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Book Club Recommended
Informative, Inspiring, Dramatic
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

An engaging book on many levels that addresses both personal and political issues. Our book club was particularly interested in this book because we live in the Poughkeepsie, New York area, which figures prominently in the book.

 
Book Club Recommended
Beautiful, Insightful, Dramatic
All The Light We Cannot See

This is a beautifully-written, lyrical novel that was universally loved by our book club. The parallel stories of Marie-Laure and Werner and the insight into what it was like in Hitler\\\'s Germany and how people dealt with those conditions are very thought-provoking and inspire a great discussion.

 
Interesting, Informative, Dramatic
China Dolls: A Novel

This book was very disappointing, especially for fans of Lisa See. The three different points of view were not sufficiently unique; many of us had to go back to the chapter headings to remember who was speaking. The information about the United States' treatment of Japanese-Americans during World War II was interesting, but not explored in any great depth. The majority of our members neither related to nor sympathized with the main characters, and we generally agreed that See was overly ambitious and tried (unsuccessfully) to include too many themes in this book. Those members who listened to the audio version of the book liked it much more than those of us who read it. Of 15 members, only 2 would recommend this book to others, with the caveat that they would only recommend it to certain others.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Insightful, Inspiring
The Invention of Wings

A beautifully written and thought-provoking story of the parallel lives and struggles of two women in midi-19th century America, each of whom struggles to free herself, Handful from physical slavery and Sarah from societal restrictions on women.

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Dramatic, Addictive
The Husband's Secret

A compelling plotline that maintains the reader's interest but also conveys themes of guilt, grief, and secrecy. Engenders a great deal of discussion about "What would you do?"

The Nightingale: A Novel by Kristin Hannah
 
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Informative, Inspiring
The Nightingale

Our book club fell in love with this engaging story of two sisters and the personal wars that they fought during the Nazi occupation of France during World War II. Not only is "The Nightingale" a rousing story, it explores themes that will engender lots of discussion.

A Violet Season: A Novel by Kathy Leonard Czepiel
 
Book Club Recommended
Dark, Interesting, Informative
A Violet Season

Set against the backdrop of the violet farming business that was once so prevalent in our area of the country, A Violet Season tells the story of a woman and her daughter, But it transcends a simple story and examines relationships between women, the role of women in the 19th century, betrayal, and forgiveness.

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Fun, Insightful
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

This is a wonderful book that will appeal to lovers of books and reading. A good choice for book clubs, sure to generate much discussion.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Brilliant, Epic
The Grapes of Wrath

A true classic. This beautifully written book transports you to another time and place. The power of the language makes much contemporary fiction pale in comparison.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Interesting, Boring

The 19th Wife: A Novel by David Ebershoff
 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
The 19th Wife

A very interesting and informative look at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and its polygamous past. The book interweaves an examination of the life of one of Brigham Young's wives with a current story about a breakaway Mormon cult, the Firsts. The modern day story involves a murder mystery, which is the weakest part of the book, in my opinion. The book should generate a great deal of discussion.

 
Slow, Poorly Written, Pointless
Inside the Dream Palace: The Life and Times of New York's Legendary Chelsea Hotel

This book sounded like it would be interesting, but it turned out to be torturous to read. Instead of truly exploring the themes of building a community in which individuals could be free to pursue their passions, it was a litany of the names of the people who stayed there with too little focus on character and story. It reads more like a doctoral thesis than a book in which the average reader would be interested. The author missed a great opportunity to explore larger themes in her zeal to include as many names as possible in this tedious book. Interestingly, we had a very lively discussion about the themes that the author should have pursued.

The Garden of Letters by Alyson Richman
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Dramatic, Beautiful
The Garden of Letters

This beautifully written novel sheds light on the Resistance movement in Italy during the later days of World War II. But in addition, it is a well-wrought portrait of characters with whom you will fall in love and about whom you really care.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Interesting, Slow
My Name Is Lucy Barton

Interestingly, although our book club members liked this book, few of them would recommend it to others, especially to people who prefer plot-driven books. This is a sort of stream-of-consciousness novel that explores mother-daughter relationships and family dynamics in general. This book served as the impetus for our group to have a very lively and enlightening discussion about family and what it means.
I think you need to rethink the words to be checked off in your review section. "Well written" and "thought provoking" would seem to be worthy additions.

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Informative, Beautiful
The Last Painting of Sara de Vos: A Novel

A beautifully written book set in three different time periods and locales: 16th century Holland, New York City in the late 1950s, and Australia in 2000. The book tells the story of a 16th century Dutch woman who paints a haunting landscape, the wealthy New York City man whose family has owned the painting for centuries, and the young woman who forges the painting. The intersecting stories are well handled. The book has fascinating insight into the world of art forgery while presenting themes of betrayal and atonement.

 
Slow, Poorly Written, Informative
The Inventor and the Tycoon

Although we thought this book was poorly written and somewhat confusing, we did agree that it contained a great deal of interesting information. If this had been edited down to a lengthy article, it would have been fascinating. As a book, it is too long, with a great deal of redundancy.

Into the Beautiful North: A Novel by Luis Alberto Urrea
 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Adventurous, Interesting
Into the Beautiful North

Most of our members liked, but did not love, this book, but it provides insight into the issue of illegal immigrants from a Mexican point of view. It is very thought-provoking and timely.







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

An utterly charming book that will make you both laugh and cry. Every single member of our book club fell in love with the characters, which are well wrought. Backman's writing style is fluid and enjoyable. Even if your book club doesn't read it, read it for your own personal enjoyment.

 
Book Club Recommended
Romantic, Adventurous, Interesting
The Little Paris Bookshop: A Novel

Although many of our book club members liked this book, no one loved it. And at least two stopped reading it because they did not find it at all engaging. However, the book is quite thought-provoking, and we had a lively discussion about the book's themes. We thought that most of the "twists" in the book were obvious and unsurprising, and we found some of the characters' actions and attitudes completely implausible. But we did all want to cruise through France on a houseboat! All in all, the discussion was better than the book.

 
Interesting, Informative, Inspiring
The Gilded Years: A Novel

This book is about Anita Hemmings, the first African-American to graduate from Vassar College (in 1897). Everyone in our book club found the book interesting and entertaining, primarily because of our proximity to Vassar College. We enjoyed the references to places with which we are well familiar. However, half of us found the book to be shallow in terms of character development and the exploration of the theme. Nevertheless, we had an excellent discussion, which is often the case when everyone does not agree about a book. If you're looking for a thoughtful exploration of what it means to "pass" as a white person, look elsewhere.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Inspiring
The Radium Girls

A thought-provoking look at a little-known chapter in America's history and the unsung heroines whose suffering and determination had a profound impact on our institutions. Thanks to the "Shining Women," we now have protections from toxic substances and dangerous work environments.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
Killers of the Flower Moon

This recounting of the systematic murders of members of the Osage tribe and how those crimes contributed to the creation of the FBI is extremely well-written and thought-provoking. It sheds light on an indigenous people and a way of life that has, sadly, been omitted from most history books. And it is an indictment of the greed that motivated many of "the powers that be" in the early part of the 20th century. It should awaken a sense of profound sadness about the mistreatment and exploitation of Native Americans, but also a commitment to be vigilante against such treatment continuing today against any group of people.

 
Book Club Recommended
Interesting, Adventurous, Beautiful
The Orphan's Tale

Our book club enjoyed this book about a traveling circus in Europe during WWII and two women whose lives will become irrevocably intertwined. There are some parts of the book that will haunt me forever. Yet another book about Nazis, but one with a unique focus.

 
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Interesting
The Women in the Castle

The Women in the Castle is a very thought-provoking novel about three women before, during, and after WWII in Germany. Unlike other books about this time period, the book examines the aftermath of actions taken during the Nazi regime. It poses questions about such things as the nature of complicity, the justification of evil in the cause of good, and guilt. It should cause you to think about the lessons of the past for today.

 
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Interesting, Insightful
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

This is a well-written novel that touches on a multitude of issues and themes (perhaps too many): tea growing, the Chinese "one child" policy, the bond between mothers and daughters, the experiences of foreign adoptees, and the indigenous tribes of China. I couldn't put this book down, but I did think that there were too many coincidences propelling the story, and in my opinion, the ending is just a little too pat.

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