Book Club

The Book Club will begin a new year of reading and discussing Monday, September 25, 2017 at 4pm.

Over the summer, we have been compiling lists of books to suggest for next time – so join us for the September meeting on the 25th to lobby for, vote, and decide on the reading list for the upcoming 2017-18 session.

The group meets every 4th Monday from 4 – 5:30pm
on the Campbell UMC Campus in the Fireside Room.

As has been the custom, at the first meeting, everyone brings books that we recommend to the group for the upcoming year.  We then have the difficult task of selecting only 9 or 10!
See the entire list of member recommendations for the 2016-17 session (incl those not selected).
ALL readers & book-worms are welcome!

The 2016-2017 Reading List is shown below.

Book choices often include biographies, histories, some fiction, and soul-enriching experiences.
We’ve learned about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, the way west with Lewis and Clark, stories of courage, adventure, and tragedy, and even how such enterprises as the US Post Office created America!
We enjoy new titles and discover fascinating new worlds as introduced to us by fellow readers.
We attempt to pick books that are available at local library systems (eBooks are readily available now too).

We always include the Silicon Valley Reads selections in the winter. 

Come and join this book-oriented small group that enjoys reading and learning together.
Everyone is welcome!

See last year’s (2015-16) reading list.

————————————- Upcoming Month’s Selections ————————————-

2017-2018 Reading List

TBD at our next meeting, 25 September, 2017.
See you there!


2016-2017 Reading List

 June 2017 – How the Post Office Created America by Winifred Gallagher

Meeting: June 26th, 2017

A masterful history of a long underappreciated institution, How the Post Office Created America examines the surprising role of the postal service in our nation’s political, social, economic, and physical development.

The founders established the post office before they had even signed the Declaration of Independence, and for a very long time, it was the U.S. government’s largest and most important endeavor—indeed, it was the government for most citizens. This was no conventional mail network but the central nervous system of the new body politic, designed to bind thirteen quarrelsome colonies into the United States by delivering news about public affairs to every citizen—a radical idea that appalled Europe’s great powers. America’s uniquely democratic post powerfully shaped its lively, argumentative culture of uncensored ideas and opinions and made it the world’s information and communications superpower with astonishing speed.

Winifred Gallagher presents the history of the post office as America’s own story, told from a fresh perspective over more than two centuries. The mandate to deliver the mail—then “the media”—imposed the federal footprint on vast, often contested parts of the continent and transformed a wilderness into a social landscape of post roads and villages centered on post offices. The post was the catalyst of the nation’s transportation grid, from the stagecoach lines to the airlines, and the lifeline of the great migration from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It enabled America to shift from an agrarian to an industrial economy and to develop the publishing industry, the consumer culture, and the political party system. Still one of the country’s two major civilian employers, the post was the first to hire women, African Americans, and other minorities for positions in public life.

Starved by two world wars and the Great Depression, confronted with the country’s increasingly anti-institutional mind-set, and struggling with its doubled mail volume, the post stumbled badly in the turbulent 1960s. Distracted by the ensuing modernization of its traditional services, however, it failed to transition from paper mail to email, which prescient observers saw as its logical next step. Now the post office is at a crossroads. Before deciding its future, Americans should understand what this grand yet overlooked institution has accomplished since 1775 and consider what it should and could contribute in the twenty-first century.


May 2017 – Dance Hall of the Dead by Tony Hillerman

Meeting: May 22nd, 2017

Two Native-American boys have vanished into thin air, leaving a pool of blood behind them. Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal Police has no choice but to suspect the very worst, since the blood that stains the parched New Mexican ground once flowed through the veins of one of the missing, a young Zuñi.

But his investigation into a terrible crime is being complicated by an important archaeological dig . . . and a steel hypodermic needle. And the unique laws and sacred religious rites of the Zuñi people are throwing impassable roadblocks in Leaphorn’s already twisted path, enabling a craven murderer to elude justice or, worse still, to kill again.


April 2017 – The Arsenal of Democracy by A.J. Baime

Meeting: April 24th, 2017

The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War

As the United States entered World War II, the military was in desperate need of tanks, jeeps, and, most important, airplanes. Germany had been amassing weaponry and airplanes for five years—the United States for only months. So President Roosevelt turned to the American auto industry, specifically the Ford Motor Company, where Edsel Ford made the outrageous claim that he would construct the largest airplane factory in the world, a plant that could build a “bomber an hour.” And so began one of the most fascinating and overlooked chapters in American history.

Drawing on unique access to archival material and exhaustive research, A. J. Baime has crafted a riveting narrative that hopscotches from Detroit to Washington to Normandy, from the assembly lines to the frontlines, and from the depths of professional and personal failure to the heights that Ford Motor Company and the American military ultimately achieved in the sky.

“A touching and absorbing portrait of one of the forgotten heroes of World War II . . . A. J. Baime has given us a memorable portrait not just of an industry going to war but of a remarkable figure who helped to make victory possible.”—Wall Street Journal

“Wars are fought on many fronts, and A. J. Baime chronicles this little-known, but terrifically important battle to build America’s bomber force with narrative zest and delicious detail. Put simply, it’s a great read.”—Neal Bascomb, best-selling author of The Perfect Mile


March 2017 – The Finest Hours by Michael J. Tougias

Meeting March 27th, 2017

The true story of an incredible disaster and heroic rescue at sea told by two masterful storytellers.
In the winter of 1952, New England was battered by the most brutal nor’easter in years. As the weather wreaked havoc on land, the freezing Atlantic became a wind-whipped zone of peril.

In the early hours of Monday, February 18, while the storm raged, two oil tankers, the Pendleton and the Fort Mercer, found themselves in the same horrifying predicament. Built with “dirty steel,” and not prepared to withstand such ferocious seas, both tankers split in two, leaving the dozens of men on board utterly at the Atlantic’s mercy.

The Finest Hours is the gripping, true story of the valiant attempt to rescue the souls huddling inside the broken halves of the two ships. Coast Guard cutters raced to the aid of those on the Fort Mercer, and when it became apparent that the halves of the Pendleton were in danger of capsizing, the Guard sent out two thirty-six-foot lifeboats as well. These wooden boats, manned by only four seamen, were dwarfed by the enormous seventy-foot seas. As the tiny rescue vessels set out from the coast of Cape Cod, the men aboard were all fully aware that they were embarking on what could easily become a suicide mission.

The spellbinding tale is overflowing with breathtaking scenes that sear themselves into the mind’s eye, as boats capsize, bows and sterns crash into one another, and men hurl themselves into the raging sea in their terrifying battle for survival.

February 2017 – Silicon Valley Reads:
Unfair by Adam Benforado, and Writing My Wrongs by Shaka Senghor

Meeting February 27th, 2017

We always include the Silicon Valley Reads selections in the winter.
In 2017, their 15th anniversary, Silicon Valley Reads focuses on
“. . . and justice for all,” a conversation about the unconscious biases we all have, and how these assumptions, perceptions and prejudices can lead to people being treated unfairly, especially in the legal system.  Everyone has, at one time or another, been unfairly judged because of some type of bias and our goal is to raise awareness​ and spark new ideas on how we can reduce bias in our legal system and our daily lives.  
The selections for 2017 are:
Unfair by Adam Benforado, and Writing My Wrongs by Shaka Senghor.

Click here for events & author appearances associated with the Silicon Valley Reads program.
Read more about the two Silicon Valley Reads books for 2017 here.
January 2017 – L.A. NOIR by John Buntin

Meeting: January 23rd, 2017

Midcentury Los Angeles.
A city sold to the world as “the white spot of America,” a land of sunshine and orange groves, wholesome Midwestern values and Hollywood stars, protected by the world’s most famous police force, the Dragnet-era LAPD. Behind this public image lies a hidden world of “pleasure girls” and crooked cops, ruthless newspaper tycoons, corrupt politicians, and East Coast gangsters on the make. Into this underworld came two men—one L.A.’ s most notorious gangster, the other its most famous police chief—each prepared to battle the other for the soul of the city.

(Became the TNT Original Series, Mob City, read the wiki page.)


December 2016 – NO meeting; Happy Holidays!

We took a breather and got started on the January & February books.  😉


November 2016 – The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Meeting: November 28th, 2016

In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.
FRANCE, 1939
In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France … but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.


October 2016 – John SteinbeckYour Own Personal Selection

Meeting:  October 24th, 2016

John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. (February 27, 1902 – December 20, 1968) was an American author of 27 books, including 16 novels, six non-fiction books, and five collections of short stories. He is widely known for the comic novels Tortilla Flat (1935) and Cannery Row (1945), the multi-generation epic East of Eden (1952), and the novellas Of Mice and Men (1937) and The Red Pony (1937). The Pulitzer Prize-winning The Grapes of Wrath (1939) is considered Steinbeck’s masterpiece and part of the American literary canon. In the first 75 years after it was published, it sold 14 million copies.

The winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature, he has been called “a giant of American letters”. His works are widely read abroad and many of his works are considered classics of Western literature.

Most of Steinbeck’s work is set in southern and central California, particularly in the Salinas Valley and the California Coast Ranges region. His works frequently explored the themes of fate and injustice, especially as applied to downtrodden or everyman protagonists.

We will discuss the book(s) we read as well as the writing style of Steinbeck.