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We will begun discussion of our book selection starting in January 2009. feel free to pass along your suggestions for July-December 2009 The selection so far is as follows.


January Book of the month to read:

Memiors of a Geisha
Open discussion begins on February 1, 2009


February Books of the month to read:

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Open discussion begins on March 1, 2009

The River Where Blood is Born by Sandra Jackson-Opoku
Open discussion begins on March 15, 2009


March Book of the month:

Mutant Message Down Under by Marlo Morgan
Open discussion begins on April 1, 2009


April book of the month:

Kingston by Starlight by Christopher John Farley
Open discussion begins on May 1, 2009

May book of the month:

Madras on Rainy Days by Samina Ali
Open discussion begins on June 1, 2009


Summarys of Books of the Month

January Book of the month to read:
Memiors of a Geisha
(Open discussion begins on February 1, 2009

According to Arthur Golden's absorbing first novel, the
word "geisha" does not mean "prostitute," as Westerners ignorantly
assume--it means "artisan" or "artist." To capture the geisha
experience in the art of fiction, Golden trained as long and hard as
any geisha who must master the arts of music, dance, clever
conversation, crafty battle with rival beauties, and cunning
seduction of wealthy patrons. After earning degrees in Japanese art
and history from Harvard and Columbia--and an M.A. in English--he
met a man in Tokyo who was the illegitimate offspring of a renowned
businessman and a geisha. This meeting inspired Golden to spend 10
years researching every detail of geisha culture, chiefly relying on
the geisha Mineko Iwasaki, who spent years charming the very rich
and famous.

The result is a novel with the broad social canvas (and love of
coincidence) of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen's intense attention
to the nuances of erotic maneuvering. Readers experience the entire
life of a geisha, from her origins as an orphaned fishing-village
girl in 1929 to her triumphant auction of her mizuage (virginity)
for a record price as a teenager to her reminiscent old age as the
distinguished mistress of the powerful patron of her dreams. We
discover that a geisha is more analogous to a Western "trophy wife"
than to a prostitute--and, as in Austen, flat-out prostitution and
early death is a woman's alternative to the repressive, arcane
system of courtship. In simple, elegant prose, Golden puts us right
in the tearoom with the geisha; we are there as she gracefully
fights for her life in a social situation where careers are made or
destroyed by a witticism, a too-revealing or not revealing enough.


February Books of the month to read:

About Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
(Open discussion begins on March 1, 2009

In a style that is epic in scope yet intensely personal in focus,
Laura Esquivel's Like Water For Chocolate tells the story of Tita De
La Garza, the youngest daughter in a family living in Mexico at the
turn of the twentieth century. Through twelve chapters, each marked
as a "monthly installment" and thus labeled with the months of the
year, we learn of Tita's struggle to pursue true love and claim her
independence. Each installment features a recipe to begin each
chapter. The structure of Like Water For Chocolate is wholly
dependent on these recipes, as the main episodes of each chapter
generally involve the preparation or consumption of the dishes that
these recipes yield. The details of additional secondary recipes are
woven throughout the narrative.

Like Water For Chocolate tells the story of Tita De La Garza, the
youngest daughter in a family living in Mexico at the turn of the
twentieth century. Tita's love, Pedro Muzquiz, comes to the family's
ranch to ask for Tita's hand in marriage. Because Tita is the
youngest daughter she is forbidden by a family tradition upheld by
her tyrannical mother, Mama Elena, to marry. Pedro marries Tita's
oldest sister, Rosaura, instead, but declares to his father that he
has only married Rosaura to remain close to Tita. Rosaura and Pedro
live on the family ranch, offering Pedro contact with Tita. When
Tita cooks a special meal with the petals of a rose given to her by
Pedro, the still-fiery force of their love (transmitted through the
food) has an intense effect on Mama Elena's second daughter,
Gertrudis, who is whipped into a lustful state and flees the ranch
in the arms of a revolutionary soldier. Meanwhile, Rosaura gives
birth to a son, who is delivered by Tita. Tita treats her nephew,
Roberto, as if he were her own child, to the point that she is able
to produce breast milk to feed him while her sister is dry.



About The River Where Blood is Born by Sandra Jackson-Opoku
(Open discussion begins on March 15, 2009

This astonishing novel takes us on a journey along the river of one
family's history, carving a course across two centuries and three
continents, from ancient Africa into today's America. Here, through
the lives of Mother Africa's many daughters, we come to understand
the real meaning of roots: the captive Proud Mary, who has been
savagely punished for refusing to relinquish her child to slavery;
Earlene, who witnesses her father's murder at the hands of the Ku
Klux Klan; Big Momma, a modern-day matriarch who can make a woman of
a girl; proud and sassy Cinnamon Brown, whose wild abandon hides a
bitter loss; and smart, ambitious Alma, who is torn between the love
of a man and the song of her soul.

In The River Where Blood Is Born, the seen and unseen worlds are
seamlessly joined--the spirit realms where the great river goddess
and ancestor mothers watch over the lives of their descendants, both
the living and those not yet born. Stringing beads of destiny, they
work to lead one daughter back to her source. But what must Alma
sacrifice to honor the River Mother's call?


March Book of the month
Mutant Message Down Under by Marlo Morgan
(Open discussion begins on April 1, 2009

This incredible adventure story — and New York Times bestseller —
offers us an opportunity to discover the wisdom of an ancient
culture and to hear its compelling message.

An American woman is summoned by a remote tribe of nomadic
Aboriginals who call themselves "the Real People" to accompany them
on a four-month-long walkabout through the Outback. While traveling
barefoot with them through 1,400 miles of rugged desert terrain, she
learns a new way of life, including their methods of healing, based
on the wisdom of a 50,000-year-old culture. Ultimately, she
experiences a dramatic personal transformation.

Mutant Message Down Under recounts a unique, timely, and powerful
life-enhancing message for all humankind: It is not too late to save
our world from destruction if we realize that all living things — be
they plants, animals, or human beings — are part of the same
universal oneness. If we heed this message, our lives, like the
lives of the Real People, can be filled with this great sense of
purpose.



April book of the month
Kingston by Starlight by Christopher John Farley
(Open discussion begins on May 1, 2009

Irish-born Anne Bonny is only a teenager when she is left destitute
by her mother's death. Abandoned by her father, she seems destined
to be forgotten by the world. But Anne chooses to seek her fortune
in the lush tropics of the colonial West Indies, where she passes
herself off as a young man named Bonn. She finds work as a ship's
hand, sailing under the command of Calico Jack Rackam, a notorious
and charismatic pirate with a bounty on his head. Calico Jack has
his heart set on raiding the Madrid Galleon, the richest ship in the
Caribbean, which sails from Kingston laden with Cuban gold and
Jamaican rum.

Bonn is entranced by the sea and by the ship's violent crew, which
includes a mysterious swordfighter named Read, who, it turns out,
has a secret life of his own. Calico Jack soon discovers Bonn's and
Read's true identities, but it is only when the three pirates are
captured that their darkest secrets begin to surface. In the shadow
of the gallows, a strange twist of fate reveals a shocking betrayal
that may save Bonn from death, while permanently changing everything
she has known about her past and the world around her.

Gorgeously written and full of mystery, intrigue, and startling
revelations about gender, race, history, and the human heart,
Kingston by Starlight is a once-in-a-lifetime read.



May book of the month
Madras on Rainy Days by Samina Ali
(Open discussion begins on June 1, 2009

In the heat and clamor of the ancient city of Hyderabad, Layla and
her mother, their faces veiled behind chadors, rush through the
city's narrow alleys. It is two days before Layla's marriage to a
man she hardly knows, and the family is in crisis. Layla has begun
to defy the union the family has so carefully arranged for her.

Convinced her daughter must be possessed, Amme forces her to visit
an alim, a mystic healer, reputed to see the truth despite his
blindness. Whether the alim glimpses the true nature of Layla's
demon is unclear. But she soon realizes that she has no choice but
to deny the freedoms she has known in America and submit to the
marriage. If she doesn't, she will be banished from her family and
everything she knows.

Her husband is a handsome, ambitious engineer, and to Layla's
surprise, he provides her with exactly what she has yearned for: a
home. Yet on their honeymoon in Madras, as the monsoon rains drum
ceaselessly down outside, the air in the hotel room suddenly swirls
thick with long-buried secrets.

In this finely observed debut novel, Samina Ali intimately explores
a girl's journey to self-possession. Ali's haunting prose and richly
drawn characters lay bare the complex and hidden world behind the
veil. Madras on Rainy Days is a dazzling performance by an arresting
new voice.

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