before battle, was that time could become a ribbon to be looped and pinned back to its center, the petals of a black rosette.”

27 Bookers safely escaped an “artillery shell dropping from the sky and the wind blowing knives” as they navigated to the home of Sheri Green, a secure distance from across the pond as in 1939 Londoners prepared to defend their homeland against the Axis forces directed by Hitler’s Germany. We are delighted new member, Brenda Karnofel, was able to join us and we hope she will become a regular.

When one of our own stares into uncertainty, we most often draw on our own strength to try to right the ship for those in need. All of our PWC members and especially Bookers are flexing our muscles to help Jane Freer and her family through this trying time – knowing our wall of courage will remain unyielding until Jane is strong again. She will be seeking a second oncology opinion on Monday to map out her treatment plan. Look for additional information on their needs via our PWC update emails. The Freers were touched and thankful for our outpouring of love in our cards and basket. We can’t walk in their shoes but we can be the Doctor Scholl’s insert that cushions each step.

Patsy Dehn gave a brief synopsis of the novel, ending with “It is a stunning examination of what it means to love, lose, and remain courageous” before introducing a surprise guest who took the red-eye in from London, author, Chris Cleave, impersonated by our own John Magee, who reportedly worried about how to look British!

Patsy, assuming the role of a Barbara Walters, questioned Mr. Cleave on a variety of issues… the difficulty of following up a wildly successful book like Little Bee… the intense research required to set the details and tone for the novel… the difficulty of switching scenes between London and Malta…the reward for the reader…the timing of eliminating characters…favorite moment…what he wants the reader to take from the novel…and does he have anything in the works for his next project. Mr. Cleave-Magee did his research, giving author-like answers to each of the inquiries with conviction, humor, and expertise. Maybe John should try writing, oh, By Jove, I think he has one in the works. Thank you Patsy and John for providing such creativity to this wonderful novel…it was a tutorial on how to from one of the best storytellers!

To summarize this masterpiece any better than the New York Times would be futile. “Cleave’s foray into historical fiction is both grand and intimate. The novel’s ability to stay small and quiet against the raging tableau of war is what also makes it glorious….an absorbing account of survival, racism, classism, love and pain, and the scars left by all of them….Cleave’s prose is imbued with a Dickensian flair, deploying brilliant metaphors and crackling dialogue.” Charles Dickens loved words often including powerful adjectives to describe people and their surroundings to develop a “feel” to the piece using his rhythmic style to evoke laughter or heart-breaking sentiment. Mr. Dickens would applaud Mr. Cleave’s creativity in using a ginger cat named Julius Caesar returned from the taxidermist unstuffed to pen a letter to one of the characters.

The author wrote an antithesis to a war story. His characters didn’t become spies, forfeit everything for love, or survive a serious but non-life threatening injury while saving dozens of men only to be triumphant and live happily ever after. Cleave wrote about what it means to be brave and will that courage be sustainable in infinity. With war on the horizon each character took a leap of faith to do all the “brave” things required during a conflict – giving up civilian comforts, risking their own lives, forfeiting their place in society to help those in need, running into burning buildings to save children, and fighting the Germans. The flip side of the bravery coin is weakness and none of his cast were immune to failure posing the question, “Who knows which takes more courage – to die in battle, or to live in vain?” Is the bar set so high for bravery as to eliminate the ability to forgive smaller acts of human behavior? Each character struggled to stay alive and/or to keep hope alive in an atmosphere where morality was not a simple choice and self-forgiveness difficult to reconcile. The Oxford dictionary identifies brave as courageous but it doesn’t designate where it applies. Bravery is not listed on a job description when a person enlists or is drafted into service, but the term assumes a person was brave if he gave up his life for his country, especially during war. Sometimes the brave ones are those who survived and have to live every day trying to forgive themselves for whatever they did in the name of bravery.  

From the author’s notes, we learn the Malta siege is based on his maternal grandfather, Captain Hill of the Royal Artillery, who was assigned to mind the brilliant but overindulged son, Randolph Churchill, of the British Prime Minister. Cleave intended to write the novel by exploring the “power” dynamic between these two men, but as happens with best-laid plans he focused on his grandfather’s story in the character of Alistair. Mary North is inspired by both grandmothers to carry on a love affair separated by war “you must have enormous faith in life and in each other.” He says talking with his grandmothers about the war gave the impression, “it had been brief, uncomfortable, and not worth wasting breath on.”

The novel, well received within the majority of our group, did meet some resistance as it was described as dull, slow-moving, especially in the beginning with a love relationship between Mary and Tom that did not resonate with the reader. We discussed the impulsive actions of Mary and Alistair signing up to be part of the war effort as soon as war was declared; our opinions of the main characters; Zachery and Mary’s relationship; why Alistair couldn’t “weave himself into the new way” that London was moving after he returned; Mary’s thoughts on her “new freedoms” during the war; Mary and her mother’s relationship and the “sadness” Mary saw in her eyes; how everyone reacted during the first air raid; how Mary didn’t want London “put back the way we found it”; the significance of the jar of blackberry jam; where there moments of happiness in the novel; Hilda and Mary’s relationship; Mary’s reaction after seeing the minstrel show; and what drives the reluctance for service personnel who served during wartime to discuss their experiences. 

We talked about the significance of the ending, which found Hilda and Mary waiting for Alistair at the Ritz. Mary and Alistair’s love affair wasn’t “slow with increments of dancing and dinner.” It consisted of an air raid and a farewell at the train station. Their reconciliation began with small talk as they each questioned whether love was real or were they actors on stage following a carefully written script. She was a teacher nobody needed, a daughter who embarrassed her parents, protected in her “nest” and only an “imprint in London clay, of inherited money and looks.” He stood up to the enemy while she was proud of standing up to her mother. Their cultures were colliding, but as they sat on the floor of the Tate museum, “daylight blinded her and she blinked until the world was restored….It was an unscrewing of tarnished brass plaques. It was one tile lost to the pattern. It was an air one might still breathe, if everyone forgiven was brave.” There was a chance for their relationship.

We ended with a hope for the future, “making forgiveness possible at a national level instead of only achievable between courageous individuals.” As Patsy quoted, “Choose peace – forgive to live.”

                                        COLOR CODING SYSTEM
                                        WHITE:       LIGHT READ
                                         PINK:          MODERATELY CHALLENGING
                                         RED:            CHALLENGING
December 7th:                          WEDNESDAY NIGHT @ The Pinnacle Club. We’ll celebrate the holidays in our decorated clubhouse with a plated dinner. Details to follow.
                                                Seven Women by Eric Metaxas, inspirational biographies of what makes women great dwelling on a common thread of how these incredible women accomplished greatness because they are women, not in spite of being a woman.
                                                PINK
                                                Reviewer: Rebecca Brisendine
January 10th:                            Book TBD – Soon to be announced  
                                                Reviewer: TBD
Home of Donna Walter
February 14th:                          Miss Jane by Brad Watson, set in rural Mississippi early 20th century and inspired by his aunt’s true story.
                                                DEEP PINK
                                                Reviewer: Jean Alexander
                                                Home of Pat Faherty
March 14th:                              Book TBD
Reviewer: Patty Evans
                                                Home of Jean Alexander
April 11th:                                The Girl Who Wrote In Silk, by Kelli Estes, debut
                                                PINK
                                                The protagonist discovers an elaborately stitched piece of fabric hidden in her deceased aunt’s island estate revealing a connection with a young Chinese girl mysteriously driven from her home a century before.
Reviewer: Pat Faherty
                                                Home of Rokhshie Malone
May 2nd                                   Earlier date due to travel conflict
                                                Book- TBD
                                                Reviewer: Barbara Creach
                                                Wine & Cheese evening meeting at the home of Melanie Prebis.
The job of a novelist is to dig one small hole that must host a great number of men.”
Happy Reading,

JoDee

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

OCTOBER BOOKERS MINUTES & MUSINGS, Me Before You, by JoJo Moyes

“Don’t ever discount the wonder of your tears….sometimes they are the best words the heart can speak.” The Shack, William Paul Young.

24 Bookers armed with tissues gathered in Rebecca Robinson’s theater to watch the movie version of JoJo Moyes bestselling novel, Me Before You. I should have warned those unsuspecting souls that this qualified as a waterproof-mascara-only event. The Brits were correct in suggesting this one was “a real weepy.” (Recap below) For those wanting more, the sequel, After You, details how Ms. Clark gets on with her life after Will Traynor. Thanks to everyone for heeding our earlier schedule so those playing bridge would have time to freshen their makeup. Welcome new member, Carol Myers, to the group and we hope she will join us again!   

I regret we didn’t have time for the discussion as I suspect it would have been lively. I have a paperback of the novel if anyone is interested in reading it – just let me know. In summary, the book, described similar to Erich Segal’s Love Story, hangs deep emotion on the window ledge and keeps the reader wondering, when we tumble will someone catch us? The author expertly details the contrast in the two main characters. Will, now physically paralyzed, has lived a full life, and now he cannot. Lou, emotionally paralyzed, has never “fully” lived. Her mission was to give Will a reason to live – her – and his mission was to empower her to discover the richness of life – without him. The readers felt every sentient touch of a love story of humanity and difficult choices, jarring us into slowing down and looking inward.

Critics, and there were a scant few, categorized the book as chick-lit, and its message – you only get one life and it’s your duty to live it as fully as possible – belongs in a Hallmark card or on a needle-point pillow. 99.9% of the reviewers disagreed, but it points out the difference in perspective.

Will’s choice to end his life, although difficult to reconcile or justify to some, points to the importance of walking in other’s shoes. Ms. Moyes addressed the gravity of his situation delicately, interjecting a light touch just when the story needed it without pointing a moral finger one direction or the other.

I hope to duplicate Lou’s fashion sense, especially her shoes, within our garage sale inventory!

COLOR CODING SYSTEM
WHITE:         LIGHT READ
PINK:             MODERATELY CHALLENGING
RED:              CHALLENGING
November 8th                          Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave, author of Little Bee. The setting, the ever-changing landscape of World War II London, 1939.
                                                PINKISH RED
                                                Reviewer: Patsy Dehn
Home of Sheri Green
December 7th:                          WEDNESDAY NIGHT @ The Pinnacle Club. We’ll celebrate the holidays in our decorated clubhouse with a plated dinner. Details to follow.
                                                Seven Women by Eric Metaxas, inspirational biographies of what makes women great dwelling on a common thread of how these incredible women accomplished greatness because they are women, not in spite of being a woman.
                                                PINK
                                                Reviewer: Rebecca Brisendine
January 10th:                            Book TBD     
                                                Reviewer: TBD
Home of Donna Walter
February 14th:                          Miss Jane by Brad Watson, set in rural Mississippi early 20th century and inspired by his aunt’s true story.
                                                DEEP PINK
                                                Reviewer: Jean Alexander
                                                Home of Pat Faherty
March 14th:                              Book TBD
Reviewer: Patty Evans
                                                Home of Jean Alexander
April 11th:                                Book TBD
                                                Reviewer: Barbara Creach
                                                Home of Rokhshie Malone
May 9th                                    Tentative date.
                                                Book and Home: TBD
                                                Reviewer: Pat Faherty

News from Alabama – MN has formed the Dauphin Island Book Club, which will debut in January, taking a page from Bookers by reading, A Man Called Ove…..(the movie is now airing in select theaters.) So now, she has two Clubs to take care of! We continue our search for Bookers’ books to fill out the rest of our year. We will keep you updated. 

Happy Reading,
JoDee

Thursday, September 15, 2016

September 2016 Bookers Minutes & Musings, The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

The site of the garden party, although “broiling….certainly the warmest of the summer,” buzzed with Gatsby-garbed guests sipping champagne and munching on finger sandwiches in celebration of Bookers return from summer break and the beginning of our thirteenth year. 33 “old sports” lolled on the Magee’s patio enjoying the jazz refrains crooned by Louis and Ella. Bartender, Jane Freer, kept a tuxedoed John Magee supplied with glasses of bubbly to serve while Bonnie and co-host Rosemary Farmer offered sustenance. Daisy Buchanan (aka Cherry Fugitt) sprawled regally on a chaise, visited with everyone who passed by and Jordan Baker arrived straight from the links with a few of her golfing buddies. Many thanks to Bonnie and John, Rosemary, Jane, Melanie, Patty, Patsy, Rokhshie, Daryl, Sheri Green, and to Mike Cromer for authenticating our little party with his beautiful classic car. Talk about a village! We appreciate everyone enduring the heat and sun to support Bookers as we all seemed to adopt Daisy’s saying, “It’s too hot to fuss.”

We were delighted to see some old friends, members, and guests – Joyce Helberg, Charlotte Pechacek, Teresa Cromer, Linsey Garwacki, Aulsine DeLoach, Leslie Mullins, Sarah Yeager, and of course our guest reviewer, Penny Barshop – able to join us this time and hope they will make it a habit. And, we’ve acquired some new “sports” in Kathi Baublits, Paula Butcher, and Mary Wensel. Welcome to all. As a side note to our new members, generally our meetings are less elaborate with hostesses providing water, coffee and juice….no dressing up or imbibing unless we deem it an occasion. It’s all about the book!

Penny Barshop, guest reviewer extraordinaire, (We ALL agree), began the Gatsby journey with a brief background of the author, his wife Zelda, and the complex friendship and competition between Fitzgerald and Hemingway. More information is available in Z, a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, by Therese Anne Fowler. The Great Gatsby, considered an American classic, embodies the elements that define that attribute – broadly speaking, by showing the culture of the nation, relevant then now, told in timeless rich prose defining complex characters and vibrant and unique settings, embracing a style that moves the story back and forth drawing the reader into each word of each page. We are privy to the theme of the novel with the epigraph, generally written by someone other than the author, which serves as an appetizer to the important aspects of the story, pointing the reader in the right direction. Fitzgerald chose to break the rules by fictionalizing its author and hinting of what was in store for Gatsby by suggesting someone use material deception in order to win a girl – bling yourself up to attract the attention of someone who would not otherwise notice you…..Jay is that you?

Penny assumed the role of narrator Nick’s alleged fiancĂ©e in Chicago – the one he described as “that tangle back home with a vague understanding” that he needed to break – reviewing the novel from letters he wrote to her and signed, Love, Nick. Each of the nine chapters of Gatsby reads like a short story with Penny leading us through the novel in the voice of the other woman from the Midwest. I’ve summarized the high points of each one in the following manner:

Chapter One: Nick, who is your cousin and her philandering (established rich East Egger) hulk of a husband? It’s lunch time with Daisy and Tom, best friend, Jordan Baker, and a fifth guest arriving in the form of a telephone call from Tom’s honey.

Chapter Two: Nick, meet Myrtle, Tom’s latest fling. Myrtle lives with her husband under the billboard eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg looking down on the morally bankrupt wasteland called the valley of ashes between West Egg and New York.

Chapter Three: Nick, invited to a party at his neighbor, West Egger Jay Gatsby, had watched him as he stared across the water at a green light mounted on the Buchanan’s dock. Rumors swirled as guests blathered about who was the “real” Gatsby.

Chapter Four: Gatsby seizes an opportunity to endear himself to Nick by squashing the stories about him and letting Nick in on his “real” story and Oh, by the way says Jay, invite your cousin to tea, covertly, at your place so we can rekindle the connection lost five years ago.

            Chapter Five: It worked.

Chapter Six: Tom meets his archenemy – Jay – and vows to find out his “real” story. Jay wants to return to his pipe dream with Daisy in Louisville, but insists she must tell Tom she never loved him.

Chapter Seven: This is where the you know what hits the fan. Gatsby’s career as Trimalchio (an arrogant former slave who became quite wealthy by tactics most would find distasteful) was over. Three year old, “Bles-sed pre-cious,” prances around briefly until scooped up by the nanny. The car caper develops. Push comes to shove on whom Daisy loves more and Tom’s honey dies.

Chapter Eight: The month long love affair between rich Daisy and poor Jay was love at first sight for both five years ago but doomed both from the start and at the end. Nick and Jordan had no conversation left in their casual relationship and Tom showed his true colors by confessing to his honey’s husband, the name of the driver that ran down his Myrtle. Jay floated in a pool of blood in his own pool and George ended his grief with the same gun.

Chapter Nine: Gatsby’s funeral consisted of his “real” father, Henry Gatz, a minister, Nick, four or five servants, the local postman, and the owl-eyed glasses man who admired Jay’s library. All his other “friends” seemed “occupied.” You know when it’s time to go home “when the blue smoke of brittle leaves was in the air and the wind blew the wet laundry stiff on the line.” Rest in Peace Jimmy Gatz.

A few words to describe Fitzgerald’s creations might read something like this: Jay – hollow, used by everyone; Daisy – “voice full of money;” Tom – adulterer, bigot, moron; Nick – honest, loyal; Jordan – “incurably dishonest;” Myrtle – shallow opportunist; George – blindfolded by love.

Our discussion centered on the characters, some feeling Daisy got a bad rap as she was “measured by her time,” and how interesting it would be to read this same novel through her point of view, while others said she showed no remorse for killing Myrtle. We marveled on Fitzgerald’s lyrical prose and unique phrasings. The question of who fathered Daisy’s child, some thinking it was Jay, surfaced. Rereading that portion today, I discovered Daisy and Tom were married in June, enjoyed a three month honeymoon and the little girl was born the following April – 10 months from the wedding and on page ten Daisy tells Jay she is three years old. Jay would have to have been a time traveler to be the father. Fitzgerald, with his style of writing and ability to transport readers to whatever world in which he resided, ranks as a great author today. He developed his talents among the modernist writers of the time believing the Great American dream had diminished corrupting American society in the 1920’s. This novel represented views in the line with the modernist writers of the time experimenting with literary form and expression – incorporating interior monologue and various points of view, and unreliable narrators. The green light at the end of Daisy and Tom’s dock represents Gatsby’s dream – the ultimate satisfaction that eluded him but tomorrow he will run faster and one fine morning, he will achieve it. We all recognized the continuing saga that wealth and consequence are not bedmates.

                               Thank You Bernie Crudden for recommending Gatsby

                                         On the business side:
Some of you will remember last December, MN and I took on the roles of two main characters, Addie and Louis, from Our Souls at Night. Netflix is now producing the screen version starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford…and to think we were available.

Our October meeting is a week early this year as not to conflict with the garage sale. In order for Rebecca to calculate how much seating will be necessary, I’ll send out a note asking that you RSVP if you will be joining us and we urge everyone to read this wonderful book before the movie.

As you know, we pulled the December book selection, Too Bright to Hear, Too Loud to See, although it meets the criteria of a Bookers’ book – well written, fosters conversation, expands our minds beyond our comfort zone, and enables us to walk in other’s shoes. Although the writer gives a raw look at bipolar disorder, (one she suffers with as well), the vivid language and the protagonist’s escapades overshadows the disease. It is a very challenging read, but worthwhile if you can focus on the story and are interested in learning the depths one goes to in order to hide the disease, while dying on the inside. 

We’ve been busy searching for special reads for the rest of the year and have suffered through some not so inspiring selections and several set in the “war eras.” We have two or three on the radar, and will keep you posted as soon as we have the final analysis.

You’ve all heard of the Little Free Libraries all over the country. Chris Batt suggested one for our community and her husband agreed to build it for us. Melanie checked with the HOA, and since we have a library downstairs in the Clubhouse, they didn’t feel it necessary to add another venue.

Melba brought to our attention on the back of some cereal boxes is a promotion for local libraries focusing on on-line book clubs for residents. They choose a book a month and send the first chapter to the members followed by a new chapter for several more days, giving you a taste of the book before either purchasing it or checking it out at the library. If you’re interested, check with our local libraries to see if they have this incorporated into their services.

                                    COLOR CODING SYSTEM
                                    WHITE:         LIGHT READ
                                    PINK:             MODERATELY CHALLENGING
                                    RED:              CHALLENGING
October 4th:                             Early date due to Garage Sale
Me Before You, by Jo Jo Moyes features two people who couldn’t have less in common until love gave them everything to lose.
                                                DEEP PINK
At the movies – Rebecca Robinson’s theater. Chat time 9:30 A.M. We must be seated and ready for the curtain to rise promptly at 10:00 A.M due to the length of the movie and our bridge gals.
November 8th:                         Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave, author of Little Bee. The setting, the ever-changing landscape of World War II London, 1939.
                                                PINKISH RED
                                                Reviewer: Patsy Dehn
*** Note change:                    Home: Sheri Green
December 7th:                         WEDNESDAY NIGHT @ The Pinnacle Club. We’ll celebrate the holidays in our decorated clubhouse with a plated dinner. Details to follow.
                                                Seven Women by Eric Metaxas, inspirational biographies of what makes women great dwelling on a common thread of how these incredible women accomplished greatness because they are women, not in spite of being a woman.
                                                Reviewer: Rebecca Brisendine
January 10th:                           Home of Donna Walter – note change of host home
February 14th:                         Reviewer: Jean Alexander – book & host home TBD      
March 14th:                             Reviewer: Patty Evans – book TBD
                                                Home of Jean Alexander
April 11th:                               Reviewer: Barbara Creach- book TBD (Rokhshie Malone’s home)
May 9th                                   Tentative date – evening event – book & host home TBD
                                                Reviewer: Pat Faherty

Happy Reading, 
JoDee

Saturday, May 28, 2016

MAY 2016 BOOKERS' MINUTES & MUSINGS, A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman

“You only need one ray of light to chase all the shadows away.”

Add a self-proclaimed curmudgeon named Ove, who favors entombing his “love suit” until it merits unveiling, to bottled spirits, food, 25 friends, an evening Bookers’ meeting, and a member’s birthday, and you have the makings of a ‘rollicking-good-time’ closing out our eleventh year at the home of Beverly Dossett. We once again thank Bonnie Magee for handling the epicurean czarship with her usual proficiency. We appreciate everyone’s willingness to adjust our regular May meeting date to fit our schedules. Our birthday girl, Cherry, appreciates all the cards and well wishes offered in celebration of her special day!

Because of the evening timeframe, our working girl, Jean McSpadden, was able to join us and volunteered to review this month’s selection. Sometimes providence is unescapable as was the case with Jean and this portrait of quirkiness as “by-the-book” Ove drove a Saab as did our reviewer back in the day. Saabs are dependable, turbo-charged, safe, and a classic that enjoys a loyal following. Sound familiar? Thank you for your insights into Mr. Backman’s debut novel.

Often gaining knowledge into the author’s background provides a peek into the storyline or motivations for writing a book. Swedish born Fredrik studied comparative religion but dropped out to drive a truck instead (most likely a diesel engine Scania). The owner of a free newspaper, launched in 2006, asked Fredrik to add writing for the paper to his truck driving duties, launching his career as a blogger and columnist. Upon discovering there were “people out there willing to pay people to just write about other people,” he commented, “surely this must be better than working…not to mention the fact that I can sit down for a living now, which has been great for my major interest in cheese eating.”

The opening scene of this novel instantly gives the reader a character profile of the protagonist. The world with everyone dripping with the latest technology advances has left fifty-nine year old Ove behind and he’s not happy about the state of things. He’s clearly suffering from irritable male syndrome but why. “A time comes when you choose what sort of person you want to be…” Did he opt to be a crusty ill-tempered man or did the loss of his wife and the underlying tale of aging and loneliness entice him to the safest place he knew – the pre-paid gravesite beside the love of his life. His black and white, wrong was wrong, right was right, fair play, and hard work mindset clashed with Sonja, the color in his life, who professed to love only three things, her father, cats, and books before she met Ove. She compared him to the “slightly disheveled pink flowers” he brought to their first dinner date and felt all roads led to something you were predetermined to do. He just wanted to “know what it felt like to be someone (she) looked at,” and for him all roads led to her. On paper, they were polar opposites, but in their hearts, they complimented each other’s strengths and weaknesses. She loved books and taught hundreds of pupils with learning disabilities to read, write, and appreciate Shakespeare’s collective works. He honored her passion by building her bookcases. The “real” Ove peeks out with an influx of neighborly interactions and interferences punctuated by the arrival of Cat Annoyance interrupting his rigid schedule. Suddenly his world exploded with people and animals and with their arrival came a sense of significance…they all needed him in some way. In response, he put aside his outward Clark Kent garb to uncloak his “superman suit,” albeit with an upside-down smile and a sense of humor.

Overall, our group received this book with open arms as, although the premise of a grumpster bent on methodically taking his own life is a bit off-putting, his story held values, loyalty, love, friendship, and purpose to a high standard. The strength of the novel is to take such an arduous storyline and successfully make the reader laugh-out loud and shed a tear in the same sentence. A few Bookers took exception and didn’t enjoy the book, some expressed it was not their favorite, and others had difficulty with a fifty-nine year old being labeled “old.” As always, we recognize and respect that we each have our own “reading cups of tea.” We shared a lively discussion and meaningful quotes from the book, many laughs and personal views….Bookers at our best! I was struck with the stark contrast between two states of mind – grumpiness and happiness – and why, if there were a choice, would one choose one over the other. There is some anecdotal evidence that suggests loss of hormones in both sexes, chemical changes in the brain, or chronic pain reducing our coping abilities all can lead to depression. It’s simplistic to advocate getting out of a rut, not fretting about what we cannot change, avoiding criticism of others, and adopting a child’s perspective – the world is a simple place of wonder – is the answer to grumpiness, but it’s something to consider. We all might benefit from removing some of those pits in our bowl of cherries.

      On the business side:
Thanks to everyone who sent their suggestions to us for possible selections as a Bookers’ book. Having said that, we are still in the process of reading some of them including Nicholas Sparks latest novel, See Me, The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin, Ask Him Why by Catherine Ryan Hyde, The Church of Marvels by Leslie Darby, and are checking out West with the Night by Beryl Markham, and others. I’m wearing out another pair of reading glasses.

I’ve just returned from a short vacation at MN & Mike’s home in Dauphin Island, Alabama. We were sitting on the porch rocking away inhaling the salt air, watching the dolphins romp, and the pelicans dive bomb for lunch, when she said, let’s plan Bookers’ year. I pouted and shed a tear because I wanted to just rock. She gave me three minutes before saying, “OK, how about we do this on September 13th,” and the planning began. As you know, although she will not be “in house” very much the upcoming year, she is still the heart and soul of Bookers – so in an attempt to make my life easier and to add a little fun mix to the upcoming year we’re offering the following recommendations to start our year – see below:

                           COLOR CODING SYSTEM
                           WHITE:         LIGHT READ
                           PINK:             MODERATELY CHALLENGING
                           RED:              CHALLENGING

Summer Break:                     June, July, & August
                                                Summer Read recommended by Bernie Crudden
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
set in the summer of 1922 in the midst
of the Jazz Age, Long Island, New York.
September 13th:                      Beginning of Bookers’ 13th year
                                                The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
                                                PINK
                                                Guest Reviewer: Penny Barshop
                                                Home of Donna Walter
October 4th:                             Early date due to Garage Sale
Me Before You, by Jo Jo Moyes 
features two people who couldn’t have 
less in common until love gave them everything to lose.
                                                DEEP PINK
At the movies – Rebecca Robinson’s theater.
November 8th:                         Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave, 
                                                author of Little Bee. The setting, the 
                                                ever-changing landscape of World War II London, 1939.
                                                PINKISH RED
                                                Reviewer: Patsy Dehn
                                                Home of Patsy Dehn
December 7th:                         WEDNESDAY NIGHT @ The Pinnacle Club. 
                                                 We’ll celebrate the holidays in our decorated clubhouse
                                                 with a plated dinner and no Bingo to 
                                                 compete with. Details will follow, 
                                                 but our intent is to begin cocktails 
                                                 around 5:00 P.M., followed by a short 
                                                 business meeting, dinner, book review, and discussion.
                                                Too Bright to Hear, Too Loud to See, a debut novel 
                                                by Juliann Garey follows the missing ten years
                                                of successful bipolar Hollywood studio executive’s life.
                                                RED
                                                Reviewer: Beverly Dossett

January 10th:                           Reviewer: Rebecca Brisendine – book TBD
                                                Home of Bonnie Magee
February 14th:                         Reviewer: Jean Alexander – book & host home TBD
March 14th:                             Reviewer: Patty Evans – book TBD
                                                Home of Jean Alexander
April 11th:                               Reviewer: Barbara Creach- book & host home TBD
May 9th:                                  Tentative date – evening event?        
                                                Reviewer: Pat Faherty – book TBD
                                                Home of Melanie Prebis

Our Books in Bloom author, Jan Jarboe Russell of Train to Crystal City fame just awarded best non-fiction of the year from the Texas Institute of Letters. Well deserved honor!

We’d like to take a moment to reflect on those within our community of friends whose lives or those of a loved one have hung in the balance recently. A French Proverb tells us “there are no miracles for those that have no faith in them” – they are born of a love greater than our own.

Have a wonderful summer and bring us some “diamonds in the rough” to read in the upcoming year.

JoDee