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Book Club Reading Lists

Brainerd Library Book Club 2017

4th Wednesday of the Month, starting at 6:30 pm

January 26th:  Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

leaving-timeFor more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe she was abandoned, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.

Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest: Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons, only to later doubt her gifts, and Virgil Stanhope, the jaded private detective who’d originally investigated Alice’s case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they’ll have to face even harder answers.

As Jenna’s memories dovetail with the events in her mother’s journals, the story races to a mesmerizing finish.

February 23rd: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowlingvacancy

When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock.
Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems.
And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

March 23rd: Last Days of Dogtown by Anita Diamant

dogtown“An excellent novel. A lovely and moving portrait of society’s outcasts…affirms the essential humanity of its poor and stubborn residents, for whom each day of survival is a victory” (The New York Times Book Review).

Set on the high ground at the heart of Cape Ann, the village of Dogtown is peopled by widows, orphans, spinsters, scoundrels, whores, free Africans, and “witches.” Among the inhabitants of this hamlet are Black Ruth, who dresses as a man and works as a stonemason; Mrs. Stanley, an imperious madam whose grandson, Sammy, comes of age in her brothel; Oliver Younger, who survives a miserable childhood at the hands of his aunt; and Cornelius Finson, a freed slave. At the center of it all is Judy Rhines, a fiercely independent soul, deeply lonely, who nonetheless builds a life for herself against all imaginable odds.

Rendered in stunning, haunting detail, with Anita Diamant’s keen ear for language and profound compassion for her characters, The Last Days of Dogtown is an extraordinary retelling of a long-forgotten chapter of early American life.

April 27th: Everybody’s Fool by Richard Russo: A New York Times 2016 Notable Bookfool

An immediate national best seller and instant classic from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls. Richard Russo returns to North Bath—“a town where dishonesty abounds, everyone misapprehends everyone else and half the citizens are half-crazy” (The New York Times)—and the characters who made Nobody’s Fool a beloved choice of book clubs everywhere. Everybody’s Fool is classic Russo, filled with humor, heart, hard times, and people you can’t help but love, possibly because their various faults make them so human.

Everybody’s Fool picks up roughly a decade since we were last with Miss Beryl and Sully on New Year’s Eve 1984. The irresistible Sully, who in the intervening years has come by some unexpected good fortune, is staring down a VA cardiologist’s estimate that he has only a year or two left, and it’s hard work trying to keep this news from the most important people in his life: Ruth, the married woman he carried on with for years . . . the ultra-hapless Rub Squeers, who worries that he and Sully aren’t still best friends . . . Sully’s son and grandson, for whom he was mostly an absentee figure (and now a regretful one). We also enjoy the company of Doug Raymer, the chief of police who’s obsessing primarily over the identity of the man his wife might’ve been about to run off with, before dying in a freak accident . . . Bath’s mayor, the former academic Gus Moynihan, whose wife problems are, if anything, even more pressing . . . and then there’s Carl Roebuck, whose lifelong run of failing upward might now come to ruin. And finally, there’s Charice Bond—a light at the end of the tunnel that is Chief Raymer’s office—as well as her brother, Jerome, who might well be the train barreling into the station.

A crowning achievement: “like hopping on the last empty barstool surrounded by old friends” (Entertainment Weekly); from one of the greatest storytellers of our time.

June 1st: After the First Death by Robert Cormier;  Young Adult novel

after16-year-old Miro had instructions to kill the bus driver immediately.

They would then take the busload of children to the bridge and begin the standoff. Artkin was Miro’s mentor; the mastermind behind this act of terrorism that would get the world’s attention. But Artkin had told Miro that the bus driver would be an old man.

16-year old Kate sometimes substituted for her uncle and drove his bus when he was ill. She even got a special license to do so, and she’d always liked kids. She wondered what was going on when the van in front of her stopped, but when the man and the boy with guns forced their way onto the bus, she knew her worst nightmare was beginning.

June 28th: Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Quest For Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olyboysmpics by Daniel Brown

The #1 New York Times–bestselling story about American Olympic triumph in Nazi Germany and now the inspiration for the PBS documentary “The Boys of ‘36”

For readers of Unbroken, out of the depths of the Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant.

It was an unlikely quest from the start. With a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew team was never expected to defeat the elite teams of the East Coast and Great Britain, yet they did, going on to shock the world by defeating the German team rowing for Adolf Hitler. The emotional heart of the tale lies with Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not only to regain his shattered self-regard but also to find a real place for himself in the world. Drawing on the boys’ own journals and vivid memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, Brown has created an unforgettable portrait of an era, a celebration of a remarkable achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man’s personal quest.

July 26th: Whistling in the Dark by Leslie Kagan

It was the summer on Vliet Street when we all started locking our doors…

Sally O’Malley made a promise to her daddy before he died. She swore she’d look after her sister, Troo. Keep her safe. But like her Granny always said-actions speak louder than words. Now, during the summer of 1959, the girls’ mother is hospitalized, their stepfather has abandoned them for a six pack, and their big sister, Nell, is too busy making out with her boyfriend to notice that Sally and Troo are on the Loose. And so is a murderer and molester.

Highly imaginative Sally is pretty sure of 2 things. Who the killer is. And that she’s next on his list. Now she has no choice but to protect herself and Troo as best she can, relying on her own courage and the kindness of her neighbors.

August 23: The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood

An enthralling novel about love, loss, secrets, friendship, and the healing power of literature, by the bestselling author of The Knitting Circle.

Ava’s 25 year marriage has fallen apart, and her 2 grown children are pursuing their own lives outside the country. Ava joins a book group, not only for her love of reading but also out of sheer desperation for companionship. The group’s goal throughout the year is for each member to present the book that matters most to them. Ava rediscovers a mysterious book from her childhood―one that helped her through the traumas of the untimely deaths of her sister and mother. Alternating with Ava’s story is that of her troubled daughter Maggie, who, living in Paris, descends into a destructive relationship with an older man. Ava’s mission to find that book and its enigmatic author takes her on a quest that unravels the secrets of her past and offers her and Maggie the chance to remake their lives.

September 27:  A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others. “If there was an award for ‘Most Charming Book of the Year,’ this first novel by a Swedish blogger-turned-overnight-sensation would win hands down” (Booklist, starred review).


October 26th: TBA
November 17th: TBA

Healthy Exchange Book Club 2017   »   Print Brochure: Healthy Exchange 2017 Titles

                                       1st Wednesday of the month, starting at 6:30 pmhealthy-ex-logo

agingJanuary 4, 2017
The Art of Aging: A Doctor’s Prescription for Well-Being by Sherwin B. Nuland

The onset of aging can be so gradual that we are often surprised to find that one day it is fully upon us. The changes to the senses, appearance, reflexes, physical endurance, and sexual appetites are undeniable, and rarely welcome and yet, as Nuland shows, getting older has its surprising blessings. Age concentrates not only the mind, but the body’s energies, leading many to new sources of creativity, perception, and spiritual intensity. Growing old, Nuland teaches us, is not a disease but an art–and for those who practice it well, it can bring extraordinary rewards.

Will scientists one day fulfill the dream of eternal youth? Nuland examines the latest research into extending life and the scientists who are pursuing it. But ultimately, what compels him most is what happens to the mind and spirit as life reaches its culminating decades. Reflecting the wisdom of a long lifetime, The Art of Aging is a work of luminous insight, unflinching candor, and profound compassion.

bonesFebruary 1, 2017
Your Bones: How You Can Prevent Osteoporosis and Have Strong Bones for Life by Lara Pizzorno, MA, LMT

“Your Bones” contains everything you need to know for healthy bones in one book, providing scientifically based advice which highlights natural prevention and treatment strategies. This UPDATED AND EXPANDED edition includes many new studies on the dangers of the bisphosphonate drugs and an in depth discussion of two new drugs with potential adverse effects. Also new: more information on bone-busting patent medicines, calcium supplementation options, strontium, vitamin K2, and zinc as well as a section on bone-building exercise.

before
March 1, 2017
Before I Forget: Love, Hope, Help, and Acceptance in Our Fight Against Alzheimer’s by B. Smith and Dan Gasby

Restaurateur, magazine publisher, celebrity chef, and nationally known lifestyle maven, B. Smith is struggling at 66 with a tag she never expected to add to that string: Alzheimer’s patient.  She’s not alone. Every 67 seconds someone newly develops it, and millions of lives are affected by its aftershocks.
B. and her husband, Dan, working with Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Shnayerson, unstintingly share their unfolding story. Crafted in short chapters that interweave their narrative with practical and helpful advice, readers learn about dealing with Alzheimer’s day-to-day challenges: the family realities and tensions, ways of coping, coming research that may tip the scale, as well as lessons learned along the way.

coyoteApril 5, 2017
Coyote Medicine: Lessons from Native American Healing by Lewis Mehl-Madrona

Hailed by Dr. Andrew Weil as a book “that must be brought to all who seek true health,” Coyote Medicine is an engaging and essential testament to the power of alternative healing and recovery methods that lie beyond the confines of Western medicine.
Inspired by his Cherokee grandmother’s healing ceremonies, Lewis Mehl-Madrona enlightens readers to “alternative” paths to recovery and health. Coyote Medicine isn’t about eschewing Western medicine when it’s effective, but about finding other answers when medicine fails: for chronic sufferers, patients not responding to medication, or “terminal” cases that doctors have given up on. In the story of one doctor’s remarkable initiation into alternative ways to spiritual and physical health, Coyote Medicineprovides the key to untapped healing methods available today.

mindMay 3, 2017
Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body by Jo Marchant

Have you ever felt a surge of adrenaline after narrowly avoiding an accident? Salivated at the sight (or thought) of a sour lemon? Felt turned on just from hearing your partner’s voice? If so, then you’ve experienced how dramatically the workings of your mind can affect your body.
Yet while we accept that stress or anxiety can damage our health, the idea of “healing thoughts” was long ago hijacked by New Age gurus and spiritual healers. Recently, however, serious scientists from a range of fields have been uncovering evidence that our thoughts, emotions and beliefs can ease pain, heal wounds, fend off infection and heart disease and even slow the progression of AIDS and some cancers.

goddessesJune 7, 2017
Goddesses Never Age by Christiane Northrup, MD

Though we talk about wanting to “age gracefully,” the truth is that when it comes to getting older, we’re programmed to dread an inevitable decline: in our health, our looks, our sexual relationships, even the pleasure we take in living life. But as Christiane Northrup, M.D., shows us in this New York Times best-selling guide, we have it in us to make growing older an entirely different experience, both for our bodies and for our souls.
“Taking all the right supplements and pills, or getting the right procedure done, isn’t the prescription for anti-aging,” Dr. Northrup explains. “Agelessness is all about vitality, the creative force that gives birth to new life.” Goddesses Never Age is filled with tools and inspiration for bringing vitality and vibrancy into your own ageless years—and it all comes together in Dr. Northrup’s 14-day Ageless Goddess Program, your personal prescription for creating a healthful, soulful, joyful new way of being at any stage of life.

super-genesSeptember 6, 2017
Super Genes by Deepak Chopra

“You are not simply the sum total of the genes you were born with,” writes Deepak Chopra and Rudy Tanzi. “You are the user and controller of your genes, the author of your biological story. No prospect in self-care is more exciting.” Learning how to shape your gene activity is at the heart of this exciting and eagerly-anticipated book from the bestselling duo behind Super Brain, which became a nationwide hit on public television.

When you make lifestyle choices that optimize how your genes behave, you can reach for a state of health and fulfillment undreamed of even a decade ago.  The impact on prevention, immunity, diet, aging, and chronic disorders is unparalleled.

unaccountableOctober 4, 2017
Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care by Martin Makary

Dr. Marty Makary is co-developer of the life-saving checklist outlined in Atul Gawande’s bestseller The Checklist Manifesto. A Johns Hopkins surgeon and professor of public health, he can testify to the amazing power of modern medicine to cure. But he’s also been a witness to a a system that frustrates doctors and patients alike.  Dr. Makary describes the problem and presents disruptive innovations from success stories around the U.S.  The ideas are powerful, but even more important, they are home-grown by the doctors on the front-lines of American healthcare. Unaccountable is a powerful, no-nonsense, non-partisan diagnosis for healing our hospitals and reforming our broken healthcare system.

med-mindNovember 1, 2017
Your Medical Mind: How to Decide What is Right for You by Jerome Groopman, M.D. and Pamela Hartzband, M.D.

Making the right medical decisions is harder than ever. We are overwhelmed by information from all sides—whether our doctors’ recommendations, dissenting experts, confusing statistics, or testimonials on the Internet. Now Doctors Groopman and Hartzband reveal that each of us has a “medical mind,” a highly individual approach to weighing the risks and benefits of treatments.  Are you a minimalist or a maximalist, a believer or a doubter, do you look for natural healing or the latest technology?  The authors weave vivid narratives of real patients with insights from recent research to demonstrate the power of the medical mind. After reading this groundbreaking book, you will know how to arrive at choices that serve you best.

*Note:  All synopses provided by Amazon.