Avi Steinberg is stumped. After defecting from yeshiva to Harvard, he has only a senior thesis essay on Bugs Bunny to show for his effort. While his friends and classmates advance in the world, he remains stuck at a crossroads, unable to meet the lofty expectations of his Orthodox Jewish upbringing. And his romantic existence as a freelance obituary writer just isn’t cutting it. Seeking direction-and dental insurance-Steinberg takes a job as a librarian in a tough Boston prison. The prison library counter, his new post, attracts con men, minor prophets, ghosts, and an assortment of quirky regulars searching for the perfect book and a connection to the outside world. There’s an anxious pimp who solicits Steinberg’s help in writing a memoir. A passionate gangster who dreams of hosting a cooking show titled Thug Sizzle . A disgruntled officer who instigates a major feud over a Post-it note. A doomed ex-stripper who asks Steinberg to orchestrate a reunion with her estranged son, himself an inmate. Over time, Steinberg is drawn into the accidental community of outcasts that has formed among his bookshelves - a drama he recounts with heartbreak and humor. But when the struggles of the prison library - between life and death, love and loyalty - become personal, Steinberg is forced to take sides. Running the Books is a trenchant exploration of prison culture and an entertaining tale of one young man’s earnest attempt to find his place in the world while trying not to get fired in the process. From the Hardcover edition. Read more about Bailey Cove Morning: Running the Books
Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon. Orphaned by their mother’s death and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Moving from Addis Ababa to New York City and back again, Cutting for Stone is an unforgettable story of love and betrayal, medicine and ordinary miracles-and two brothers whose fates are forever intertwined. Read more about Bailey Cove Morning: Cutting for Stone
An interest in the human condition is the common thread that ties together Gilbert's diverse body of work, ranging from a collection of short stories (Pilgrim) to a novel discussing the outdoor lifestyle of Eustace Conway (The Last American Man). In her new work, she continues her exploration of the human psyche through a very personal journey of self-discovery in three countries: Italy, India, and Indonesia. In Italy, her first escape, she devours the food and the melodic language with equal gusto. In India, she decamps to an ashram to learn the intense discipline prayer and spiritual pilgrimage require, in the process revealing the depths to be found in reflection, meditation, and historical teachings. In Indonesia, she generates strong friendships and gains insight into homeopathic medicines, healing, and the complexities of different cultures. Throughout, she candidly shares her observations and emotions as she grows from a woman shattered, lost, and confused to one rejuvenated, confident, and in love. A probing, thoughtful title with a free and easy style, this work seamlessly blends history and travel for a very enjoyable read. Read more about Armchair Traveler Book Club: Eat, Pray, Love : One Woman's Search for Everything across Italy, India and Indonesia
Dodging minefields in Cambodia, diving into the icy waters outside a Russian bath, Chef Bourdain travels the world over in search of the ultimate meal. The only thing Anthony Bourdain loves as much as cooking is traveling, and A Cook's Tour is the shotgun marriage of his two greatest passions. Inspired by the question, 'What would be the perfect meal?', Anthony sets out on a quest for his culinary holy grail. Our adventurous chef starts out in Japan, where he eats traditional Fugu, a poisonous blowfish which can be prepared only by specially licensed chefs. He then travels to Cambodia, up the mine-studded road to Pailin into autonomous Khmer Rouge territory and to Phnom Penh's Gun Club, where local fare is served up alongside a menu of available firearms. In Saigon, he's treated to a sustaining meal of live Cobra heart before moving on to savor a snack with the Viet Cong in the Mecong Delta. Further west, Kitchen Confidential fans will recognize the Gironde of Tony's youth, the first stop on his European itinerary. And from France, it's on to Portugal, where an entire village has been fattening a pig for months in anticipation of his arrival. And we're only halfway around the globe. . . A Cook's Tour recounts, in Bourdain's inimitable style, the adventures and misadventures of America's favorite chef. Read more about Armchair Traveler Book Club: A Cook's Tour - In Search of a Perfect Meal
Deborah Fallows has spent much of her life learning languages and traveling around the world. But nothing prepared her for the surprises of learning Mandarin, China's most common language, or the intensity of living in Shanghai and Beijing. Over time, she realized that her struggles and triumphs in studying the language of her adopted home provided small clues to deciphering the behavior and habits of its people,and its culture's conundrums. As her skill with Mandarin increased, bits of the language--a word, a phrase, an oddity of grammar--became windows into understanding romance, humor, protocol, relationships, and the overflowing humanity of modern China. Fallows learned, for example, that the abrupt, blunt way of speaking that Chinese people sometimes use isn't rudeness, but is, in fact, a way to acknowledge and honor the closeness between two friends. She learned that English speakers' trouble with hearing or saying tones--the variations in inflection that can change a word's meaning--is matched by Chinese speakers' inability not to hear tones, or to even take a guess at understanding what might have been meant when foreigners misuse them. In sharing what she discovered about Mandarin, and how those discoveries helped her understand a culture that had at first seemed impenetrable, Deborah Fallows's Dreaming in Chinese opens up China to Westerners more completely, perhaps, than it has ever been before. Read more about Armchair Traveler Book Club: Dreaming in Chinese - Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, and Language
(This title may also be freely downloaded as an ebook from HMCPL's Digital Media Zone Public Domain Collection.) Virtually unknown during his lifetime,Franz Kafkais now one of the world's most widely read and discussed authors. His nightmarish novels and short stories have come to symbolize modern man's anxiety and alienation in a bizarre, hostile, and dehumanized world. This vision is most fully realized in Kafka's masterpiece, "The Metamorphosis," a story that is both harrowing and amusing, and a landmark of modern literature. Bringing together some of Kafka's finest work, this collection demonstrates the richness and variety of the author's artistry. "The Judgment," which Kafka considered to be his decisive breakthrough, and "The Stoker," which became the first chapter of his novelAmerika, are here included. These two, along with "The Metamorphosis," form a suite of stories Kafka referred to as "The Sons," and they collectively present a devastating portrait of the modern family. Also included are "In the Penal Colony," a story of a torture machine and its operators and victims, and "A Hunger Artist," about the absurdity of an artist trying to communicate with a misunderstanding public. Kafka's lucid, succinct writing chronicles the labyrinthine complexities, the futility-laden horror, and the stifling oppressiveness that permeate his vision of modern life. Read more about Bailey Cove Classics: Metamorphosis
Eugene Gladstone O'Neill (1888-1953) was a Nobel prize winning American playwright. More than any other dramatist, O'Neill introduced American drama to the dramatic realism pioneered by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, and Swedish playwright August Strindberg, and was the first to use true American vernacular in his speeches. His plays involve characters who inhabit the fringes of society, engaging in depraved behaviour, where they struggle to maintain their hopes and aspirations but ultimately slide into disillusionment and despair. O'Neill wrote only one comedy Ah, Wilderness!, all his other plays involve some degree of tragedy and personal pessimism. O'Neill's first published play, Beyond the Horizon, opened on Broadway in 1920 to great acclaim, and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. His best-known plays include Anna Christie (Pulitzer Prize 1922), The First Man (1922), and The Hairy Ape (1922). In 1936 he received the Nobel Prize for Literature. Read more about Bailey Cove Classics: The Hairy Ape by Eugene O'Neill
Apuleius's Golden Ass is a unique, entertaining, and thoroughly readable Latin novel—the only work of fiction in Latin to have survived from antiquity. It tells the story of the hero Lucius, whose curiosity and fascination for sex and magic results in his transformation into an ass. After suffering a series of trials and humiliations, he is ultimately returned to human shape by the kindness of the goddess Isis. Simultaneously a blend of romantic adventure, fable, and religious testament, The Golden Ass is one of the truly seminal works of European literature, of intrinsic interest as a novel in its own right, and one of the earliest examples of the picaresque. This new translation is at once faithful to the meaning of the Latin, while reproducing all the exuberance of the original. Read more about Bailey Cove Classics: The Golden Ass
***Please NOTE date change: we will meet on October 10th instead of the 3rd!
Part 2 of 2 discussions to take place in September and October.
(This title may also be freely downloaded as an ebook from HMCPL's Digital Media Zone Public Domain Collection.) The Bhagavad Gita first captured the American imagination in the mid-19th century, when Henry Thoreau and other self-styled "Brahmins" found fresh, contemporary wisdom in India's ancient sacred text. Despite more than 200 English versions since then, few translators have captured the urgency and sagacity of Arjuna's pre-battle dialogue with the god Krishna more expertly than Mitchell, whose translation of the Tao te Ching has sold more than half a million copies and garnered much praise. Mitchell is, refreshingly, as frustrated by the Gita's bewitching circularity as many of its readers have been, and does not shrink from challenging some of the poem's conclusions. Concerning war, for example, he asks, "How indeed can an enlightened sage, who cherishes all beings with equal compassion because he sees all beings within himself and himself within God, inflict harm on anyone, even wicked men who have launched an unjust war?" Mitchell's translation is intimate and personal; he encourages readers to stand in Arjuna's place, asking themselves how they should live. Mitchell emphasizes that the poem is a guide to the path of bhakti yoga (devotion) more than it is merely a philosophical discussion. "The Gita is a love song to reality, a hymn in praise of everything excellent and beautiful and brave," he notes. (Oct.) . Read more about Bailey Cove Classics: The Bhagavad Gita (Continued)