This book club (established September 2009) is hosted by the Brenham Country Club and meets in the main club house. We have about 25 “members” who come as their schedules permit. We meet at 1 pm on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Our books are chosen by a consensus of members based upon recommendations.
We choose books that are available in a variety of formats: hardback, paperback, audible, and e-books.
Discussion is led by a facilitator who provides background material and questions. Members are encouraged to bring to the discussion any material or information that might add to the group’s body of knowledge.
If you’d like more information, feel free to contact me.
Previously reviewed books are listed here.
Overdrive instructions are listed here.
Need help with facilitating? Try here.
Selections for 2018-2019
Nora Mae, A remarkable, Insignificant Person by Alice Hein Scheil 272 pages.
Facilitator: Alice Hein Scheil
This is the inspiring, true story of a woman who lived 95 years. Walk with her as she encounters rejection, searches for God, picks cotton to help provide for her family, overcomes tragedy, receives miracles, rebukes the spirit of death, and abruptly transitions from busy life to life at a snail’s pace. The book invigorates the reader with a sense that one can securely face all of life’s challenges because, although we don’t always know it, God is with us. Nora Mae transformed from a rejected child into a Sunday School teacher, and then into a community servant. Her life demonstrates how to survive financial depression, how to forgive others, how to admit your family needs help, how to cope with the death of loved ones, how to step forward with action, and how to grow old with optimism. Once she found her song she never let it die.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles 468 pages
Facilitator: Frances Harris
In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who climbed Out A Window and Disappeared by Jonas Joansson 396 pages
Facilitator: Georgia Yoffee
After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he’s still in good health, and in one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn’t interested (and he’d like a bit more control over his vodka consumption). So he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey, involving, among other surprises, a suitcase stuffed with cash, some unpleasant criminals, a friendly hot-dog stand operator, and an and an elephant (not to mention a death by elephant).
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng 352 pages
Facilitator: Sue Hewitt
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules. Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community. When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate 352 pages
Facilitator: Eloise Damon
Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.
Red Notice by Bill Browder
Facilitator: Nancy Shoup
This is a story about an accidental activist. Bill Browder started out his adult life as the Wall Street maverick whose instincts led him to Russia just after the breakup of the Soviet Union, where he made his fortune. A financial caper, a crime thriller, and a political crusade, Red Notice is the story of one man taking on overpowering odds to change the world, and also the story of how, without intending to, he found meaning in his life.
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan 377 pages.
Facilitator: Brenda Schultz
I have been standing on the side of life, watching it float by. I want to swim in the river. I want to feel the current. So writes Mamah Borthwick Cheney in her diary as she struggles to justify her clandestine love affair with Frank Lloyd Wright. Four years earlier, in 1903, Mamah and her husband, Edwin, had commissioned the renowned architect to design a new home for them. During the construction of the house, a powerful attraction developed between Mamah and Frank, and in time the lovers, each married with children, embarked on a course that would shock Chicago society and forever change their lives.
The Secret Wife by Gill Paul 417 pages
1914 – Russia is on the brink of collapse, and the Romanov family faces a terrifyingly uncertain future. Grand Duchess Tatiana has fallen in love with cavalry officer Dmitri, but events take a catastrophic turn, placing their romance – and their lives – in danger.
2016 – Kitty Fisher escapes to her great-grandfather’s remote cabin in America, after a devastating revelation makes her flee London. There, on the shores of Lake Akanabee, she discovers the spectacular jeweled pendant that will lead her to a long-buried family secret . . .
The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs 433 pages
Set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Revolution, and featuring a cast of legendary characters, The Hamilton Affair tells the sweeping, tumultuous, true story of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler, from passionate and tender beginnings of their romance to his fateful duel on the banks of the Hudson River.
Ordinary Grace: A Novel by William Kent Krueger 336 pages
“That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary there was no reason at all to remember it. Yet I have never across the forty years since it was spoken forgotten a single word.” New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson’s Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.
Desert Queen by Janet Wallach 524 pages (spare)
Here is the story of Gertrude Bell, who explored, mapped, and excavated the Arab world throughout the early twentieth century. Recruited by British intelligence during World War I, she played a crucial role in obtaining the loyalty of Arab leaders, and her connections and information provided the brains to match T. E. Lawrence’s brawn. After the war, she played a major role in creating the modern Middle East and was, at the time, considered the most powerful woman in the British Empire