Library sets ‘Sonoma Reads’ books, dates

The Sonoma Valley Regional Library hosts “Sonoma Reads” book discussions for 2014.

The group meets monthly at 2 p.m. in the library’s Forum Room, see the schedule below for exact dates. All discussions are free and open to the public.

The book selections include both fiction and non-fiction titles chosen by a committee of librarians from throughout Sonoma County.

Wendy Byrd, a participant from the 2013 book discussions, said, “Discussing a book makes reading more pleasurable and interesting. Hearing diverse points of view and reactions to the book is fun, enlightening and sometimes lively.”

The books are available for check-out from the library a month in advance. Contact Lisa Musgrove at 996-5217 or lmusgrove@sonoma.lib.ca.us, or see the website, sonomalibrary.org/bookgroup/Sonoma_spring.html for more information. This program is supported by the Sonoma County Library Foundation.

The books the club will discuss include:

• Thursday, Jan. 23 : “Rules of Civility” by Amor Towles. “Two worlds collide on New Year’s Eve 1937, and three lives will never be the same. For Katey Kontent and Eve Ross, two working gals out on the town, a chance encounter with patrician banker Tinker Grey sets into motion a series of events causing far-reaching consequences. As Towles explores the seemingly random ways in which both choice and chance can impact the future, Katey, Eve, and Tinker each face a dark night of the soul, during which fates are twisted, reshaped, and realigned.” – Booklist.

• Wednesday, Feb. 26: “Quiet: The Power of Introverts,” by Susan Cain. “Cain ... is a self-described introvert who threw herself into the competitive, extrovert-friendly worlds of Harvard Law School and a Wall Street corporate law practice. In her book, she argues that contemplative introverts get a bum rap in our culture, which favors the outgoing, alpha-dog, risk-taking, group-oriented extrovert. ‘Extroversion is an enormously appealing personality style,’ she writes, ‘but we’ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform.’” – Cleveland Plain Dealer.

• Thursday, March 27: “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail,” by Cheryl Strayed. “Cheryl Strayed’s life was falling apart in 1995 when she stumbled upon a guidebook to something she had never heard of – the Pacific Crest Trail. The PCT, as it is known to devotees, is a hiking trail that winds its way from Mexico to Canada for 2,600 miles, from desert to rain forest and passing through two of North America’s great mountain ranges, the Sierra Nevada and the Cascades .... vivid, touching and ultimately inspiring account of a life unraveling and of the journey that put it back together.” – Michael J. Ybarra, Wall Street Journal.

• Thursday, April 24: “The Immortal Life of Henriette Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot. ‘“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ is a biography of the eponymous heroine and her offspring. There are her children, and their children, all reared in poverty and too often without health insurance. Lacks’s world-changing cells, meanwhile, have been lavished with attention and money by scientists around the globe for nearly twice her lifetime. The story raises questions about bioethics and leaves a reader wondering who should benefit from scientific research and how it should be conducted. In the words of Lacks’s youngest daughter, Deborah, ‘If our mother cells done so much for medicine, how come her family can’t afford to see no doctors?’” – Eric Roston, The Washington Post.

• Thursday, May 22: “God’s Hotel,” by Victoria Sweet. “More than 20 years ago, Dr. Victoria Sweet arrived at San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital, intending to stay for a brief time. ... At Laguna Honda, lower-tech but human-paced, Sweet had the opportunity to practice a kind of ‘slow medicine’ that has almost vanished, and falling under the hospital’s spell, she decided to stay. Gradually, her remarkable patients transformed the way she understood medicine.” – from the publisher.

• Thursday, Sept. 25: “The Cat’s Table,” by Michael Ondaatje. “In ‘The Cat’s Table,’ Ondaatje seems to lead the reader on a journey through three deeply submerged weeks in his own memory – from the year 1954, when, at age 11, he traveled on the ocean liner Oronsay from Colombo, in what was then Ceylon, to England, a passage that would lead him from his past to his future self. As the novel opens, prominent passengers are granted seats at the captain’s table, but young Michael (nicknamed Mynah) and the two boys he befriends, Cassius (a troublemaker) and Ramadhin (a contemplative asthmatic), are relegated to a table of dubious characters: a mute tailor, a retired ship dismantler, a pianist who has ‘hit the skids,’ a botanist and a lady who hides pigeons in the pockets of her jacket, and reads thrillers in her deck chair, flinging them overboard when they bore her. It’s the pigeon lady who remarks that theirs is ‘the cat’s table’ since ‘we’re in the least privileged place.’ This turns out to be a matter of perspective …” – Liesl Schillinger, New York Times Sunday Book Review.

• Thursday, Oct. 23: “Beautiful Ruins,” by Jess Walker. “Hollywood operators and creative washouts collide across five decades and two continents in a brilliant, madcap meditation on fate … A theme that bubbles under the story is the variety of ways real life energizes great art – Walter intersperses excerpts from his characters’ plays, memoirs, film treatments and novels to show how their pasts inform their best work. Unlikely coincidences abound, but they feel less like plot contrivances than ways to serve a broader theme about how the unlikely, unplanned moments in our lives are the most meaningful ones.” – Kirkus.

• Thursday, Nov. 20: “State of Wonder,” by Ann Patchett. ‘“State of Wonder,’ Patchett’s sixth novel, is a riveting variation on that tightly plotted journey from darkness to light. The novel traces the steps of 42-year-old Marina Singh, pharmacologist at the Vogel Pharmaceutical Company in Eden Prairie, Minn. Marina makes her way to a place deep in the bowels of the jungle, ‘somewhere on a tributary off the Rio Negro’ in Brazil, and then must fight her way back home to the bright, frozen landscape of Eden Prairie. Part scientific thriller, part engaging personal odyssey, ‘State of Wonder’ is a suspenseful jungle adventure with an unexpected ending and other assorted surprises.” –Laura Ciolkowski, Chicago Tribune.