This Month we had another wonderful Rave Reviews meeting. We shared some delicious holiday treats and talked about some wonderful books we’ve all been reading. In addition to the books I brought in we discussedEmma Donoghue’s polarizing new novel The Wonder which many of us had read (it was one of last month’s selections). Everyone was looking forward to the holidays and, hopefully, some time spent reading and relaxing.
Here are my picks for December:
I almost didn’t make it past the first few pages of this book. Ove starts off as a most unlikely hero as he argues with a salesman about the iPad’s lack of keyboard (he’s sure that’s “extra”) and becomes one of the most beautifully drawn characters I’ve encountered.
This non-fiction travelogue, a follow-up to Bryson’s earlier Notes from a Small Island, made me want to take another trip to England! Bryson finds tremendous humour in the mundane and shows things that one might imagine as extraordinary — like a trip to Stonehenge — to be mundane. Ideal for anyone who enjoys vicarious travel and dry wit.
A story of a fascinating life with plenty of salacious detail. Coehlo takes some liberties with the details but this portrayal of Mata Hari, the Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan who posed as a Javanese princess and was executed for espionage in 1917, is sympathetic and nuanced. Coehlo writes much of the story from Mata Hari’s perspective in the days before her execution by firing squad. Since she was likely innocent reading of her hope of being exonerated is especially poignant.
The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
A debut novel about dysfunctional siblings making some spectacularly bad decisions in their personal and financial lives. The characters, while seldom likable, are nearly always believable and the book evokes a certain kind of New York that makes you feel like the city is one of the characters. In fact, New York may be the novel’s most likable and sympathetic characters.
More audio documentary than audio book this is well worth the time to listen. The audio book features are stories of diverse LGBTQ families, background on the Stonewall Riots, and insight into the tragically short life of Kitty Genovese through an interview with her partner Mary Ann Zielonko.
I was skeptical about reading a story featuring a literal underground railroad. However, Whitehead uses the relative speed of travel to enrich his narrative by moving his characters to vary their experiences in a way that adds variety and depth to what would otherwise be a traditional slave and underground railroad narrative.
A beautiful story about a group of young black girls in Brooklyn as they make the transition from childhood to young adulthood. This slim novel’s themes universal are enough to evoke nostalgia even for those with wildly different childhoods. It’s no wonder Woodson was named the Young People’s Poet Laureate.
So, another wonderful month of reading and conversation. Rave reviews meets at 2:30 pm on the first Monday of the month from September to June.
Please feel free to join us for our next session on Wednesday, January 4th at 2:30 pm in the Fred Israel auditorium Central library at 850 Ouellette. Registration is not required and all are welcome. If you have any questions please call Kate at 519-255-6770 x. 4434.