We missed Susan, as she is in rehab after having surgery to remove several brain tumors.

Sharon stayed home to watch football.

Cynthia and Michael joined us via Zoom. Cynthia was kind of worn down with a cold, and Michael is one of our remote members, joining us from Nevada, MO.

Meeting in person were Coleen, David, Peggy, Rodney and myself to discuss the books we’ve read in the last month.

On to books…

Peggy got quite bit of reading done. Her recommended reads include These Precious Days, a collection of essays by Ann Patchett, and Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone, the ninth and latest in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.

Other Peggy reads include Termination Shock, Neil Stephenson’s novel set in the near future that explores how the greenhouse effect will result in bad, bad, bad weather happening. At 716 pages, Peggy found it a bit lengthy.

The Approaching Storm: Roosevelt, Wilson, Addams and Their Clash Over America’s Future, by Neil Lanctot. I love history, so am adding this to my reading list.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, by Anissa Gray. Chick Lit.

Family Business: A Lydia Chin/Bill Smith Mystery, by Edgar Award-winning novelist S.J. Rozan. Private eyes Chin and Smith get into it up to their necks when a New York Chinatown crime boss is murdered.

Coleen also completed quite a few books. She recommends The Thursday Murder Club, the first in a series by Richard Osman. Set in rural Kent, England, a group of four retirees in a retirement village help the police solve several murders, some from long ago. Soon to be a major motion picture from Steven Spielberg at Amblin Entertainment. Very entertaining. Recommended.

Coleen also recommends Darius the Great Deserves Better, by Adib Khorram, a local author of YA fiction. This is the follow-up to the award-winning Darius the Great Is Not Okay. She found both books well written and recommends them both.

Also read: Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas, by Rebecca Solnit, Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas, by Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedeker, and Non-stop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas, by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro. All published by the University of California Press. Eclectic maps with essays of each city. Good for reading when you have just a little bit of time.

David recommends A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller, Jr. Classic sci-fi from the late 1950s. He also read The Guinevere Deception, by Kiersten White, a YA alternate account of the Arthurian Legend. Cannot recommend it.

Rodney always has interesting reads. This month they included A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya, by Linda Schele and David Freidel, and Extinct Languages, by Johannes Friedrich.

Forest of Kings summarizes a massive effort to decode a collection of glyphs. The authors document the story of Maya kingship, from the beginning of its institution and the first great pyramid builders two thousand years ago, to the decline of Maya civilization and its destruction by the Spanish.

Extinct Languages describes recovered systems of writing, including Egyptian and Hittite hieroglyphs, Babylonian cuneiform, and others. Friedrich explains the methodology and principles behind the deciphering process.

Michael read the following: All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. This story, about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II, is being made into a Netflix series.

Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr, was a finalist for the 2021 National Book Award.

Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee, a 2017 National Book Award finalist, is an epic story of four generations of a poor Korean immigrant family as they fight to control their destiny in 20th century Japan.

Cynthia read the 2019 Ann Cleeves book The Long Call that launched a new senior detective, Matthew Venn. Venn is homosexual, recently married, and has a new(ish) job in North Devon, the area where he grew up. It starts with a man, stabbed to death, on a local beach and ends with a bunch of corrupt people getting caught in a cover-up. I liked Venn and apparently so did others: a follow-up novel, The Heron’s Cry, was released this November.

I managed to get a couple of books read. I recommend As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, by Cary Elwes, the actor who portrayed Wesley in the movie The Princess Bride, based on the book by the same name written by William Goldman. Elwes describes the casting process, the making of the movie, the initial “meh” reception, followed by a new audience discovering the movie upon the introduction of the VCR. Such a fun read.

I also read The Committed, by Viet Thanh Nguyen. This is the sequal to The Sympathizer, Nguyen’s debut novel which won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Edgar Award for Best First Novel, and Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. As good as The Sympathizer was, that is how bad The Committed is. Avoid reading.

Book Lovers SIG meets the 2nd Sunday of each month. If you join us in person, please wear a mask. General chat begins at 2:00 p.m. Book discussion begins at 2:30 or when Peggy rings the bell. If you live out of town or don’t feel like making the drive, we also simulcast on Zoom.

If you would like to join our literary chat fest, please email me so I can add you to the invite list for the January Book Lovers SIG. Here’s hoping you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone! ~Brad Lucht