Last week, GRG met for one of our biannual salon discussions, when there is no assigned topic and participants may bring what ever they'd like for discussion.
Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books by Cara Nicoletti
(powells) Blogger, butcher, pastry chef, and voracious reader Cara Nicoletti explores the intersection of great books and great food.
Cara Nicoletti has been an avid reader since childhood, and she is an equally enthusiastic eater and cook. Here she combines her passions in a delicious literary feast, essays on beloved books and the food scenes that give their characters texture and depth. Nicoletti also includes her own original recipes — inspired by the books — at the end of each chapter.
She discovers the perfect soft-cooked egg in Jane Austen's Emma, makes Grilled Peaches with Homemade Ricotta in tribute to Joan Didion's "Goodbye to All That," and even creates a recipe for Fava Bean and Chicken Liver Mousse (and a nice Chianti) after reading Thomas Harris's The Silence of the Lambs. Voracious is a book-lover's delight and a foodie's feast that explores the literary and culinary roads to happiness.
Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova
(powells) From award-winning, New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist Lisa Genova comes a powerful new novel that does for Huntington’s Disease what her debut Still Alice did for Alzheimer’s.
(powells) From award-winning, New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist Lisa Genova comes a powerful new novel that does for Huntington’s Disease what her debut Still Alice did for Alzheimer’s.
Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.
Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?
As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate. Praised for writing that “explores the resilience of the human spirit” (The San Francisco Chronicle), Lisa Genova has once again delivered a novel as powerful and unforgettable as the human insights at its core.
GENERAL DISCUSSION: Huntington's is part of a group of physical dysfunctions known as basal ganglia diseases. Find more info here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basal_ganglia_disease#Associated_disorders
The Venetian Betrayal by Steve Berry
(powells) In 323 B.C.E, having conquered Persia, Alexander the Great set his sights on Arabia, then suddenly succumbed to a strange fever. Locating his final resting place-unknown to this day-remains a tantalizing goal for both archaeologists and treasure hunters. Now the quest for this coveted prize is about to heat up. And Cotton Malone-former U.S. Justice Department agent turned rare-book dealer-will be drawn into an intense geopolitical chess game.
After narrowly escaping incineration in a devastating fire that consumes a Danish museum, Cotton learns from his friend, the beguiling adventurer Cassiopeia Vitt, that the blaze was neither an accident nor an isolated incident. As part of campaign of arson intended to mask a far more diabolical design, buildings across Europe are being devoured by infernos of unnatural strength.
And from the ashes of the U.S.S.R., a new nation has arisen: Former Soviet republics have consolidated into the Central Asian Federation. At its helm is Supreme Minister Irina Zovastina, a cunning despot with a talent for politics, a taste for blood sport, and the single-minded desire to surpass Alexander the Great as historys ultimate conqueror.
Backed by a secret cabal of powerbrokers, the Federation has amassed a harrowing arsenal of biological weapons. Equipped with the hellish power to decimate other nations at will, only one thing keeps Zovastina from setting in motion her death march of domination: a miraculous healing serum, kept secret by an ancient puzzle and buried with the mummified remains of Alexander the Great-in a tomb lost to the ages for more than 1,500 years.
Together, Cotton and Cassiopeia must outrun and outthink the forces allied against them. Their perilous quest will take them to the shores of Denmark, deep into the venerated monuments of Venice, and finally high inside the desolate Pamir mountains of Central Asia to unravel a riddle whose solution could destroy or save millions of people-depending on who finds the lost tomb first.
The Alexandria Link by Steve Berry
(powells) Cotton Malone retired from the high-risk world of elite operatives for the U.S. State Department to lead the low-key life of a rare-book dealer. But his quiet existence is shattered when he receives an anonymous e-mail: "You have something I want. You're the only person on earth who knows where to find it. Go get it. You have 72 hours. If I don't hear from you, you will be childless." His horrified ex-wife confirms that the threat is real: Their teenage son has been kidnapped. When Malone's Copenhagen bookshop is burned to the ground, it becomes brutally clear that those responsible will stop at nothing to get what they want. And what they want is nothing less than the lost Library of Alexandria.
A cradle of ideas historical, philosophical, literary, scientific, and religious the Library of Alexandria was unparalleled in the world. But fifteen hundred years ago, it vanished into the mists of myth and legend its vast bounty of wisdom coveted ever since by scholars, fortune hunters, and those who believe its untold secrets hold the key to ultimate power.
Now a cartel of wealthy international moguls, bent on altering the course of history, is desperate to breach the library's hallowed halls and only Malone possesses the information they need to succeed. At stake is an explosive ancient document with the potential not only to change the destiny of the Middle East but to shake the world's three major religions to their very foundations.
Pursued by a lethal mercenary, Malone crosses the globe in search of answers. His quest will lead him to England and Portugal, even to the highest levels of American government and the shattering outcome, deep in the Sinai desert, will have worldwide repercussions.
The Americans (TV series)
(amazon) Secrets can be deadly in this suspenseful thriller about undercover Russian spies in 1980s Washington, D.C. Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) seem to be a typical suburban couple, but they're actually lethal KGB agents plotting to bring down America. As the Cold War escalates, Philip and Elizabeth must take extreme measures to continue their mission and keep their true identities hidden. But when an FBI agent moves in across the street, they become ensnared in a pulse-pounding game of cat and mouse.
Halt and Catch Fire (TV series)
(amazon) At the dawn of the PC era, 3 unlikely “cowboys,” Joe MacMillan, Gordon Clark and Cameron Howe, take personal and professional risks in the race to build a breakthrough computer. Tensions build within the group as they tread the line between visionary and fraud, genius and delusion, as their drive to do something that matters runs up against their ability to truly innovate. The series begins in the early 80s in Dallas, aka The Silicon Prairie, during the boom of the computer industry. IBM has released the first PC and is seemingly dominating the cutthroat field. MacMillan, Gordon and Cameron form an alliance at the smaller (fictional) tech company, Cardiff Giant, infiltrating it from within and using its people and resources to revolutionize the computer, shake up the competition and redeem their past personal failures. The show is not just about the ruthless rise of the computer business, or the obsessive striving for competitive advantage in the marketplace. Rather, it’s about people at war with themselves as they search for something bigger. During their search, they’ll struggle with the dark side of the human ego, the destructive power of ambition, and the often thin line separating genius from delusion.
GENERAL DISCUSSION: Mountain Brook residents with a valid library card may borrow 5 HOOPLA items per month. HOOPLA is a digital content service which library cardholders can use to instantly download and stream digital movies, music, ebooks, and audiobooks. Visit our website: http://www.eolib.org/adults-resources.php
Apartment Troubles (film)
Olivia (Jennifer Prediger) and Nicole (Jess Weixler) are codependent roommates who are definitely going to make it; They're just not sure how. When they get evicted from their shoebox apartment in Manhattan--conceptual art just doesn't cover the rent--they boldly take off to L.A. and the promise of sunshine. As one door slams shut, another opens--a tarot card reading later, the duo decide to take their performance art sensibilities to the mainstream by auditioning for a reality TV talent show. This madcap buddy film marks the screenwriting and directorial debuts of costars and real-life friends Jennifer Prediger and Jess Weixler. Strong comedic performances by Megan Mullally, Jeffrey Tambor and Will Forte reveal the vulnerability behind even their most bizarre behavior.
(amazon) The Newspaper Boy is a remarkable collection of memories and personal reflections of the deep emotional conflicts a young newspaper delivery boy, Chervis Isom, encountered while growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, in a time of racial strife and discord in the 1950s and early '60s. A quiet and shy boy, the young Isom was a reader, and it would be the written word he would turn to as he tried to make sense of his world. Many of Isom's stories are tied to the "Southern Way of Life," a culture in which he grew up that assumed an inflexible white superiority represented by Jim Crow laws, laws that his father, a Greyhound Bus driver, was obligated to enforce in the face of a rising reaction by his African American riders that he neither understood nor tolerated. Isom's early adolescent views, shaped by his father's frustrations, are thrown into stark contrast as he is drawn to the positive influence of Helen and Vern Miller, a young couple from the Far North who moved onto his paper route, bringing with them alien ideas completely out of step with his own culture and teachings. Even though the Millers' views would clash with his own, they quickly became his favorite customers. Each Saturday they opened their door to him at collection time, inviting him in to politely discuss and debate the day's issues. Through the Millers' progressive approach to the growing racial unrest in Birmingham in the mid-to late-1950s, the young Isom gradually learned, in a series of fits and starts, advances and setbacks, to question the prevailing cultural attitudes and biases towards the African American community. In the end, he would come to understand the simple truth, as expressed by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., that people must be judged not "by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
When Books Went to War: The Stories that Helped Us Win World War II by Molly Guptill Manning
(powells) When America entered World War II in 1941, we faced an enemy that had banned and burned 100 million books. Outraged librarians launched a campaign to send free books to American troops and gathered 20 million hardcover donations. In 1943, the War Department and the publishing industry stepped in with an extraordinary program: 120 million small, lightweight paperbacks for troops to carry in their pockets and rucksacks in every theater of war. These Armed Services Editions were beloved by the troops and are still fondly remembered today. Soldiers read them while waiting to land at Normandy, in hellish trenches in the midst of battles in the Pacific, in field hospitals, and on long bombing flights. They helped rescue The Great Gatsby from obscurity and made Betty Smith, author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn into a national icon. When Books Went to War is the inspiring story of the Armed Services Editions, and a treasure for history buffs and book lovers alike.
Librarian's Night Before Christmas by David Davis
(amazon) A librarian who is busy shelving books on Christmas Eve is surprised to see Santa flying toward the library in his red bookmobile. Bringing wonderful gifts of new books, carpet, and more, Santa and his elves make the library as good as new.
Outhouses by Famous Architects by Steve Schaecher
(powells) Outhouses have been much ridiculed and maligned structures, thought worthy of only the lowliest of humor and virtually ignored by architectural critics as inconsequential blips in the development of building design. And yet -- as architect Steve Schaecher so poignantly reveals in this collection of renderings -- architects of genius from time immemorial have used their considerable talents to enhance the beauty and function of the outhouse.
Here are reproductions of stylish (dare we say "perfectionist"?) renderings from Wright's Flushingwater to the Centre Pompidoodoo -- the unmistakable outhouse for that weird-looking French museum -- and many others. Each is accompanied by insightful historical and analytical text, depending on your definitions of insightful and analytical. The preface, by architectural critic I. P. Daley, will leave you in no doubt of the importance of this completely nonsensical book.
(amazon) Inspired by the true story of photographer Dennis Stock and Hollywood's rebel actor James Dean, brought together for a LIFE Magazine assignment. Their journey leads to an unbreakable friendship and some of the most iconic images of the age.
Coco and the Little Black Dress by Annmarie Van Haeringen
(amazon) "Hurry up! You may only go to bed when all the sheets are ironed." Little Coco grew up in the orphanage and had to work hard for a living sewing and embroidering like an angel. Until her eighteenth birthday . . . Coco knew one thing for sure Coco. She would never, never be poor again. A beautifully illustrated picture book biography of Coco Chanel. Coco Chanel (1883-1971) was a famous French fashion designer. Born into a poor family, strictly brought up in the orphanage, influenced by the style of wealthy suitors , she remained faithful throughout her life to the simplicity. A luxurious simplicity , which has produced memorable style icons like the little black dress and perfume Chanel No. 5.
Coco Before Chanel (film)
(amazon) Audrey Tautou (The Da Vinci Code, Amélie) shines in this intriguing portrait of the early life of Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, the orphan who would build a fashion empire and be known universally by her nickname, Coco. She journeys from a mundane seamstress job to boisterous cabarets to the opulent French countryside, possessing little more than her unwavering determination, unique style and visionary talent. Also starring Benoît Poelvoorde (In His Hands) and Alessandro Nivola (Junebug). Featuring lush settings and stunning costume design, Coco Before Chanel is the gripping and dramatic story of an icon who defied convention and defined the modern woman.
Petty: The Biography by Warren Zanes
(powells) No one other than Warren Zanes, rocker, writer, and friend, could author a book about Tom Petty that is as honest and evocative of Petty's music and the remarkable rock and roll history he and his band helped to write. From meeting Elvis to producing Del Shannon, backing Bob Dylan, putting together a band with George Harrison, Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne, and sending over a dozen of his own recordings high onto the charts, Petty's story has all the drama of a rock and roll epic. Now in his mid-60s, still making records and still touring, Petty, known for his reclusive style, has shared with Zanes his insights and arguments, his regrets and lasting ambitions, and the details of his life on and off the stage. Zanes’s Petty: The Biography (Henry Holt) is for those who want to see the classic rock and roll era embodied in one man's remarkable story. Dark and mysterious, Petty manages to come back, again and again, showing us what the music can do and where it can take us.
GENERAL DISCUSSION: If you subscribe to satellite radio, Tom Petty has a Sirius XM show called Buried Treasure. https://www.siriusxm.com/tompettysburiedtreasure
Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland by Gerald Clarke
(powells) Judy Garland. The girl with the pigtails, the symbol of innocence in The Wizard of Oz. Judy Garland. The brightest star of the Hollywood musical and an entertainer of almost magical power. Judy Garland. The woman of a half-dozen comebacks, a hundred heartbreaks, and countless thousands of headlines. Yet much of what has previously been written about her is either inaccurate or incomplete, and the Garland the world thought it knew was merely a sketch for the astonishing woman Gerald Clarke portrays in Get Happy. Here, more than thirty years after her death, is the real Judy.
Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay
(powells) In this vivid and captivating journey through the colors of an artist's palette, Victoria Finlay takes us on an enthralling adventure around the world and through the ages, illuminating how the colors we choose to value have determined the history of culture itself.
How did the most precious color blue travel all the way from remote lapis mines in Afghanistan to Michelangelo's brush? What is the connection between brown paint and ancient Egyptian mummies? Why did Robin Hood wear Lincoln green? In Color, Finlay explores the physical materials that color our world, such as precious minerals and insect blood, as well as the social and political meanings that color has carried through time.
Roman emperors used to wear togas dyed with a purple color that was made from an odorous Lebanese shellfish which probably meant their scent preceded them. In the eighteenth century, black dye was called logwood and grew along the Spanish Main. Some of the first indigo plantations were started in America, amazingly enough, by a seventeen-year-old girl named Eliza. And the popular van Gogh painting White Roses at Washington's National Gallery had to be renamed after a researcher discovered that the flowers were originally done in a pink paint that had faded nearly a century ago. Color is full of extraordinary people, events, and anecdotes painted all the more dazzling by Finlay's engaging style.
Embark upon a thrilling adventure with this intrepid journalist as she travels on a donkey along ancient silk trade routes; with the Phoenicians sailing the Mediterranean in search of a special purple shell that garners wealth, sustenance, and prestige; with modern Chilean farmers breeding and bleeding insects for their viscous red blood. The colors that craft our world have never looked so bright.
Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own by Kate Bolick
(powells) A bold, original, moving book that will inspire fanatical devotion and ignite debate. “Whom to marry, and when will it happen — these two questions define every woman’s existence.” So begins Spinster, a revelatory and slyly erudite look at the pleasures and possibilities of remaining single. Using her own experiences as a starting point, journalist and cultural critic Kate Bolick invites us into her carefully considered, passionately lived life, weaving together the past and present to examine why she — along with over 100 million American women, whose ranks keep growing — remains unmarried.
This unprecedented demographic shift, Bolick explains, is the logical outcome of hundreds of years of change that has neither been fully understood, nor appreciated. Spinster introduces a cast of pioneering women from the last century whose genius, tenacity, and flair for drama have emboldened Bolick to fashion her life on her own terms: journalist Neith Boyce, essayist Maeve Brennan, social reformer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, and novelist Edith Wharton. By animating their unconventional ideas and choices, Bolick shows us that contemporary debates about settling down, and having it all, are timeless, the crucible upon which all thoughtful women have tried for centuries to forge a good life.
Follies of God: Tennessee Williams and the Women of the Fog by James Grissom
(powells) An extraordinary book; one that almost magically makes clear how Tennessee Williams wrote; how he came to his visions of Amanda Wingfield, his Blanche DuBois, Stella Kowalski, Alma Winemiller, Lady Torrance, and the other characters of his plays that transformed the American theater of the mid-twentieth century; a book that does, from the inside, the almost impossible — revealing the heart and soul of artistic inspiration and the unwitting collaboration between playwright and actress, playwright and director.
GENERAL DISCUSSION: Short stories/essays in which you may be interested-
The Ledge by Lawrence Sargent Hall
A Jury of Her Peers by Susan Glaspell
Rotten Ice by Gretel Ehrlich
Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell
Anything by Willa Cather
(amazon) Bryan Cranston leads an all star cast in a riveting portrayal of Dalton Trumbo, one of Hollywood's most talented and best known script writers and the efforts of the House of Un-Amercian Activity to purify Hollywood and protect the American viewing public from the communist menace of the early Cold War era.