Another lively discussion of books occurred on Sunday afternoon. We had a new reader, Cat. She had attempted to join us last month via Zoom but encountered technical difficulties. We enjoyed meeting her in person and look forward to seeing her again.

Peggy was back from vacation (a cruise in the Balkans). She started us off with Overboard by Sara Paretsky. Paretsky grew up in the Lawrence area. Overboard takes place in one of her favorite locations (Chicago) during the COVID lockdown. A nonfiction selection was Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo. The Secret Life of Albert Entwhistle by Matt Cain tells the story of a Royal Mail employee who is forced to retire at age 65. He must create a new life for himself, making new connections with people. Her last book was a Scandinavian comedic story by Jonas Jonasson. Sweet, Sweet Revenge LTD is a business that helps people by exacting revenge on others who have done them wrong. This is the story of one family’s experience.

Cynthia read Run, Rose, Run by Dolly Parton and James Patterson. This tells the story of a young woman trying to make it in the music industry. Cynthia learned a lot about the music industry. When She Dreams by Amanda Quick (aka Jayne Ann Krentz) is set in California during the Great Depression. However, it is about Hollywood stars, mobsters, spies, and others in the town of Burning Cove. The Guncle by Steven Rowley is Gay Uncle Patrick who suddenly is the responsible adult for his 6- and 9-year-old niece and nephew. This is a new role for him, and his lifestyle is not really conducive to raising kids. Fun and lighthearted.

Rodney read The Poems of Longfellow by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Most of us have read some of these poems in school, especially Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie and Hiawatha. He is one of the few American poets honored in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey. At one point, Longfellow was a Professor of Modern Languages at Harvard University.

David read The Cruise of the Nona by Hilaire Belloc. Belloc was a French-English writer and historian of the early 20th century. This book is a collection of his thoughts on various issues. Next was Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey, book six of The Expanse series. He enjoyed it. He reread a book from his past, Pilgrimage: The Book of the People by Zenna Henderson. One of a science fiction series from the 1970s and 1980s.

Coleen had read Aunti Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano. Aunti Poldi has always lived in Munich, but has relatives in Sicily, Italy. After her husband dies, she decides to move to Sicily, enjoy the sea and Mount Etna, and drink. Then Valentino, her handyman dies. She decides she must find out who killed him. Good story, fun characters. The translation from the German could be better.

Cat is reading Mein Kampf by Adolph Hitler. She is concerned about the way our country is going and thought she could get some insight from reading Hitler’s story. Also reading John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War and Seeded Civil Rights by David S. Reynolds. She thinks the book puts John Brown in historical context. Most of us didn’t know much about John Brown, despite his connections to Bleeding Kansas.

Brad continued the theme of World War II from June with The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. The story is based on real life events. The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn is based on a true story of a young mother, student, and librarian in Kiev (Kyiv) who was conscripted by the Russians in WWII, taught to fight, and became history’s deadliest female sniper. Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire by David Remnick has become the definitive book on the 75 years of Communist rule in Russia. This book won the Pulitzer Prize. Another prize winner was The Sellout by Paul Beatty. This book won the Man Booker Prize. It is a satiric look at race relations and growing up Black in Southern California in the mid-20th century. Brad enjoyed it. On to the less serious books. He read Rock Bottom by Jerusha Jones. This is a mystery set in the Pacific Northwest. The curator of the eclectic Imogene Museum is suddenly missing her intern who has vanished without a trace. Other peculiar things are happening in the museum. And then there is a murder! Ending up Brad’s selections are some science fiction works. One Way by S. J. Morden is set on Mars. Mars has been colonized by ex-cons. Then people start getting murdered. There is a sequel titled No Way. And lastly, Farewell to Yesterday’s Tomorrow by Alexei Panshin. This is a collection of short New Wave Sci-Fi stories that all relate to each other.

That’s a wrap for July. Come next month and let us know what you have been reading!