We have another new reader this month — Lloyd from Denver. Only four folks on Zoom, six in person, and two who reported on their readings but couldn’t join us.

Lloyd was in the military and has a background in aviation and law. At one time he was stationed at Fort Riley. He enjoys reading history, military history, aviation, criminal law, and some science fiction. This month he had read The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas and Ben Hur by Lew Wallace and enjoyed them both.

Cynthia read The Racketeer by John Grisham. Not his normal novel, it is about a heist and revenge that puts Ocean’s 11 to shame.

Ben read The Collector by John Fowles. A psychological thriller about a butterfly collector and a woman he “collects.” Very literary. Also, Ghost Story by Peter Straub. This is about a group of men who meet to tell ghost stories. Ben considers this one of the best ghost stories he has read.

Beth read a series of books by Philip Pullman, The Sally Lockhart Mysteries. The main character is a young woman in 1880s Britain, who makes a living solving mysteries. The series was dramatized by the BBC in the mid–2000s. The titles of the books are The Ruby in the Smoke, The Shadow in the North, The Tiger in the Well, and The Tin Princess. She also read The Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and The Peace to End All Peace: Creating the Modern Middle East, both by David Fromkin. Covering the period 1914 to 1922, this is the story of how Britain, France, and Russia carved up the middle east in their quests for power.

Stina had read quite a few books. Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession by Alice Bolin; The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead; The White Guard by Mikhail Bulgakov; A Christmas Carol: What if Scrooge Were a Woman? adapted by Alison Larkin; Buttermilk Graffiti by Edward Lee; Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 and 2) by Balogun Ojetade; The Snow Fell Three Graves Deep by Allan Wolf; Bunny by Mona Awad; The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb; Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl; Singled Out by Andrew Maraniss; Interview with the Robot by Lee Bacon; The Do-Right by Lisa Sandlin; and Black Pearl by Donnell Ann Bell. Most of these sound intriguing.

Michael is continuing to read books by Michel Tournier. Friday, or the Other Island is the Robinson Crusoe story from Friday’s point of view (won the Grand Prix du roman de l’Academie francaise). The Erl-King won the Prix Goncourt. Also, The Fetishist and Other Stories by Tournier, and ending up with Why Buddhism is True by Robert Wright.

Peggy read A Killing of Innocents by Deborah Crombie, a murder mystery set in London; The Mitford Affair by Marie Benedict, based on the true stories of the Mitford sisters between the wars in England; Ms. Demeanor by Elinor Lipman, a witty story about love under house arrest; and The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune.

Kat read The Art of Memory by Frances Yates; The Diary Keepers: World War II in the Netherlands, as Written by the People Who Lived Through It by Nina Siegal; The Barbizon: The Hotel that Set Women Free by Paulina Bren, about the hotel that single women could safely stay at in NYC; and At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails by Sarah Bakewell, which covers the philosophy and history of the 20th century movement of existentialism.

David read The Chase of the Golden Meteor by Jules Verne, a posthumous novel recently translated to English and Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky, all about the importance and value of salt through the ages.

Coleen read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. This book is a great read all about daily life in Brooklyn in the early 20th Century. XOXO by Axie Oh is about an American high school student of Korean descent. She ends up in a performing arts high school in Seoul for a semester. A typical culture–clash story with an emphasis on the training of K–Pop singers. Interesting. More Than You’ll Ever Know by Katie Gutierrez is interesting while I’m reading it but is not compelling to keep reading.

Nathan joined us for the first time in person. He first joined the group during COVID when we were meeting via Zoom. It was great to see him in person! He reads great books to his children. Currently reading Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien to the oldest; Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling to the next oldest; and Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing to the next one. For himself, he reread The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis, along with The Weight of Glory, a compilation of public speeches made by Lewis. He also read Slaughterhouse–Five by Kurt Vonnegut; Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy; and finished with Why We Drive: Toward a Philosophy of the Open Road by Matthew B. Crawford.

Brad finished Surrender, White People! Our Unconditional Terms for Peace by D. L. Hughley, proposing a peace treaty between White America and the rest of humanity, citing numerous examples of racism throughout our nation’s history. The humor wore thin after a while, and he didn’t present anything I wasn’t already aware of. Brad recommends Upgrade by Blake Crouch, a Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Science Fiction (2022). In the not–too–distant future all genetic research has been banned. During an investigation an agent walks into a trap. An explosion pierces his body with shards of modified glass which begin modifying his DNA in ways previously thought not possible. Is this just a first step in modifying all of humanity? Slough House (#7) by Mick Herron, continues the saga of outcast MI–5 agents who have been assigned to Slough House. Herron has yet to disappoint. Recommended. Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel is a beautifully written story about time travel, weaving together three seemingly unrelated story threads. Elegant ending. Goodreads Choice Award Winner for Best Science Fiction (2022). Recommended. It’s Not Easy Bein’ Me: A Lifetime of No Respect but Plenty of Sex and Drugs by Rodney Dangerfield, written when he was 82. An uncensored view of his life including his distrust of doctors and his fears of undergoing heart surgery. Tragically, he died just six months after this book was finished, from the very surgery he had written about. The Education of Corporal John Musgrave: Vietnam and Its Aftermath by John Musgrave with forwards by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Musgrave grew up in a small town in Kansas, idolizing Marines and war. At 17 he fulfilled his lifelong wish and enlisted. By 1967 he was in Vietnam. This is his story of a gung–ho Marine who turned into one of the national leaders of the Vietnam Veterans against the War. Next to A Bright Shining Lie, this is the best book about the war I have ever read. Strong recommendation. Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby. Two fathers, one White, one Black, are brought together by the murder of their gay sons. The police seem uninterested in solving the case, so the two resolve to take matters into their own hands. Much violence ensues. Really well written. Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Mystery & Thriller (2021). Recommended. Currently Reading: The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams by Stacy Schiff, Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best History & Biography (2022).

We had a dozen readers this month – six on Zoom, six in person! I think that’s a record for recent meetings. Come see us next month via Zoom only. Chat at 2:00 p.m., book talk at 2:30 p.m. until we get done. (If you need to leave early, we’ll let you go first!)