July book: Moloka’i, by Alan Brennert

I am really excited to share this book in book club, for a few reasons. One, it’s a great novel about something most people probably don’t know a lot about: how the Hawaiian government handled leprosy/Hansen’s disease by shipping those with the disease to the island of Moloka’i, forcibly separating them from their families, usually for the rest of their lives. Two, it has two new Saints from the Catholic Church in it: St. Damian of Molokai, and St. Marianne Cope, who was a Franciscan sister who ran a house for girls with leprosy on the island. Sr. Marianne was recently canonized.

Moloka’i is told from the perspective of a young girl who is diagnosed with leprosy and sent to live on the island. That choice of narrator provides such a rich variety of experiences, as she grows up in a very different place than most little girls do. The compelling narration is one of the best elements of the story.

If you’d like to read along with us, feel free! Even if you’ve already read it, I always approve of re-reading. 🙂

Book Club Reading List July-April 2014

So we’ve cobbled together a book list for our meetings through April 2014. We’re taking December off because that month just gets crazy. Here they are!

July: Molokai by Alan Brennert (2004)

August: Nothing Daunted by Dorothy Wickenden (2012)

September: Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini (2013)

October: Midwife of the Blue Ridge by Christine Blevins (2008)

November: Evangelical Catholicism by George Weigel (2013)

January: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (1814)

February: The Last Time I Saw Paris by Lynn Sheene (2011)

March: Swamplandia! by Karen Russell (2011)

April: 1776 by David McCullough (2007)

What Emily read: May 2013

Looking back over my Goodreads counter, I see I read a ton of books in May. So buckle up. 🙂

Waiting to Be Heard, by Amanda Knox: Knox was convicted of murdering her British roommate in Italy several years ago. The ruling was then reversed, and Amanda was released and sent back to the states. Now the Italian government wants her extradited to stand trial for the murder again. This is Knox’s memoir about her time in Italy, what happened the night of the murder, and her experiences with the Italian justice system. Let’s just say it’s not a fond look. She definitely makes some questionable choices in the beginning, but her treatment at the hands of the Italian government is shabby at the best. It was a quick read.

donkey pilgrims Last of the Donkey Pilgrims, by Kevin O’Hara: O’Hara, a Vietnam vet and Irish citizen by birth, comes back to Ireland from his home in the states and endeavors to be a “donkey pilgrim”–to traverse all of Ireland with a donkey and cart. It’s a fun and fascinating read, and if you’re at all Irish, like I am, or just love a good travelogue, you’ll very much enjoy this book.

May I Be Happy, by Cyndi Lee: A memoir by the world renowed yoga instructor about body acceptance and the meaning of happiness. (And yes, yoga in involved)

A Step of Faith, Richard Paul Evans: I am a total devotee of RPE, and have been since I read his first book, The Christmas Box, in seventh grade. This is the fourth installment of his very popular Walk series, in which the protagonist decides to walk from his home in Seattle to Key West, Florida, after the death of his wife and the loss of his home and business. This series is tremendously well written.

a step of faith

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson: A fantastically funny quasi-memoir by the author of The Bloggess. It’s quick, it’s hysterical.

Fides et Ratio: John Paul The Great’s encyclical on the relationship between faith and reason.

My Sisters The Saintsby Colleen Carroll Campbell: I really wanted to like this, but it left me sort of cold. There was a sense of overdramatic writing and trying a bit too hard to make her journey relate to that of familiar saints.

Blessed, Beautiful and Bodaciousby Pat Gohn: Now I really liked this one. The book deals with how to be an authentically Catholic woman, without resorting to the all-too-common “married women only need apply” patina that glosses so many of similar books. Her writing style is conversational and fluid, and I really enjoyed it.

Once, by Enda Walsh: In preparation for seeing the show, I read the script.

Return of the nativeThe Return of the Native, by Thomas Hardy: In the mode of almost all Hardy: man and woman marry. Man and woman unhappy. Man and woman end unhappily. Sigh. However, it’s good writing and vivid characters.

Italian Food, by Elizabeth David: I bought this in NYC during a recent trip, and loved this book. David, a famous British food writer, makes Italian food accessible with simple recipes that still work today.

Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter: Yes, I finally broke down and read this. Stick with it. It starts slow, but oh how it all comes together!

Extra Virginity, by Tom Mueller: Extra Virgin Olive Oil has become a staple in American kitchens. But is it really extra virgin? A fascinating look at the olive oil industry around the world.

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child, by Bob Spitz: Continuing in the cooking vein, this is a brilliant, all encompassing biography of the woman who really brought French cooking to America. Spitz doesn’t gloss over the more controversial or idiosyncratic parts of her character and allows her to exist in her entirety. A great read.

A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords, by George R R Martin: Books two and three in the Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire series. Battles are won and lost, people are dismembered, people die, and marriages are made. And ended. Oh, and dragons.

The Joy Diet, by Martha Beck: Ten ways to bring more joy into your life. possession

Possession, by AS Byatt: If you read only one book on this VERY LONG list, make it this one. Two British researches uncover a hidden relationship between two Victorian era poets. That’s the basic outline. But it’s so much more than that. Read it.