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ADULT BOOK CLUB

JANUARY 18

Unstoppable by Joshua Greene

Unstoppable is the ultimate immigrant story and an epic David-and-Goliath adventure.  While American teens were socializing in ice cream parlors, Siggi was suffering beatings by Nazi hoodlums for being a Jew and was soon deported along with his family to the darkest place the world has ever known:  Auschwitz.  Siggi used his wits to stay alive, pretending to have trade skills the Nazis could exploit to run the camp.  After two death marches and near starvation, he was liberated and went to work for the US Army hunting Nazis, a service that earned him a visa to America.  On arrival, he made three vows:  to never go hungry again, to support the Jewish people, and to speak out against injustice.  He earned his first dollar shoveling snow after a fierce blizzard.  His next job was laboring in toxic sweatshops.  From these humble beginnings, he became President, Chairman and CEO of a New York Stock Exchange-listed oil company and grew a full-service commercial bank to more than $4 billion in assets.  

FEBRUARY 15

    

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter   (Fiction based on a true story)

It is the spring of 1939 and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows closer in their hometown of Radom, Poland.  Soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable and the Kurcs will be flung to the far corners of the world.  As one sibling is forced into exile, another attempts to flee the continent, while others struggle to escape certain death, either by working grueling hours on empty stomachs in the factories of the ghetto or by hiding as gentiles in plain sight.  Driven by an unwavering will to survive and by the fear that they may never see one another again, the Kurcs must rely on hope, ingenuity, and inner strength to persevere.

MARCH 15

Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft by Thor Heyerdahl  (Non-Fiction)

Kon-Tiki is the record of an astonishing adventure across the Pacific Ocean. Intrigued by Polynesian folklore, biologist Thor Heyerdahl suspected that the South Sea Islands had been settled by an ancient race from thousands of miles to the east. He decided to prove his theory by building a boat using the materials that would have been available to those pre-Columbian sailors and duplicating their legendary voyage. On April 28, 1947, Heyerdahl and five other adventurers sailed from Peru on a raft built from balsa wood, bamboo and hemp. After three months and 4,300 nautical miles on the open sea, they sighted land - the Polynesian island of Puka Puka. Translated into 65 languages, Kon-Tiki is a classic inspiring tale of daring and courage - a magnificent saga of men against the sea.

APRIL 19

Home by Marilyn Robinson  (Fiction)

Glory Boughton, aged thirty-eight, has returned to Gilead to care for her dying father.  Soon her brother, Jack—the prodigal son of the family, gone for twenty years—comes home too, looking for refuge and trying to make peace with a past littered with tormenting trouble and pain.  A bad boy from childhood, an alcoholic who cannot hold a job, Jack is perpetually at odds with his surroundings and with his traditionalist father, though he remains Boughton’s most beloved child.  Brilliant, lovable, and wayward, Jack forges an intense bond with Glory and engages painfully with Ames, his godfather and namesake.  Home is a moving and healing book about families, family secrets and the passing of the generations, about love and death and faith.  (Fantastic Fiction) 

MAY 17

To Hell and Back by Audi Murphy 1949 (Non-Fiction)

Desperate to see action but rejected by both the marines and paratroopers because he was too short, Murphy eventually found a home with the infantry. He fought through campaigns in Sicily, Italy, France, and Germany. Although still under twenty-one years old on V-E Day, he was credited with having killed, captured, or wounded 240 Germans. He emerged from the war as America's most decorated soldier, having received twenty-one medals, including our highest military decoration, the Congressional Medal of Honor. To Hell and Back is a powerfully real portrayal of American GIs at war.

JUNE 21

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson (Fiction)

In present-day California, Eleanor Bennett’s death leaves behind a puzzling inheritance for her two children, Byron and Benny: a black cake, made from a family recipe with a long history, and a voice recording. In her message, Eleanor shares a tumultuous story about a headstrong young swimmer who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder. The heartbreaking tale Eleanor unfolds, the secrets she still holds back, and the mystery of a long-lost child challenge everything the siblings thought they knew about their lineage and themselves. This is a story of how the inheritance of betrayals, secrets, memories, and even names can shape relationships and history. Deeply evocative and beautifully written, Black Cake is an extraordinary journey through the life of a family changed forever by the choices of its matriarch.

SEPTEMBER 20

The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson (Non-Fiction)

On Winston Churchill’s first day as prime minister, Adolf Hitler invaded Holland and Belgium. Poland and Czechoslovakia had already fallen, and the Dunkirk evacuation was just two weeks away. For the next twelve months, Hitler would wage a relentless bombing campaign, killing 45,000 Britons. It was up to Churchill to hold his country together and persuade President Franklin Roosevelt that Britain was a worthy ally. Erik Larson shows how Churchill taught the British people “the art of being fearless”. It is a story of political brinkmanship, but it’s also an intimate domestic drama, set against the backdrop of Churchill’s prime-ministerial country home, Chequers; his wartime retreat, Ditchley; and of course 10 Downing Street in London. Drawing on diaries, original archival documents, and once-secret intelligence reports—some released only recently—Larson provides a new lens on London’s darkest year through the day-to-day experience of Churchill and his family: his wife, Clementine; their youngest daughter, Mary; their son, Randolph, and his beautiful, unhappy wife, Pamela; Pamela’s illicit lover, a dashing American emissary; and the advisers in Churchill’s “Secret Circle”. The Splendid and the Vile takes readers back to a time of true leadership, when, in the face of unrelenting horror, Churchill’s eloquence, courage, and perseverance bound a country and a family together. (Provided by publisher)

OCTOBER 18

A Wish for Winter by Viola Shipman (Fiction)

Despite losing her parents in a tragic accident just before her fourteenth Christmas, Susan Norcross has had it better than most, with loving grandparents to raise her and a gang of quirky, devoted friends to support her. Now a successful bookstore owner in a tight-knit Michigan lakeside community, Susan is facing down forty—the same age as her mother when she died—and she can’t help but see everything she hasn’t achieved, including finding a love match of her own. To add to the pressure, everyone in her small town believes it’s Susan’s destiny to meet and marry a man dressed as Santa, just like her mother and grandmother before her. So it seems cosmically unfair that the man she makes an instant connection with at an annual Santa Run is lost in the crowd before she can get his name. What follows is Susan and her friends’ hilarious and heartwarming search for the mystery Santa—covering twelve months of social media snafus, authors behaving badly and dating fails—as well as a poignant look at family, friendship and what defines a well-lived and well-loved life.

NOVEMBER 15

Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon 1992 (Fiction)

There is little violent crime in Venice, a serenely beautiful floating city of mystery and magic, history and decay. But the evil that does occasionally rear its head is the jurisdiction of Guido Brunetti, the suave, urbane vice-commissario of police and a genius at detection. Now all of his admirable abilities must come into play in the deadly affair of Maestro Helmut Wellauer, a world-renowned conductor who died painfully from cyanide poisoning during an intermission at La Fenice. But as the investigation unfolds, a chilling picture slowly begins to take shape—a detailed portrait of revenge painted with vivid strokes of hatred and shocking depravity. And the dilemma for Guido Brunetti will not be finding a murder suspect, but rather narrowing the choices down to one.

DECEMBER 20

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki (Fiction)

An epic reimagining of the remarkable life of Marjorie Merriweather Post, the American heiress and trailblazing leader of the twentieth century. Covered in diamonds and deemed American royalty, Marjorie remains the product of her hardscrabble Midwestern roots and an insatiable drive. A woman who crawled through Moscow warehouses to rescue the Tsar's treasures, who outran the Nazis in London, and sat down to dinner with everyone from the Great Depression homeless to Kremlin leaders. Marjorie's journey began on the Great Plains, where she glued cereal boxes in her father's barn as a young girl. None could have predicted that C. W. Post's homegrown Postum Cereal Company would grow into the General Foods empire, with Marjorie as its glittering heiress. Not content to stay in her prescribed roles of coddled wife, mother, and hostess, Marjorie made history as a leader in her family's business and a trailblazer in philanthropy and high society. And yet Marjorie's story was equally marked by heartbreak. A wife four times over in vastly different, dramatic marriages, Marjorie did everything on a grand scale, especially when it came to love. (Provided by publisher)