Fiction Reading Group Picks from Quail Ridge Books & Music

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I just got back from the Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh, NC. Two Book Club Bashes -- what fun! Nancy Olson, the owner, and her crack staff have two book clubs events discussing their book club picks of the season. Wine and cheese are provided at the night event and coffee and doughnuts at the morning event. At the end of the programs, book clubs members talked abot some of their selections of the past year -- some good and some  not so good. Over 100 reading group members at each program -- got to love that. Great food, great books, and great conversation.

Favorite PicksThe staff had excellent choices! Here are the fiction reading group picks.

Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese. A big, beautitul, ambitious novel set in Ethiopia and the world of a mission hospital. History, politics, medicine (lots of medicine) and several love stories are combined skillfully in this epic story. The plot follows the lives of twin boys, Shiva and Marion, at Missing Hospital in Addis Ababa. Some of the medical scenes are easily as exciting as a James Bond car chase.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. An innocent love between a young Chinese American and a Japanese American that begins in pre-war Seattle, transcends the prejudices the Old World and drives them to make promises to each other to help them get through the intemment.

Pictures at an Exhibition by Sara Houghteling. A fictional account of the Nazis' theft of art from the homes and galleries of Paris.

Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan. O'Nan takes us gracefully and thoughfully into the worlds of a missing child's family, friends and community. He dwells much less on gief than on the ways in which people's relationships and senses of themselves are affected.

The Spare Room by Helen Gamer. A long-time friendship between two elderly women is sorely tested when one is sticken with cancer and comes to stay with her friend while she receives altemative treatment at a clinic. As the visit lengthens and the clinic is revealed to use questionable methods, the hostess' patienceand hospitality wear thin, causing her to doubt her ability to care for someone in such denial. Short and powerful.

The Sweet In-Between by Sheri Reynolds. Kenny Lugo is approaching her l8th birthday with more than usual coming-of-age stress. Her dad's in prison, she's struggling over her sexual identity and self-worth, and she's being raised by her dad's girlfriend. Once the government support checks stop, will all that Kenny knows of family also end? Sheri Reynolds finds nuggets of humanity in some of the roughest-around-the-edges characters.

This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. Take four adult children and their eccentric mother, and put them together for seven days in one house while they sit Shiva for their father. This darkly comic novel brilliantly explores the complexity of relationships and the power of the past to rule the present.

We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. A brilliant, literary page-turner in which a wife and mother writes a series of compelling and introspective letters to her estranged husband dissecting her married life and her mothering of son Kevin ard daughter Celia in the aftermath of Kevin's Columbine-ike slaying of nine people in his high school. Guaranteed to provoke meaningful discussion.

I will post QR's nonfiction and YA titles in a later post.

Thanks to all at QR and the awesome reading groups in the Raleigh area.  

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