Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Good Grounds For Books - November Meeting

This morning was the second meeting of the Woodland West Branch's Good Grounds For Books group. Our group members come from such different backgrounds (a former lawyer, a children's librarian, a retired Air Force pilot) that our selections are just as diverse as our lives. The atmosphere is very relaxed and inviting, and the free coffee and biscotti helps, too. Here are some of the titles and authors we shared:

Robyn suggested mystery author Donna Leon. Leon writes a series of novels featuring Venetian detective Guido Brunetti. Robyn described Leon's Venice, Italy as very atmospheric and sure to draw you in.

Jane, who is one of the most voracious readers I have ever met, brought us a wonderful list of titles that include Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich (suggested last month by Pete), Caribbean by James Michener, and Elements of Style by Wendy Wasserstein.

Pete and Laureen recently made a trip to Austin for the Texas Book Festival. Both came back with titles they had discovered at TBF. Pete shared a collection of humorous essays entitled The Customer Is Always Wrong, edited by Jeff Martin. In it, writers share their real-life experiences of, as Pete put it, "time served behind the counter" at various retail businesses. Laureen's TBF discovery was Hey Ranger 2 by Jim Burnett. Hey Ranger 2 is the second volume in a collection of humorous anecdotes that take place in various National Parks. Campers and non-campers alike should really enjoy this one. Laureen also suggested Caldecott Celebration: Seven Artists and Their Path to the Caldecott Medal. She especially recommends the story of how Robert McCloskey came to write Make Way For Ducklings.

Joyce recommended Shadow Diver's and Titanic's Last Secret: The Further Adventures of Shadow Divers John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, both by Robert Kurson. The Diane Rehm show on NPR featured a great interview with Robert Kurson about Titanic's Last Secret and how and why the Titanic really sank.

Ron said he loves everything by David Baldacci because he doesn't load his books down with violence or bad language. He also recommended reading the non-fiction book The Apocalypse of Ahmadinejad by Mark Hitchcock to get a better understanding of Iran before reading Joel Rosenberg's novels.

I focused my selections mainly on graphic novels for teens. I read The Plain Janes and Janes In Love written by Cecil Castellucci and illustrated by Jim Rugg. This is a fully-engaging story about a girl who survives a terrorist-like attack and uses her horrible experience to form a group of local artists into the P.L.A.I.N. Janes. I also read Richard Matheson's short story collection Button, Button: Uncanny Stories. Matheson's stories are spare and eerily frightening without being gorey.

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