Below is the list I have compiled from member's submissions - we have a total of 13 to choose from. Please check them out and come ready to vote on June 18.
1. The Secret Life of Bees - by Sue Monk Kidd
The Secret Life of Bees is the story of Lily Owens, a girl who has shaped her life around one devastating memory - the afternoon her mother was killed, when Lily was four. Besides her harsh and unyielding father, Lily's only real companion is Rosaleen a tender, but fierce-hearted black woman who cooks, cleans and acts as her "stand-in-mother."
Set in 1964 in South Carolina, a place and time of seething racial divides, violence explodes one summer afternoon, and Rosaleen is arrested and beaten. Lily is desperate, not only to save Rosaleen, but to flee from a life she can no longer endure. Calling upon her colorful wits and youthful daring, she breaks Rosaleen out of jail and the two escape, into what quickly becomes Lily’s quest for the truth about her mother’s life.
They are taken in by three black, bee-keeping sisters, May, June, and August, and Lily is consumed by their secret world of bees and honey, and of the Black Madonna who presides over this household of strong, wise women. Lily’s journey is one of painful secrets and shattering betrayals but that ultimately helps her find the thing her heart longs for most.
The Secret Life Of Bees allows us into a world apart—in a novel whose strong, irresistible voice catches us up and doesn’t let go. The Secret Life Of Bees is a mesmerizing novel about women with extraordinary gifts coping with loss and finding forgiveness and especially, learning to forgive themselves.
2. Meet Me in Venice by Elizabeth Adler (384 Pages)
FOUR WORDS WOULD CHANGE HER LIFE...Precious Rafferty is an American antiques dealer living in Paris. Though Precious--known as Preshy--lives in the world's most romantic city, she keeps her feet firmly on the ground. No man will ever sweep her off her feet. Until she meets Bennett James. He's perfect in every way. Is he too good to be true? Granted, she doesn't know much about his business or personal life in Shanghai, but isn't it time to stop being so jaded about romance? And then her long-lost cousin Lily Song sends her an urgent message about Preshy's new love. "Meet me in Venice" are Lily's cryptic words.ONE MAN MIGHT POSSIBLY END IT...Lily lives in Shanghai and knows the antiques underworld there--and she has a secret important enough to draw her to Venice to meet Preshy for the first time, face-to-face. Ruggedly handsome, world-weary writer Sam Knight senses there's a story afoot. Precious senses he's getting closer and closer to her and enmeshed in this tangled web of danger and desire. But is Sam also not all he seems to be? Does he have a terrible secret he's keeping from Preshy? In Venice, Precious will have to weave through a maze of betrayers and seducers to discover who she can trust with her heart...and with her life. Page-turning, lushly descriptive, and intelligent, Meet Me in Venice is a cat-and-mouse game with plenty of twists and wonderful characters you'll never forget. It is Elizabeth Adler at her storytelling best.
3. Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
Once again, Geraldine Brooks takes a remarkable shard of history and brings it to vivid life. In 1665, a young man from Martha's Vineyard became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College. Upon this slender factual scaffold, Brooks has created a luminous tale of love and faith, magic and adventure.
The narrator of Caleb's Crossing is Bethia Mayfield, growing up in the tiny settlement of Great Harbor amid a small band of pioneers and Puritans. Restless and curious, she yearns after an education that is closed to her by her sex. As often as she can, she slips away to explore the island's glistening beaches and observe its native Wampanoag inhabitants. At twelve, she encounters Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a tentative secret friendship that draws each into the alien world of the other. Bethia's minister father tries to convert the Wampanoag, awakening the wrath of the tribe's shaman, against whose magic he must test his own beliefs. One of his projects becomes the education of Caleb, and a year later, Caleb is in Cambridge, studying Latin and Greek among the colonial elite. There, Bethia finds herself reluctantly indentured as a housekeeper and can closely observe Caleb's crossing of cultures.
4. Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City - One Step at a Time
by Mark Adams (333 Pages)
Mark Adams has spent his career editing adventure and travel magazines, so his plan to investigate the allegations against Bingham by retracing the explorer's perilous path to Machu Picchu isn't completely far- fetched, even if it does require him to sleep in a tent for the first time. With a crusty, antisocial Australian survivalist and several Quechua-speaking, coca-chewing mule tenders as his guides, Adams takes readers through some of the most gorgeous and historic landscapes in Peru, from the ancient Inca capital of Cusco to the enigmatic ruins of Vitcos and Vilcabamba.
Along the way he finds a still-undiscovered country populated with brilliant and eccentric characters, as well as an answer to the question that has nagged scientists since Hiram Bingham's time: Just what was Machu Picchu?
5. Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife
by Eben Alexander, MD - 196 Pages
Dr. Alexander, a renowned, academic neurosurgeon who holds strong scientific worldviews, contracts a very rare case of meningitis. Dr. Alexander spends a week in a comma and in the brink of death. With less than 10% chance of survival and even less of a chance of recovering all his brain functions, he miraculously recovers completely and lives to tell about his Near-Death Experience. In this book he explains how his NDE changed his life. He now firmly believes in the afterlife and sees death as a step into a new transformation of a person's soul. He describes death as part of the soul's trajectory which exists before life, journeys through life and continues after life.
A beautiful and incredible story. I loved the book. This story really helped me at a difficult time when I needed to be reassured that my recently deceased and very loved brother will one day reunite with me and that this separation is just temporary.
6. The Snow Leopard by Peter Mattheissen
The Snow Leopard by Peter Mattheissen is a quirky book written by one of the best writers alive. It?s part adventure, part natural history, part anthropology, part memoir and part mediation on Eastern religion. An American Buddhist travels to a very remote part of Tibet, partnered with another scientist, to study a rare, blue sheep and possibly catch a glimpse of the fabled snow leopard. The expedition is under-funded, behind schedule and forever in danger of immediate collapse. Mr. Mattheissen?s keen eye for detail misses nothing and, for some readers, his poetic descriptions may become a little too much. Besides the exquisite details of the flora and fauna, there are long discourses into the religious and socio-political histories of the region and in-depth character profiles of the expedition members
7. Love & War: Twenty Years, Three Presidents, Two Daughters and One Louisiana Home
by James Carville and Mary Matalin
Love & War is the unlikely love story of one of America’s best-known power couples and how their marriage has survived despite their sharply different political views.
The subtitle of the book by Mary Matalin and James Carville is "Twenty years, three presidents, two daughters and one Louisiana home." That offers a hint of the pressures and rewards faced by the couple with a quirky charisma and two of the nation’s best political minds.
They were married in New Orleans in 1993, but they were living much of the year in the fiercely partisan atmosphere of Washington, D.C. They served presidents on both sides of the political divide. Matalin advised President George H.W. Bush; Carville helped Democrat Bill Clinton oust Bush in 1992; and Matalin returned to White House duty after the difficult and incredibly close election and recount of 2000, working as a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney for a couple of years.
After almost two decades of living at the eye of the political hurricane, Matalin and Carville were ready by late 2006 to consider other options. They decided to move their family to New Orleans, which had a rich mix of offbeat culture, delicious food and fascinating history. Carville’s native Louisiana was far from the increasingly partisan political atmosphere of Washington.
The book is told in alternating passages by Matalin and Carville, recounting their experiences in politics and their transition to a richer personal life in New Orleans, where discussions could center on matters like Matalin’s need for lots of dogs and cats or Carville’s love for teaching at Tulane and his need to park in front of his TV to watch his beloved LSU Tigers. The alternating technique works well and feels like an extended conversation in their living room.
Much of the book is a charming love letter to New Orleans and its recovery from Hurricane Katrina and its unique character. It’s also a celebration of family.
8. LEAN IN
by Sheryl Sandberg - 173 pages
Thirty years after women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry. This means that women’s voices are still not heard equally in the decisions that most affect our lives. In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential.
Written with both humor and wisdom, Sandberg’s book is an inspiring call to action and a blueprint for individual growth. Lean In is destined to change the conversation from what women can’t do to what they can.
9. STEVE JOBS
by Walter Isaacson - 571 pages
Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than 100 family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson set down the riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing. Isaacson’s portrait touched hundreds of thousands of readers.
10. THE COLOR OF WATER
by James McBride - 336 pages
Who is Ruth McBride Jordan? A self-declared "light-skinned" woman evasive about her ethnicity, yet steadfast in her love for her twelve black children. James McBride, journalist, musician, and son, explores his mother's past, as well as his own upbringing and heritage, in a poignant and powerful debut,The Color Of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother.
11. HALF BROKE HORSE
by Jeanette Walls - 272 pages
So begins the story of Lily Casey Smith, Jeannette Walls’s no-nonsense, resourceful, and spectacularly compelling grandmother. By age six, Lily was helping her father break horses. At fifteen, she left home to teach in a frontier town—riding five hundred miles on her pony, alone, to get to her job. She learned to drive a car and fly a plane. And, with her husband, Jim, she ran a vast ranch in Arizona. She raised two children, one of whom is Jeannette’s memorable mother, Rosemary Smith Walls, unforgettably portrayed in The Glass Castle.
by Jeffrey Eugenides
"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974. . . My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver's license...records my first name simply as Cal."So begins the breathtaking story of Cal..... 529 Pages
13. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Already Selected for our June 2014 meeting
14. The Infinite Plan
by Isabel Allende (400 Pages)
Selling more than 65,000 copies and topping bestseller lists around the world -- including Spain, Germany, Italy, and Latin America -- this novel tells the engrossing story of one man's quest for love and for his soul.
15. KATHERINE GRAHAM by Daniel Alef
Already selected for our July 2014 meeting