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Book Club Meetings

Eclectic Book Club: Lying Awake

Date: 
Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm
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Author: 
Mark Salzman
Title: 
Lying Awake

It's 1997, and Sister John of the Cross, a Carmelite nun in a monastery just outside Los Angeles, seeks treatment for epilepsy, although the remedy threatens to diminish her formidable spiritual powers. The Carmelites place heavy emphasis on prayer, and over the years this discipline has helped Sister John to develop miraculous visionary gifts. When severe headaches precipitate a collapse that requires medical intervention, Sister John finds the process starkly juxtaposed against her centuries-old traditions. Read more about Eclectic Book Club: Lying Awake

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Eclectic Book Club: Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

Date: 
Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm
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Author: 
Sijie Dai
Title: 
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

Sijie's unnamed 17-year-old protagonist and his best friend, Luo, are bourgeois doctors' sons, and so condemned to serve four years in a Chinese re-education camp. Only their ingenuity helps them to survive. The two friends are good at storytelling, and the village headman commands them to put on "oral cinema shows" for the villagers. When another city boy leaves the mountains, the friends steal a suitcase full of forbidden books he has been hiding, knowing he will be afraid to call the authorities. They dare to tell the story of The Count of Monte Cristo to the village tailor and to read Balzac to his shy and beautiful young daughter. Luo, who adores the Little Seamstress, dreams of transforming her from a simple country girl into a sophisticated lover with his foreign tales. Read more about Eclectic Book Club: Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

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Eclectic Book Club: The Bluest Eye

Date: 
Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm
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Author: 
Toni Morrison
Title: 
The Bluest Eye

Morrison's debut novel, The Bluest Eye, explores the impact of racism and poverty on adolescent Pecola Breedlove. Surrounded by images of white icons--Shirley Temple, Mary Jane, and the classic family from Dick and Jane readers--Pecola is tormented by both her family and peers. Alcoholism, rape, and humiliation drive her into the relative safety of madness where she finally finds the only bit of self-worth, believing her eyes are truly the bluest. Read more about Eclectic Book Club: The Bluest Eye

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Eclectic Book Club: Save Me, Joe Louis

Date: 
Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm
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Author: 
Madison Smartt Bell
Title: 
Save Me, Joe Louis

At its outset, Macrae, a Tennessee hillbilly with an artistic bent, goes AWOL from the army and is wandering the streets of Manhattan, broke and alone. A chance encounter with a streetwise, small-time mugger propels him into a life of crime and ever-increasing violence. Unlike his companion, however, Macrae retains a sense of guilt that ultimately enables him to secure a kind of redemption--with the help of a woman he has known since childhood and a final, necessary act of personal violence. Bell does a marvelous job of depicting life on the seamier side of the tracks and in drawing his characters. Their essential humanness comes through in spite of themselves. Read more about Eclectic Book Club: Save Me, Joe Louis

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Eclectic Book Club: The Kite Runner

Date: 
Tuesday, March 28, 2006 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm
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Author: 
Khaled Hosseini
Title: 
The Kite Runner

"Taking us from Afghanistan in the final days of the monarchy to the present, The Kite Runner is the unforgettable, beautifully told story of the friendship between two boys growing up in Kabul. Raised in the same household and sharing the same wet nurse, Amir and Hassan nonetheless grow up in different worlds; Amir is the son of a prominent and wealthy man, while Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant, is a Hazara, member of a shunned ethnic minority. Their intertwined lives, and their fates, reflect the eventual tragedy of the world around them. When the Soviets invade and Amir and his father flee the country for a new life in California, Amir thinks that he has escaped his past. And yet he cannot leave the memory of Hassan behind him." "The Kite Runner is a novel about friendship, betrayal, and the price of loyalty. It is about the bonds between fathers and sons, and the power of fathers over sons - their love, their sacrifices, and their lies. Written against a backdrop of history that has not been told in fiction before, The Kite Runner describes the rich culture and beauty of a land in the process of being destroyed. But with the devastation, Khaled Hosseini also gives us hope: through the novel's faith in the power of reading and storytelling, and in the possibilities he shows for redemption." Read more about Eclectic Book Club: The Kite Runner

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Eclectic Book Club: Gilead

Date: 
Tuesday, July 25, 2006 - 1:30pm to 2:30pm
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Author: 
Marilynne Robinson
Title: 
Gilead

Reverend John Ames of Gilead, Iowa, a grandson and son of preachers, now in his seventies, is afraid he hasn't much time left to tell his young son about his heritage. And so he takes up his pen, as he has for decades--he estimates that he's written more than 2,000 sermons--and vividly describes his prophetlike grandfather, who had a vision that inspired him to go to Kansas and make himself useful to the cause of abolition, and the epic conflict between his fiery grandfather and his pacifist father. He recounts the death of his first wife and child, marvels over the variegated splendors of earth and sky, and offers moving interpretations of the Gospel. And then, as he struggles with his disapproval and fear of his namesake and shadow son, Jack, the reprobate offspring of his closest friend, his letter evolves into a full-blown apologia punctuated by the disturbing revelation of Jack's wrenching predicament, one inexorably tied to the toxic legacy of slavery. Read more about Eclectic Book Club: Gilead

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Eclectic Book Club: The Alchemist

Date: 
Tuesday, October 24, 2006 - 1:30pm to 2:30pm
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Author: 
Paulo Coelho
Title: 
The Alchemist

This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasures found within. Read more about Eclectic Book Club: The Alchemist

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Eclectic Book Club: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Date: 
Tuesday, November 27, 2007 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm
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Author: 
Barbara Kingsolver
Title: 
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

When Kingsolver and her family move from suburban Arizona to rural Appalachia, they take on a new challenge: to spend a year on a locally produced diet, paying attention to the provenance of all they consume. "Our highest shopping goal was to ... know the person who grew it. Often that turned out to be ourselves as we learned to produce what we needed, starting with dirt, seeds, and enough knowledge to muddle through. Or starting with baby animals, and enough sense to refrain from naming them." Read more about Eclectic Book Club: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

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Eclectic Book Club: Tender At The Bone

Date: 
Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm
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Author: 
Ruth Reichl
Title: 
Tender At The Bone

At an early age, Ruth Reichl discovered that "food could be a way of making sense of the world. . . . If you watched people as they ate, you could find out who they were." Her deliciously crafted memoir, Tender at the Bone, is the story of a life determined, enhanced, and defined in equal measure by a passion for food, unforgettable people, and the love of tales well told. Beginning with Reichl's mother, the notorious food-poisoner known as the Queen of Mold, Reichl introduces us to the fascinating characters who shaped her world and her tastes, from the gourmand Monsieur du Croix, who served Reichl her first soufflé, to those at her politically correct table in Berkeley who championed the organic food revolution in the 1970s. Spiced with Reichl's infectious humor and sprinkled with her favorite recipes, Tender at the Bone is a witty and compelling chronicle of a culinary sensualist's coming-of-age. Read more about Eclectic Book Club: Tender At The Bone

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Eclectic Book Club: Continental Drift

Date: 
Thursday, November 10, 2005 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm
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Author: 
Russell Banks
Title: 
Continental Drift

Originally published by Harper in 1985 to great acclaim, Continental Drift is an American masterpiece about innocence and evil by one of the most important novelists writing today. Read more about Eclectic Book Club: Continental Drift

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