Reported by Kristin
Our first enthusiastic reader began with a book aimed at young people, but enjoyed by adults as well: Women Who Changed the World: 50 Amazing Americans by Laurie Calkhoven. From colonial women to Oprah and Hillary Clinton, all the individuals in this book have made a difference. One was Ann Bancroft, (the polar explorer, not the actress Anne,) known as the first woman to complete a trek to the North Pole in 1986. Another was Maya Lin, well-known architect and designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Speaking of Maya Lin, our reader also read the book Boundaries, in which Lin discusses her life as a second generation American of Asian descent. Hailed as “a sweet book,” Lin combines photographs, sketches, and commentary of and about her work as an artist and architect. Her powerful sculptures are known worldwide and appreciated by millions.
The following book was Wild by Nature by Sarah Marquis. The author hiked 10,000 miles over three years from Siberia to Australia, (although with corporate sponsorship and regular supply drops.) Telling a little bit about each culture that she experienced, Marquis describes her trek through very wild territory. Our reader emphasized that she felt the people of Mongolia were especially terrible to the author. Despite some close calls, our reader said, “When she finally got to Australia, I was relieved!”
The next reader learned much about the beginnings of the FBI from Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. Oil rights made the Osage nation extremely wealthy in the 1920’s, to the point of causing problems with individuals fighting over the money. Some tribal members had guardians to help manage their wealth. As issues over mismanagement and theft arose, the budding Federal Bureau of Investigation looked into the matter. Our reader noted that although his investigators did most of the work, J. Edgar Hoover took all of the credit for himself.
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah was the next book discussed. The author is known for his work on The Daily Show, but this book is a revelation into his childhood growing up under apartheid. With a white Swiss father and a black African mother, Noah was considered “colored,” or biracial, so was not accepted by any group. His mother was very religious and they attended three church services every Sunday. Our reader said that the book wasn’t presented chronologically, but that it did really matter. She praised this as a great book.
The final book was They Left Us Everything: A Memoir by Plum Johnson. The author writes about cleaning out her parents’ large (23 room) house after their deaths. Every decision sparks a memory for Johnson and her brothers. Our reader was reminded of her grandmother’s house in Massachusetts and had in fact drawn out a floor plan to share with her family members and to describe the adventures she had had there. Our reader especially loved that the author’s family walked around the house and said goodbye as they prepared to leave for the last time.