Wednesday, April 26, 2017

When Breath Becomes Air

Book: When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalanithi

Members present: Annette, Shea, Karin, Sue, Christy, Marie, Denise, Sharon, Gina, Lorelei, Terrie

Venue: Mellow Mushroom

Discussion Highlights:

Admittedly, it was difficult to have a proper discussion because it's really loud in Mellow Mushroom. And there were so many members present--which is a good thing!--that you could only hear the people who were sitting next to you. But we did get a little discussion in. All of the people on my end of the table liked the book. We all thought he was brilliant. Some of us thought it was sad and others didn't, which was surprising to me. It's true that his writing style was not that emotional. And I guess if you have to die, it's good to know that you lived your life as purposefully as you could, that you were surrounded by your loved ones, and that your mental facilities were in tact. But I still thought it was sad. Sharon's argument was that he lived a very full life in a short amount of time.

We also discussed how sad it was that he didn't get to finish the book, which he really wanted to do. I can imagine him writing furiously in between surgeries and treatments and playing with his baby. But at least the last line he wrote was about how much joy his daughter brought to his life.

We also talked about tennis and finally had some good gossip to share. But if you weren't there, you miss out on the good stuff!

Next Book:

Our next book will be "A Man Called Ove," by Fredrik Backman, and I will be the host. I have to say, I didn't have high expectations when I started the book, but I liked it so much after the first few chapters that I would only read a chapter a night so that I could savor it for as long as possible. However, you could finish it pretty quickly if you're more of a binge reader. I will aim for the end of May for our next meeting.

Friday, March 10, 2017

White Picket Fences

Book:  White Picket Fences - Susan Meissner

Members Present:  Sue, Lorelei, Shea, Sharon, Christy, Linda

Venue: Lenore's

Discussion Highlights:

We were down to 50% in terms of readers who had finished the book, so we spent most of the time giving a detailed summary. It was a quick and easy read. Most people's favorite part was the story of the two men in the Holocaust, which was the central story that pulled together all of the subplots. It was the least depressing book about the Holocaust that we have read and was unique in terms of depicting how it all started, when Hitler invaded Poland. Some of us did not see why it was such a big deal to hide the story about the fire, and I didn't think that it would have been that traumatizing had it been Chase who started the fire since he was four years old. But Linda thought that was a realistic possibility, and I guess people do feel guilty about stuff that isn't their fault all the time. I would say the moral of the story is that it's better to reveal your deep, dark secrets sooner rather than later, before it ruins your marriage and sets your house on fire. All the more reason I have a job, I guess!

We spent a lot of time talking about food and restaurants downtown. If you need a recommendation, ask Shea.

Also, I encourage all of you to vote for me for Captain of the Year next year for the Mid-Atlantic, because I like to win everything! I need to captain 5 more teams this year, because last year's winner had 13 teams. Maybe I should just be co-captain on everyone else's team.

There was also a discussion about pickle ball, because Sharon sent a picture about the length of the kitchen this morning to the group, but I missed that part.

Next Book:

Sharon has agreed to host our next book club meeting. The book is "When Breath Becomes Air," by Paul Kalanithi. Another quick read, so we will aim for April.

Until then, happy reading!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Book: Truevine - Beth Macy

Members Present: Denise, Cindi, Sue, Marie, Terrie, Sharon, Shea

Venue: Denise's lovely abode

Discussion Highlights:

Truevine by Beth Macy was the book for our gathering on Jan 31. Denise was our hostess and Tom her husband cooked delicious chicken and joined us for dinner. Members present were Denise, Sharon, Shea, Cindi, Terrie and Marie. First time book clubber Sue Lunsford came after tennis in time for dessert.  Unfortunately Gina Keller had to cancel due to a possible ACL injury from tennis but luckily she was able to make the Tres Leches cake!! Get better soon Gina!

Denise, Sharon, Shea and Marie (almost) read the book. Denise really liked the book and we all agreed that it was an interesting story. Most of us were in agreement that the story jumped all over the place and that the writing was not the best. Beth Macy is a journalist and the book was written as such and the story didn’t flow. We also liked all the references to areas we were all familiar with in the Roanoke area.  For those of you who didn’t read the book here is a brief summary ….
The true story of two African-American brothers who were kidnapped and displayed as circus freaks, and whose mother endured a 28-year struggle to get them back.
The year was 1899 and the place a sweltering tobacco farm in the Jim Crow South town of Truevine, Virginia. George and Willie Muse were two little boys born to a sharecropper family. One day a white man offered them a piece of candy, setting off events that would take them around the world and change their lives forever. 

Captured into the circus, the Muse brothers performed for royalty at Buckingham Palace and headlined over a dozen sold-out shows at New York's Madison Square Garden. They were global superstars in a pre-broadcast era. But the very root of their success was in the color of their skin and in the outrageous caricatures they were forced to assume: supposed cannibals, sheep-headed freaks, even "Ambassadors from Mars." Back home, their mother never accepted that they were "gone" and spent 28 years trying to get them back.

We also discussed that back in the early 1900’s blacks were not treated very well so we felt that the brothers actually had a better life than what they would have had in Truevine and all the freaks living together were like family where no one judged them. This was somewhat proven in the book when the mother found the brothers and brought them home they eventually went back to the circus life.At the end of book discussion we were all happy with the recent news that the Ringling Bros.Circus would be closing down.   

Next Book:

We saw fitting that the next book be chosen by our newbie Sue. She chose White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner. Hopefully we can keep our streak going and read one book a month!! The end of Feb is our goal for the next book club meeting. Thanks again to Denise for hosting!! And thanks, Sharon for taking minutes at the meeting! If you talked about me, you don't have to tell me what you said since I wasn't there, and that's the rule :).