Friday, August 28, 2009

Evening Book Group Recap

I believe this was one of our best meetings! If you missed it, we talked about nonfiction on the Great Depression in American history. Here is the list!

The Growing Seasons: An American Boyhood Before the War by Samuel HynesThis honest, scrupulously organized study of Hynes's Depression-era boyhood has the simple effectiveness of a family photograph.

Dillinger's Wild Ride: The Year That Made America's Public Enemy Number One by Elliott GornGorn (Mother Jones) presents a solid, unromanticized account of the last year in the short life of famed bank robber John Dillinger.

Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura HillenbrandGifted sportswriter Hillenbrand unearths the rarefied world of thoroughbred horse racing in this captivating account of one of the sport's legends.

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?: The Great Depression 1929-1933 by Milton MeltzerMeltzer focuses on the human reactions to the events of the Great Depression, and as such, draws heavily on first-hand accounts of those who experienced it.

Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits On an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong KalishKalish's memoir of her Iowa childhood, set against the backdrop of the Depression, captures a vanished way of traditional living and a specific moment in American history in a story both illuminating and memorable.

Music of the Great Depression by William and Nancy YoungAn insightful study of the works, artists, and circumstances that contributed to making and performing the music that helped America through one of its most difficult times.

Children of the Great Depression by Russell FreedmanThis stirring photo-essay combines such unforgettable personal details with a clear historical overview of the period and black-and-white photos by Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and many others.

Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression by Studs TerkelThe book is a mosaic of memories from those who were richest to those who were most destitute: politicians like James Farley and Raymond Moley; businessmen like Bill Benton and Clement Stone; a six-day bicycle racer; artists and writers; racketeers; speakeasy operators, strikers, and impoverished farmers; people who were just kids; and those who remember losing a fortune.

America Eats!: On the Road with the WPA: The Fish Fries, Box Supper Socials, and Chitlin Feasts That Define Real American Food by Pat WillardThe original America Eats! was written for the WPA by out-of-work writers during the Depression of the 1930s as an account of group eating as an important American social institution, the development of local, traditional cookery by churches and communities, fairs, festivals, rodeos, fund-raisers, rent parties and the like. It was never completed or published, but when food writer Willard (Secrets of Saffron) found the manuscript in the Library of Congress, she decided to follow the footsteps of the original writers to find what remained of these feasts, or a modern equivalent. (Related titles discussed were Mark Kurlansky's Food of a Younger Land and Gayden Metcalfe's Being Dead Is No Excuse)

The Family Story of Bonnie and Clyde by Phillip Steele with Marie Barrow ScomaOutlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were Depression-era pop cultural icons whose careers Scoma, Clyde's sister, and writer Steele recount.

As you can see, each person in the Genre Reading Group reads a different title in a particular topic then we discuss the books and the topic itself and anything else upon which our thoughts come to rest. If this sounds like just what you were looking for in a bookgroup, then I hope you'll join us for the September 29th discussion of Young Adult fiction! As always, call or email me if you have any questions!

Happy reading!



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