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Whatcha Reading List, 2011-12

22 September, 2011. And the first with a report is none other than Sue Church: A book I read and liked is Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. Winner of National Book Award, Amazon's "Best Book of the Year," "One of the most electic, profound novels in years" New York Times. Hard to tell about it as it is a story and more and an easy moving book.

31 October, 2011. Elaine Wildman writes: Two interesting books (in addition to all the mental candy of mysteries).

The Big Thirst by Charles Fishman is one more book on water. a topic of interest. Although it contains amazing technical information about water stored in rocks deep below the earth's surface and how water for cleaning microchips must be cleaned to such an extent it's not safe to drink, it reads easily because of imaginative use of metaphors to describe processes. In dealing with shortages (unbelievable Australian drought, for example), he does come down on the side of using Great Lakes water in other parts of the country.

Madame Tussaud by Michel Moran is fascinating historical fiction dealing with the French Revolution and why the artist moved later to London to start a gallery there. The setting is her "uncle's" gallery in Paris as the revolt is gathering and we meet Robspierre, Marat and others who meet in a weekly solon upstairs. She straddled two worlds as a modeling tutor to a member of the royal family and creator of death masks from severed heads. The Reign of Terror is depicted through individual experiences. The bloodbath that followed the noble desire for freedom is horrifying .

11 November, 2011: Paul LaVanway writes: Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner won the 1972 Pulitzer Prize. I picked it up following its being mentioned in Bookmarks magazine as one of their all-time favorites. The novel is contemporary American fiction centering on marriage and the U.S. West in the last half of the 19th century. The story is full of complex characters and relationships and is thought provoking. The volume is chock-full of marvelous prose, however---please be advised----it is a slow progressing story; this is definitley not a "light, quick read." (Clint adds: I've read this. Wasn't it a EHBG selection years ago?)

11 November, 2011: I'm currently reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lack by Rebecca Skloot . This amazing black women is indeed immortal in that cells grown from those extracted from her body in 1951 thrive in research laboratories all over the world. Known as He La cells they are key in thousands of diverse investigations. In addition to the medical history this is a story of the shameful Jim Crow days in the U.S. South. Clint Thomas

13 December, 2011: Jack Marta lists three titles he's read and a fourth one he's reading.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. A WW II story of survival, resilience and redemption. About Louis Zamperini, world class runner from Calif. Childhood, athletics and trials as a prisoner of war in Pacific theater. E-book. On the NYT best seller list.

Thirty Rooms to Hide In by Luke Longstreet Sullivan. Subtitled “Insanity, Addiction, and Rock’n’Roll in the Shadow of the Mayo Clinic. A recollection of his childhood with a ‘raging alcoholic’ father who was an orthopedic surgeon at the Mayo Clinic. 1950s-1960s. 310 pages. Paperback and e-reader. (Clint notes: (The title above, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lack, also mentions questionable events at Mayo in 1951.)

The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat. A WW II novel to the North Atlantic in WW II. First published in 1951. British ships versus Nazi U-boats. 510 pages. Probably more appealing to men.

Reading: 11th Month, 11th Day, 11th Hour by Joseph E. Persico. WW I, before it started and through to its end. 456 pages.Jack Marta