Books @ Noon--January 2022 Picks

Created on January 5, 2022, 11:46 am

Last Updated January 5, 2022, 11:46 am

On the first Tuesday of every month, an intrepid group of Ashland readers meets at noon to talk about the best books they've read during the month. These are their stories. [Cue CSI Theme Music]
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1) Grant
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Michael read this a few years ago and recommends it. This biography is long and detailed and offers a different perspective on Grant, who is commonly viewed by historians as a weak president with many vices. Instead, Chernow admires Grant for his accomplishments and sheds light on the stories that led to his poor reputation.
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All the group's regulars who were present had read and enjoyed this, Michael most recently. It is a thrilling adventure story that has the ability to interest readers in topics they would not usually have been drawn to.
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Mary has been on a "Women Spies in WWII" kick for a while but she promises this will be the last one for now. This is a true story, as told by the woman who lived it. As a Jewish woman living in occupied France, Marthe Cohn was forced out of her comfortable life to become as she put it, the "most unlikely spy." The book is short, readable, and makes a reader reflect on how war disrupts the lives of ordinary people and on the kindness and courage those people are capable of, even in terrible circumstances.
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Mary's recommendation of "Behind Enemy Lines" reminded Sandra of this book, also set in occupied France, in which little decisions by ordinary people lead to big things.
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Amgash novels volume 3
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Wendy is almost finished with this book and, while she's read all of Strout's other books, she's finding this one to be disjointed. She's not always clear on who the characters are and is not enjoying it much. Sandra read and liked it, however, feeling that it provided a "warm, insider perspective" on the lives of the characters.
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Wendy read this book and liked it. She thought the main character's story was very interesting and thought the ending changed the whole book for her.
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Sandra read this book. She's enjoyed Ruth Ozeki's writing before and found this one to be worthwhile as well, full of complicated and intriguing characters. Strikingly, the book itself is a character in this narrative, and Sandra read a passage in which the book says that each reader brings their own interpretation to the reading, inventing the book as they read.
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Mary has begun this book and says it keeps getting better and better. She's met several characters and looks forward to learning how they relate to each other and nature. Sandra has also read this one and talked about how the concept of the Overstory as the very top layer of a forest ecosystem is used as a metaphor in the book. She thought it was a good book but wasn't sure if all the many characters and pieces ended up fitting together.
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Ellie is reading this collection of original interconnected fairytales by the author of Chocolat. The book is reminiscent of the Andrew Lang fairy tale books or other old-fashioned fairy tale collections, complete with pen-and-ink illustrations and color plates by Charles Vess, but the stories build on each other and are dark enough that they are definitely for an adult audience.
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Ellie is excited to read the recently published sequel to this book, which mixes mythology, theology, and historical fiction. Using figures from Hebrew and Arab myth, the book explores the immigrant experience, struggles with power and agency, and finding common ground and friendship with someone you thought was very different from you.
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