Open For Discussion
“Open for Discussion” is a monthly drop-in book discussion. The group meets monthly from September -November and January-May on the third Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. Our informal discussions last one hour with book related snacks. All are welcome.
Adult Book Discussion is open to all. No registration required. Meetings last one hour.
Questions? Call the Adult Information Desk at 329-4542, ext 600 or email us
Open for Discussion Winter/Spring 2013
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Tuesday, January 15th 10:30 AM
Lauded for his sensitive memoir (My Own Country) about his time as a doctor in eastern Tennessee at the onset of the AIDS epidemic in the 80s, Verghese turns his formidable talents to fiction, mining his own life and experiences in a magnificent, sweeping novel that moves from India to Ethiopia to an inner-city hospital in New York City over decades and generations. Sister Mary Joseph Praise, a devout young nun, leaves the south Indian state of Kerala in 1947 for a missionary post in Yemen. During the arduous sea voyage, she saves the life of an English doctor bound for Ethiopia, Thomas Stone. Seven years later, Sister Praise dies birthing twin boys: Shiva and Marion, the latter narrating his own and his brother’s story set against the backdrop of political turmoil in Ethiopia. The boys become doctors and Vergheses weaving of the practice of medicine into the narrative is fascinating even as the story bobs and weaves with the power and coincidences of the best 19th-century novel. Excerpted from Publishers Weekly
Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
Tuesday, February 19th 10:30 AM
When Pulitzer Prize winner Geraldine Brooks came to live on Martha’s Vineyard in 2006, she ran across a map by the island’s native Wampanoag people that marked the birthplace of Caleb, first Native American to graduate of Harvard College—in 1665. Her curiosity piqued, she unearthed and fleshed out his thin history, immersing herself in the records of his tribe, of the white families that settled the island in the 1640s, and 17th-century Harvard. This window on early academia fascinates, but the book breathes most thrillingly in the island’s salt-stung air and in the end, its questions of the power and cost of knowledge resound most profoundly not in Harvard’s halls, but in the fire of a Wampanoag medicine man. Excerpted from a review by Mari Malcolm (Amazon)
2013 Reading Together Selection
The Submission by Amy Waldman
Tuesday, March 19th 10:30 AM
Reimagining 9/11 and its aftermath, Amy Waldman’s provocative novel begins with a resonant scene: a jury gathers in Manhattan to choose a memorial for the victims of a devastating Islamic terrorist attack. After tense deliberations, they select the sculpture from a list of anonymous artists. The winner turns out to be an American Muslim. The revelation triggers both fury and ambivalence throughout New York, making the designer, the staunchly independent Mohammed Khan, into a symbol of beliefs that seem foreign to him. Amy Waldman will be coming to Kalamazoo on March 6th to discuss her novel and its premise.
Rise to Greatness: Abraham Lincoln and America’s Most Perilous Year by David Von Drehle
Tuesday, April 16 10:30 AM
The year 1863 is often described as the decisive of the Civil War, given the Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg. Von Drehle, editor at large at Time, asserts that 1862 was the transformative year that led directly to the ultimate Union triumph. It commenced with Union fortunes appearing bleak. In the political realm, Lincoln was struggling to master the strong egos in his cabinet. As the year advanced, von Drehle illustrates Lincoln’s transformation into a great political and war leader. This is an excellently researched chronicle of the year that helped change the direction of the war. Excerpted from a review by Jay Freeman (Booklist)
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
Tuesday, May 21 10:30 AM
Harold Fry—retired sales rep, beleaguered husband, passive observer of his own life—decides one morning to walk 600 miles across England to save an old friend. Setting off on the long journey, he wears the wrong jacket, doesn’t have a toothbrush, and leaves his phone at home—in short, he is wholly, endearingly unprepared. But as he travels, Harold finally has time to reflect on his failings as a husband, father, and friend, and this helps him become someone we (and, more important, his wife Maureen) can respect. After walking for a while in Harold Fry’s very human shoes, you might find that your own fit a bit better. Excerpted from a review by Mia Lipman (Amazon)