Category Archives: Monthly Reading

March 28th Meeting

We met the other Tuesday at Wayne’s house to discuss the book ‘The Black Widow’ by Daniel Silva. This is the latest installment in the Gabriel Allon series, the 16th as a matter of fact.

Prior to the discussion Wayne and Starrow served a lemon chicken and rice soup that was delicious.  It was also Harry’s 92nd birthday.  Happy Birthday to you Harry!!

The majority of the club found the book to be a fast paced page turner that closely mirrored actual events from the last year or so.  As Silva was about to publish the book he thought twice about doing so given the bombings in France and Belgium that had so many similarities with his novel. But, he chose to go forward with the book which then went on to be a best seller.

One of the things that struck me and others about this book was that it seemed fresher and smarter that the more recent books in this series.  For me his recent books have seemed pretty cookie cutter. This book however took me back to what his early novels in the series were like.  A nice change of pace.

Next month we are at Jack T’s to read a non-fiction book entitled ‘Ghettoside’

See you there

Rating 7.5

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February 28th Meeting

We met at John’s house to discuss the February book ‘Razor Girl’ by Carl Hiaasen. John and Barb served Empanads which were delicious.

The discussion was really varied on the book.  A lot of us liked the book, while others were not as enamored.  Personally, I found it funny in a number of places but didn’t see any point to the book.   And don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of humor books, just not this one.  Hunter Thompson, David Sedaris and S.J. Perleman all do a better job in this genre.

In any event, the group was pretty much split on the February book. We will see what the next book holds.

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January 28th Meeting

We met the other evening at Craig’s house to discuss the January book, ‘A Man Called Ove’ by Fredrick Backman.  Before the discussion began we were treated to a dinner of Frito Chilli pie that Craig and Marcy had from their time in the great state of Texas.  Cold beer, cornbread and salad filled out the menu and it was delicious. Thanks to them both for the hospitality.

Prior to the discussion of the book starting I presented the group some stats on our book club since this book was the 50th we have read since it was started.

Top 3 Rated Books
1/28/2014 Red Sparrow 8.89
9/30/2014 Fall of Giants  8.5
10/28/2014 The Kill Artist 8.2

Bottom 3 Rated Books
6/28/2016 Them 4.2
5/26/2105 Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk 4.6
10/25/2016 The Strange Death of Vincent Foster 5.2

Total Pages Read
22177

Time to Read them All
370 Hrs

The group was pretty divided on the book.  For the most part it was either really liked or panned.  Some in the group felt that it was way longer than it needed to be and filled with cliche’s while others in the group found it to be a great story that had parts that we could all easily relate to.  Anyway you look at it provided great discussion for all who were there.

Speaking of all who were there, we added a new member to the group this month (Tom) bringing our total to 12. So we must be doing something right to keep growing.

Rating 7.4
Till next time

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November 29th Meeting

blinkSo we met last evening here (Bob’s House) to discuss the November book, ‘Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking’ by Malcolm Gladwell. A first happened in that we had all 11 members present for the discussion.  Made it a little cozy around the dinner table (Enchiladas and Salad) but a great discussion followed.  It seems the club was in two camps on this book.  Some members thought the book had no clear purpose but provided many interesting stories, and some thought that the stories and the purpose were pretty clear.  I was in the camp that liked the book a lot, and will likely read more from the author.

I think Mike summed up the position of the other camp when he said ‘I would give each chapter a 9 and the book as a whole a 5’

We are taking December off for the Holidays and will pick up next moth at Craig’s with ‘A Man Called Ove’

Till then

Rating 6.3

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October 25th Meeting

fosterSorry I missed the discussion of this month’s book, ‘The Strange Death of Vincent Foster’ by Christopher Ruddy. While I do love a good conspiracy theory, and this one sure fits the bill, I wish the author would have been better at telling the story that just presenting the facts as he did. I do remember when this happened and felt that something was a little ‘off’ with the timing and what was the outcome of the investigation. Frankly, I am surprised that it wasn’t one of ‘The Donalds’ talking points during the debates.

Like me,  Damian was out of town this week, his take on the book is as follows:
They say that Reagan was the Teflon president, but he has nothing on the Clintons. The author carries with him the credibility of the Hoover Institution and has certainly presented a strong case that the official version of events has holes in it. I am surprised that Watergate, which was literally on the news every night, received far more coverage than an actual death under mysterious circumstances. I can only wonder what the reaction would have been if this had happened during a Republican administration.

The author bludgeons us with facts, which is probably the correct way to present the evidence in a case like this. I do wish that there was more of a narrative flow to the book, but that may be difficult to achieve. I give this book a 6 and consider it very relevant given that the Clinton’s still play such an important part of current American politics.

Mike was kind enough to provide the following notes on the discussion that took place during the meeting:

Comments:
– Almost unreadable due to the unnecessary and overwhelming detail and redundancy.
– Right up there with SALT!
– Power of media to set the nation’s public agenda
– Possible criminal behavior of White House staff
– Problems with evidence
– Official inquiries fraught with ineptness, inadequacy, and even possible complicity.
– Clinton’s quest for power and wealth
– Clintons hardly mourned their once close friend
– No questioning of “suicide” by Foster’s wife
– Six days to find note
– Quick burial four days after death

Adding Damians score of 6 and my score of 5.5 that would put the overall rating of the book at 5.2

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September 27 Meeting

wildfireWe met last Tuesday evening at Jack’s house to discuss the September book ‘Wild Fire’ by Nelson DeMille. The meal for the evening was Swedish Chili along with Hors d’Oeuvres and of course the liquid refreshments. Thanks to Jack ( and Judy) for the hospitality.

At our last meeting before our summer break we all decided that we wanted to read some fiction for the summer break.  So Paul led the discussion on this book which got mixed reviews.

The plot revolves around the investigation of a plan to start a nuclear incident in the middle East after a supposed attack by them on two US cities.  But, of course, these two attacks are orchestrated by members of a group ( that sounded very similar to the Bilderberg group) who wanted initiate a programmed attack after a first strike is launched on us.

The protagonists in this plot are a husband wife team from the FBI and police organization who are sent to find out what happened to another agent sent to investigate the groups compound. These two are ongoing characters of DeMille where she plays the foil to the husbands sarcastic nature. He feels that they can solve the case all by themselves, which of course they end up doing.

About half the group felt the main characters sarcasm was over done. Personally it was one of the things that turned me off on the book. But others in the group liked the interactions that the main character has throughout. People also found the technologies used in the book to be realistic and plausible to carry out the end game put in place by the bad guys.

Next month we are at Mikes house discussing “The Strange Death of Vincent Foster” by Christopher Ruddy.

Rating 6.16

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June 28 Meeting

themI just realized that I never wrote up our discussion of the book ‘Them’ by Jon Ronson.  Sorry, must have had vacation on my mind or something.  So let me see if I can go back and reconstruct the when, where, an what we thought for this book.  I do remember that we were at Craig’s house and he BBQ’d some great Kabobs that night.

I think that the book was a little bit out there for the group.  The authors interactions with fringe groups and representatives left most of us scratching our heads on two counts, 1) are there really people out there like this, and 2) why doe the author think we should care.

Even though the book wasn’t very highly rated, I do remember finding parts of it interesting in that it pointed to a whole underbelly of fringe out there which I didn’t know existed.

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May 31 Meeting

gunsgermandsteelWe met last evening at Wayne’s house to discuss the May book ‘Guns, Germs and Steel‘ by Jared Diamond.  Wayne served grilled burgers (perfectly cooked I might add :-)) with guacamole,  chips and a fine selection of beer.

10 of us were at the meeting and the discussion started as per usual with Wayne providing background information on the author.  Diamond, a UCLA professor is as Wayne described a polymath ( Thanks for the definition Wayne) a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas; such a person is known to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems. And that is what Diamond attempted to do in this book. The question he puts all his experience to is why wealth and power become distributed as they now are rather than some other way.

The group was certainly mixed on how well he answered that question.  Most members felt he fell far short of the mark.  It was a constant theme that he kept going back again and again to the sole idea that geography (which is what he taught at UCLA ) was the answer to everything.  That the areas that currently dominate with wealth and power fall in that sweet spot on the globe that lends itself to better food production, via farming or animal domestication, and as such have had a on-going advantage over other areas of the globe. Certainly that is a condensed version of his thesis, but that’s my best take away.

Damian was likely the most vocal of the group in debunking Professor Diamonds  thoughts.  I sat next to him and saw the pages of notes he had taken which were his points of contention with the book, but I am glad that he felt that the book provoked thought and a chance to generate a good argument.

Next month we are at Craigs for the book ‘Them:Adventures with Extremists‘.  Then we will be on hiatus for the summer.

Until then.

 

 

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April 26 Meeting

the_cartelLast evening we met at John’s house for our monthly book club meeting.  The book for the month was ‘The Cartel‘ by Don Winslow.  In sync with the book John had a Mexican themed dinner with many brands of cerveza ( which were quickly consumed ) Salsa, Guacamole, and a very tasty Chilli. Thanks to Barb for that one !

The discussion of the book started with John telling us about the authors background as per our custom.  This is a second book in a series for the author and it was mentioned that it will be turned into a movie.

Based on the discussion we all felt that the book provided a eye opening insight into the Cartel wars which we all knew of but, at least for me, was not truly aware of the viciousness and brutality that was imposed on the un-involved Mexican. The spill over to the general population  makes you wonder why everyone didn’t leave.

For me it pointed out the disparity between the haves and have not’s in the country which fuels the graft and corruption endemic in Mexico. Craig brought up a comparison between prohibition and the war on drugs. How prohibition gave rise to organized crime in the same way that the war on drugs have given rise to the Cartels. It would have been interesting to vote on how many of the group would favor legalization of drugs.

All on all it was a very interesting and wide ranging discussion.

Had a chance to meet Damian and Jack, the two newest members of the BC.  Glad to have you with us.

Till next time.

 

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March 29 Meeting

rose Most members found it to be a long, “difficult” read, with all of the Latin, numerous other languages, lots of minor characters and long passages expounding on medieval theology. I think that our newest member, Damian, summed it up best when he said that “this is a book that I should have liked… it had everything I want in a novel… history, interesting literary technique, a Sherlock Holmesish murder mystery, commentary on/a plot that revolved around the big conceptual issues, life and death, religion, good and evil, right and wrong… and yet I didn’t (like it).” There were a lot of pages devoted to controversies regarding the poverty of Jesus, discussions of the Inquisition and perceived heresies, arcane differences between the Franciscans and Dominicans, and the conflicts between the Popes in Italy and France and the Holy Roman Emperor. Personally, I found this all very interesting, albeit often tedious, but was disappointed that the book never seemed to explain or even elude to what these thing meant to the characters in the book (and most of our group thought that there were too many), to the history of the Church and the world to come, or to us today? There seemed to be a consensus that the end of the book was somewhat disappointing. The secret book, that people killed for, turns out to a lost comedy by Aristotle? I was expecting it to be something big, important, earth shattering… a book that disproves the divinity of Jesus and would cause the whole Church to fall if released… or something like that? The abrupt ending, where everything goes up in flames, wasn’t to most members linking either. Is the moral that, the church made sure that no one got to read from one of the greatest libraries in the world anyway, so it doesn’t matter that it all burned down?

Eight of our members rated the book. Scores ranged from a low of 2 to a high of 7. The overall rating was 5.25.

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