At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended.
Henry’s fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future. College president Guert Affenlight, a longtime bachelor, has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Owen Dunne, Henry’s gay roommate and teammate, becomes caught up in a dangerous affair. Mike Schwartz, the Harpooners’ team captain and Henry’ best friend, realizes he has guided Henry’s career at the expense of his own. And Pella Affenlight, Guert’s daughter, returns to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life.
As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets. In the process they forge new bonds, and help one another find their true paths. Written with boundless intelligence and filled with the tenderness of youth, The Art of Fielding is an expansive, warmhearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment—to oneself and to others.
The Art of Fielding has a 3.98 rating on Goodreads.
Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig by Johnathan Eig | Paperback, 432 pages
Lou Gehrig was a baseball legend -- the Iron Horse, the stoic New York Yankee who was the greatest first baseman in history, a man whose consecutive-games streak was ended by a horrible disease that now bears his name. But as this definitive new biography makes clear, Gehrig's life was more complicated -- and, perhaps, even more heroic -- than anyone really knew.
Drawing on new interviews and more than two hundred pages of previously unpublished letters to and from Gehrig, Luckiest Man gives us an intimate portrait of the man who became an American hero: his life as a shy and awkward youth growing up in New York City, his unlikely friendship with Babe Ruth (a friendship that allegedly ended over rumors that Ruth had had an affair with Gehrig's wife), and his stellar career with the Yankees, where his consecutive-games streak stood for more than half a century. What was not previously known, however, is that symptoms of Gehrig's affliction began appearing in 1938, earlier than is commonly acknowledged. Later, aware that he was dying, Gehrig exhibited a perseverance that was truly inspiring; he lived the last two years of his short life with the same grace and dignity with which he gave his now-famous "luckiest man" speech.
In the summer of 1973 Joe Castle was the boy wonder of baseball, the greatest rookie anyone had ever seen. The kid from Calico Rock, Arkansas dazzled Cub fans as he hit home run after home run, politely tipping his hat to the crowd as he shattered all rookie records.
Calico Joe quickly became the idol of every baseball fan in America, including Paul Tracey, the young son of a hard-partying and hard-throwing Mets pitcher. On the day that Warren Tracey finally faced Calico Joe, Paul was in the stands, rooting for his idol but also for his Dad. Then Warren threw a fastball that would change their lives forever…
In John Grisham’s new novel the baseball is thrilling, but it’s what happens off the field that makes Calico Joe a classic.
One rainy Sunday when I was in the third grade, I picked up a book to look at the pictures and discovered that even though I did not want to, I was reading. I have been a reader ever since.~ Beverly Cleary
Born in McMinnville, Oregon, and, until she was old enough to attend school, lived on a farm in Yamhill, a town so small it had no library. Her mother arranged with the State Library to have books sent to Yamhill and acted as librarian in a lodge room upstairs over a bank. There young Beverly learned to love books. However, when the family moved to Portland, Beverly soon found herself in the grammar school's low reading circle, an experience that has given her sympathy for the problems of struggling readers.
By the third grade she had conquered reading and spent much of her childhood either with books or on her way to and from the public library. Before long her school librarian was suggesting that she should write for boys and girls when she grew up. The idea appealed to her, and she decided that someday she would write the books she longed to read but was unable to find on the library shelves, funny stories about her neighborhood and the sort of children she knew. And so Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, Ellen Tebbits, and her other beloved characters were born.
When children ask Mrs. Cleary where she finds her ideas, she replies, "From my own experience and from the world around me." She included a passage about the D.E.A.R. program in Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (second chapter) because she was inspired by letters she received from children who participated in "Drop Everything and Read" activities. Their interest and enthusiasm encouraged her to provide the same experience to Ramona, who enjoys D.E.A.R. time with the rest of her class.
Mrs. Cleary's books have earned her many prestigious awards, including the 2003 National Medal of Art from the National Endowment of the Arts and the 1984 John Newbery Medal for Dear Mr. Henshaw. Her Ramona and Her Father and Ramona Quimby, Age 8 were named 1978 and 1982 Newbery Honor Books, respectively.
Among Mrs. Cleary's other awards are the American Library Association's 1975 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, the Catholic Library Association's 1980 Regina Medal, and the University of Southern Mississippi's 1982 Silver Medallion, all presented in recognition of her lasting contribution to children's literature. In addition, Mrs. Cleary was the 1984 United States author nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Award, a prestigious international award.
Equally important are the more than 35 statewide awards Mrs. Cleary's books have received based on the direct votes of her young readers. In 2000, to honor her invaluable contributions to children's literature, Beverly Cleary was named a "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress. This witty and warm author is truly an international favorite. Mrs. Cleary's books appear in over twenty countries in fourteen languages and her characters, including Henry Huggins, Ellen Tebbits, Otis Spofford, and Beezus and Ramona Quimby, as well as Ribsy, Socks, and Ralph S. Mouse, have delighted children for generations. And her popularity has not diminished.
Having a baby to save a marriage—it’s the oldest of clichés. But what if the marriage at risk is a gay one, and having a baby involves a surrogate mother?
Pat Faunce is a faltering romantic, a former poetry major who now writes textbooks. A decade into his relationship with Stu, an airline pilot from a fraught Jewish family, he fears he’s losing Stu to other men—and losing himself in their “no rules” arrangement. Yearning for a baby and a deeper commitment, he pressures Stu to move from Manhattan to Cape Cod, to the cottage where Pat spent boyhood summers.
As they struggle to adjust to their new life, they enlist a surrogate: Debora, a charismatic Brazilian immigrant, married to Danny, an American carpenter. Gradually, Pat and Debora bond, drawn together by the logistics of getting pregnant and away from their spouses. Pat gets caught between loyalties—to Stu and his family, to Debora, to his own potent desires—and wonders: is he fit to be a father?
In one of the first novels to explore the experience of gay men seeking a child through surrogacy, Michael Lowenthal writes passionately about marriages and mistakes, loyalty and betrayal, and about how our drive to create families can complicate the ones we already have. The Paternity Test is a provocative look at the new “family values.”
One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface as Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe's life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared.
While his father, who is a tribal judge, endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe becomes frustrated with the official investigation and sets out with his trusted friends, Cappy, Zack, and Angus, to get some answers of his own. Their quest takes them first to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning.
Written with undeniable urgency, and illuminating the harsh realities of contemporary life in a community where Ojibwe and white live uneasily together, The Round House is a brilliant and entertaining novel, a masterpiece of literary fiction. Louise Erdrich embraces tragedy, the comic, a spirit world very much present in the lives of her all-too-human characters, and a tale of injustice that is, unfortunately, an authentic reflection of what happens in our own world today.
As Jessie Patrick Reed's attorney, I'm writing to you on behalfof your father, Jessie Patrick Reed. I regret to inform you thatMr. Reed is dying. He has expressed a desire to see you . . .
Elizabeth, even though sustained by a loving family, has suffered the mostfrom her father's seeming abandonment and for years has protected herselfwith a deep-seated anger that she hides from everyone.
Ginger, in love with a married man, will be forced to reevaluate everyrelationship she's ever had and will reach stunning conclusions that will changeher life forever.
Rachel learns of her father's existence the same day she finds out that herhusband of ten years has had an affair. She will receive the understanding andsupport she needs to survive from an unlikely and surprising source.
Christine is a young filmmaker, barely out of college, who now mustdecide if her few precious memories of a man she believed to be long dead areenough to give him a second chance.
Four sisters who never knew the others existed will find strength, love, and answers in the most unexpected places in . . . "The Year EverythingChanged."
Well, the first weekend of spring in St. Louis this year was not what we were expecting! It still feels like winter with a foot of snow! It's still officially spring, though; that means it's time for the spring challenge. Let's make it an easy one this time. We'll read the follow up to Jeff Well's first book that we enjoyed so much. This spring we'll read All My Patients Kick and Bite.
The highly amusing, uplifting and entertaining follow-up to All My Patients Have Tales... In this second collection by our intrepid vet, Jeff Wells has his work cut out for him when he learns that llamas do not take kindly to having their toenails trimmed, dog owners in the medical field can be a real pain, Scottish Highland cattle stick together and just might run a vet out of their enclosure, and fixing an overly amorous burro often needs to be prioritized. Told with Wells’s trademark humor and gentle touch, these and many other heartwarming, heartbreaking, funny and strange stories will give readers a whole new appreciation for those who care for our pets.
This should be a pretty easy challenge that we can all actually finish!
Everyone loves Ellen! Television icon, actress and proud wife, Ellen is a star like none other. This comedienne is known for her talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which is going strong.
Seriously… I’m Kidding is a look at Ellen’s life through her humour.
In her own words, Ellen says, “I've experienced a whole lot the last few years and I have a lot to share ... I think you'll find I've left no stone unturned, no door unopened, no window unbroken, no rug unvacuumed, no ivories untickled. What I'm saying is, let us begin, shall we?”
Seriously, I'm Kidding has a 3.65 rating on Goodreads.
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach | Paperback, 320 pages
Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers—some willingly, some unwittingly—have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. They've tested France's first guillotines, ridden the NASA Space Shuttle, been crucified in a Parisian laboratory to test the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, and helped solve the mystery of TWA Flight 800. For every new surgical procedure, from heart transplants to gender reassignment surgery, cadavers have been there alongside surgeons, making history in their quiet way.
In this fascinating, ennobling account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries—from the anatomy labs and human-sourced pharmacies of medieval and nineteenth-century Europe to a human decay research facility in Tennessee, to a plastic surgery practice lab, to a Scandinavian funeral directors' conference on human composting. In her droll, inimitable voice, Roach tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.
Roach is also the author of Spook and Bonk as well as others. Stiff has a 4.05 rating on Goodreads.
Lindsay Powell awakens one bright Sunday morning to find her almost-ex-husband in bed beside her. Had she really been glad to see the cheating creep standing on her front porch last night? At that burst of insanity she should have called 911, requested she be declared mentally incompetent and locked up for her own protection.
While sleeping with the jerk feels like the absolute worst thing that could happen, that error becomes insignificant as Lindsay’s life rapidly spirals downward into complete chaos and a near-deadly bout with the chocolate she loves.
Lindsay’s neighbor, Paula, is an enigmatic single mom of a two-year old boy. Though Lindsay and Paula have worked together for two years, Lindsay has no idea why her friend dyes her blond hair brown, hides from people and insists on always having a second exit. Secrets from Paula’s past have come back to put all their lives in jeopardy.
Determined to help her secretive friend, Lindsay enlists the reluctant aid of another neighbor, Fred, a computer nerd who rarely leaves his always-tidy house. In spite of his mundane existence, Fred possesses arcane tidbits of knowledge about such things as hidden microphones, guns and the inside of maximum security prisons.
Battling Paula’s elusive stalker, poisoned chocolate, Lindsay’s irritating almost-ex, and a dead man, Lindsay needs more than a chocolate fix to survive.
Death by Chocolate has a 4.20 rating on Goodreads.
So, this book was a surprise to a lot of us. We were expecting a romance and that's not what we really got. Only two of us finished this book on time (we were thinking it would have been more of a quick read). I think we would have liked it better as a whole if we hadn't been expecting a different type of book.
We were mostly all new to the topic of the Armenian genocide. How could something so horrible be almost unknown to us?
The March theme is animals! Which book do you want to read next?
Modoc:The True Story of the Greatest Elephant that Ever Lived by Raph Helfer | Paperback, 345 pages
Modoc is the joint biography of a man and an elephant born in a small German circus town on the same day in 1896. Bram was the son of an elephant trainer, Modoc the daughter of his prize performer. The boy and animal grew up devoted to each other. When the Wunderzircus was sold to an American, with no provision to take along the human staff, Bram stowed away on the ship to prevent being separated from his beloved Modoc. A shipwreck off the Indian coast and a sojourn with a maharajah were only the beginning of the pair's incredible adventures. They battled bandits, armed revolutionaries, cruel animal trainers, and greedy circus owners in their quest to stay together. They triumphed against the odds and thrilled American circus audiences with Modoc's dazzling solo performances, only to be torn apart with brutal suddenness, seemingly never to meet again. Hollywood animal trainer Ralph Helfer rescued Modoc from ill-treatment and learned her astonishing story when Bram rediscovered her at Helfer's company. His emotional retelling of this true-life adventure epic will make pulses race and bring tears to readers' eyes.
Helfer is the author of 4 books about animals. Modoc has a 4.17 rating on Goodreads.
He was the perfect horse, it was said, "the horse God built."
Most of us know the legend of Secretariat, the tall, handsome chestnut racehorse whose string of honors runs long and rich: the only two-year-old ever to win Horse of the Year, in 1972; winner in 1973 of the Triple Crown, his times in all three races still unsurpassed; featured on the cover of Time, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated; the only horse listed on ESPN's top fifty athletes of the twentieth century (ahead of Mickey Mantle). His final race at Toronto's Woodbine Racetrack is a touchstone memory for horse lovers everywhere. Yet while Secretariat will be remembered forever, one man, Eddie "Shorty" Sweat, who was pivotal to the great horse's success, has been all but forgotten---until now.
In The Horse God Built, bestselling equestrian writer Lawrence Scanlan has written a tribute to an exceptional man that is also a backroads journey to a corner of the racing world rarely visited. As a young black man growing up in South Carolina, Eddie Sweat struggled at several occupations before settling on the job he was born for---groom to North America's finest racehorses. As Secretariat's groom, loyal friend, and protector, Eddie understood the horse far better than anyone else. A wildly generous man who could read a horse with his eyes, he shared in little of the financial success or glamour of Secretariat's wins on the track, but won the heart of Big Red with his soft words and relentless devotion.
In Scanlan's rich narrative, we get a groom's-eye view of the racing world and the vantage of a man who spent every possible moment with the horse he loved, yet who often basked in the horse's glory from the sidelines. More than anything else, The Horse God Built is a moving portrait of the powerful bond between human and horse.
Scanlan is the author of 6 best-selling books about horses. The Horse God Built has a 4.10 rating on Goodreads.
This is the remarkable story of one endearing dog’s search for his purpose over the course of several lives. More than just another charming dog story, A Dog’s Purpose touches on the universal quest for an answer to life's most basic question: Why are we here?
Surprised to find himself reborn as a rambunctious golden-haired puppy after a tragically short life as a stray mutt, Bailey’s search for his new life’s meaning leads him into the loving arms of 8-year-old Ethan. During their countless adventures Bailey joyously discovers how to be a good dog.
But this life as a beloved family pet is not the end of Bailey’s journey. Reborn as a puppy yet again, Bailey wonders—will he ever find his purpose?
Heartwarming, insightful, and often laugh-out-loud funny, A Dog's Purpose is not only the emotional and hilarious story of a dog's many lives, but also a dog's-eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man's best friend. This moving and beautifully crafted story teaches us that love never dies, that our true friends are always with us, and that every creature on earth is born with a purpose.
A Dog's Purpose was a NY Times bestseller, along with its sequel, A Dog's Journey. Cameron is currently working on the screenplay for the movie adaptation by Dream Works. It has a 4.32 rating on Goodreads.
When Elizabeth Endicott arrives in Aleppo, Syria she has a diploma from Mount Holyoke, a crash course in nursing, and only the most basic grasp of the Armenian language. The year is 1915 and she has volunteered on behalf of the Boston-based Friends of Armenia to help deliver food and medical aid to refugees of the Armenian genocide. There Elizabeth becomes friendly with Armen, a young Armenian engineer who has already lost his wife and infant daughter. When Armen leaves Aleppo and travels south into Egypt to join the British army, he begins to write Elizabeth letters, and comes to realize that he has fallen in love with the wealthy, young American woman who is so different from the wife he lost.
Fast forward to the present day, where we meet Laura Petrosian, a novelist living in suburban New York. Although her grandparents’ ornate Pelham home was affectionately nicknamed “The Ottoman Annex,” Laura has never really given her Armenian heritage much thought. But when an old friend calls, claiming to have seen a newspaper photo of Laura’s grandmother promoting an exhibit at a Boston museum, Laura embarks on a journey back through her family’s history that reveals love, loss – and a wrenching secret that has been buried for generations.
The Sandcastle Girls is Bohjalian's 15th book. It has a 3.86 rating on Goodreads. Read an excerpt here.
In these seven beautifully wrought variations on a theme, a series of characters trace and retrace eternal yet ever-changing patterns of love and longing, connection and loss. The storiesrange over centuries and continents—from eighteenth-century Vienna, where Mozart and his librettist Da Ponte are collaborating on their operas, to America in the 1940s, where a love triangle unfolds among a doctor, a journalist, and the president’s wife. A race-car driver’s widow, a nursing-home resident and her daughter, a paralyzed dancer married to a famous choreographer—all feel the overwhelming force of passion and renunciation. With uncanny emotional exactitude, Wickersham shows how we never really know what’s in someone else’s heart, or in our own; how we continually try to explain others and to console ourselves; and how love, like storytelling, is ultimately a work of the imagination.
This is Wickersham's 3rd book. Her last book, a memoir, was a National Book Award Finalist. Her many prize-winning short stories have been published in various magazines. The News from Spain has a 4.19 rating on Goodreads.
The fateful first meeting of Enza and Ciro takes place amid the haunting majesty of the Italian Alps at the turn of the last century. Still teenagers, they are separated when Ciro is banished from his village and sent to hide in New York's Little Italy, apprenticed to a shoemaker, leaving a bereft Enza behind. But when her own family faces disaster, she, too, is forced to emigrate to America. Though destiny will reunite the star-crossed lovers, it will, just as abruptly, separate them once again—sending Ciro off to serve in World War I, while Enza is drawn into the glamorous world of the opera . . . and into the life of the international singing sensation Enrico Caruso. Still, Enza and Ciro have been touched by fate—and, ultimately, the power of their love will change their lives forever.
A riveting historical epic of love and family, war and loss, risk and destiny, inspired by the author's own family history, The Shoemaker's Wife is the novel Adriana Trigiani was born to write.
Trigiani is the author of 14 books, including a cookbook she co-authored with her sisters. The Shoemaker's Wife has a 4.02 rating on Goodreads. Which one do you want to read?
My word for 2012 was ACCOMPLISH. In 2012, I accomplished a few things. I finished my residency and started a new job. I set up a new home office (I've been wanting to do for awhile). I was able to maintain ~90% of my weight loss from the previous year. I didn't accomplish as much with my reading. I only read a few extra books beyond the book club selections. More next year!
For 2013, my new word will be BALANCE. What will your word be?