Welcome to the George Book Club
Books for the Pandemic
Here are the top ten books in my opinion that were favorites during the Pandemic. These are books I have read during the Pandemic, but it does not mean they are all new releases
- Deacon King Kong by James McBride: Sometimes you fall over a book and it becomes one of your favorites due to the values and the characters that run through the plot. Sportcoat shoots a young drug dealer to open the book and suddenly we are transported to Brooklyn where we become witnesses not to just black on white problems, but some of the divisions of the black community. This book really gets to the root of why our society is so divided.
- When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald: Zelda is a cognitively challenged young lady who looks to Norse mythology for her strength in matters of bravery as well as sex. Her world is full of rules that are absolute and I loved her from the opening pages until the last when she found out sex is not always as exciting as you thought it was.
- The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah: I’ve read and have seen the movie Grapes of Wrath so for me the Great Depression plight of the Okies moving to California has already been done, but then I read this book. Of course Kristin Hannah wrote it and she has yet to disappoint me. Sure enough the character of Elsa Martinelli was as powerful as any character I have run across as she takes her family from the Dust Bowl of Northern Texas to California where they are neither wanted or treated with respect. The metaphor was too obvious as we see, despite the Statue of Liberty, we have always been a nation of xenophobic periods in our history.
- City of Girls by Melissa Gilbert: While penning a memoir of her life in Eat, Love and Pray and a movie that could not stand up to the excellent memoir, I thought City of Girls chronicled the life of the theater during the first part of the Twentieth Century. Seen through the eyes of first person narrator Vivian, whose talents are sewing and sex, she goes to work for her aunt who runs a theater company in New York. So what is a young woman from Poughkeepsie supposed to do? We find out and her second talent gets her in trouble to where she is sent home packing. Her journey is the stuff of our heart’s longing, the Kerouac journey that is far from the Hero’s Journey we are used to.
- Overstory by Richard Powers: This book started slowly and it took me quite a while to get through it, but in the end it was well worth the journey. Slowly it opened up to a world of activism and resistance at a time when we were being encouraged that resistance was futile with the riots in Portland, OR. In this book we meet some people who are resisting the timber wars of the Northwest by climbing the trees and preventing the harvesting of the lumber. This book used many metaphors tying human lives to that of the trees using stunning imagery in the process. If you are a reader looking for a book with a bit of a challenge to it, this might be for you.
- The Water Dancer by Ta-Neshisi Coates: I did not read this book, I listened to it on Audible and felt as if I got an extra layer of meaning in doing so. It is the story of Hiram Walker who remembers his mother doing the Water Dance which we find out was what she did as she drowned. Hiram nearly drowns in a river, but then realizes he has been spared for a reason. It is during the time of slavery and Hiram is chosen by the Underground Railroad to run to Philadelphia and open a safe house. Later under orders, he is told he must return to slavery in his old plantation. He meets Harriet Tubman who speaks about the water dance and how many of those brought to slavery did the water dance by jumping overboard on the passage rather than spend the rest of their lives in slavery. When I found out this was based on a true story, I was truly amazed.
- There is Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson: Lilian is called by her college friend Madison to be the caretaker of two children who have a very unusual talent of being able to set themselves on fire whenever they become angry. Agreeing to this unusual request, Lilian leaves behind her dull uneventful life to care for these two children. Married to an up and coming politician, Madison needs to keep the children calm and in the background while her husband continues his career. I also listened to this on Audible and found it to be quite a good narration.
- Anxious People by Fredirk Backman: Quickly becoming the master of human nature in storytelling with Man Called Ove and Beartown, Fredrik Backman delivers yet again in this tale of a failed bank robbery and having the robber running to hide in an open house where each person has his or her own closetful of demons and misgivings. Finding out the robber is a woman whose husband has just left her swimming in debt, each of the people at the open house realize that her motivation isn’t money, but a way to rid herself of the pain of what has just happened to her. One by one each of the nine people attending the open house see their own pain and suffering in her. A father and son team work to apprehend the robber, but the father winds up spending some time talking to her and later tells his son the robber has gotten away. I am becoming a fan of this writer.
- News of the World by Paulette Jiles: Seeing Tom Hanks playing the main character in this movie made it hard to read, because I kept seeing his face, but putting that all aside, this book was a morality tale of the responsibility of family. Taking place in the years after the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kidd is tasked with taking Johanna back to her family from the Kiowas. In his journey, a group of men want to take the girl from him for illicit purposes in what winds up as a gunfight where he uses coins in a shotgun to kill the leader of the gang. Upon returning her to her family, he sees that she will be mistreated and decides not to leave her there instead becoming a kidnapper himself.
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Della Owens: This was one of the best books of the ten chosen as we meet the Marsh Girl. When Chase Andrews is found dead in the marshes along the coast of North Carolina, they suspect her. Kya, having grown up alone, has learned the ways of the land and distrusts anyone from the outside. When she opens herself up to Chase, she is betrayed, realizing that she has to return to the world she came from.