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Book Discussion Groups

Second Mondays, 7:00 p.m.
December 13 Made for Each Other
Last Mondays, 7:00 p.m.
November 29 Shanghai Girls
December 27 Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
First Thursdays, 2:00 p.m.
December 2 Farewell My Subaru

Second Mondays, 7:00 PM

December 13 Made for Each Other by Meg Olmert
Many people will attest to the happiness pets bring, but few are aware of the neurochemical basis. In one of those synergistic books that tie together threads of science, history, and everyday life, Olmert explains the evolutionary processes behind what E. O. Wilson calls biophilia, our love and need for animals. The complex story begins with the hormone oxytocin. First identified as the agent for labor contractions and breast-feeding, oxytocin is now recognized as the biological factor in social bonding. The beneficial oxytocin-enhancing chemistry makes possible the close bonds between humans and horses, cattle, and cats. Studies proving the remarkable therapeutic effects of pets bolster Olmert’s assertion that our close relationships with other species are necessary for our well-being.


Last Mondays, 7:00 PM

November 29 Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
May and Pearl, two sisters living in Shanghai in the mid-1930s, are beautiful, sophisticated, and well-educated, but their family is on the verge of bankruptcy. Hoping to improve their social standing, May and Pearl’s parents arrange for their daughters to marry “Gold Mountain men” who have come from Los Angeles to find brides. But when the sisters leave China and arrive at Angel’s Island (the Ellis Island of the West)--where they are detained, interrogated, and humiliated for months--they feel the harsh reality of leaving home. And when May discovers she’s pregnant the situation becomes even more desperate. The sisters make a pact that no one can ever know.

December 27 Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Ford's debut novel concerns Henry Lee, a Chinese-American in Seattle who, in 1986, has just lost his wife to cancer. After Henry hears that the belongings of Japanese immigrants interned during WWII have been found in the basement of the Panama Hotel, the narrative shuttles between 1986 and the 1940s in a story that chronicles the losses of old age and the bewilderment of youth. Henry recalls the difficulties of life in America during WWII, when he and his Japanese-American school friend, Keiko, wandered through wartime Seattle. Keiko and her family are later interned in a camp, and Henry, horrified by America's anti-Japanese hysteria, is further conflicted because of his Chinese father's anti-Japanese sentiment.



First Thursdays, 2:00 PM

December 2 Farewell My Subaru by Doug Fine
Like many Americans, Doug Fine enjoys his creature comforts, but he also knows full well they keep him addicted to oil. So he wonders: Is it possible to keep his Netflix and his car, his Wi-Fi and his subwoofers, and still reduce his carbon footprint? In an attempt to find out, Fine moves to a remote ranch in New Mexico, where he brazenly vows to grow his own food, use sunlight to power his world, and drive on restaurant grease. Never mind that he has no farming, mechanical or electrical skills. Whether installing solar panels, defending goats he found on Craigslist against coyotes, or co-opting waste oil from a local restaurant to fill the tank in his Ridiculously Oversized American Truck, Fine's undertaking makes one thing clear: It ain't easy being green. In fact, his journey uncovers a slew of surprising facts about alternative energy, organic and locally grown food, and climate change.


updated: 11/22/2010