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FOPSL Book Club

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Held in The Learning Center @ PSPL

Friends of the Palm Springs Library logo

The FOPSL Book Club meets on the third Friday of the month at 2:00 p.m. (September-June) in The Learning Center at the Library, and is open to everyone. Members of the club read the selected book for the month, then join in lively discussions.

For more information about the FOPSL Book Club, including summaries of past book discussions and additional notes about the titles selected, please visit the Friends of Palm Springs Library Book Club Page.

 


2018 / 2019 Season


September 21, 2018: The Job by Sinclair Lewis

October 19, 2018: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

November 16, 2018: White Houses by Amy Bloom

December 21, 2018: Beartown by Fredrik Backman

January 18, 2019: Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig

February 15, 2019: Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

March 15, 2019: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

April 19, 2019: The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

May 17, 2019: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

June 21, 2019: Dubliners by James Joyce

Most titles are available as Downloadable Audiobooks and/or eBooks from PSPL.


September 21, 2018

The Job by Sinclair Lewis

The JobThe Job is an early work by American novelist Sinclair Lewis. It is considered an early declaration of the rights of working women. The focus is on the main character, Una Golden, and her desire to establish herself in a legitimate occupation while balancing the eventual need for marriage. The story takes place in the early 1900-1920s and takes Una from a small Pennsylvania town to New York. Forced to work due to family illness, Una shows a talent for the traditional male bastion of commercial real estate and, while valued by her company, she struggles to achieve the same status of her male coworkers.

On a parallel track, her quest for traditional romance and love is important but her unique role as a working woman, doing a man's job, makes it tough to find an appropriate suitor. Una is on track to marry Walter Babson, who appears to be a good man but lacks the excitement of her eventual husband, Edward Schwirtz. He is a salesman with all the charm necessary to win her heart, but the marriage is doomed from the start. Una eventually divorces him, which is also scandalous for the time. As the book closes, Una continues unsuccessfully to salvage both her career and her personal life. The novel was published before Lewis achieved any significant fame and provides insights on working women as well as the unique nature (for the time) of having a woman as the lead character.


October 19, 2018

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in Moscow —Soon to be a major television series starring five-time Academy Award® nominee Kenneth Branagh.

And the intrigue! . . . [A Gentleman in Moscow] is laced with sparkling threads (they will tie up) and tokens (they will matter): special keys, secret compartments, gold coins, vials of coveted liquid, old-fashioned pistols, duels and scars, hidden assignations (discreet and smoky), stolen passports, a ruby necklace, mysterious letters on elegant hotel stationery...a luscious stage set, backdrop for a downright Casablanca-like drama (The San Francisco Chronicle).

He can’t leave his hotel. You won’t want to.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility comes a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel.

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.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.


November 16, 2018

White Houses by Amy Bloom 

White HousesAmy Bloom brings an untold slice of history so dazzlingly and devastatingly to life, it took my breath away (Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife).

Radiant . . . an indelible love story, one propelled not by unlined youth and beauty but by the kind of soul-mate connection even distance, age, and impossible circumstances couldn’t dim . . . Bloom’s goal is less to relitigate history than to portray the blandly sexless figurehead of First Lady as something the job rarely allows those women to be—a loving, breathing human being. And she does it brilliantly
(Entertainment Weekly).


Lorena Hickok meets Eleanor Roosevelt in 1932 while reporting on Franklin Roosevelt’s first presidential campaign. Having grown up worse than poor in South Dakota and having reinvented herself as the most prominent woman reporter in America, “Hick,” as she’s known to her friends and admirers, is not quite instantly charmed by the idealistic, patrician Eleanor. But then, as her connection with the future first lady deepens into intimacy, what begins as a powerful passion matures into a lasting love, and a life that Hick never expected to have. She moves into the White House, where her status as “first friend” is an open secret, as are FDR’s own lovers. After she takes a job in the Roosevelt administration, promoting and protecting both Roosevelts, she comes to know Franklin not only as a great president but as a complicated rival and an irresistible friend, capable of changing lives even after his death. Through it all, even as Hick’s bond with Eleanor is tested by forces both extraordinary and common, and as she grows as a woman and a writer, she never loses sight of the love of her life.

From Washington, D.C. to Hyde Park, from a little white house on Long Island to an apartment on Manhattan’s Washington Square, Amy Bloom’s new novel moves elegantly through fascinating places and times, written in compelling prose and with emotional depth, wit, and acuity.


December 21, 2018

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Beartown

You’ll love this engrossing novel (People).

The bestselling author of A Man Called Ove returns with a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream—and the price required to make it come true.

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever-encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.


January 18, 2019

Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig

Last Bus to WisdomNamed a Best Book of the Year by the Seattle Times and Kirkus Review.

The final novel from a great American storyteller.

Donal Cameron is being raised by his grandmother, the cook at the legendary Double W ranch in Ivan Doig’s beloved Two Medicine Country of the Montana Rockies, a landscape that gives full rein to an eleven-year-old’s imagination. But when Gram has to have surgery for “female trouble” in the summer of 1951, all she can think to do is to ship Donal off to her sister in faraway Manitowoc, Wisconsin. There Donal is in for a rude surprise: Aunt Kate–bossy, opinionated, argumentative, and tyrannical—is nothing like her sister. She henpecks her good-natured husband, Herman the German, and Donal can’t seem to get on her good side either. After one contretemps too many, Kate  packs him back to the authorities in Montana on the next Greyhound. But as it turns out, Donal isn’t traveling solo: Herman the German has decided to fly the coop with him. In the immortal American tradition, the pair light out for the territory together, meeting a classic Doigian ensemble of characters and having rollicking misadventures along the way.

Charming, wise, and slyly funny, Last Bus to Wisdom is a last sweet gift from a writer whose books have bestowed untold pleasure on countless readers.


February 15, 2019

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

Cannery Row

Steinbeck's tough yet charming portrait of people on the margins of society, dependant on one another for both physical and emotional survival.


Unburdened by the material necessities of the more fortunate, the denizens of Cannery Row discover rewards unknown in more traditional society. Henry the painter sorts through junk lots for pieces of wood to incorporate into the boat he is building, while the girls from Dora Flood’s bordello venture out now and then to enjoy a bit of sunshine. Lee Chong stocks his grocery with almost anything a man could want, and Doc, a young marine biologist who ministers to sick puppies and unhappy souls, unexpectedly finds true love. Cannery Row is just a few blocks long, but the story it harbors is suffused with warmth, understanding, and a great fund of human values.

First published in 1945, Cannery Row focuses on the acceptance of life as it is—both the exuberance of community and the loneliness of the individual. John Steinbeck draws on his memories of the real inhabitants of Monterey, California, and interweaves their stories in this world where only the fittest survive—creating what is at once one of his most humorous and poignant works. In Cannery Row, John Steinbeck returns to the setting of Tortilla Flat to create another evocative portrait of life as it is lived by those who unabashedly put the highest value on the intangibles—human warmth, camaraderie, and love.


March 15, 2019

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry—Over a year on the New York Times bestseller list and more than a million copies sold.

The essential universe, from our most celebrated and beloved astrophysicist.

What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson.

But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.

While you wait for your morning coffee to brew, for the bus, the train, or a plane to arrive, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will reveal just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe.


April 19, 2019

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

The Woman in the WindowThe #1 Instant New York Times Bestseller

Soon to be a Major Motion Picture

For readers of Gillian Flynn and Tana French comes one of the decade’s most anticipated debuts, to be published in thirty-six languages around the world and already in development as a major film from Fox: a twisty, powerful Hitchcockian thriller about an agoraphobic woman who believes she witnessed a crime in a neighboring house.

It isn’t paranoia if it’s really happening . . . .

Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

Twisty and powerful, ingenious and moving, The Woman in the Window is a smart, sophisticated novel of psychological suspense that recalls the best of Hitchcock.


May 17, 2019

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine#1 New York Times Bestseller

A Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes the only way to survive is to open your heart.


June 21, 2019

Dubliners by James Joyce

DublinersJames Joyce’s Dubliners is a vivid and unflinching portrait of “dear dirty Dublin” at the turn of the twentieth century. These fifteen stories, including such unforgettable ones as “Araby,” “Grace,” and “The Dead,” delve into the heart of the city of Joyce’s birth, capturing the cadences of Dubliners’ speech and portraying with an almost brute realism their outer and inner lives. Dubliners is Joyce at his most accessible and most profound.