Book Club List for 2019-2020

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Our book club at church resumed this week with the discussion of Climate Justice. We meet once a month from September through May. This is our list of books for the 2019-2020 season. The books are listed in the order in which we will read and discuss them. We would love to hear your impressions if you have read any of them!

Robinson, Mary. With Caitríona Palmer. Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience, and the Fight for a Sustainable Future. New York: Bloomsbury, 2018.

Mary Robinson’s mission led her all over the world, from Malawi to Mongolia, and to a heartening revelation: that an irrepressible driving force in the battle for climate justice could be found at the grassroots level, mainly among women, many of them mothers and grandmothers like herself.

Krueger, William Kent. Ordinary Grace. New York: Atria Books, 2014.

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1996. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Frank begins the season preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family—which includes his Methodist minister father; his passionate, artistic mother; Juilliard-bound older sister; and wise-beyond-his-years kid brother—he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity and gumption beyond his years. Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, Ordinary Grace is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.

Westover, Tara. Educated. New York: Random House, 2018.

An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Al Rabeeah, Abu Bakr and Winnie Yeung. Homes: A Refugee Story. Freehand Books, 2018.

In 2010, the al Rabeeath family left their home in Iraq in hope of a safer life. They moved to Homs, Syria – just before the Syrian civil war broke out. Abu Bakr, one of eight children, was ten years old when the violence began on the streets around him: car bombings, attacks on his mosque and school, firebombs late at night.  Homes tells of the strange juxtapositions of growing up in a war zone: horrific, unimaginable events punctuated by normalcy – soccer, cousins, video games, friends. Homes is the remarkable true story of how a young boy emerged from the war zone – and found safety in Canada – with a passion for sharing his story and telling the world what is truly happening in Syria.  As told to her by Abu Bakr al Rabeeath, writer Winnie Yeung has crafted a heartbreaking, hopeful, and urgently necessary book that provides a window in understanding Syria.

 Chittister, Joan. The Time Is Now: A Call to Uncommon Courage. New York: Convergent Books, 2019.

In The Time Is Now, Sister Joan Chittister draws on the wisdom of prophets, both ancient and modern, to help us confront the societal forces that oppress and silence the sacred voices among us. Pairing scriptural insights with narratives of the truth-tellers that came before us, Sister Joan offers a compelling vision for readers to combat complacency and to propel ourselves toward creating a world of justice, freedom, peace, and empowerment.

Sullivan, Mark. Beneath a Scarlet Sky. Seattle, Washington: Lake Union Publishing, 2017.

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero. When Pino Lella’s family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, he joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior. In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier—a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited to become the personal driver for General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders. Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret, his courage bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share.

Hirshman, Linda. Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World. New York: HarperCollins, 2016.

The relationship between Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg transcends party, religion, region, and culture. Strengthened by each other’s presence, these groundbreaking judges, the first and second to serve on the highest court in the land, have transformed the Constitution and America itself, making it a more equal place for all women. The author makes clear how these two justices have shaped the legal framework of modern feminism, including employment discrimination, abortion, affirmative action, sexual harassment, and many other issues crucial to women’s lives.

Luiselli, Valerie. Lost Children Archive. New York: Knopf Doubleday, 2019.

A mother and father set out with their two children, a boy and a girl, driving from New York to Arizona in the heat of summer. Their destination: Apacheria, the place the Apaches once called home. On the radio, there is news about an “immigration crisis”: thousands of kids trying to cross the southwestern border into the United States, but getting detained–or lost in the desert along the way. Lost Children Archive is a richly engaging story of how we document our experiences, and how we remember the things that matter to us the most. It takes us deep into the lives of one remarkable family as it probes the nature of justice and equality today.

Moore, Kate. The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2018.

The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War. Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. When they begin to fall mysteriously ill, the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women’s cries of corruption.


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