Lunch & a Book
Bootstrapper: from broke to badass on a northern Michigan farm by Mardi Jo Link — January 8
The talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith — February 12
Orphan train by Christina Baker Kline — March 12
The end of night: searching for natural darkness in an age of artificial light by Paul Bogard — April 9
The all-girl filling station's last reunion: a novel by Fannie Flagg — May 14
Euphoria: a novel by Lily King — English anthropologist Andrew Bankson has been alone in the field for several years, studying the Kiona river tribe of New Guinea. Haunted by his brothers' deaths and frustrated and isolated by his research, Bankson is on the verge of suicide when a chance encounter with colleagues, the controversial Nell Stone and her mercurial Australian husband Fen, pulls him back from the brink. Nell and Fen have just fled the bloodthirsty Mumbanyo and, in spite of Nell's poor health, are hungry for a new discovery. When Bankson finds them a new tribe nearby--the artistic, female-dominated Tam--he ignites an intellectual and romantic firestorm between the three of them that burns out of anyone's control. Join us Thursday, August 13 at noon.
Shelter: a novel by Frances Greenslade — For sisters Maggie and Jenny growing up in the Pacific mountains in the early 1970s, life felt nearly perfect. But, not long after Maggie's tenth birthday, their father is killed in a logging accident. A few months later, their mother drops them at a neighbor's house, promising to return. She never does. Even as they struggle to understand how their mother could abandon them, they hope that she is fighting her way back to the daughters who adore her and who need her so desperately. Join us Thursday, July 9 at noon.
The fault in our stars by John Green — Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten. The Fault in Our Stars brilliantly explores the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love. Join us Thursday, June 11 at noon.
The all-girl filling station's last reunion: a novel by Fannie Flagg — Spanning decades, generations, and America in the 1940s and today, The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion is a fun-loving mystery about an Alabama woman today, and five women who in 1943 worked in a Phillips 66 gas station, during the WWII years. Like Fannie Flagg's classic Fried Green Tomatoes, this is filled to the brim with Flagg's trademark funny voice and storytelling magic. Join us Thursday May 14 at noon.
The end of night: searching for natural darkness in an age of artificial light by Paul Bogard — A deeply panoramic tour of the night, from its brightest spots to the darkest skies we have left. A starry night is one of nature's most magical wonders. Yet in our artificially lit world, most of us no longer experience true darkness. Paul Bogard restores our awareness of the spectacularly primal, wildly dark night sky and how it has influenced the human experience across everything from science to art.
Orphan train by Christina Baker Kline — Between 1854 and 1929, orphan trains carried thousands of abandoned children from the cities of the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest. Vivian Daly was one such child, sent from New York City to an uncertain future a world away. Returning east later in life, Vivian leads a quiet existence on the coast of Maine. But hidden in her attic are vestiges of a turbulent past. Seventeen-year-old Molly Ayer knows that a community-service position helping an elderly widow clean out her attic is the only thing keeping her out of juvenile hall. But as Molly helps Vivian sort through her keepsakes, she discovers that she and Vivian aren't as different as they appear.
The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith — Like a hero in a latter-day Henry James novel, Tom Ripley is sent to Italy with a commission to coax a prodigal young American back to his wealthy father. But Ripley finds himself so fond of Dickie Greenleaf that he wants to be like him--exactly like him. Suave, agreeable, and utterly amoral, Ripley stops at nothing--certainly not only one murder--to accomplish his goal. Turning the mystery form inside out, Highsmith shows the terrifying abilities afforded to a man unhindered by the concept of evil.
Bootstrapper: from broke to badass on a northern Michigan farm by Mardi Jo Link — It's the summer of 2005, and Mardi Jo Link's dream of living the simple life has unraveled into debt and heartbreak. She and her husband of nineteen years have just called it quits, leaving her with serious cash-flow problems and a looming divorce. Link makes a seemingly impossible resolution: to hang on to her century-old farmhouse in northern Michigan and continue to raise her three boys on well water and wood chopping and dirt. Armed with an unfailing sense of humor and three resolute accomplices, Link confronts blizzards and foxes, learns about Zen divorce and the best way to butcher a hog, dominates a zucchini-growing contest and wins a year's supply of local bread, masters the art of bargain cooking, wrangles rampaging poultry, and withstands any blow to her pride in order to preserve the life she wants.
The Rosie project by Graeme Simsion — Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially challenged professor of genetics, designs the Wife Project: a sixteen-page survey to find his perfect partner. Don quickly disqualifies Rosie Jarman as a candidate, but agrees help Rosie on her own quest: identifying her biological father. When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on the Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie-and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don't find love, it finds you.
The antidote: happiness for people who can't stand positive thinking by Oliver Burkeman — Burkeman introduces us to a group of people who share a surprising way of thinking about life. Whether experimental psychologists, terrorism experts, Buddhists, hardheaded business consultants, Greek philosophers, or modern-day gurus, they argue that it's our constant effort to be happy that is making us miserable. Their alternative path to happiness and success involves embracing failure, pessimism, and uncertainty--the very things we spend our lives trying to avoid.
1984: a novel by George Orwell ; with an afterword by Erich Fromm — Written in 1948, George Orwell's classic novel created a chilling future where Big Brother and the Thought Police monitored every move. And while the year 1984 has come and gone, Orwell's haunting vision of the world remains timeless.
For more insight on this work, take a look at these interviews with Cory Doctorow or Christopher Hitchens.
The housekeeper and the professor by Yoko Ogawa ; translated by Stephen Snyder — A beautiful story about family, memory, and math. Yes, math. Ever since a traumatic head injury, a brilliant math professor has had only eighty minutes of short-term memory. The housekeeper hired to care for the Professor returns to her job every morning to find that the Professor has forgotten her. Though he cannot create new memories, the Professor's mind is alive with elegant equations from his past. And the numbers, in all of their articulate order, reveal a new and poetic world to both the Housekeeper and her young son.
Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour bookstore by Robin Sloan — A gleeful tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life--mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore. The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his job as a Web-design drone--and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests.
The light between oceans: a novel by M.L. Stedman — After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and becomes the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings his young wife Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby's cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby. Tom wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom's judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. Returning to the mainland when she is two, Tom and Isabel are reminded that there are other people in the world and discover that their choice has devastated one of them.
The round house by Louise Erdrich — In the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. Joe tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. While his father, who is a tribal judge, tries to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe sets out with his trusted friends, Cappy, Zack, and Angus, to get some answers of his own. Their quest takes them first to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning.
The dog stars [kit] by Peter Heller — Hig survived the flu that killed everyone he knows. He lives in the hangar of an abandoned airport with his dog, his only neighbor a gun-toting misanthrope. In his 1956 Cessna, Hig flies the perimeter of the airfield or sneaks off to the mountains to fish and to pretend that things are the way they used to be. But when a random transmission beams through his radio, the voice ignites a hope that a better life--something like his old life--exists beyond the airport. Knowing he will not have fuel to fly home, he follows the trail of the static-broken voice on the radio.
The dog stars by Peter Heller — Hig survived the flu that killed everyone he knows. He lives in the hangar of an abandoned airport with his dog, his only neighbor a gun-toting misanthrope. In his 1956 Cessna, Hig flies the perimeter of the airfield or sneaks off to the mountains to fish and to pretend that things are the way they used to be. But when a random transmission beams through his radio, the voice ignites a hope that a better life--something like his old life--exists beyond the airport. Knowing he will not have fuel to fly home, he follows the trail of the static-broken voice on the radio.
Before you know kindness: a novel by Chris Bohjalian — On a balmy July night in New Hampshire a shot rings out, and a man falls to the ground, terribly wounded. The hurt man is Spencer McCullough an animal rights advocate. The shot that hit him was fired–accidentally?–by his adolescent daughter Charlotte at what she thought was a deer in the distance. Bohjalian uses his trademark emotional heft to create a literate page-turner is suspenseful, wryly funny, and humane.
Defending Jacob: a novel by William Landay — Andy Barber has been an Assistant District Attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than 20 years. He is respected in his community and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But after a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His 14-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.