Power to the people…

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I know I’ve been complaining about not having enough time to get it all done so it might surprise you to learn I have gone and joined a book club, because why not?  Even if I get nothing else done – and a LOT is not getting done at the moment – joining a book group which meets once every few months isn’t the time commitment it might seem, especially since I read a few chapters of a book every night anyway.

Our club is interested in exploring utopian/dystopian perspectives and chose The Power by Naomi Alderman as our first read. Set five thousand years in the future, The Power explores an alternative reality in which women become the dominant sex as the result of a latent genetic trait which suddenly becomes active.  Most of the book is presented as a manuscript which follows 7 character story arcs over the 10-year period from when the ‘power’ first emerged until the revolution occurred, ending in a matriarchal society. The rest of the story involves an exchange of letters between the manuscript’s male writer (Neil Adam Armon) and his female colleague (Naomi) in which they discuss the manuscript and their latent feelings for each other (because no matter who is in charge the love – and hate – shared between the sexes is timeless.

Ms. Alderman’s novel centers around the question of power: who has it, how do you get it, what does it do to you when you’ve got it? And when you wield the power, how long will it be before the power wields you?  She also writes that two of the illustrations in the book are the key to the entire story.  I haven’t researched those but hope to have done so in time for our discussion in two weeks.

How about you?  Have you read The Power?  What did you think?  Whose story line did you like the most? And the least?  I’d love to know your thoughts…

*Power to the People – John Lennon

Simply the best…books of 2017

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While the exact number escapes me I have read a LOT of books this year.  I love our library system (believing it is one of the best ways our tax dollars are used) and typically check out 6-12 books each month, as well as buy or ‘inherit’ others, all of which total around 100 (give or take a few).  Going forward, I’ve decided to track my reading to determine an exact number, details of which I will share with you this time next year.

As for 2017, I can truly say that the five books pictured above were my absolute favorite reads of the year.  Each writer delivered a fresh perspective on love, loss, pain, yearning, and family.  I came to care about the main characters, hating some and loving others, always curious to see what was in store for each.  These books kept me reading late into the night in expectation of what would happen next and I was sorry when I finished the last page.  Even more astonishing, these books have stuck with me as I continue to reflect on issues as varied as as rape, slavery, abortion, crime, and religion – none of them light topics but all treated with respect and curiosity through the author’s engaging, dramatic, and unique story-telling.

How about you?  What were your favorite books of 2017?  Are you looking forward to reading anything special in 2018?  I’d love to know…

*Simply the Best – Tina Turner

When the bear would come to town…

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It’s a bear’s life

I spent the last two weeks helping my mom recover from some surgery complications.  If you’ve ever spent time sitting bedside, wishing someone you love back to good health, you can empathize with my need to periodically escape with a good book.  Beartown: A Novel, by Fredrik Backman, provided exactly the diversion I needed.

The book has been on my 2 B or Not 2 B Reads list for quite some time, so when I saw it on the library shelf I felt like I had just won the book lottery.  I got home only to find I needed to get to my mom’s side as quickly as possible. I threw some clothes and Beartown into my luggage, hoped a plane, and two nights later finally found time to start the first chapter, which consisted of two succinct sentences.  “Late one evening toward the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barreled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else’s forehead, and pulled the trigger. This is the story of how we got there.” I was instantly transported, and hooked.

This is the second book by Mr. Backman that I have read and thoroughly enjoyed (read my thoughts on the first, A Man Called Ove, here).  He has a talent for creating fully realized, believable, and relatable characters.  In Beartown, Backman has fashioned an entire town of characters whose intermingling backstories and current relationships play out against the pursuit of a national hockey championship and a tragic crime that impacts every character along the way.

This book is sure to make my ‘Best Books of 2017’ list, and I am guessing it will make many other ‘best of’ lists too. Have you read Bear Town? Did you like it? Will it make your best of list?  I’d love to know… .

*Three Great Alabama Icons – Drive-By Truckers