Reported by Garry
Our first book reviewed was Mudbound by Hillary Jordan. Our reader had watched the movie a while ago, and states that this is definitely one case where the book is much better. There are six main characters in this book, and each tells their side of the unfolding story that is set in the Mississippi Delta in 1946. Race relations, romance and the remaining shadows of war set the backdrop to this award winning debut novel. Our reader cannot recommend this book enough.
The ongoing corrosion caused by racism is examined in our next book, Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland by Jonathan Metzl. In this provocative book, Metzl, a professor of psychology and sociology at Vanderbilt University looks at the decades long effects of conservative white voters embracing the idea that if someone else gains, they lose. He examines how racial resentment has led to pro-gun laws in Mississippi, resistance to the Affordable Care Act in Tennessee and cuts to schools and social services in Kansas. The results have been increasing suicide by gun, dropping life expectancies and an increase in high-school dropout rates amongst the very population that these laws were supposedly designed to assuage. Our reader thought this was an extremely well written and researched book that outlines how people for decades have been voting against their very own best interests.
The next book, The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee dovetails beautifully with Dying of Whiteness. In this New York Times best-seller, McGhee takes a close look at how racism is the underlying cause to myriad socio-economic and democratic problems across the country. These problems that don’t just harm people of color, but all Americans, especially the poorer citizens of the country. She examines why many believe that progress is zero sum game – progress for some only comes at the expense of others, and how this thinking has led to growing economic inequality, stagnating wages, and the startling fact that America alone is the sole first world country that does not have universal healthcare. Our reader thoroughly enjoyed this book, and recommends it for anyone wanting to have a deeper understanding of how we got to this place in our history and how we can go forward.
Our next reader thoroughly enjoyed the satirical Sacre Blue by Christopher Moore. This bawdy historical novel follows the (mis)adventures of Lucien Lessard and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec as they search for the source of a near mythical shade of blue paint and try to find out the truth behind Vincent van Gogh’s death. This historical fantasy incorporates elements of mystery, romance, science fiction and features appearances by many of the prominent Impressionist artists of the time. Our reader thought this was a hilarious book and, being an artist herself, loved all the “cameos” by the late nineteenth-century high-rollers, and greatly recommends this book.
Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age by Sanjay Gupta.
Charming Billy by Alice McDermott
After the Fog by Kathleen Shoop
The Paris Library by Janet Charles