Book Club Selections 2017

Happy Friday everyone!

Things had been lovely and unseasonably warm this last week and then poof!  Fall was gone and Winter arrived with a bang.  I hope you all are enjoying some of your favorite holiday traditions as I have been this week.  For us, that means cocoa for the kids, fires in the fireplace for my husband, and for me, my annual Book Club Holiday Dinner.

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Using all caps above makes it sound formal and fancy, but really it is just a chance for me to celebrate some of my favorite people who join me once a month to celebrate one of my favorite hobbies: reading.

I’m putting the cart before the horse here a bit because I plan to tell you all about my book club, how it started, how it keeps going and how you can start one too!  All this will be coming in 2018, but I decided I wanted to give you a taste of what we read.  You might consider joining us in our selections or start a book club of your own!

This list includes all the titles we read this year.  (If you didn’t find anything on my Gift Guide, consider some of these titles!)  I will also include genre and my rating for those who are curious.  You might also consider following me on Goodreads since this isn’t the full list of books I read this year.  You can be sure, I’m always reading something!  Without further ado, here is our list!

  1.  In the Land of Blue Burqas by Kate McCord  (Nonfiction)
    Author McCord (name was changed for protection) left her job in the US to minister to women in Afganistan.  Through her work with an unnamed relief organization, she was able to invest her time and energy getting to know and sharing her faith with the women of Afganistan through rich relationships.  Not only did she learn the culture and rhythms of the Afgani women, she had to learn and abide by the strict rules for her safety.
    Rating: 2 stars
  2. The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House  by Kate Anderson Brower (Nonfiction)
    Spanning the presidencies of LBJ through the Obama administration, Brower interviews the staff of the six (!!) floor White House of the last few decades.  Staffers that served the president and First Family dealt with everything from the LBJ’s oddball requests and hot temper to Jackie Kennedy’s emotional moment after her husband’s assassination.  A poignant moment for Hillary and her daughter was noted as well as staff’s reactions to September 11th.  Fascinating, well-researched and thorough from multiple perspectives, the peek into one of the most fascinating jobs in America kept me turning the pages.
    Rating: 4 stars
  3. The Hundred Year Old Man Who Jumped Out a Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson (Fiction)
    Allan Karlsson is sitting in his room at the retirement community preparing for celebrations of his 100th birthday.  The longer he contemplates the festivities, the more he wants to leave.  So he does.  His “escape” sends the town scrambling and Allan on an adventure almost too ridiculous to imagine.  Quirky, light-hearted and polarizing reviews with readers, this book will leave you laughing or just plain confused.
    Rating: 2 stars
  4. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson  (Fiction)
    Retired and widowed Major Pettigrew runs into his neighbor, Pakistani shopkeeper Mrs. Ali on the day of Pettigrew’s brother dies.  Pettigrew is so stunned, Mrs. Ali kindly offers to drive him to the services and he finally agrees.  Later when he contemplates her kindness to him, he sets out to thank and repay her.  Though their differences abound, Pettigrew grows to appreciate Mrs. Ali and her kindness.  Their relationship continues to blossom, in spite of Pettigrew’s obnoxious son who disapproves.
    Rating: 4 stars
    Full review here.
  5. Surprised by Joy by C. S. Lewis  (Nonfiction)
    Lewis’s autobiography of sorts, chronicling his early years, particularly those surrounding the death of his mother and his challenging relationship with his father.  He describes his pursuit of Joy and how his schooling and reading helped further his journey.
    Rating: 3 stars
    Full review here.
  6. Circling the Sun: A Novel by Paula McClain (Historical Fictional, based on a true story)
    Based on the story Out of Africa, the real Beryl Markham is moved to Kenya from England so her father could start a new career as a horse trainer.  Her mother can’t take the change, so she leaves her with her father and returns to England with her little brother.  That left Beryl in the hands of the native tribe sharing the land to raise her.  Beryl deeply felt that abandonment for the rest of her life, chasing after everything to numb the pain.
    Rating: 3 stars
    Full review here.
  7. All Over But the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg (Memoir)
    Bragg is a former journalist for the NYT and author, even a Pulitzer award winner.  In this memoir, he tells of his humble upbringing and how he owes all that he is to his mother.  Very southern and I loved this one particularly for sparse prose and fantastic descriptions.
    Rating: 5 stars
    Full review here.
  8. Jellicoe Road by Melinda Marchetta  (Fiction, YA)
    Taylor Markham reluctantly becomes the team leader in the annual battle between the Cadets and the Townies at her boarding school.  She still struggles with her mother abandoning her as a child and now her friend and mentor has gone missing.  Not only that, she learns that her opposing Cadets leader is Jonah Griggs, who brings out the absolute worst in her.  When she starts demanding questions of those around her, she finds even more questions to answer.
    Rating: 4 stars
    Read full review here.
  9. Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King (Fiction)
    King twists the classic Sherlock Holmes and adds a young but strong-headed and quick-witted Mary.  Not only does she pass all Holmes mind games, she has started beating her of late.  Amused by her and her mind, he begins to include her on his cases when suddenly they must work together to solve a case to keep each other safe.
    Rating: 5 stars
  10. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
    Kalanithi is in his last days before completing schooling for neurosurgery when he discovers he has stage four, terminal lung cancer.  From treating the very sick to becoming one of the sick, he fights to live while his body is dying.  Beautiful, hopeful.
    Rating: 5 stars
    Read full review here.

Well, that’s a wrap!  I would love to know your thoughts on any of these titles.  If you would like to more about starting a book club or joining one, let me know in the comments!

Are you in a book club?  What has been your favorite read from your group?  If you aren’t in a book club, what type of books would you like to read most?