What recommendations do you have for a book club that is comprised mainly of English teachers, one math teacher, and a few other professional types? We read all kinds of literature--best sellers, classics. Last year our titles ranged from Geek Love to Same Kind of Different as Me--vastly different in style, content, and focus. So, we are open, but good stories always receive the most positive response.
Our book club had a great discussion after reading Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. It is the fictionalized true story of the relationship between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mameh Cheney. Both of them left their families and children to create a scandalous life together. You learn quite a bit of Wright as the man behind the famous architecure and some of the things that influenced his vision. The novel is also a facinating portrayal of what some people can and will do to make themselves happy.
My book club just finished Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese and thought that while it was lengthy, the story was an intriguing mix of elements. The premise is that twin boys are born to a nun in Etheopia in the 1950's, but the book has lots of other interesting things going for it. It is historical, without being a history lesson. It talks at length about advancements in medicine and medical practice, both in Africa and the world. It explores human relationships of all types. You finish the book feeling like it was worth the time!
Thanks, brettd, Winter's Bone is the one that I recommended. I have heard quite a bit about it and thankfully one of our book club members had seen the movie and was so intrigued by it that she wanted to read the book. I read the opening paragraph, and it seems that members were hooked. Based on our two comments, this book was one of the one chosen. I hope it goes over well.
If you want to go off the beaten path a little bit, try Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell. It is a haunting story about a young girl in the Ozarks, and the writer (who also originally hails from there) very convincingly and interestingly gives us a look into that region, its culture, its society, and then tells a very gripping story. Not a book for the faint of heart or the easily offended, though.
A book that has slipped under the radar but I cannot stop recommending it to anyone who hasn't read it is The Brothers K by David James Duncan.
It is a little long, but funny, full of enough different themes that there is a little something for everyone, and overall just a great book.
If you're not afraid to tackle religious subjects, try "The Shack." It is sure to stir some controversy and might take you all a little longer to read than other books since some of the tougher parts of the books require some major brain power. Christians and non-Christians alike will be forced to re-evaluate their values and belief systems as far as the earth, a creator, humanity, and how it all fits together go. I enjoyed it, but members of our book club had to agree to disagree on several points.
Khaled Hosseini's novels The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns work well for book groups. The setting is set primarily in Afghanistan, which I knew little about, and the themes run deep. It's hard to put these books down.
If you want to get into nonfiction, Personality Plus by Florence Littauer is a great book that describes the four different types of personalities (in greater depth than the "colors" training that many businesses receive).
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen is pretty popular for book groups also, or venture into a classic like Wuthering Heights-one of my favorites!
Ah! Too many choices! It's hard being an English teacher and recommending books!
I recently listened to Deception Point by Dan Brown. It was awesome, and I found myself making excuses to go get in my car and go somewhere just so I could keep listening to it!
Personally, I love all of the Dan Brown books that I've read so far. They include The Davinci Code, Angels & Demons, and The Lost Symbol. The first two have been made into movies, which I watched.
As an author, Dan Brown has such skill and knowledge of his subject material. He makes everything seem real! I am positive both teachers and students would enjoy his works!
My book club read The Help a couple months ago. Our club is a mix of people from different professions and backgrounds, but we all liked The Help and appreciated Stockett's vision for her novel. It's not a literary classic, but it will get people talking about how we treat others and about how we see ourselves.
I would like to recommend Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. I think this is a great book that anyone would enjoy reading. Though it deals with WWII, the real topic of the book is the absurdity of war. And since this country has been fighting 2 wars for the past decade, I think your club will find it interesting and a good basis for discussions on what is going on with this country's foreign policy.
In concurrence with the previous post, discussion of books on the literary canon of universities should provide all involved with better insights for their instruction and discussions with students.In addition, discussion of the classics, as well, provides intellectual stimulation that is not easily found outside the world of literature instructors.
I like to see what's required reading by freshmen entering universities. Presumably these are works with both some literary merit as well some element of cultural awareness and diversity. My recommendation, then, is Blue Hole Back Home, by Joy Jordan-Lake. It's an interesting read from an interesting narrator's perspective.
Here are several books that my colleagues and I have passed around to each other.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society--World War II setting, interesting style, and a different perspective of life on the homefront.
The Book Thief--even though this is billed as young adult fiction, it's extremely interesting. It follows the story of a young girl who finds a gravedigger's manual in Nazi Germany. She develops a craving for books and begins saving books from Hitler's book burnings.
Columbine (by David Cullen)--Released ten years after the Columbine tragedy, this book is a fascinating and frightening read. Cullen incorporates a ton of different sources and blows apart much of the misinformation that came out immediately after the murders (such as the Harris and Klebold being shy, bullied students). It was an eye-opening read to me and sheds light on media exaggeration and misrepresentation.
I think that the math teacher, in particular, would offer much in way of insight on Danica McKellar's work, "Math Doesn't Suck." The gender issue in the field of math and science is something of which students and professionals must be aware. It would be interesting to see how professionals respond to the issues raised in the book. At the same time, it would be interesting to see if there is a bias how professionals agree to its eradication or its minimization.
Some major science fiction works that you should include are:
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
I, Robot by Issac Asimov
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
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I really enjoyed Olive Kitteridge. We recently read it in our book club which is made up of mostly high school English teachers. I am an accountant so I don't have the literature expertise that they do. I guess what I mean is I don't always enjoy the books they pick! However, this book held my interest as the character of Olive Kitteridge developed with each of the 13 short stories. She is the main character in some of the stories and in others plays only a minor role.
If you love books I think nothing is better than a book about books. I suggest "Sixpence House. Lost in a Town of Books" by Paul Collins. The author is an American writer with English parents who in the Summer 2000 moves with his wife and little child from San Francisco to Hay-on-Wye, a Welsh village with about 1,500 inhabitants and ... 40 bookshops! Hay-on-Wye is famous all over the world for its annual Lit-Festival and Collins is engaged by Richard Booth, who in 1977 named himself King of the Autonomous Princedom of Hay-on-Wye, to set up the American Literature department in his store. A challenging experience, as you will discover reading the book.