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Eagle Harbor Book Group, 2010

Book and Meeting Schedule, Summer, 2010

27 June: The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Cornelia Carlton).
Venue: Lesley DuTemple, Rd. 2, Eagle River
Refreshments: Tiffany Dawson and Marcia Mason

11 July: Fordlandia by Greg Grandin (Larry Molloy).
Venue: Community Building, Eagle Harbor
Refreshments: Bonnie Hay, Mary Lou Lenz, Elaine Wildman

1 August: Loving Frank by Nancy Horan (Joanne Bollinger).
Venue: Mason home on Lighthouse Road.
Refreshments: Sarah Kelly, Nancy Molloy

15 August: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (Ginny Jamison).
Venue: Marta home on Road 9, Eagle River.
Refreshments: Sue Riedel, Clarice Ruppe

22 August: Poetry Night.
Venue: Van Pelts, Marina Road
Refreshments: Sue Church (1 more needed.)

29 August: The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig (Marcia Mason).
Venue: Strohl home in Bete Grise.
Refreshments: JoAnne B. (need one more)

12 September: 1421: The year China Discovered America by Gavin Menzies (Paul Freshwater).
Venue: Freshwater home on M26, Eagle Harbor.
Refreshments: Mary Beyers, Mary Thomas

Voting Results for 2010

30 March, Voting has begun on the nineteen titles listed below.
You can cast up to six votes.
You can scroll down to see the nominators' remarks along with any new information about the titles.

Votes are tallied (twenty two persons voted, the last being cast on 10 April.

Rank Votes

1.0 13 The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig

3.0 10 The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Cornelia Carlton has volunteered to lead.)

3.0 10 Loving Frank by Nancy Horan (Joanne Bollinger has volunteered to lead.)

3.0 10 Fordlandia by Greg Grandin

5.5 09 The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (Ginny Jamison has volunteered to lead.)

5.5 09 1421: The year China Discovered America by Gavin Menzies

7.5 07 Crashing Through: The Extraordinary Story of the Man Who Dared to See by Robert Kurson.

7.5 07 Plato and Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein

9.5 06 This House of Sky by Ivan Doig

9.5 06 Them by Joyce Carol Oates (Elaine Rysiewicz has volunteered to lead.)

11.5 06 The Places in Between by Rory Stewart

11.5 06 The Art of War by Sun Tsu

13 05 The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (Mary Lou Lenz has volunteered to lead.)

14.5 04 Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

14.5 04 The Red Azalea by Anchee Min (Elaine Wildman has volunteered to lead.)

16.5 03 The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (Elaine Wildman has volunteered to lead.)

16.5 03 Zero by Charles Seife

18 02 The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels

19 01 The Humans Who Went Extinct by Finlayson

Nominations and Discussion, Summer 2010

Received 1 March, 2010: Elaine Wildman writes: Here's my nomination for next summer's discussions.

The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak, the tale of a girl growing up in Germany -- age 5 as Hitler is coming to power. The description of life among poor working class families who are not interested in politics and struggle with the impact of Nazification, mobilization and war is well done. Societal treatment of Jews is covered both in the family's hiding of a Jew in their basement and description of groups or them being marched to a labor camp. Another view of how modern war affects non-combatants.

And, from Lesley DuTemple: I would add that The Book Thief is a good book, but it is a young adult novel, so anyone looking to buy it needs to look in the children'ssection of the bookstore. Not a comment against the book,just a tip on where to find it. That's where it will be shelved.

Karen Powers writes: I want to 2nd the nomination for The Book Thief . Excellent book.

Entered 9 March, 2010: Clint and Mary nominate Crashing Through, The Extraordinary Story of the Man Who Dared to See, a 2007 best seller by Robert Kurson. Physics and optometry can explain what happens when light enters the eye and impinges on the retina and can even modify that process via telescopes, magnifiers, spectacles, lens implants, etc. But what happens behind the retina, so to speak, is not well understood. Much was contributed to this understanding by the experience of Mike May who , blinded at the age of three and after a full and successful life. regains his sight via stem cell therapy. His story, so well told in this book, makes it clear there's a lot more to 'seeing' than what meets the eye.

11 March, 2010: Elaine Wildman re-nominates The Red Azalea by Anchee Min. This is a gripping autobiography by a woman who grew up in China under Mao's Cultural Revolution. The responsibilities she carried as a small child, her school experiences where she is led to denounce a favorite teacher, and the oppressive physical and psychological conditions in the farm labor camp tell us again that a human spirit can survive with cheerfulness and optimism in spite of unspeakable adversity. Jeanette Walls (The Glass Castle ) had it easy in comparison!

14 March, 2010: Cornelia Carlton writes:

I want to suggest the book: The Help by Kathryn Stockett In Jackson, Mississippi in 1962 three extraordinary women 's lives became entwined and worked to change the color lines. One, a young white recent college graduate, and two older black maids - in a society with rigid color lines and traditions learned from birth not only question the way it is, but speak up. A good read! I am willing to lead the discussion.

17 March, 2010. Joanne Bollinger nominates two titles: I am in the middle of reading Fordlandia by Greg Grandin, a fascinating tale of Ford's "ill-advised attempt" to establish a rubber plantation in the wilds of the Amazon. Copious research sheds light on Ford himself, his employees (a few UP connections here) and the follies brought about by trying to impose the Ford system on a tropical environment. Available in paperback, at about 370 pages of actual text plus footnotes, it is definitely holding my interest despite its length. An aside: Alberta, Pequaming, and Iron Mountain play minor roles in the buildup of the story.

My other submission is Loving Frank by Nancy Horan (I think this was a Mary Strohl suggestion a year or so ago). A fictionalized, historically accurate account of Frank LLoyd Wright's love affair with Mamah Borthwick Cheney and his work during this time, it is beautifully realized and written. Although the story is told from Mamah's point of view, I believe it would interest both men and women. I volunteer to lead the discussion. JoAnne
(Pictured are Julian Carlton and Martha "Mamah" Borthwick.)

30 April, Clint adds: An interview with the author is available at: pP

17 March, 2010. From Paul and Bobbie Freshwater:

We're resubmitting a tome that didn't make the cut last season, but it made a profound impression on us:

1421, The year China Discovered America, by retired Royal Navy submarine commander Gavin Menzies. In the early fifteenth century, China's naval fleet was of a scale that was not surpassed until the late nineteenth century. Thousands of huge square-rigged ships, each with a complement of as many as 1,000 people, regularly plied the trade routes to India and East Africa. Under Admiral Zheng He, a Moslem from Western China and a eunich, the largest fleet ever assembled embarked on a voyage of discovery and political advancement which over the next three years involved the discovery and mapping of most of the planet, from Greenland to Australia, including all coasts of the Americas. The Chinese maps, many fashioned by a Genoese who sailed with the fleet for several years, became top secret property of the Portuguese Kings and were instrumental in the voyages of discovery to the New World by later explorers such as Columbus and Magellan. The Chinese fleet was then dismembered by politics, only to revive briefly under a new emperor in 1434, but that's another book. Vested historians dispute many of the author's claims, but a growing body of archeological and DNA evidence supports them. As China emerges as the world's next superpower, it is instructive to learn how it was when that behemoth last ruled the economic world and the waves while Europe languished in darkness.

17 March, 2010. Karen Powers writes:

Just finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. (for those with young children or grandchildren - early readers - Barrows is the author of the Ivy and Bean series...she helped her aunt Mary Ann finish the Guernsey book when auntie became ill).

This book takes place at the end of WWII and is totally written as correspondence to and from Islanders who went through the German occupation of Guernsey Island and an author from London who wants to write about their experiences. While the book is a novel, I learned a lot about that period of history and about the German occupation of this part of Great Britain, which I'm certain was only lightly mentioned in my school history classes.

Ginny Jamison adds: I would second the nomination of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It is a charming story and does give a perspective of the occupation of Guernsey by the Germans during World War II. I would be willing to lead the discussion if Karen does not want to.

Clint adds: A good site telling about Guernsy island, past and present and with a good map is at:

16 March, 2010. From Elaine Rysiewicz in Cincinnati

I would like to suggest that we read "THEM" by Joyce Carol Oates. This story is set in Detroit and centers on working class people as well as the elite of Grosse Pointe. This was Oates' first novel and propelled her into the limelight and onto her path as a major American writer. Although some of Oates' novels reached the best seller list, I believe she will reach acclaim as a writer of great literature.

I do warn the club members: Joyce Carol Oates is never an easy read. She is noted for her often brutal realism. However, her writing is superb and the issues she grapples with are important.

Perhaps this opening paragraph from a review help members to decide if they want to tackle this sometimes unnerving novel.

From a review at

"THEM is an example of Joyce Carol Oates at her best. It is a beautifully written book about a disturbing subject. Set in the turbulent '60s, it is an earthy depiction of a young woman's struggle to rise above the poverty and trauma of life. . .Her life is changed irrevocably by circumstances that are well beyond her control, and continue to affect her family through subsequent generations."

I would be willing to lead the discussion.

17 March, 2010. Sue Church nominates the following four titles:

Written 2,400 years ago by a great warrior and factor in creating China, This is a facinating book on military/political practice;" to win a hundred battles is not the height of skill, to subdue the enemy without fighting is". Pretty hot stuff, huh?

A meditation on loss with story focus on the building of the Aswan dam and St. Lawrence Seaway. I found it amazing prose and a different way of looking at some things. A romance besides!

Current anthropology about the Neanderthals. Interesting tracing their movement, skill in surviving in a harsh world, who and how they were. As non-fiction as anthropology can be.

A Scot travels from Harat to Kabul (his journal) and records, in lovely prose, the people, land, history of the area. A real feel fof being with him on this not very comfortable but completely facinating solo road trip.

Patricia Pelt "would like to second Sue's suggestion of The Places in Between."

18 March, 2010. Ginny Jamieson writes: Another book I recommend is Plato and Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Pholosophy through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein. "A sprightly crash course in philosophy, both enlightening nad laugh-out-loud funny." -Bas Bleu. The authors illustrate philosphical prinples with jokes in a way both funny and enlightening. I would be willing to lead the discussion.

On 8 April David Owens added:

I'd particularly like to second "Plato & Platypus". I know Dan Klein. He was in my class at Harvard. He and two other good friends from the class wrote a musical that was produced at our 40th Reunion. At that time his report said, "In my twenties and thirties I led a somewhat erratic, irresponsible, and, some would say, unstable life. .. People would ask me what the hell I was doing with my life? My defensive, gag reply was: I'm taking my retirement early while I can still enjoy it. Well, beware of what you desire, for you will surely get it. Which is to say there's no retirement in my future -- only my past." Then he wrote this best-seller!

Sounds like another classmate of ours who, in his 10th Reunion report said, "I have been eking out a living as a freelance writer, a profession about as practical as that of a baton twirler, a lamplighter, or a trolley-car conductor." His name was Peter Benchley, and shortly after this he wrote "Jaws"!

23 March, 2010. Marcia Mason nominates two titles:

I have finished reading two outstanding books by Ivan Doig. The Whistling Season is a fictional account of an early 20th century family in frontier Montana. It centers around a widower and his three sons who advertise for a housekeeper. The woman they get, along with her brother, (both from Wisconsin) doesn't cook, but she will clean. The story is funny, endearing and historical, and is a revealing account of life in a remote section of Montana. It is also an fascinating account of the happenings in a one-room schoolhouse under the tutelage of an unlikely teacher. (Don't want to give any more away.) Ivan Doig is such a magnificent wordsmith -- his writing style is very unique -- and the story is engaging and tender. (By the way, Joanne Bollinger recommended this book to me.)

I also read Doig's non-fiction memoir, This House of Sky, which tells about his life in Montana (his father was a sheep rancher) in the early twentieth century, and the reader can see how much his life was fodder for The Whistling Season. Doig was born in 1938, so he is a contemporary, and the way he tells his story makes it read like a novel. Again, its descriptive language is remarkable and engaging. Warning: I cried at the end.
Marcia Mason

24 March, 2010. Three more suggestions from Lesley DuTemple:

The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery is a wonderful book. Originally published in France, it follows the lives of 3 people in a luxury Parisian apartment building: a 12 year old girl, the concierge of the building, and a Japanese resident. It starts slow but very quickly soars. A quirky, unusual book.

Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel is this year's Man Booker prize winner, as well as the winner of the National Critics Circle award. It's historical fiction set in the time of Oliver Cromwell. It's dense on dialogue but really moves. Keeps you turning the pages!

Zero, by Charles Seife is a non-fiction account of the "discovery" of the number zero and it's place in mathematics, including the problems incurred as mathematicians (under the influence - orders?- of the church) tried to ignore its existence. Sounds duller than dirt, I know, but it's a fascinating book and not all that l