GALS Book Club: Issue 1-2, October, 2017

Vol 1, Issue 2

George Ashe Library Book Club
October, 2017

We have read:

State of Wonder
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Orphan Train
Bletchley Girls
Secret Keeper
Escape from Camp 14
They left us everything
The Unit
A Man Called Ove

Up next:

Brain on Fire
Before the Fall
When Breath Becomes Air
The Elephant Whisperer
The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio
Tuesdays with Morrie
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
Being Mortal
The Verdict
The Girl Before
Call the Midwife

From the secretary’s desk…
Remember we have launched two new endeavours this year. Let’s keep them going for the benefit of club members and others who read our newsletter.

  1. Book suggestions
    Bestseller lists are simply marketing tools for publishers to satisfy their writers. They do not reflect the real value of any book in terms of entertainment or readability. A better gauge for finding a good book is to ask your friends, your family members, your relatives. Ask any avid book reader what they have enjoyed reading and why they liked or disliked the book. You’ll get more valuable input about the book than any bestseller list will give you. Almost unanimously, the book club members have agreed the most enjoyable books have been penned by Terry Fallis,  a Canadian writer, recipient of two Stephen Leacock awards for humorous books.
  2. Possible discussion suggestions for the next moderator
    Let’s help our moderators for the monthly book meeting discussion with ideas about possible topics relating to the current read. In light of this, if you have a question or a topic relating to the month’s book and which you feel merits discussion, send it to the secretary who will pass it along to the appropriate moderator.
    ____Often, the monthly moderator will find discussion questions online or via the library’s liaison person, Tracey Naish. However, club members can improve the discussion with their own suggestions to supplement the questions. The idea is being put to the test. Club members are asked to forward discussion suggestions for the current book to the club secretary who will forward them to the appropriate moderator.

Book suggestion of the month

“Trump is extreme but he’s not a Martian. He is the logical conclusion of many of the most dangerous trends of the past half-century. He is the personification of the merger of humans and corporations–a one-man megabrand, with wife and children as spin-off brands. This book is to help understand how we arrived at this surreal political moment, how to keep it from getting a lot worse, and how, if we keep our heads, we can flip the script and seize the opportunity to make things a whole lot better in a time of urgent need. A tool-kit for shock-resistance.” –from the Introduction

The election of Donald Trump produced a frightening escalation in a world of cascading crises. The Trump Administration’s vision–the deconstruction of the welfare and regulatory state, the unleashing of a fossil fuel frenzy (which requires the sweeping aside of climate science) and an all-out attack on vulnerable communities under the guise of a war on crime and terrorism–will generate wave after wave of crises and shocks around the world, to the economy, to national security, to the environment.

In No Is Not Enough, Naomi Klein embraces a lively conversation with the reader to expose the forces behind Trump’s success and explain why he is not an aberration but the product of our time–Reality TV branding, celebrity obsession and CEO-worship, Vegas and Guantanamo, fake news and vulture bankers all rolled into one. And she shares a bold vision, a clear-eyed perspective on how to break the spell of his shock tactics, counter the rising chaos and divisiveness at home and abroad, and win back the world we need.

Richard’s comments
I am nearly finished reading this book. So my comments are somewhat preliminary.

First, a reader needs to be a “political junkie” to really enjoy this book. Additionally, the person should also be into news about Trump as many others are.

The book is a very current analysis of the Trump phenomenon. Klein lays an explanatory foundation presenting a number of reasons as to how and why Trump won the presidency. Her logic and arguments are very plausible and persuasive. The short of her early chapters is that Trump is simply the fruit of the times, the harvest we are reaping for the seeds we have sown in earlier times. Worship of money, monumental icons, and celebrities, we adore these new idols and honour them regularly. Trump buys into that philosophy fully and very successfully. Hence, we are the masters of our own destiny and Trump is our own creation.

Every chapter Klein writes reinforces her thesis that Trump is a product of his times and society created the times. She has engaged me as a reader and her academic style tempts me to take out a pen and paper to make notes as she develops her positions incrementally and very persuasively.

Not having finished the book yet, it may be a bit premature to give the book a rating just yet. However, I can say without any reservations that the book is very engaging and entertainingly educational. I nod my head in agreement very frequently as I need little persuasion to accept Klein’s claims.

You will enjoy this book but understand it is an academic dissertation rather than a plot based story. Given the kind of book it is, I feel Klein writes so well that her book deserves  4 stars.

Brain On Fire

Susannah Cahalan

An award-winning memoir and instant New York Times bestseller that goes far beyond its riveting medical mystery, Brain on Fire is the powerful account of one woman’s struggle to recapture her identity.

When twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a hospital room, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak, she had no memory of how she’d gotten there. Days earlier, she had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: at the beginning of her first serious relationship and a promising career at a major New York newspaper. Now she was labelled violent, psychotic, a flight risk. What happened?

In a swift and breathtaking narrative, Cahalan tells the astonishing true story of her descent into madness, her family’s inspiring faith in her, and the lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn’t happen.

Richard’s comments…
The jacket notes or publisher’s synopsis are a melodramatic stretch, a bit of overreaching in an attempt to make this book sound better.

The book is a kind of medical journal written by a young New York newsreporter’s medical crash. Cahalan captures the stress and anxiety she experienced when she was hit by a very serious, very complicated and poorly understood brain malady. She writes her journal in a way that successfully draws in the reader who easily empathizes with Calahan and feels the anxieties and stress she is undergoing.

The book rises in suspense as the malady worsens and Cahalan becomes more and more ill. One is saddened as her illness progresses and the suspense build nicely. Will she get worse? How much worse can it get? Is there any hope? Is a diagnosis possible which might lead to recovery? One needs to read the book to learn the outcome but it is a worthwhile read.

There is one criticism which detracts from the book and that is that too much time is spent in medical dialogues and pharma analyses. This will impact on a reader’s attention and focus at times as it goes on too long.

However, there are a number of morals to the story and the message that society needs to continue deeper medical research into brain illnesses. Additionally, a parallel message may be that society and its authorities need to become more understanding and empathetic with people who act in erratic and unusual ways. They may be suffering an illness which with proper diagnoses, may be curable.

An unusual book that may be appealing to individuals interested in medical documentaries. It is not a genre which is to my taste.

3 1/2 stars

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