Peggy, Coleen & David, and Cynthia comprised the core of longtime members, with Nathan signing in for the second month in a row. Barbara missed the email invite, but Jeanette, a member from years ago, joined us from Florida. Thank you, Zoom!

Peggy got the discussion started with The Lantern Men, by Elly Griffiths, a mystery that makes use of forensic archeology. This is a topic I have been interested in; Peggy gives it a recommendation. Peggy has also been reading Anne Perry’s A Question of Betrayal, an MI6 suspense story set in 1930s Europe. Intriguing. Finally, she read Ring of Fire IV, part of an anthology series of alternative history.

I did not see Coleen’s/David’s book lists, but I believe they focused primarily on what is referred to as YA, or books written for teenagers.

Jeanette had quite a few books to report on, starting with Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain. He struggled for much of his life and did not really become financially secure until he was in his 40s. Her most enthusiastic read was The Brigade: A Story of Vengeance, Salvation, and WWII, a history of the first Jewish brigade to form and fight during the Second World War. Her father-in-law fought in this brigade, making the story personal to her. A book with a subject I was unaware of is The Mafia’s President: Nixon and the Mob, by Don Fulsom. I’ve read a lot of books about Nixon, but this is a new angle. Back when the news was news, Bob Schieffer reported from around the world. His memoir, This Just In: What I Couldn’t Tell You on TV, gives a behind the scenes look of his reporting. Uncommon Type: Some Stories offers anecdotes from Tom Hank’s acting career. Other reads included The Belly of the Atlantic, by Fatou Dome, and The One-in-a-Million-Boy, by Monica Wood.

Nathan continues to read books of interest to me. Top recommendations include The Mysterious Benedict Society and The Prisoner’s Dilemma, both by Trenton Lee Stewart, both good bedtime reads for the kids. The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance, by Josh Waitzkin, sounds like an intriguing story. Remember the movie Searching for Bobby Fisher? This was a true story based on a young chess prodigy. That prodigy was Josh Waitzkin. He got burned out on chess and took up the Chinese martial art Tai Chi Chuan.

With much dedication he eventually won five national championships and one world title. Waitzkin concludes that the same skills are involved in both of these seemingly disparate arts. I’m looking forward to reading this. Other books Nathan completed are The Crossing, by Cormac McCarthy, In Praise of Folly, by Erasmus, and The Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded, by John Owen.

Cynthia also read a book by Anne Perry, A Breach of Promise, the ninth book in the William Monk series. It may also be found titled as Whited Sepulchers. Apparently, Perry is writing other two series, both based in the Middle Ages. Cynthia also read Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation, by Dr. Kristin Kobes Du Mez, a professor of history at Calvin University. She is currently working on a religious history of Hillary Clinton.

Books I enjoyed this month were Endurance: My Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery, by Scott Kelly. Kelly was a real juvenile delinquent, hated school and had terrible grades. But then he read a book, something quite unusual for him, called The Right Stuff, by Tom Wolfe. It literally turned his life around. He attended college, learned to study, joined the Navy, earned his way into flight school, became a fighter pilot, then a test pilot, was selected for the astronaut corps, piloted the space shuttle on numerous missions, commanded the International Space Station, and spent an entire year in space. That’s the power a single book can have on a person’s life. Another powerful read was When Truth is All You Have: A Memoir of Faith, Justice and Freedom for the Wrongly Convicted, by Jim McCloskey. McCloskey walked away from his life as a business consultant in Japan and joined a monastery in New Jersey with the intention of become a priest. His internship was at a nearby prison, where he would visit prisoners convicted of the most heinous crimes. He was surprised to learn that they all freely admitted their crimes and were willing to talk about it; all but one, who insisted he was innocent. After several years McCloskey uncovered enough evidence to prove this man was innocent and set him free. This book is a case study of several of the more than 60 prisoners whose innocence he has proven. What he has learned over the years is just how corrupt our justice system really is. The final book on my recommended list is The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn. I won’t go into the details but was stunned to learn at the end that this was based on real people and real events from WWI and WWII. An amazing story.

That’s it for this month. If you would like to join us in our literary chat fest, please email me so I can add you to the invite list for the October Book Lovers SIG. ~Brad Lucht