We have three clubs:two "general" bok clubs and one science book club.
If you would like to know more about, or join, our "General" Book Clubs, please contact
Iris Shah at (747) 300-2214 or click here to e-mail her; or
Chris Smith at (818)701-3006 or click to e-mail her.
For information regarding the Science Book Club, please contact Heidemarie Lundblad at 805-484-8941 or at email@example.com.
New members are always welcome!
ARF SCIENCE BOOK CLUB
Report of the meeting of March 18th, 2015. Present were rLinda Jones; Elizabeth Trybus; Adam Gifford; John Motil; Phyllis Russell; Sandra Jewett; Mary Lee Sparling; Virve Leps; Bill Hosek; Christine Smith; and Heidemarie Lundblad.
We discussed: Lives in Ruins: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble, by Marilyn Johnson
Johnson’s well written book about various aspects of archeology is easy to read and provides interesting information about the rigors and excitements of work in this field. Readers were impressed by the determination of archeologists to work under extremely difficult conditions often for little pay. It became obvious that for many archeologists the thrill of learning more about the past must be its own reward.
We found it quite interesting that archeologists are required to investigate evidence of past lives (and deaths) in connection with many construction projects. Perhaps even more fascinating was the discovery that the Department of Defense has its own set of archeologists who assist the military in recognizing and protecting to some extent the treasures of the past in far flung countries.
While the book awoke memories and discussions of experiences at some of the archeological sites that had been visited by several members, it also raised the question “why are we so fascinated with the past, shouldn’t we explore the future?”
The next meeting of the Science Book Club is on April 15th at 1:30 pm. As of now it is scheduled for the 3rd floor conference room in the Oviatt library. If there is a change, I will send an email. We will discuss: Oliver Sacks: Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
The selection for the May 20th is: Michael Tomasello: A Natural History of Human Thinking - February 17, 2014. Available in Hardcover, Paperback and Kindle. May be available in Audio format from other sellers.
Books to think about for possible future discussion:
Jonathan Waldman : Rust: The Longest War 2015; "Rust affects everything from the design of our currency to the composition of our tap water, and it will determine the legacy we leave on this planet. This exploration of corrosion, and the incredible lengths we go to fight it, is narrative nonfiction at its very best—a fascinating and important subject, delivered with energy and wit." in hardcover, Paperback and Kindle and Audio book.
Helen Macdonald: H is for Hawk Mar 3, 2015. “Heart-wrenching and humorous, this book is an unflinching account of bereavement and a unique look at the magnetism of an extraordinary beast, with a parallel examination of a legendary writer’s eccentric falconry. Obsession, madness, memory, myth, and history combine to achieve a distinctive blend of nature writing and memoir from an outstanding literary innovator.” Hardcover, Kindle Paperback, Audible Audio Edition, MP3 CD :
Rose George: Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your Plate August 13, 2013. Available in Hardcover, Paperback and Kindle
Malcolm Gladwell: Outliers: The Story of Success Jun 7, 2011. Available in Hardcover, Paperback and Kindle and Audio book.
Adam Rogers: Proof: The Science of Booze Available in Hardcover, paperback, kindle and audio.
James Fallon: Psychopath: A Neuropath’s Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain. Available in Hardcover, paperback, kindle and audio.
Heidemarie Lundblad, PhD
All meetings unless otherwise noted take place in the Oviatt Library third floor administration conference room at 1:30 pm.
John says the Science Book Club members look like a pretty happy bunch. (Taken at the October 2012 meeting)
Here's a more recent (11/19/14) attempt by John to document the club's activities and check out the workings of his new calligraphy app.
TUESDAY BOOK GROUPARF's Tuesday book group, headed by Ron Schaffer, chose for its April reading Barry Unsworth's Booker Prize-winning 1992 novel Sacred Hunger. Those present for the discussion at Ron and Robbie Schaffer's home were Len Pitt, Frank McGinnis, Iris Shah, Jim Allen, and Robbie and Ron. Everyone seemed to enjoy reading this long (600+ pages) but captivating epic.
Sacred Hunger involves the British slave trade between Africa and the Caribbean colonies during the mid-1700s. Although there are a great many characters, the author focuses particularly on Erasmus Kemp, son in a well-to-do business family in Liverpool, and his cousin Matthew Paris, who signs on as the surgeon on the new slave ship Kemp's father is having built. We see vividly how drunken and penniless men were shanghaied into service as crew on the ship, how slaves were brought out from the coast of West Africa to the ship for potential sale to the captain, how captain Thurso tried to keep his crew in line by flogging for even slight infractions, how slaves were packed into the ship, how they were occasionally made to exercise by dancing in their shackles to a crew member's fiddling, and finally how Paris signaled a stop to Thurso's escalating cruelty to both slaves and crew, with huge consequences.
In addition to learning much about the human costs of the slave trade, we follow the lives of the Kemps back in England and quite a few of the ship's crew, some of whom we meet again after their ship crashes on the coast of Florida. Erasmus Kemp makes his way to the wilds of Florida to bring back his apparently mutinous cousin Paris to be hanged. I won't give away the ending, we all agreed that the entire story gains much power because of the author's underlying moral perspective, focused both on slavery and on how people should treat one another.
Iris Shah hosted our May meeting, when our book was Birdsong: A Novel of Love and War by Sebastian Faulks. Those in the discussion were Iris, Frank McGinnis, John Irving, Jim Allen, Len Pitt, and Ron and Robbie Schaffer.
The book takes place mostly during World War I in northeastern France, where the main character, Stephen Wraysford, was one of thousands of British troops trying to push back the Germans near Amiens. We first meet Stephen before the war, when he is in France on business and falls in love with Isabelle, with whom he has a child he only learns about years later. The many war chapters constitute the bulk of the book, but in those chapters we also follow Stephen's attempts to find Isabelle again or find love as he can.
At one point the book leaps unexpectedly ahead to the 1970s and Stephen's granddaughter. Elizabeth, unmarried and pregnant with her first child, is attempting to construct her family history. She is searching for records and any people who might have known her grandfather during the War so that she could interview them. She is partly successful in these efforts. Although we all thought the title of this book was not a good one, in its totality Birdsong seems to be a paean to the importance of love in human life regardless of whether those relationships fulfill traditionally appropriate forms. I also saw the book as a sad commentary on the fact that later generations may never know of key events and loves of family members who came before.
In the war years the author focuses on Wraysford, now an officer in the British army, but we also learn details of the lives, loves, fears, and deaths of many of his men. We readers in the group had all been aware of the trench warfare of World War I, but new to us was the extensive and very complex system of tunnels that miners on both sides constructed beneath and forward of the trenches for the purpose of laying mines. German and English tunnels sometimes came so close to each other that miners could listen to enemy footsteps. Being ripped apart by artillery or machine guns when advancing from trenches was hardly better than being buried alive in a collapsed tunnel. Although probably a good picture of warfare at that time, I and some of the others thought the author spent too much time in detailing trench warfare and tunneling.
Most, but not all of us, liked this book. Toward the end of the book I was quite moved by being immersed as I was in the lives of these different generations. At least one person in the group strongly disagreed, pointing out flaws in the book's construction and writing that made it not good literature.
Our group will not meet in June, but for our July 19 meeting we will read Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire and on August 25 (a Thursday) we will discuss Charles Dicken's Great Expectations. We each may try to see the movie version of Great Expectations prior to our discussion.
Reported by Jim Allen