Toulon Public Library District

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3rd Thursday Book Club@TPLD

We are the 3rd Thursday Book Club. We meet at the Toulon Public Library on the 3rd Thursday of the month at 6:30 pm except May and December. Ask Michael or Mary for more details by visiting or calling the library 286-5791.

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2019-2020 Third Thursday Book Club List:

January 16 2020: Bossypants, Tina Fey

At last, Tina Fey's story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon -- from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.

 

February 20 2020: Telegram for Mrs. Mooney, Cate M. Ruane

On the same day that France surrenders to the Nazis, Jack Mooney--a New Yorker, barely out of high school--hitches a ride to Montreal, where he enlists as a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force. The last thing he says to his little brother before leaving home is, "Don't forget me, kid." Two years later a telegram arrives: Jack, now a Spitfire pilot flying for the Royal Air Force, is missing in action somewhere in German-occupied Europe.

 

March 19 2020: The Orphan’s Tale, Pam Jenoff

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.

Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

April 16 2020: The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris,  D. McCullough

In The Greater Journey, David McCullough tells the enthralling, inspiring—and until now, untold—story of the adventurous American artists, writers, doctors, politicians, and others who set off for Paris in the years between 1830 and 1900, hungry to learn and to excel in their work. What they achieved would profoundly alter American history.

May 21 2020: Forty Rod Road, Grove N. Mower

Introducing Hank Chandler: Flawed, fumbling and about to fail out of college at the end of his freshman year. Struggling to straighten out his life and to figure out the mysterious death of a friend, Hank accepts a job on Wyoming ranch. The spread on Forty Rod Road, run by Buzz and Hope Stifel, turns out to be a lot less than Hank expected, but the owners are decent, hard-working folks who take Hank on and teach him how to be a ranch hand. Soon, he learns the Stifels have their own secrets and faults, as grudges, infidelity, and a killing or two muddy the waters. In a world far from his own, Hank Chandler takes the leap from innocence to experience, as love, redemption and revenge accompany him on his journey down Forty Rod Road.

June 18 2020: June Take the Cannoli, Sarah Vowell

While tackling subjects such as identity, politics, religion, art, and history, these autobiographical tales are written with a biting humor, placing Vowell solidly in the tradition of Mark Twain and Dorothy Parker. Vowell searches the streets of Hoboken for traces of the town's favorite son, Frank Sinatra. She goes under cover of heavy makeup in an investigation of goth culture, blasts cannonballs into a hillside on a father-daughter outing, and maps her family's haunted history on a road trip down the Trail of Tears.

July 16 2020: Lake of the Ozarks, Bill Geist

Before there was "tourism" and souvenir ashtrays became "kitsch," the Lake of the Ozarks was a Shangri-La for middle-class Midwestern families on vacation, complete with man-made beaches, Hillbilly Mini Golf, and feathered rubber tomahawks. It was there that author Bill Geist spent summers in the Sixties during his school and college years working at Arrowhead Lodge-a small resort owned by his bombastic uncle-in all areas of the operation, from cesspool attendant to bellhop. What may have seemed just a summer job became, upon reflection, a transformative era where a cast of eccentric, small-town characters and experiences shaped (some might suggest "slightly twisted") Bill into the man he is today. He realized it was this time in his life that had a direct influence on his sensibilities, his humor, his writing, and ultimately a career searching the world for other such untamed creatures for the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, and CBS News.

August 20 2020: Atomic City Girls, Janet Beard

In November 1944, eighteen-year-old June Walker boards an unmarked bus, destined for a city that doesn’t officially exist. Oak Ridge, Tennessee has sprung up in a matter of months—a town of trailers and segregated houses, 24-hour cafeterias, and constant security checks. There, June joins hundreds of other young girls operating massive machines whose purpose is never explained. They know they are helping to win the war, but must ask no questions and reveal nothing to outsiders.

September 17 2020: There, There, Tommy Orange

Tommy Orange’s wondrous and shattering novel follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize. Among them is Jacquie Red Feather, newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind. Dene Oxendene, pulling his life together after his uncle’s death and working at the powwow to honor his memory. Fourteen-year-old Orvil, coming to perform traditional dance for the very first time. Together, this chorus of voices tells of the plight of the urban Native American—grappling with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and spirituality, with communion and sacrifice and heroism. Hailed as an instant classic, There There is at once poignant and unflinching, utterly contemporary and truly unforgettable.

 October 15 2020: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir, J. Lawson

In the irreverent Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson’s long-suffering husband and sweet daughter help her uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments—the ones we want to pretend never happened—are the very same moments that make us the people we are today. For every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud, this is a poignant and hysterical look at the dark, disturbing, yet wonderful moments of our lives.

November 11 2019: The Secrets We Kept, Lara Prescott

The Secrets We Kept combines a legendary literary love story--the decades-long affair between Pasternak and his mistress and muse, Olga Ivinskaya, who was sent to the Gulag and inspired Zhivago's heroine, Lara--with a narrative about two women empowered to lead lives of extraordinary intrigue and risk. From Pasternak's country estate outside Moscow to the brutalities of the Gulag, from Washington, D.C. to Paris and Milan, The Secrets We Kept captures a watershed moment in the history of literature--told with soaring emotional intensity and captivating historical detail. And at the center of this unforgettable debut is the powerful belief that a piece of art can change the world.

 

 

2018-2019 Third Thursday Book Club List:

 September 19 2019: Paddle Your Own Canoe by Nick Offerman

Growing a perfect moustache, grilling red meat, wooing a woman—who better to deliver this tutelage than the always charming, always manly Nick Offerman, best known as Parks and Recreation’s Ron Swanson?  Combining his trademark comic voice and very real expertise in woodworking—he runs his own woodshop—Paddle Your Own Canoe features tales from Offerman’s childhood in small-town Minooka, Illinois. This was one of Evelyn Roark’s students.

 October 17 2019: Coop by Mike Perry. 977.5

In over his head with two pigs, a dozen chickens, and a baby due any minute, the acclaimed author of Population: 485 gives us a humorous, heartfelt memoir of a new life in the country. Living in a ramshackle Wisconsin farmhouse—faced with thirty-seven acres of fallen fences and overgrown fields, and informed by his pregnant wife that she intends to deliver their baby at home—Michael Perry plumbs his unorthodox childhood for clues to how to proceed as a farmer, a husband, and a father.

Guidelines:

You do not have to finish the book, but keep in mind that the ending may be spoiled!

Books will be voted upon from a list of 40 at the inaugural, October 2018 meeting.

Each member has a valued opinion! Please keep your political arguments on FaceBook ;)

Come join us for a casual discussion! All are welcome. 

General Questions:

No need to answer. Some may be used to facilitate discussion.

Questions to consider (Fiction):

  1. How did you experience the book? Were you immediately drawn into the story—or did it take a while? Did the book intrigue, amuse, disturb, alienate, irritate, or frighten you? 

  2. Which characters do you particularly admire or dislike? What are their primary characteristics?

  3. Who in the book would you like to meet? What would you ask,or say? 

  4. If you could insert yourself as a character in the book, what role would you play? 

  5. Consider the ending. Did you expect it or were you surprised? Was it manipulative or forced? Was it neatly wrapped up—maybe too neatly? Or was the story unresolved, ending on an ambiguous note? 

  6. Can you pick out a passage that strikes you as particularly profound or interesting? 

  7. Does the book remind you of your own life? An event? A person—like a friend, family member, boss, co-worker? 

  8. If you were to talk with the author, what would you want to know? (Many authors enjoy talking with book clubs. Contact the publisher to see if you can set up a phone or Skype chat.) 

  9. Have you read the author’s other books? Can you discern a similarity—in theme, writing style—between them? Or are they completely different?

Questions to Consider (for Non-Fiction)

If your book is a cultural portrait of life in another country, or different region of your own country, start with these questions:

  1. Do the issues affect your life? How so—directly, on a daily basis, or more generally? Now, or sometime in the future? 

  2. Does the author—or can you—draw implications for the future? Are there long- or short-term consequences to the issues raised in the book? If so, are they positive or negative? Affirming or frightening? 

  3. Does the author—or can you—offer solutions to the issues raised in the book? Who would implement those solutions? How probable is success? 

  4. Are the book's issues controversial? How so? And who is aligned on which sides of the issues? Where do you fall in that line-up? 

  5. Can you point to specific passages that struck you personally—as interesting, profound, silly or shallow, incomprehensible, illuminating? 

  6. Did you learn something new? Did it broaden your perspective about a personal or societal issue? Perhaps about another culture in another country or an ethnic/regional culture in your own country?

Year 1: 2018-2019 Book Club List:

 November 15 2018: The Girl from the Train by Irma Joubert

As World War II draws to a close, Jakob fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia. They intend to destroy a German troop transport, but Gretl’s unscheduled train reaches the bomb first. Gretl is the only survivor. Though spared from the concentration camp, the orphaned German Jew finds herself lost in a country hostile to her people. When Jakob discovers her, guilt and fatherly compassion prompt him to take her in. For three years, the young man and little girl form a bond over the secrets they must hide from his Catholic family.

 January 17 2019: The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis--and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance By Ben Sasse 

Raised by well-meaning but overprotective parents and coddled by well-meaning but misbegotten government programs, America's youth are ill-equipped to survive in our highly-competitive global economy. Many of the coming-of-age rituals that have defined the American experience since the Founding: learning the value of working with your hands, leaving home to start a family, becoming economically self-reliant―are being delayed or skipped altogether. The statistics are daunting: 30% of college students drop out after the first year, and only 4 in 10 graduate. One in three 18-to-34 year-olds live with their parents.

February 21 2019: Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Newell Jr. 328.73

Empty Mansions is a rich mystery of wealth and loss, connecting the Gilded Age opulence of the nineteenth century with a twenty-first-century battle over a $300 million inheritance. At its heart is a reclusive heiress named Huguette Clark, a woman so secretive that, at the time of her death at age 104, no new photograph of her had been seen in decades. Though she owned palatial homes in California, New York, and Connecticut, why had she lived for twenty years in a simple hospital room, despite being in excellent health? Why were her valuables being sold off? Was she in control of her fortune, or controlled by those managing her money?

 March 21 2019: The Story of Arthur Trulove by Elizabeth Berg

Wonderfully written and full of profound observations about life, The Story of Arthur Truluv is a beautiful and moving novel of compassion in the face of loss, of the small acts that turn friends into family, and of the possibilities to achieve happiness at any age.

 April 18 2019: The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood

After the sudden loss of her only child, Stella, Mary Baxter joins a knitting circle in Providence, Rhode Island, as a way to fill the empty hours and lonely days, not knowing that it will change her life. Alice, Scarlet, Lulu, Beth, Harriet, and Ellen welcome Mary into their circle despite her reluctance to open her heart to them. Each woman teaches Mary a new knitting technique, and, as they do, they reveal to her their own personal stories of loss, love, and hope. Eventually, through the hours they spend knitting and talking together, Mary is finally able to tell her own story of grief, and in so doing reclaims her love for her husband, faces the hard truths about her relationship with her mother, and finds the spark of life again.

 June 20 2019: Orphan #8 by Kim van Alkemade

In this stunning new historical novel inspired by true events, Kim van Alkemade tells the fascinating story of a woman who must choose between revenge and mercy when she encounters the doctor who subjected her to dangerous medical experiments in a New York City Jewish orphanage years before.

 July 18 2019: Midnight Assassin by Patricia Bryan and Thomas Wolf

On the night of December 1,1900, Iowa farmer John Hossack was attacked and killed while he slept at home beside his wife, Margaret. On April 11, 1901, after five days of testimony before an all-male jury, Margaret Hossack was found guilty of his murder and sentenced to life in prison. One year later, she was released on bail to await a retrial; jurors at this second trial could not reach a decision, and she was freed. She died August 25, 1916, leaving the mystery of her husband's death unsolved.

 August 15 2019: Witness in Bishop Hill by Sara Hoskinson Frommer

Things have finally calmed down enough for cozy heroine Joan Spencer and her new husband, Lt. Fred Lundquist, to take a long-delayed honeymoon to celebrate their three-month-old nuptials. Of course, it won’t be a traditional honeymoon, since they’ll have Joan’s teenage son, Andrew, in tow, and the fact that they are using the trip to finally visit Fred’s family makes it even more unusual. But Joan is happy; she’ll get some time away with her family, and she’ll finally get to see the tiny historic Swedish-American community where Fred grew up, Bishop Hill.