Presenting Book Club Choices …

February 24, 2010

In our book club (known as the “Cheeky B****es” in honour of our Brit-gal members who love the phrase and wield it mercilessly) we take turns being responsible for presenting book choices. Usually, at her assigned meeting, The Chooser presents a selection of two to four books and allows the group to decide by consensus which of the titles we’d like to read. A book might be eliminated if it has been read by a significant number of us already. Some of the cheekier among us simply assign a book – end of discussion. In both cases we’ve been very fortunate and have enjoyed some great reads. There have been a few duds but we can get to that in another post!

And so … March is my month to be The Chooser and present to the club. They’re usually a friendly gang and if a selection doesn’t suit they will just wrinkle their noses and look unimpressed; sparring has only occurred on a few occasions.  I still aim to please and want the gals to be happy with the choices so here is my preliminary list for your consideration.


Let The Great World Spin   An American masterpiece from internationally bestselling novelist Colum McCann—a dazzling and hauntingly rich vision of the loveliness, pain, and mystery of New York City in the 1970s In the dawning light of the late summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. . . .It is August, 1974, and a tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter-mile in the sky. In the streets below, ordinary lives become extraordinary as award-winning novelist Colum McCann crafts this stunningly realized portrait of a city and its people. 

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie  Alan C. Bradley introduces eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison. It is the summer of 1950 – and a series of inexplicable events has struck Buckshaw, the decaying English mansion that Flavia’s family calls home. A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath. For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw.”

The White Tiger: A Novel  By Aravind Adiga  Born in a village in heartland India, the son of a rickshaw puller, Balram is taken out of school by his family and put to work in a teashop. As he crushes coals and wipes tables, he nurses a dream of escape – of breaking away from the banks of Mother Ganga, into whose depths have seeped the remains of a hundred generations. The White Tiger is a tale of two Indias. Balram’s journey from darkness of village life to the light of entrepreneurial success is utterly amoral, brilliantly irreverent, deeply endearing and altogether unforgettable.  

The Elephant Keeper – Christopher Nicholson  England, 1773: After a long voyage from the East Indies, a ship docks in Bristol, England and rumor quickly spreads about its unusual cargo—some say a mermaid is on board. A crowd forms, hoping to catch a glimpse of the magical creature. One crate after another is unpacked: a zebra, a leopard and a baboon. There’s no mermaid, but in the final two crates is something almost as magical–a pair of young elephants, in poor health but alive. Seeing a unique opportunity, a wealthy sugar merchant purchases the elephants for his country estate and turns their care over to a young stable boy, Tom Page. Tom’s family has long cared for horses, but an elephant is something different altogether. It takes time for Tom and the elephants to understand one another, but to the surprise of everyone on the estate, a remarkable bond is formed. 

Honolulu – Alan Brennart   As a young Korean woman at the onset of 20th century, Regret knows that there is only one possible avenue to the education she seeks. She must become a mail-order bride. She travels to Hawaii to meet the man she has agreed to marry, but it becomes apparent all too quickly that he is not the genteel, prosperous young man she imagined he would be. Instead, she finds herself yoked to an impoverished plantation worker addicted to alcohol and gambling. Her painful situation forces her to fend for herself and form beneficial alliances with other “picture brides.” This powerful historical novel draws you into the plight of a woman swimming in the uncertainty of a new culture. 

Sarah’s Key – Tatiana de Rosnay  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 toquestion her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.

So let me know which would be your favourite or offer comments if you’ve read and liked or disliked any one of them.

What is your book club reading and how do you make your selections? We try to stick to softcovers only, do you have a “cover” policy?

One Response to “Presenting Book Club Choices …”

  1. joanna Says:

    well, this cheeky b**** does have two favourites from your shortlist! (hmmmm brit gal me, and how come then that the cheekiest b***h of all hails from canadian soil??? and we all know who i am talking about – we love her deeply, well, i do anyway!). so, for what its worth, white tiger and elephant keeper get my vote…

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