Although lately much occupied with books about how to keep your dog from renting the drapes, chewing the doorways and destroying the doors, I have found time to read books recommended by friends, solicited for reviews or books that are just plain fun.
Louise Erdrich's novels about contemporary Native Americans bring me back to western South Dakota, where I lived during the 1972 flood and the 1973 Wounded Knee occupation—both tense and difficult times for Native Americans. Sherman Alexie does it for me too.
The people of the Midwest and West come alive again, enduringly and soulfully, within the works of Ivan Doig, Annie Proulx, Charles Frazier, Ken Haruf and David Guterson.
T.C. Boyle's short fiction opens my imagination to new ways of expressing ideas, as well as crafting imaginative stories. The same holds for Ray Bradbury, Proulx, John Updike, Lorrie Moore, Amy Hempel, Flannery O'Connor and Jhumpa Lahiri. They have written memorable stories.
I'm a fan of books about men, women and families during World War II, so I routinely pick them up both fiction and nonfiction from that era. Among the best: "The Diary of Anne Frank," Kristen Hannah's "Winter Garden" and, more recently, "The Nightengale," Chris Bohjalian's "Skeletons at the Feast," Elie Wiesel's "Night," Laura Hillenbrand's "Unbroken," Thomas Kennealy's "Schindler's List," William Styron's "Sophie's Choice," Jenna Blum's "Those Who Save Us," Victor Klemperer's "I Will Bear Witness," Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning," Corrie Ten Boom's "The Hiding Place," Leon Uris' "Mila 18" and "Exodus," and so, so many other books dealing with this era that have enriched my knowledge and thoughts.
This is why we read. We read to expand our lives and hearts, to learn about what we need to understand, to live in ways we cannot live.
I hope that your book club does that for you.
Area book groups:
The next meeting of the Douglas Library Book Group will focus on Garth Stein’s "The Art of Racing in the Rain." Meeting is Tuesday, April 14, at 6:30 p.m. Call the library, (508) 476-2695, for a copy of the book. New members welcome.
The Friday Morning Book Club at Northborough Library will meet at 10 a.m., April 10, to discuss "The Madonnas of Leningrad" by Debra Dean, a novel based on the siege of Leningrad during World War II.
Actress-singer Debbie Reynolds' memoir, "Unsinkable" will be the topic of a 4:30 p.m., April 29 meeting at Heywood Library in Gardner.
Gale Free Library in Holden has slated two meetings. The Contemporary Book Group will meet at 10:30 a.m., April 7, to discuss Fannie Flagg's "The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion." Its Classics Book Group will meet at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, April 30, to discuss "The Custom of the Country" by Edith Wharton.
Off Track Bookies in Lancaster will meet at 7 p.m., April 9, to discuss Ann Leary's "The Good House."
North Brookfield Book Group, observing National Poetry Month, has slated "Common Threads Poetry" for its 7 p.m., April 28 meeting at Haston Library.