Join this group where a Palm Springs Library Reference Librarian leads a monthly book club meeting at the Mizell Senior Center.
The group meets the second Thursday of every month from 10:30 -11:30 a.m (September- June).
The Mizell Senior Center is located on the corner of Sunrise and Ramon at 480 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262. For more information go to www.mizell.org or call 760-323-5689.
2017 / 2018 Season
September 14, 2017 - The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg**
October 12, 2017 - A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline**
November 9, 2017 - The French Chef in America: Julia Child's Second Act by Alex Prud'homme**
December 14, 2017 - Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance**
January 11, 2018 - My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman**
February 8, 2018 - Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls**
March 8, 2018 - Ladies of the Canyons: A League of Extraordinary Women and Their Adventures in the American Southwest by Lesley Poling-Kempes**
April 12, 2018 - Welcome Back to Pie Town by Lynne Hinton**
May 10, 2018 - To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey**
June 14, 2018 - Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult**
September 14, 2017
The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg**
—The bestselling author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is at her superb best in this fun-loving, moving novel about what it means to be truly alive.
—New York Times Bestseller
—Southern Book Prize Winner
Elmwood Springs, Missouri, is a small town like any other, but something strange is happening at the cemetery. Still Meadows, as it’s called, is anything but still. Original, profound, The Whole Town’s Talking, a novel in the tradition of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town and Flagg’s own Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven, tells the story of Lordor Nordstrom, his Swedish mail-order bride, Katrina, and their neighbors and descendants as they live, love, die, and carry on in mysterious and surprising ways.
Lordor Nordstrom created, in his wisdom, not only a lively town and a prosperous legacy for himself but also a beautiful final resting place for his family, friends, and neighbors yet to come. “Resting place” turns out to be a bit of a misnomer, however. Odd things begin to happen, and it starts the whole town talking.
With her wild imagination, great storytelling, and deep understanding of folly and the human heart, the beloved Fannie Flagg tells an unforgettable story of life, afterlife, and the remarkable goings-on of ordinary people. In The Whole Town’s Talking, she reminds us that community is vital, life is a gift, and love never dies.
A witty multigenerational saga . . . [Fannie] Flagg’s down-home wisdom, her affable humor and her long view of life offer a pleasant respite in nerve-jangling times.—People
Fannie Flagg at her best.—The Florida Times-Union
If there’s one thing Fannie Flagg can do better than anybody else, it’s tell a story, and she outdoes herself in The Whole Town’s Talking. . . . Brilliant . . . equally on the level as her famous Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.—The Newport Plain Talk
Delightful.—The Washington Post
A ringing affirmation of love, community and life itself.—Richmond Times-Dispatch
October 12, 2017
A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline**
—From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the smash bestseller Orphan Train, a stunning and atmospheric novel of friendship, passion, and art, inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious and iconic painting Christina’s World.
To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century.
As she did in her beloved smash bestseller Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline interweaves fact and fiction in a powerful novel that illuminates a little-known part of America’s history. Bringing into focus the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, she vividly imagines the life of a woman with a complicated relationship to her family and her past, and a special bond with one of our greatest modern artists.
Told in evocative and lucid prose, A Piece of the World is a story about the burdens and blessings of family history, and how artist and muse can come together to forge a new and timeless legacy.
November 9, 2017
The French Chef in America: Julia Child's Second Act
by Alex Prud'homme**
—The enchanting story of Julia Child's years as TV personality and beloved cookbook author—a sequel in spirit to My Life in France—by her great-nephew
Julia Child is synonymous with French cooking, but her legacy runs much deeper. Now, her great-nephew and My Life in France coauthor vividly recounts the myriad ways in which she profoundly shaped how we eat today. He shows us Child in the aftermath of the publication of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, suddenly finding herself America's first lady of French food and under considerable pressure to embrace her new mantle. We see her dealing with difficult colleagues and the challenges of fame, ultimately using her newfound celebrity to create what would become a totally new type of food television. Every bit as entertaining, inspiring, and delectable as My Life in France, The French Chef in America uncovers Julia Child beyond her "French chef" persona and reveals her second act to have been as groundbreaking and adventurous as her first.
December 14, 2017
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance**
—#1 New York Times Bestseller
You will not read a more important book about America this year.—The Economist
A riveting book.—The Wall Street Journal
Essential reading.—David Brooks, New York Times
From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, comes a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class
Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.
The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.
But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.
A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.
January 11, 2018
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman**
—A charming, warmhearted novel from the author of the New York Times bestseller A Man Called Ove.
Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy—as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-strangers crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.
When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s instructions lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is told with the same comic accuracy and beating heart as Fredrik Backman’s bestselling debut novel, A Man Called Ove. It is a story about life and death and one of the most important human rights: the right to be different.
February 8, 2018
Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls**
Jeannette Walls's The Glass Castle was "nothing short of spectacular" (Entertainment Weekly). Now she brings us the story of her grandmother—told in a voice so authentic and compelling that the book is destined to become an instant classic.
"Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did." So begins the story of Lily Casey Smith, in Jeannette Walls's magnificent, true-life novel based on her no-nonsense, resourceful, hard working, and spectacularly compelling grandmother. By age six, Lily was helping her father break horses. At fifteen, she left home to teach in a frontier town—riding five hundred miles on her pony, all alone, to get to her job. She learned to drive a car ("I loved cars even more than I loved horses. They didn't need to be fed if they weren't working, and they didn't leave big piles of manure all over the place") and fly a plane, and, with her husband, ran a vast ranch in Arizona. She raised two children, one of whom is Jeannette's memorable mother, Rosemary Smith Walls, unforgettably portrayed in The Glass Castle.
Lily survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and the most heartbreaking personal tragedy. She bristled at prejudice of all kinds—against women, Native Americans, and anyone else who didn't fit the mold. Half Broke Horses is Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults, as riveting and dramatic as Isak Dinesen's Out of Africa or Beryl Markham's West with the Night. It will transfix readers everywhere.
March 8, 2018
Ladies of the Canyons: A League of Extraordinary Women and Their Adventures in the American Southwest by Lesley Poling-Kempes**
—WILLA Literary Award, 2016
—Western Writers of America Spur Award finalist
Ladies of the Canyons is the true story of remarkable women who left the security and comforts of genteel Victorian society and journeyed to the American Southwest in search of a wider view of themselves and their world.
Educated, restless, and inquisitive, Natalie Curtis, Carol Stanley, Alice Klauber, and Mary Cabot Wheelwright were plucky, intrepid women whose lives were transformed in the first decades of the twentieth century by the people and the landscape of the American Southwest. Part of an influential circle of women that included Louisa Wade Wetherill, Alice Corbin Henderson, Mabel Dodge Luhan, Mary Austin, and Willa Cather, these ladies imagined and created a new home territory, a new society, and a new identity for themselves and for the women who would follow them.
Their adventures were shared with the likes of Theodore Roosevelt and Robert Henri, Edgar Hewett and Charles Lummis, Chief Tawakwaptiwa of the Hopi, and Hostiin Klah of the Navajo. Their journeys took them to Monument Valley and Rainbow Bridge, into Canyon de Chelly, and across the high mesas of the Hopi, down through the Grand Canyon, and over the red desert of the Four Corners, to the pueblos along the Rio Grande and the villages in the mountains between Santa Fe and Taos.
Although their stories converge in the outback of the American Southwest, the saga of Ladies of the Canyons is also the tale of Boston's Brahmins, the Greenwich Village avant-garde, the birth of American modern art, and Santa Fe's art and literary colony.
April 12, 2018
Welcome Back to Pie Town by Lynne Hinton**
Reading Hinton’s light, quickly moving prose feels like sitting down to catch up with an old friend over coffee.
—New Mexico Magazine
Lynne Hinton of Friendship Cake fame delighted readers everywhere when she invited them to experience the simple joys and small triumphs of the endearing residents of Pie Town—a tiny New Mexico community once renowned for its unsurpassable baked desserts. And now, Welcome Back to Pie Town for a second slice of small-town life, as sweet and tasty as the first. The recently rejuvenated Pie Town is a tiny speck of heaven on earth for most of its inhabitants, but not for one recently returned veteran of the war in Afghanistan, who now feels ill at ease and out of place—and it will take the love of a good woman and the support of the whole town to truly bring him back home again. As an extra added treat, Welcome Back to Pie Town features recipes from the novel…for mouth-watering pies, of course.
May 10, 2018
To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey**
—One of the Best Books of 2016 (Amazon)
—A Washington Post Notable Book of 2016
—A Library Journal Top 10 Book of 2016
—An atmospheric, transporting tale of adventure, love, and survival from the bestselling author of The Snow Child, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
In the winter of 1885, decorated war hero Colonel Allen Forrester leads a small band of men on an expedition that has been deemed impossible: to venture up the Wolverine River and pierce the vast, untamed Alaska Territory. Leaving behind Sophie, his newly pregnant wife, Colonel Forrester records his extraordinary experiences in hopes that his journal will reach her if he doesn't return—once he passes beyond the edge of the known world, there's no telling what awaits him.
The Wolverine River Valley is not only breathtaking and forbidding but also terrifying in ways that the colonel and his men never could have imagined. As they map the territory and gather information on the native tribes, whose understanding of the natural world is unlike anything they have ever encountered, Forrester and his men discover the blurred lines between human and wild animal, the living and the dead. And while the men knew they would face starvation and danger, they cannot escape the sense that some greater, mysterious force threatens their lives.
Meanwhile, on her own at Vancouver Barracks, Sophie chafes under the social restrictions and yearns to travel alongside her husband. She does not know that the winter will require as much of her as it does her husband, that both her courage and faith will be tested to the breaking point. Can her exploration of nature through the new art of photography help her to rediscover her sense of beauty and wonder?
The truths that Allen and Sophie discover over the course of that fateful year change both of their lives—and the lives of those who hear their stories long after they're gone—forever.
June 14, 2018
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult**
—#1 New York Times Bestseller
—Soon to be a Major Motion Picture
Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?
Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.
With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.