We are a relaxed group of bibliophiles who love talking about books together (on Zoom for now). You're welcome to come for one book, or for the whole season! We read eight books per year, and try to choose a diverse group of books by style, author, & genre.
February 3 - A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles (2016)
In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and sentenced to house arrest in a grand hotel.. Rostov has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding. Brimming with humor and a glittering cast of characters, this novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.
March 3 - Sing to It: Stories, by Amy Hempel (2019)
Quietly dazzling, these stories are replete with moments of revelation and transcendence. In “A Full-Service Shelter,” a volunteer at a dog shelter tirelessly, devotedly cares for dogs on a list to be euthanized. In “Greed,” a spurned wife examines her husband’s affair with a glamorous, older married woman. And in “Cloudland,” a woman reckons with the choice she made as a teenager to give up her newborn infant.
May 5 - The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig (2020)
Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?
June 2 - Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)
This is an enduring Southern love story sparkling with wit, beauty, and heartfelt wisdom. Told in the captivating voice of a woman who refuses to live in sorrow, bitterness, fear, or foolish romantic dreams, it is the story of fair-skinned, fiercely independent Janie Crawford, and her evolving selfhood through three marriages and a life marked by poverty, trials, and purpose. This masterwork remains as relevant and affecting today as when it was first published, and is perhaps the most widely read and highly regarded novel in the entire canon of African American literature.
August 4 - Negroland: A Memoir, by Margo Jefferson (2015)
Born in upper-crust black Chicago, Jefferson has spent most of her life among the "colored aristocracy." Since the nineteenth century they have stood apart, these inhabitants of Negroland, “a small region of Negro America where residents were sheltered by a certain amount of privilege and plenty.” Reckoning with the civil rights movement, the dawn of feminism, and the fallacy of post-racial America, Jefferson brilliantly charts the twists and turns of a life informed by psychological and moral contradictions.
In 2020, the Book Thieves read Name All the Animals, by Alison Smith. Because she is a former Rochester Reads author, I was able to get her to come to our meeting, and she recommended Negroland. I'm planning to reach out to her to see if she is free to join us for this discussion.
September 1 - Hold for Rochester Reads
Each year we read whatever book is chosen for the Writers & Books Rochester Reads program. The goal of Rochester Reads is to encourage people to connect to others in our community through reading and discussion, and through the shared experience of literature. Each year, W&B selects one book for our community to explore together, leading to a visit by the author.
November 3 - Bellweather Rhapsody, by Kate Racculia (2014)
Fifteen years ago, a murder-suicide in room 712 rocked the grand old Bellweather Hotel and Minnie, the young bridesmaid who witnessed it. Now hundreds of high school musicians have gathered for the annual Statewide festival; Minnie has returned to face her demons; and a blizzard is threatening to trap them all inside. When a young prodigy disappears from infamous room 712, the search for her entwines an eccentric cast of characters. This is a genre-bending page-turner, full of playful nods to pop-culture classics from The Shining to Agatha Christie to Glee.
One of our Book Thieves members has met the author, and is going to contact her to ask if she can join us for this discussion.
December 1 - Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir. by Robin Ha (2020)
For Robin, growing up as the only child of a single mother in Seoul, Korea, wasn’t always easy, but it bonded them fiercely together. So when a vacation to visit friends in Huntsville, AL unexpectedly becomes a permanent relocation—following her mother’s announcement that she’s getting married—Robin is devastated. Overnight, her life changes. She is dropped into a new school where she doesn’t understand the language, and is completely cut off from her friends in Seoul. Then one day she enrolls in a comic drawing class, which opens the window to a future Robin never imagined.
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