Book Discussion Group
The Book Discussion Group meets on the second Thursday of each month from 7:30 to 9 p.m. in Rollins Center Room 114 at Bucks County Community College's Newtown Campus. All are welcome to join and share their thoughts and questions about any or all of the selections. In case of inclement weather, call 215-968‑8000 or visit the Bucks web site prior to traveling to campus. For more information about the Book Discussion Group, contact Michael Hennessey at 215-968-8164 or Michael.Hennessey@bucks.edu.
Jan. 14: Lucky Us A Novel by Amy Bloom
An Amazon Best Book of the Month, August 2014: From its provocative opening paragraph--"My father’s wife died. My mother said we should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for us."--to its sweet tableau of an ending, Amy Bloom’s Lucky Us is a percussive novel about two sisters who go from Ohio to Hollywood and back trying both to find and lose themselves and each other. Iris has the disposition (if not the talent) of an actress, but early on she gets drummed out of Tinseltown for a particularly shocking (for the time) youthful indiscretion; Eva is her younger, more dour sister/observer. Through short vignettes of and letters from the Acton sisters as well as a growing cast of tragicomic characters, we get a jazzy novel about the WWII era. Bloom is particularly good at recreating the idioms of the time--in her acknowledgements, she thanks her cousin, the writer/scholar Harold Bloom for teaching her “to find a better way to put almost anything.”--and both her style and her story have a subversive, iconoclastic quality. This is not a very long novel, but with its expansive understanding of human nature and of history, it covers a lot of ground. --Sara Nelson
Feb. 11: The Tsar of Love and Techno Stories by Anthony Marra
Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Books of 2015
“[E]xtraordinary… Each story is a gem in itself. But the book is greater than its parts, an almost unbearably moving exploration of the importance of love, the pull of family, the uses and misuses of history, and the need to reclaim the past by understanding who you really are and what really happened…He starts this miracle of a book by showing us how a system can erase the past, the truth, even its citizens. He ends by demonstrating, through his courageous, flawed, deeply human characters, how individual people can restore the things that have been taken away. And if you’ve been worrying that you’ve lost your faith in the emotionally transformative power of fiction – Mr. Marra will restore that, too.” —Sarah Lyall, The New York Times
Mar. 10: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
From Amazon: Winner Of The Pulitzer Prize - One Of The New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books Of The Year - A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
A major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes
Over the last half-billion years, there have been Five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In prose that is at once frank, entertaining, and deeply informed, New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before. Interweaving research in half a dozen disciplines, descriptions of the fascinating species that have already been lost, and the history of extinction as a concept, Kolbert provides a moving and comprehensive account of the disappearances occurring before our very eyes. She shows that the sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.
Apr. 14: Disgrace: A Novel by J. M. Coetzee
From the Inside Flap:
After years teaching Romantic poetry at the Technical University of Cape Town, David Lurie, middle-aged and twice divorced, has an impulsive affair with a student. The affair sours; he is denounced and summoned before a committee of inquiry. Willing to admit his guilt, but refusing to yield to pressure to repent publicly, he resigns and retreats to his daughter Lucy's isolated farm. For a time, his daughter's influence and the natural rhythms of the farm promise to harmonize his discordant life. But the balance of power in the country is shifting. He and Lucy become victims of a savage and disturbing attack which brings into relief all the faults in their relationship. Chilling, uncompromising and unforgettable, Disgrace is a masterpiece.
May 12: Fortune Smiles Stories by Adam Johnson
National Book Award Winner
From Amazon: In six masterly stories, Johnson delves deep into love and loss, natural disasters, the influence of technology, and how the political shapes the personal. “Nirvana,” which won the prestigious Sunday Times short story prize, portrays a programmer whose wife has a rare disease finding solace in a digital simulacrum of the president of the United States. In “Hurricanes Anonymous”—first included in the Best American Short Stories anthology—a young man searches for the mother of his son in a Louisiana devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. “George Orwell Was a Friend of Mine” follows a former warden of a Stasi prison in East Germany who vehemently denies his past, even as pieces of it are delivered in packages to his door. And in the unforgettable title story, Johnson returns to his signature subject, North Korea, depicting two defectors from Pyongyang who are trying to adapt to their new lives in Seoul, while one cannot forget the woman he left behind.
Unnerving, riveting, and written with a timeless quality, these stories confirm Johnson as one of America’s greatest writers and an indispensable guide to our new century.
Jun. 9: What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat by Louise Richardson
From Amazon: “This is at the top of my list for best books on terrorism.”
–Jessica Stern, author of Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill
How can the most powerful country in the world feel so threatened by an enemy infinitely weaker than we are? How can loving parents and otherwise responsible citizens join terrorist movements? How can anyone possibly believe that the cause of Islam can be advanced by murdering passengers on a bus or an airplane? In this important new book, groundbreaking scholar Louise Richardson answers these questions and more, providing an indispensable guide to the greatest challenge of our age.