Book Group

The Book Group meets in the Rollins Center Room 114 (on the ground floor) at Bucks County Community College, Newtown, from 7:30 to 9:00 P.M. All are welcome to join us on the second Thursday of each month to share your thoughts and questions about any or all of the selections. For snow or bad weather information, call 215-968 8000. On the radio, the College code for snow closing is 2760. For more information, call 215-968-8164 or send email to: hennesse@bucks.edu


January 9:   Come to Me: Stories by Amy Bloom

From Publishers Weekly:

Come To MeBloom's remarkably consistent first collection of stories includes her award-winning "Silver Water," a sad remembrance of a mentally ill sister and the family that loves yet cannot help her. The story includes elements common to Bloom's work: female protagonists whose lives are changed through psychological trauma, often involving therapists or people embarked on therapy. This makes sense, since Bloom herself is a practicing therapist. She deftly explores the complexity of the therapist-patient relationship ("Song of Solomon" and the aptly titled, ironic "Psychoanalysis Changed My Life"); the subtle brutality of troubled families ("Love Is Not a Pie," "Sleepwalking," "When the Year Grows Old"); and the strange compromises struck by couples to maintain tenuous emotional connections ("Sleepwalking"). Taken together, however, Bloom's insights into human love and obsession tend to blur into a long and rather uniform psychoanalytic lesson, undercut occasionally by revelations. She's at her best in showing how people really think, as in a description of a self-effacing housewife's distracted thoughts during sex in "The Sight of You," or in the title story, in which Bloom achieves a soaring complexity in characters whose strange behavior eludes any simple psychological explanation. 
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.


February 13:  Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

From Booklist:

Americanah*Starred Review* To the women in the hair-braiding salon, Ifemelu seems to have everything a Nigerian immigrant in America could desire, but the culture shock, hardships, and racism she’s endured have left her feeling like she has “cement in her soul.” Smart, irreverent, and outspoken, she reluctantly left Nigeria on a college scholarship. Her aunty Uju, the pampered mistress of a general in Lagos, is now struggling on her own in the U.S., trying to secure her medical license. Ifemelu’s discouraging job search brings on desperation and depression until a babysitting gig leads to a cashmere-and-champagne romance with a wealthy white man. Astonished at the labyrinthine racial strictures she’s confronted with, Ifemelu, defining herself as a “Non-American Black,” launches an audacious, provocative, and instantly popular blog in which she explores what she calls Racial Disorder Syndrome. Meanwhile, her abandoned true love, Obinze, is suffering his own cold miseries as an unwanted African in London. MacArthur fellow Adichie (The Thing around Your Neck, 2009) is a word-by-word virtuoso with a sure grasp of social conundrums in Nigeria, East Coast America, and England; an omnivorous eye for resonant detail; a gift for authentic characters; pyrotechnic wit; and deep humanitarianism. Americanah is a courageous, world-class novel about independence, integrity, community, and love and what it takes to become a “full human being.” --Donna Seaman


March 13:  The Good Lord Bird: A Novel by James McBride

From Booklist:

The Round House Book CoverWinner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction

*Starred Review* Abolitionist John Brown calls her “Little Onion,” but her real name is Henry. A slave in Kansas mistaken for a girl due to the sackcloth smock he was wearing when Brown shot his master, the light-skinned, curly-haired 12-year-old ends up living as a young woman, most often encamped with Brown’s renegade band of freedom warriors as they traverse the country, raising arms and ammunition for their battle against slavery. Though they travel to Rochester, New York, to meet with Frederick Douglass and Canada to enlist the help of Harriet Tubman, Brown and his ragtag army fail to muster sufficient support for their mission to liberate African Americans, heading inexorably to the infamously bloody and pathetic raid on Harpers Ferry. Dramatizing Brown’s pursuit of racial freedom and insane belief in his own divine infallibility through the eyes of a child fearful of becoming a man, best-selling McBride (Song Yet Sung, 2008) presents a sizzling historical novel that is an evocative escapade and a provocative pastiche of Larry McMurtry’s salty western satires and William Styron’s seminal insurrection masterpiece, The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967). McBride works Little Onion’s low-down patois to great effect, using the savvy but scared innocent to bring a fresh immediacy to this sobering chapter in American history. --Carol Haggas
 


April 10:  Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney

Amazon.com Book Description:

Sweet Tooth Book Cover

Composed toward the end of the first millennium, Beowulf is the elegiac narrative of the adventures of Beowulf, a Scandinavian hero who saves the Danes from the seemingly invincible monster Grendel and, later, from Grendel's mother. He then returns to his own country and dies in old age in a vivid fight against a dragon. The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on in the exhausted aftermath. In the contours of this story, at once remote and uncannily familiar at the beginning of the twenty-first century, Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney finds a resonance that summons power to the poetry from deep beneath its surface. Drawn to what he has called the "four-squareness of the utterance" in ​Beowulf​ and its immense emotional credibility, Heaney gives these epic qualities new and convincing reality for the contemporary reader. 


 May 8:  The Language of Flowers: A Novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Amazon.com Book Description:

The Language of FlowersNEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what’s been missing in her life. And when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.


  June 12:  We Need New Names: A Novel by NoViolet Bulawayo

From Booklist:

We Need New Names In Bulawayo’s engaging and often disturbing semiautobiographical first novel, 10-year-old Darling describes, with childlike candor and a penetrating grasp of language, first, her life in Zimbabwe during its so-called Lost Decade and then her life as a teenager in present-day America. What is at once delightful and disturbing is the fact that young Darling and her friends are so resilient amidst chaos. Darling must cope with absentee parents gone to who-knows-where, seeking jobs and a better life; abusive adults; and murdering bands of self-appointed police in a country gone horribly wrong. Yet she evinces a sense of chauvinism regarding her corrupt homeland when she joins her aunt in America. There she discovers a country that has fallen into a different kind of chaos, primarily economic. She and her new family struggle while America fails to live up to her hopes. Ultimately what lingers is Bulawayo’s poignant insights into how a person decides what to embrace and what to surrender when adapting to a new culture in a new land. --Donna Chavez