BOOK CLUBS RECOMMEND
Reading Suggestions from Book Clubs
The Reading Moms of Antioch, California, recommend:
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (originally published 1934, Harper, 2011), Mystery, 288 pages
"We paired Murder on the Orient Express with Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers. The books were chosen because we learned that the two authors were contemporaries and there was a gentle rivalry between them. Most of us felt this was a good pairing but favored Murder on the Orient Express.
"We discussed Agatha Christie's use of newsworthy topics of the time period, such as Lindbergh's baby kidnapping being the
model for the book's kidnapping. We were turned off by the put down of women and the derogatory comments in Strong Poison, such as 'he's Italian so he is hot tempered' (not PC for today's readers!) We preferred the outcome of the story Murder on the Orient Express over that of Strong Poison: not just one person was responsible - it was a group effort and each person had his or her own reason for wanting the victim dead. We played the 1974 movie version of Murder on the Orient Express directed by Sidney Lumet during the meeting."
Paired with: "Our hostess treated the group to an amazing tour of European cuisine. For appetizers: From England, tea sandwiches, including English cucumber with mint cream cheese on sourdough and Scottish smoked salmon with chive cream cheese on pumpernickel. From Paris, pâté de campagne with water crackers and cornichons. From Milan, an antipasto platter with sweet and hot sopressata salami, marinated mozzarella balls on a bed of fresh basil leaves, marinated artichoke hearts and giardeniera. From Vincovci in Croatia, potato pancakes with Lesco (Hungarian relish). From Lausanne (Switzerland), Swiss cheese and white wine fondue with baguette cubes. From Stamboul (Turkey), dolmas (rice and herbs in grape leaves) with raita (yogurt dip). For dinner, a poulet en casserole (chicken thighs browned in bacon and stewed with potatoes, turnips and carrots), mushy peas and Yorkshire puddings. For dessert, traditional British trifle, Belgian chocolates and Turkish Delight."
Buttery Books Book Club of D'Hanis, Texas, recommends:
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (Originally published in 1943; Harper Perennial, 1998), Fiction, 496 pages
"We include several classics throughout the year in our book club discussion and we all loved this American classic. Everyone needs to read this novel at some point!
"Like the Tree of Heaven described in the book -- a tree that managed to grow out of rubbish heaps and cement in the tenement districts, Francie Nolan is a young girl growing up poor in Brooklyn in the early 1900s determined to thrive and make a better life for herself. We discussed the significance of the little can nailed to the floor in the Nolans' closet. We compared Francie's self-sacrificing mother to her incompetent, but heart in the right place father. We especially loved the fishing story.
"We explored what made Francie so different from so many of the other children in her circumstances and the struggle of immigrants to integrate into American society. We were inspired by Francie's love of reading and writing and her wonderful imagination that helped her through her tough childhood.
"We played Cheap Charlie's 'pick for your penny' game (in the story, the candy store owner lets boy picks a prize bag for a penny). The majority of us ended up with a bag of candy, but one lucky winner received a copy of The Brooklyn Cookbook."
Paired with: "The novel-inspired menu was a hit. Early in the novel, the Nolans had a nice dinner, a holiday pot roast. Instead of doing a traditional roast we opted for a beef stew recipe because it was easier to prepare and serve for a large group and was essentially the same idea as a roast. The pot roast was served with egg noodles which we also served.
"We served smashed berry pie because the Nolans would purchase the cheaper smashed pies from the baker, and bread pudding, which was also served in the novel. Jewish rye bread was served with the stew because Francie's mother would specify buying this bread. For appetizers, a rustic American themed meat/cheese tray. For drinks, two Irish beers, and the infamous milk punch which the Nolans drank on New Year's Eve! You can read more about our book club party here."
More New Book Recommendations
Away by Amy Bloom
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Into the Forest by Jean Hegland
Little Heathens by Mildred Armstrong Kalish
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom