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Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Dramatic
Great story

Seabiscuit was an amazing horse, with a huge personality, surrounded by people who loved him who also had interesting stories. I knew nothing about this horse and little about racing, but found this book to be fascinating and filled with humorous anecdotes that made me laugh out loud. I haven't seen the movie, but will look for it now.

Sally Hemings by Barbara Chase-Riboud
 
Confusing
Fictionalized history

This is correctly called a novel, but where it involved real, historical, people it seemed to cross some boundaries by including thoughts, conversations, letters and diaries that were made up by the author. This straddled the line between fiction and non-fiction, and wasn't a satisfying read.

Restless: A Novel by William Boyd
 
Book Club Recommended
A spy novel, not a thriller

This is a British spy novel, not to be confused with a Ludlum-like thriller. The entire book group enjoyed this - and that doesn't happen often!

John Adams by David McCullough
 
Book Club Recommended
Epic, Informative, Interesting
Everyone liked the book

We had picked this as a summer book since it was so long, and I wasn't sure how many would actually read the whole book but was pleasantly surprised. The "core" group had all read the entire book, and we had 3 new people join us, because of the selection. We had one of the best discussions ever, and only stopped because the library was closing. For me, I thought it was well-written and definitely well researched, but I found the early part of the book slow going. I'm glad i stuck it out, though, and am now planning to read another McCullough book.

 
Book Club Recommended
Brilliant, Insightful, Inspiring
A book worthy of re-reading

All members, save one, had read this book at least once before, but we all found new elements and insights reading it again. It's an amazing book.

Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dramatic, Insightful
Liked by all in group

We all found the history of the events described to be fascinating (in that none of us had ever heard of them before) and unnerving at the same time. The alternating of past and present worked well, we thought, as did the contrast between the present day focus on materialistic things and the enormous sacrifices of the past.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative
A detailed biography of Frida Kahlo

This was not the easiest book to read - some members of our group gave up half way through. It's long and detailed, but it's also an amazing portrait of an artist who I wasn't very familiar with, and her difficult and unconventional life. Actually, Frida had an amazing life, dealing with many physical issues but at the same time living a very full life. If I see her paintings now, I'll stop and spend some time studying them rather than just glancing and moving on.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Dramatic
Good, but not great

The group liked the book, but most thought it was too contrived.

 
Fun
The translation may make a difference with this book

This was NOT a popular book with our group. It is a fun story, but is long, and (I found) was written in a style that was hard to read. I commented that 20 words were used when 1 would suffice - an exaggeration, but I found the wordiness difficult to get past.

Perhaps we're just used to a more modern writing style, but we felt that this may be a book that has suffered in translation, or that the particular translation we read made a difference.

BTW - We have always read classics during our summer hiatus, but the others were always originally in English.

Caleb's Crossing: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Slow
A great book, although not my favorite by Brooks

Even though the old (olde) English used by the narrator made this story authentic, it gave me some difficulty in becoming engaged with the characters. But once I was, I really enjoyed the book. It is based upon some real people who lived during a time when survival was difficult, and their bravery is inspiring.

Brooks remains my favorite non-mystery author (I thought "People of the Book" was amazing); her research and ability to make even obscure bits of history come alive are unparalleled.

Night Road by Kristin Hannah
 
Dramatic, Insightful, Interesting
Cliche'd and unrealistic

While this book was easy to read, and a couple of members confessed to becoming teary at points, we all thought it was pretty unrealistic and very predictable. The mother strove to be the perfect mom, but failed to see her kids as kids - and the tragedy that occurred surprised no one in our group. Her reaction to it was disturbing, and while no one who has not been in her position can second guess what she did and how she reacted, it just seemed too contrived.

The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel by Diane Setterfield
 
Brilliant, Interesting, Dramatic
Not well liked by most

Several members didn't even finish reading the book, although a couple of others said they loved it. It's rare that everyone agrees on a book, but usually they finish it.

Midwives (Oprah's Book Club) by Chris Bohjalian
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Dramatic
Not a book that men will like

...so it's interesting that it was written by a man. Our group felt like the impressions of a 14-year old girl just didn't work, and that hurt the book. Also, some found it very slow going, but liked the diary excerpts at the beginning of each chapter.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Inspiring
Had an interesting discussion

We all learned a lot about how air travel began, and were impressed with the brothers who figured out how to do that, without the benefit of a formal education.

The Nightingale: A Novel by Kristin Hannah
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Informative, Inspiring
Good story set in WWII France

The effect of Hitler on the people of France has not been described well until recently. This book, along with Sarah's Key and a couple of others, are starting to fill that void.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Addictive, Interesting
Didn't live up to its hype

The group thought the descriptions of alcoholism were spot on, but a few members didn't like the style. The book is often compared to "Gone Girl," but I found it to be a slower read with fewer shocking twists. Personally, I guessed at the ending about 3/4 through the book, so was disappointed (I like books with endings I don't anticipate).

A Man Called Ove: A Novel by Fredrik Backman
 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Insightful, Fun
A book all members liked

It's rare that 11 members all like a book - this is one of those times. We're all going off to read his other books now.

 
Book Club Recommended
Scary, Life Changing, Dark
Mixed views by group

This book was very easy to read, and a great choice for December (we meet the first Tuesday of each month, so read the books the previous month). But - it's a little weird and you have to keep in mind that the story is told from a child's point of view.

If you're suggestible, I would NOT recommend reading this is a quiet house at night, as I fell asleep before the halfway point and had a bit of a nightmare - that doesn't happen often.

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