Book Club Reading Lists
Brainerd Library Book Club 2019 Titles
4th Wednesday of the Month, starting at 6:30 pm
Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult
A compelling and disturbing novel about a prep school teacher accused of rape by a group of young girls, the woman who stands by him, and the repercussions in a small, New England town where the past is only a heartbeat away.
A handsome stranger comes to the sleepy New England town of Salem Falls in hopes of burying his past: Once a teacher at a girls’ prep school, Jack St. Bride was destroyed when a student’s crush sparked a powder keg of accusation. Now, washing dishes for Addie Peabody at the Do-Or-Diner, he slips quietly into his new routine, and Addie finds this unassuming man fitting easily inside her heart. But amid the rustic calm of Salem Falls, a quartet of teenage girls harbor dark secrets — and they maliciously target Jack with a shattering allegation. Now, at the center of a modern-day witch hunt, Jack is forced once again to proclaim his innocence: to a town searching for answers, to a justice system where truth becomes a slippery concept written in shades of gray, and to the woman who has come to love him.
February 27, 2019
Becoming by Michelle Obama
An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States
In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States —the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.
In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, telling her full story—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.
March 27, 2019
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
A NEW YORK TIMES AND WASHINGTON POST NOTABLE BOOK
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.
This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward—with hope and pain—into the future.
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
1776 by David McCullough
The Cloister by James Carroll
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men.
Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again, and begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life, the reasons he might have vanished.
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana DeRosnay
Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family’s apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.
Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France’s past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl’s ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d’Hiv’, to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah’s past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.
Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
On a winter day in 1903, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, two unknown brothers from Ohio changed history. But it would take the world some time to believe what had happened: the age of flight had begun, with the first heavier-than-air, powered machine carrying a pilot.
Who were these men and how was it that they achieved what they did?
David McCullough, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, tells the surprising, profoundly American story of Wilbur and Orville Wright.
Healthy Exchange Book Club 2019 Title List
Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan
On New Year’s Eve, journalist and former Parade editor in chief Janice Kaplan makes a promise to be grateful and look on the bright side of whatever happens. She realizes that how she feels over the next twelve months will have less to do with the events that occur than with her own attitude and perspective. Getting advice at every turn from psychologists, academics, doctors, and philosophers, she brings readers on a smart and witty journey to discover the value of appreciating what you have.
Relying on both amusing personal experiences and extensive research, Kaplan explores how gratitude can transform every aspect of life including marriage and friendship, money and ambition, and health and fitness. She learns how appreciating your spouse changes the neurons of your brain and why saying thanks helps CEOs succeed. Through extensive interviews with experts and lively conversations with real people, including celebrities like Matt Damon, Daniel Craig, and Jerry Seinfeld, Kaplan discovers the role of gratitude in everything from our sense of fulfillment to our children’s happiness.
What’s Gotten Into Us: Staying Healthy in a Toxic World by McKay Jenkins
Do you know what chemicals are in your shampoo? How about your cosmetics? Do you know what’s in the plastic water bottles you drink from, or the weed killer in your garage, or your children’s pajamas? If you’re like most of us, the answer is probably no. But you also probably figured that most of these products were safe, and that someone—the manufacturers, the government—was looking out for you. The truth might surprise you.
What’s Gotten Into Us? is much more than a wake-up call. It offers numerous practical ways for us to regain some control over our lives, to make our own personal worlds a little less toxic. Inside, you’ll find ideas to help you make informed decisions about the products you buy, and to disentangle yourself from unhealthy products you don’t need—so that you and your family can start living healthier lives now, and in the years to come. Because, as this book shows, what you don’t know can hurt you.
The Heart Speaks by Mimi Guarneri
In The Heart Speaks, Dr. Mimi Guarneri reveals groundbreaking new research that the heart is a multilayered, complex organ, possessing intelligence, memory, and decision-making abilities independent from the mind—and that healing the heart can have more to do with healing the mind and soul than we ever knew.
From childhood in a family riddled with heart disease to a medical career facing the pounding heartbeats of cardiac emergencies, Dr. Guarneri draws us into the intimate moments of life and death, and leads us on a riveting exploration of the heart’s many mysteries. Through her compelling memoir we see that it is only by knowing the whole heart—its mental, emotional, spiritual, and universal aspects—that we can truly heal.
The Alzheimer’s Solution by Dean & Ayesha Sherzai, MD
This much-needed revolutionary book reveals how the brain is a living universe, directly influenced by nutrition, exercise, stress, sleep, and engagement. In other words: what you feed it, how you treat it, when you challenge it, and the ways in which you allow it to rest. These factors are the pillars of the groundbreaking program you’ll find in these pages, which features a personalized assessment for evaluating risk, a five-part program for prevention and symptom-reversal, and day-by-day guides for optimizing cognitive function. You can prevent Alzheimer’s disease from affecting you, your family, friends, and loved ones. Even with a diagnosis, you can reverse cognitive decline and add vibrant years to your life. The future of your brain is finally within your control.
The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind by Barbara K. Lipska
In January 2015, Barbara Lipska—a leading expert on the neuroscience of mental illness—was diagnosed with melanoma that had spread to her brain. Within months, her frontal lobe, the seat of cognition, began shutting down. She descended into madness, exhibiting dementia- and schizophrenia-like symptoms that terrified her family and coworkers. But miraculously, just as her doctors figured out what was happening, the immunotherapy they had prescribed began to work. Just eight weeks after her nightmare began, Lipska returned to normal. With one difference: she remembered her brush with madness with exquisite clarity.
The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin
During her multibook investigation into understanding human nature, Gretchen Rubin realized that by asking the seemingly dry question “How do I respond to expectations?” we gain explosive self-knowledge. She discovered that based on their answer, people fit into Four Tendencies: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels. Our Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so using this framework allows us to make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress, and engage more effectively.
With sharp insight, compelling research, and hilarious examples, The Four Tendencies will help you get happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative. It’s far easier to succeed when you know what works for you.
The Danger Within Us: America’s Untested, Unregulated Medical Device Industry and One Man’s Battle to Survive It by Jeanne Lenzer
In The Danger Within Us, award-winning journalist Jeanne Lenzer brings these horrifying statistics to life through the story of one working class man who, after his “cure” nearly kills him, ends up in a battle for justice against the medical establishment.
His crusade leads Lenzer on a journey through the dark underbelly of the medical device industry, a fascinating and disturbing world that hasn’t been written about before. What Lenzer exposes will shock readers: rampant corruption, elaborate cover-ups, shameless profiteering, and astonishing lack of oversight, all of which leads to dangerous devices (from artificial hips to pacemakers) going to market and into our bodies.
Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson
When it comes to health, there is one criminally overlooked element: sleep. Good sleep helps you shed fat for good, stave off disease, stay productive, and improve virtually every function of your mind and body. That’s what Shawn Stevenson learned when a degenerative bone disease crushed his dream of becoming a professional athlete. Like many of us, he gave up on his health and his body, until he decided there must be a better way. Through better sleep and optimized nutrition, Stevenson not only healed his body but also achieved fitness and business goals he never thought possible.
In Sleep Smarter, Stevenson shares easy tips and tricks to discover the best sleep and best health of your life. With his 14-Day Sleep Makeover, you’ll learn how to create the ideal sleep sanctuary, how to hack sunlight to regulate your circadian rhythms, which clinically proven sleep nutrients and supplements you need, and stress-reduction exercises and fitness tips to keep you mentally and physically sharp.
Almost Everything by Anne Lamott
“All truth is paradox,” Lamott writes, “and this turns out to be a reason for hope. If you arrive at a place in life that is miserable, it will change.” That is the time when we must pledge not to give up but “to do what Wendell Berry wrote: ‘Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts.'”
In this profound and funny book, Lamott calls for each of us to rediscover the nuggets of hope and wisdom that are buried within us that can make life sweeter than we ever imagined. Divided into short chapters that explore life’s essential truths, Almost Everything pinpoints these moments of insight as it shines an encouraging light forward.