When Books Went to War

This month’s selection, When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II by Molly Guptill Manning (2015) is offered in memory of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1944. While memory of this aspect of the war has dimmed over the intervening decades, the impact of books on American culture remains. This is the true story of...

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The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

by Phaedra Patrick We meet Arthur Pepper, a 69-year-old retired English locksmith, on the one-year anniversary of his wife Miriam’s death. He had spent the last year in semi-hibernation, taking a “time out” from Life, stunned by the unexpected end of their happy marriage of more than 40 years. Feeling that it was the end of something and not...

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Yes, Chef

by Marcus Samuelsson I intended to choose a book for this month’s selection that was unrelated to cooking and chefs. Then I read Samuelsson’s book. I hope you’ll bear with me--I think Samuelsson’s and Ripert’s book (32 Yolks, March selection) should be paired. I hope you agree and enjoy this astonishing man’s memoir of his very different path to...

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32 Yolks

by Eric Ripert Who is Eric Ripert? If you are a fan of Anthony Bourdain’s series “Parts Unknown,” you may have seen a handsome white-haired, green-eyed man with a French accent on several shows. Ripert and Bourdain were good friends, and in fact they were shooting another episode together in France when Bourdain died. Ripert is a chef and...

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Reconstructing the Dreamland

This month’s selection focuses on a little-known historical event in honor of Black History Month. In recent months, I’ve become interested in events occurring in the few years after World War I in the U.S. We know much of that history, and some issues of that time, such as race, voting rights, and immigration, continue to play a large role in...

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My Venice and Other Essays

Donna Leon is the creator of the Venetian Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery series beloved throughout the world, as well as by many in the Grover Beach Community Library Senior Book Break. Our affection for the characters has not dimmed through the more than 20 books and several decades during which Leon has been telling their stories. Now she’s...

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Ella Minnow Pea

2018 has been quite a slog, and I think we’d all enjoy a bit of lightness and humor to end the year. In Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters, Mark Dunn shows us in a humorous way the joy that the manipulation of words and language can bring to those of us who treasure them. If just speaking aloud the title doesn’t bring at least a smile to your...

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I Was a Spy!

This month’s selection was chosen in honor of the centennial of the Armistice ending World War I effective on November 11, 1918. Despite the rather lurid title, Marthe McKenna’s memoir of her harrowing adventures as a real spy for the Allies during World War I is a valuable addition to the genre and to that time period. First published in 1932,...

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Isaac’s Storm

Katrina, Harvey, Maria, Florence: everyone knows the names of these recent major U.S. hurricanes that caused immense physical and psychological damage. What few people know about, and which no one alive today remembers, is the hurricane of September 8, 1900 that decimated Galveston Island and part of the Texas southeastern coast. Erik Larson’s...

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Barracoon

Zora Neale Hurston (b. 1/7/1891; d.1/28/1960) was an accomplished ethnographer, folklorist, anthropologist, and novelist. She attended Howard University and received her B.A. from Barnard College in 1927. As an African-American woman from the South at that time, she was driven and found ways to accomplish her goals. Her best-known work which has...

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