Book Discussion Group Title List 2014

November
2014

Me Before You
by Jojo Moyes

Louisa Clark takes a badly needed job working for Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living. A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

October
2014

 

Two Among the Righteous Few
by Marty Brounstein

Nestled in the hills on the western side of Jerusalem is a museum called Yad Vashem. There, people from around the world visit daily to learn about the tragic period of history from 1933 to 1945 known as the Holocaust. A special section of Yad Vashem is dedicated to those who carried out acts of courage to save the lives of Jews during the Holocaust. Remembered there is a couple from Dieden of the Netherlands, Frans and Mien Wijnakker. Two Among the Righteous Few: A Story of Courage in the Holocaust is the remarkable tale of how Frans and his wife, Mien, saved the lives of at least two dozen Jews in southern Holland during World War II. They were Catholics who led a simple life in a small town, but they took risks and displayed bravery to help others in dire need, instilling hope during one of the most horrific points of history.

September
2014

 Buddha in the Attic
by Julie Otsuka

A gorgeous novel that tells the story of a group of young women brought from Japan to San Francisco as “picture brides” nearly a century ago. In eight unforgettable sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces the extraordinary lives of these women, from their arduous journeys by boat, to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; from their experiences raising children who would later reject their culture and language, to the arrival of war. Julie Otsuka has written a spellbinding novel about identity and loyalty, and what it means to be an American in uncertain times.

August
2014


 

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
by Ben Fountain

A deadly firefight with Iraqi insurgents caught on video by Fox News has transformed eight U.S. soldiers into media stars. Nineteen-year-old Billy Lynn is the lead character in a novel about the surviving men of the “Bravo Squad” and their brief return home. As the squad mourns the death of a fellow soldier, they are sent on a two-week nationwide “victory tour” to drum up support for the war. But their painful reality is obscured as they are honored during a Dallas cowboys Thanksgiving Day game. Poignant, riotously funny, and exquisitely heartbreaking, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a devastating portrait of our time.

July
2014

Unorthodox
by Deborah Feldman

As a member of the strictly religious Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism, Deborah Feldman grew up under a code of relentlessly enforced customs governing everything from what she could wear and to whom she could speak to what she was allowed to read. It was stolen moments spent with the empowered literary characters of Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott that helped her to imagine an alternative way of life. Trapped as a teenager in a sexually and emotionally dysfunctional marriage to a man she barely knew, the tension between Deborah’s desires and her responsibilities as a good Satmar girl grew more explosive until she gave birth at nineteen and realized that, for the sake of herself and her son, she had to escape.

June
 2014

A Land More Kind Than Home
by Wiley Cash

Adventurous and precocious, Jess is protective of his older brother, Christopher, a mute whom everyone calls Stump. Though their mother has warned them not to snoop, Stump can't help sneaking a look at something he's not supposed to—an act that will have repercussions. It's a wrenching event that thrusts Jess into an adulthood for which he's not prepared. He now knows that a new understanding can bring not only danger and evil—but also the possibility of freedom and deliverance. Told by resonant and evocative characters, A Land More Kind Than Home is a haunting tale of courage in the face of cruelty and the power of love to overcome the darkness that lives in us all.

May
2014

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
by Maria Semple

Bernadette Fox has vanished. When her daughter Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, Bernadette, a fiercely intelligent shut-in, throws herself into preparations for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Ms. Fox is on the brink of a meltdown. And after a school fundraiser goes disastrously awry at her hands, she disappears, leaving her family to pick up the pieces. Which is exactly what Bee does, weaving together an elaborate web of emails, invoices, and school memos that reveals a secret past Bernadette has been hiding for decades. Where'd You Go Bernadette is an ingenious and unabashedly entertaining novel about a family coming to terms with who they are, and the power of a daughter's love for her mother.

April
2014

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
by Anthony Marra

In a small rural village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa watches from the woods as Russian soldiers abduct her father in the middle of the night and then set fire to her home. When their lifelong neighbor Akhmed finds Havaa hiding in the forest with a strange blue suitcase, he makes a decision that will forever change their lives. He will seek refuge at the abandoned hospital where the sole remaining doctor, Sonja Rabina, treats the wounded. For Sonja, the arrival of Akhmed and Havaa is an unwelcome surprise. Weary and overburdened, she has no desire to take on additional risk and responsibility. But over the course of five extraordinary days, Sonja’s world will shift on its axis and reveal the intricate pattern of connections that weaves together the pasts of these three unlikely companions and unexpectedly decides their fate. A story of the transcendent power of love in wartime, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a work of sweeping breadth, profound compassion, and lasting significance.

March
2014

The Orphan Master’s Son
by Adam Johnson

Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother—a singer “stolen” to Pyongyang—and an influential father who runs a work camp for orphans. Superiors in the state soon recognize the boy’s loyalty and keen instincts. Considering himself “a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world,” Jun Do rises in the ranks. He becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his Korean overlords in order to stay alive. Driven to the absolute limit of what any human being could endure, he boldly takes on the treacherous role of rival to Kim Jong Il in an attempt to save the woman he loves, Sun Moon, a legendary actress “so pure, she didn’t know what starving people looked like.”

February
2014

Wild
by Cheryl Strayed

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

January
2014

The End of Your Life Book Club
by Will Schwalbe

During her treatment for cancer, Mary Anne Schwalbe and her son Will spent many hours sitting in waiting rooms together. To pass the time, they would talk about the books they were reading. Once, by chance, they read the same book at the same time—and an informal book club of two was born. Through their wide-ranging reading, Will and Mary Anne—and we, their fellow readers—are reminded how books can be comforting, astonishing, and illuminating, changing the way that we feel about and interact with the world around us. A profoundly moving memoir of caregiving, mourning, and love—The End of Your Life Book Club is also about the joy of reading, and the ways that joy is multiplied when we share it with others.