WKNO's Book Club meets monthly to discuss the selected title. Keep up with the books we're reading! Sign up for our mailing list by emailing email@example.com. The next meeting of the WKNO Book Club is on Wednesday, August 23, 2017 at 6:00 PM, location TBD>
Current Selection/August, 2017
This month's selection is a provocative satire of love, sex, money, and politics that unfolds over four wild days. This is Who is Rich?, Matthew Klam's debut novel.
Every summer, a once-sort-of-famous cartoonist named Rich Fischer leaves his wife and kids behind to teach a class at a week-long arts conference in a charming New England beachside town.
Rich finds himself worrying about his family's nights without him and trying not to think about his out-of-print book, or his future as an illustrator at a magazine about to go under, or his back taxes, or the shameless shenanigans of his colleagues at this summer make-out festival. He can't decide whether his own very real desire for love and human connection is going to rescue or destroy him.
A warped and exhilarating tale of love and lust, Who is Rich? goes far beyond to address deeper questions of family, monogamy, the intoxicating beauty of children, and the challenging interdependence of two soulful, sensitive creatures in a confusing domestic alliance.
Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman: The Danes, the band once known as the "Darlings Of Detroit" - are washed up and desperate for inspiration, eager to once again have a number one hit. That is, until an agent from the US Army approaches them. Will they travel to an African desert and track down the source of a mysterious and malevolent sound? They will.
Meanwhile, in a nondescript Midwestern hospital, a nurse named Ellen tends to a patient recovering from a near-fatal accident. The circumstances that led to his injures are mysterious - and his body heals at a remarkable rate. Ellen will do the impossible for this enigmatic patient, who reveals more about his accident each passing day.
NPR reviewer Amal El-Mohtar says this of Frances Hardinge's new book, A Face Like Glass: "Let me begin by stating that this is a perfect book."
The book takes place in the underground city of Caverna, where the world's most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare - wines that remove memories, cheeses that make you hallucinate, and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat.
On the surface, the people of Caverna seem ordinary, except for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to express (or fake) joy. Thus the wealthy can call on a large variety of Faces to express (and conceal) their thoughts, while the poor are taught only faces that the wealthy want to see: those of cheerful subservience and quiet deference.
Margaret Atwood's novel take on Shakespeare's play of enchantment, retribution and second chances leads us on an interactive, illusion-ridden journey filled with new surprises and wonders of its own.
This is Hag-seed, Margaret Atwood's retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest.
Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of a theatre festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he's staging a Tempest like no other... not only will it boost his reputation, but it will also heal emotional wounds.
Or that was the plan. He is living in exile after an unexpected act of treachery. Now twelve years later, revenge appears in the unlikeliest of places - a prison.
Many people dream of escaping modern life, but most will never act on it. The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkle is the remarkable true story of a man who lived alone in the woods for 27 years, making this dream a reality - not out of anger for the world, but simply because he preferred to live on his own.
"A story that takes two primary human relationships - to nature and to one another - and deftly upends our assumptions about both. This was a breathtaking book to read and many weeks later I am still thinking about the implications for our society and - by extension - for my own life." Sebastian Junger
Nathan Hill's The Nix is the March selection for the WKNO Book Club and is a New York Times 2016 Notable Book, a Slate Top Ten, and a Washington Post 2016 Notable book.
Author John Irving (The World According to Garp, The Cider House Rules, and many more) has this to say about the book: "The Nix is a mother-son psycho-drama with ghosts and politics, but it's also a tragicomedy about anger and sanctimony in America...Nathan Hill is a maestro."
NPR's Jason Sheehan writes: "...The Nix is about a lot of things - about politics and online gaming, about the tenuous friendships of adult men and the 1968 Democratic Convention. It is a vicious, black-hearted and beautiful satire of youth and middle-age, feminine hygiene products, frozen food and social media. But more than anything, it is a treatise on the ways that the past molds us and breaks us and never lets us go. How it haunts us all."
Our Book Club selection for February is Sherry Thomas' A Study in Scarlet Women. In this book, Thomas turns the story of the renowned Sherlock Holmes upside down...
With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society. But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London.
When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and father, she is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She'll have help, but in the end it will be up to her, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society's expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind.
"Sherry Thomas is a master of her craft, and A Study in Scarlet Women is an unqualified success: brilliantly executed, beautifully written, and magnificently original..." Tasha Alexander, NY Times bestselling author.
The January, 2017 selection is Alan Bradley's The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, the first of his Flavia de Luce series.
It's the beginning of a lazy summer in 1950 at the sleepy English village of Bishop's Lacey. Up at the great house of Buckshaw, aspiring chemist Flavia de Luce passes the time tinkering in the laboratory she inherited from her deceased mother and an eccentric great uncle. When Flavia discovers a murdered stranger in the cucumber patch outside her bedroom window one morning, she decides to leave aside the flasks and Bunsen burners to solve the crime herself, much to the chagrin of the local authorities. But who can blame her? What else does an eleven-year-old science prodigy have to do when left to her own devices?
Adult readers will be totally charmed by this fearless, funny, and unflappable kid sleuth. This carefully plotted detective novel features plenty of unexpected twists and turns and loads of tasty period detail. As pages go by, you'll be rooting for this curious combination of Harriet the Spy and Sherlock Holmes. - Lauren Nemroff
The November selection is about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court. This is The Sellout, Paul Beatty's biting new satire. It challenges the sacred tenets of the US Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality - the black Chinese restaurant.
Born in the "agrarian ghetto" of Dickens, on the southern outskirts of LA, the narrator of the book resigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class Californians: "I'd die in the same bedroom I'd grown up in, looking at the cracks in the ceiling that've been there since the '68 quake." Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, he spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe his father's pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family's financial woes. But when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that's left is the bill for the drive-thru funeral.
"The first 100 pages of Paul Beatty's new novel, The Sellout, are the most caustic and the most badass 100 pages of an American novel I've read in at least a decade... The riffs don't stop coming in this landmark and deeply aware comic novel." Dwight Garner, The New York Times.
This month's selection is Carl Hiassen's new book, Razor Girl. Once again taking on Florida and its crazy corrupted politics and business, we're introduced to the eponymous Razor Girl, Merry Mansfield.
When Lane Coolman's car is bashed from behind on the road to the Florida Keys, what appears to be an ordinary accident is anything but (this is Hiassen after all!) Behind the wheel of the car is Merry Mansfield and the crash scam is only the beginning of events that spiral crazily out of control while unleashing some of the wildest characters Hiassen has ever set loose on the page.
Janet Maslin of the New York Times has this to say: "Carl Hiassen's irresistible Razor Girl meets his usual sky-high standards for elegance and craziness... exceptionally timely, too..."
September, 2016: The selection for this month's WKNO Book Club is Jesmyn Ward's Salvage the Bones, a 2011 National Book Award winner.
They heard it on the radio: A hurricane is coming, threatening the town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi.
Esch's hard-drinking father can feel it in his bones. Esch and her brothers are trying to help prepare, but there are other worries too. Skeetah is watching his prized pit bull, helpless as her new litter dies one by one. Randall, when not preoccupied with basketball, is busy looking after the youngest, Junior. And Esch, fifteen and motherless among men, has just realized she's pregnant.
The children of this family have always been short on nurture, but they are fiercely loyal to one another. It is together that they will face the building storm - and the day that will dawn after.
Oh, and the storm... it's called Katrina.
August, 2016: The WKNO Book Club read Joseph Finder's new book, Guilty Minds. Finder delivers an exhilarating and timely thriller which explores how even the most powerful among us can be brought down by a carefully crafted lie and how the secrets we keep can never truly stay buried.
The first line of the book is a grabber: "Lies are my business. They keep me employed."
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is about to be defamed and his career destroyed by a powerful gossip website that specializes in dirt on celebrities and politicians. An expose charges him with a liaison with an escort who's about to go public with her charges.
But the justice is not without connections and his greatest supporter is determined to stop the story dead.
If you've never read Joseph Finder, Guilty Minds is a good one with which to start.
July, 2016: The Book Club selection was Before The Fall by Emmy, PEN, Peabody, Critics' Choice, and Golden Globe award-winner, Noah Hawley. The book begins with the crash of a private plane with eleven passengers, leaving only two survivors, a young boy and an obscure painter.
What happened on that flight? Why did the plane go down? With each chapter, Hawley peels back another layer of those lives affected by this amid media speculation and accusations. Is there something sinister going on in the background?
"This isn't just a good novel; it's a great one. I trusted no one in these pages, yet somehow cared about them all. Before The Fall brings a serrated edge every character, every insight, and every wicked twist." Brad Meltzer, bestselling author of The President's Shadow.
June, 2016: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett is an enthrallingly innovative tale of aspiration, exploration, and attachment. A gripping adventure story with a profound look at the difficult choices we make in the name of discovery and love, this story is a provocative and assured novel of morality and miracles, science and sacrifice set in the Amazon rainforest.
A pharmaceutical researcher sets off into the Amazon jungle in search of a colleagues' remains, but first she must locate a doctor, her former mentor, who has been investigating the reproductive habits of an indigenous tribe. The researcher and doctor have an overlapping professional past that one of them has long tried to forget. In finding the doctor, the researcher must face her own disappointments and regrets amidst the jungle's unforgiving humidity and insects.
State of Wonder is a multi-layered atmospheric novel you'll find hard to put down.
May, 2016: Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating barge on the Seine River, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, he mends broken hearts and souls. But, the only person he can't heal through literature is himself. He's haunted by the disappearance of the great love of his life who left him only with a letter, which he never opened.
Finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission for the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, he travels along the country's rivers, dispensing books and wisdom.
"Enchanting and moving... Rarely have I read such a beautiful book." Tina magazine
April, 2016: After four harrowing years on the western front, a soldier takes a job as a lighthouse keeper. There he brings his new wife. After years of unsuccessfully trying to have children, his wife hears a cry on the wind. A boat has washed ashore with a dead man and a live baby.
The wife insists the baby is "a gift from God" and against her husband's judgment, claims it as her own. Two years later, they're reminded there are other people in the world and their decision has devastated one of them. This is The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman.
March, 2016: Concluding that American politics were sufficiently self-satirizing, author Christopher Buckley decided to venture backward in time to a more innocent, less cynical era and place, like, say, the sixteenth century Holy Roman Empire in his new book, The Relic Master. Here we find Dismas, a former Swiss mercenary and monk, now engaged in the dealing of holy relics. His business takes an unexpected turn (no thanks to Martin Luther!), his nest egg is embezzled, and his retirement is in doubt. Enter his best friend, Albrecht Durer, (yes, THAT one) with a devious proposal. He suggests Dismas make a burial cloth of Christ and sell it to the Archbishop! A competing Shroud of Turin? Really?
Their scheme triggers a harrowing, hilarious, and ultimately poignant quest that makes this book a pleasure to read.
February, 2016: Ove is a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points fingers at those he dislikes as if they were thieves outside his house. The neighbors aren't thrilled with him at all. But there's a story and a sadness behind this exterior. So when a young couple with two chatty daughters move in next door to him, his world is changed. This is Fredrik Backman's first novel, A Man Called Ove. It's a thoughtful and comical exploration of the profound impact one can have on others.
January, 2016: Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. Hauntingly beautiful and heartbreaking, Toibin's sixth novel is set in Brooklyn, NY and Ireland in the early 1950's when one young woman crosses the ocean to make a new life for herself. Beautiful and funny, the book, also now a movie in current release, has garnered praise, landing on the New York Times best seller list.
December, 2015: "Long before it legally served me, the bar saved me," asserts J.R. Moehringer, and his compelling memoir, The Tender Bar is the story of how and why.
A Pulitzer-Prize winning writer for the Los Angeles Times, Moehringer grew up fatherless in pub-heavy Manhassett, New York, in a ram-shackle house crammed with cousins and ruled by an eccentric, unkind grandfather. Desperate for a paternal figure, he turns first to his father, a DJ whom he can only access via the radio. (Moehringer calls him The Voice and pictures him as "talking smoke"). When The Voice suddenly disappears from the airwaves, Moehringer turns to his hairless Uncle Charlie, and subsequently, Uncle Charlie's place of employment - a bar called Dickens that soon takes center stage.
Ultimately, Moehringer realizes that, "While I fear that we're drawn to what abandons us, and to what seems most likely to abandon us, in the end I believe we're defined by what embraces us," and his story makes us believe it. Brangien Davis
October 2015: The Day The World Came To Town by Jim McFede is the story of what happened when airspace over the United States was closed down on 9/11 and 38 jetliners were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland. The town of 10,000 welcomed nearly 6,600 passengers, with open arms, hearts, and homes. A true story of love and generosity in the face of a terrible tragedy.
March 2015: In Anthony Doerr's All the Light we Cannot See, a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
February 2015: The novella Breakfast at Tiffany's features one Truman Capote's best-known characters, Holly Golightly.
January 2015: You'll love the characters in Tom Rachman's new novel The Rise and Fall of Great Powers.
December 2014: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This quintessential Christmas story has been continuously in print since it was first published in 1843.
November 2014: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Louisa's ordinary life changes when she takes a job working for the wheelchair-bound Will.
October 2014: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Eccentric scientist Victor Frankenstein creates a grotesque creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment.
September 2014: Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr., a cousin of the book's subject, reconstruct the life of reclusive copper heiress in Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune
August 2014: The Vacationers by Emma Straub is an irresistible novel about the secrets, joys and jealousies that surface over the course of an American family's two-week stay in Mallorca.
July 2014: The Farm is a psychological thriller novel by Tom Rob Smith, that finds Daniel caught between his parents, and unsure of who to believe or trust.
June 2014: Cadence Sinclair Easton is the highly unreliable narrator in We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, which begins during her 15th summer when she suffers a head injury on the private island off Cape Cod.
May 2014: Astonish Me, by author Maggie Shipstead is the irresistible story of Joan, a young American dancer who helps a Soviet ballet star, the great Arslan Rusakov, defect in 1975. A flash of fame and a passionate love affair follow.
March/April 2014: Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart in The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. (Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2014.)
February 2014: Set over the course of one school year in 1986, Rainbow Rowell's novel, Eleanor and Park, is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
January 2014: Set in rural New York state at the turn of the twentieth century, author James Scott makes his debut with The Kept, in which a mother and her son embark on a quest to avenge a tragedy that has shattered their family.
December 2013: Leonard Bernstein was an enthusiastic letter writer. The book, The Leonard Bernstein Letters, edited by Nigel Simeone, is the first to present a wide-ranging selection of his correspondence.
October/November 2013: In Alex Grecian's debut novel,The Yard, Walter Day, a member of Victorian London's recently formed Murder Squad, partners with Scotland Yard's first forensic pathologist to track down a killer who is targeting their colleagues.
September 2013: Rebecca Lee's collection of stories guides readers into a range of landscapes, both foreign and domestic, crafting stories as rich as novels in Bobcat and Other Stories.
August 2013: In A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Anthony Marra uncovers a constellation of life in all its forms in a small Chechen village caught up in the fighting between Russian troops and Chechen rebels.
July 2013: Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane, is the story of an artist who returns to his childhood home and recalls a magical struggle he was involved in as a young boy.
June 2013: From the moment it opens—on a rocky patch of Italian coastline, circa 1962, when a daydreaming young innkeeper looks out over the water and spies a mysterious woman approaching him on a boat—Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel.
May 2013: The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, is the story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island.
April 2013: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Katherine Boo chronicles the hardscrabble lives of some of Mumbai's poorest — and most inventive — people in Beyond the Beautiful Forevers.
March 2013: Billy Lynn is a 19-year-old college dropout living in the small Texas town where he grew up. After he's arrested for trashing the car of his sister's ex, he's given two choices: face jail time or enlist in the Army. He chooses the Army. And Iraq. Author Ben Fountain's debut novel, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, is the story of what happens to Lynn after he joins Bravo Company in the early years of the Iraq war.
February 2013: Told by three resonant and evocative characters -- Jess; Adelaide Lyle, the town midwife and moral conscience; and Clem Barefield, a sheriff with his own painful past -- Wiley Cash's debut novel A Land More Kind Than Home is a haunting tale of courage in the face of cruelty and the power of love to overcome the darkness that lives in us all.
December 2012/January 2013: The Best American Short Stories series is the premier annual showcase for the country’s finest short fiction and nonfiction. Each volume’s editor selects notable works from hundreds of magazines, journals, and websites. A special guest editor, a leading writer in the field, then chooses the best twenty or so pieces to publish. This unique system has made the Best American series the most respected — and most popular — of its kind.
November 2012: Imagine a world where the color red has startling powers and passion can make eggs fry in their cartons. Welcome to Bald Slope, North Carolina, the setting of Sarah Addison Allen's The Sugar Queen.
October 2012: Discovering a magical manuscript in Oxford's library, scholar Diana Bishop — a descendant of witches who has rejected her heritage — inadvertently unleashes a fantastical underworld of demons, witches and vampires whose activities center on an enchanted treasure.
September 2012: Amor Towles' Rules of Civility opens with a chance encounter with a handsome banker in a jazz bar on New Year's Eve 1938 and sets the stage for Katey Kontent -- the book's narrator -- to join the upper echelons of New York society, where she befriends a shy multimillionaire, an Upper East Side ne'er-do-well, and a single-minded widow.
August 2012: Gillian Flynn's book Gone Girl revolves around a woman who disappears on her fifth wedding anniversary. When her diary reveals hidden turmoil in her marriage, her husband realizes that something more disturbing than murder may have occurred.
July 2012: Flashing back and forth between Annie and Buster's extremely odd childhood and tentative adulthood, Kevin Wilson's madcap premise in The Family Fang quickly deepens. When art is everything and all art is extreme, what does real life look like? How much of our life is our own creation, and how much are we only playing parts?
June, 2012: In Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband.
May, 2012: Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak's novel, The Book Thief is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books.
April, 2012: Lauren Groff’s Arcadia takes place in the fields of western New York State in the 1970s, where a few dozen idealists set out to live off the land, founding what would become a commune centered on the grounds of a decaying mansion called Arcadia House.
March, 2012: Patrick DeWitt's The Sisters Brothers follows the misadventures of Charlie and Eli Sisters, two hired guns who, under the order of the mysterious Commodore, try to kill Hermann Kermit Warm.
February, 2012: In Divergent, the society of Veronica Roth's futuristic Chicago has been divided into five factions, each representing a different virtue: honesty, selflessness, intelligence, peacefulness and bravery. At the age of 16, each member must choose a faction, and our narrator, Beatrice, faces a nearly impossible decision from the start: stay with her family, or dare to be herself.
January, 2012: Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James, a good, old-fashioned mystery that features a cast of characters you already know.
November/December, 2011: In David Sedaris' Holidays on Ice, you get a collection of essays poking fun at the holiday season – "Jesus Shaves" recalls a French class in which students try to explain to each other the concept of Easter; "The Monster Mash," tells of Halloween at the morgue; and "The Cow and the Turkey," is a story about the Secret Santa woes of barnyard animals.
October, 2011: Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents of Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus is a unique experience full of breathtaking wonders, but behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose.
September, 2011: S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep is a stay up all night, page-turning thriller. Every day Christine - a woman with a rare form of amnesia - wakes up not knowing where she is. Her memories disappear every time she falls asleep. Her husband, Ben, is a stranger to her. At the urging of her doctor, Christine starts a journal to keep track of daily events so that she can start to link her full story together. But one morning, she opens it and sees that she's written three unexpected and terrifying words: "Don't trust Ben."
August, 2011: Karen Russell's Swamplandia! revolves around thirteen-year-old Ava Bigtree. She's lived her entire life at Swamplandia!, her family’s island home and gator-wrestling theme park in the Florida Everglades. But when illness fells Ava’s mother, the park’s headliner, it's chaos and Ava sets out on a mission through the magical swamps to save them all.
July 2011: In State of Wonder (by author Ann Pachett) researcher Marina Singh sets off to the Amazon jungle to discover what could be a promising and valuable new fertility drug.
June, 2011: The main character in Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is 9-year-old Rose Edelstein who can taste feelings in food – whatever the cook is experiencing (good or bad) while preparing the meal.
May, 2011: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet opens in 1799 at a trading post on Japan’s island of Dejima that is run by the Dutch. That’s where we meet Jacob – a young clerk who has traveled from Europe to work for a few years as a bookkeeper so he can earn enough money to return and marry his fiancé.
April, 2011: In The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, author Rebecca Skloot takes readers on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.
March, 2012: In Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain, you'll meet Enzo the dog. Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.
February, 2011: Acclaimed bestselling author Michael Capuzzo brings true crime realistically and vividly to life in The Murder Room, an account of a group of passionate men and women, inspired by their own wounded hearts to make a stand for truth, goodness, and justice in a world gone mad.