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Vista Book Group: Reader's Choice

The Vista Book Group met in November to discuss a variety of books. This month each reader had a chance to read and discuss a book of their choice; it could be a new book or an old favorite. Some of the books read and discussed at this month’s meeting are listed below.

The Vista Book Group will meet again on January 23, 2013 in 1431 at the Main Library. We will be reading 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. You can obtain a book group copy by calling 929-3400 or by inquiring at the General Reference Desk on the second level of the Main Library. New members are always welcome.

Happy Holidays and we will see you in the New Year!


Chantal W. Says: A Vista Book Group member described this book as a quick and easy read, but not necessarily something she would recommend.
Amazon Says: Winner of the 2011 National Book Award A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch's father is more...
Amazon Says: Winner of the 2011 National Book Award A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch's father is growing concerned. A hard drinker, largely absent, he doesn't show concern for much else. Esch and her three brothers are stocking food, but there isn't much to save. Lately, Esch can't keep down what food she gets; she's fourteen and pregnant. Her brother Skeetah is sneaking scraps for his prized pitbull's new litter, dying one by one in the dirt. Meanwhile, brothers Randall and Junior try to stake their claim in a family long on child's play and short on parenting.As the twelve days that make up the novel's framework yield to their dramatic conclusion, this unforgettable family-motherless children sacrificing for one another as they can, protecting and nurturing where love is scarce-pulls itself up to face another day. A big-hearted novel about familial love and community against all odds, and a wrenching look at the lonesome, brutal, and restrictive realities of rural poverty, Salvage the Bones is muscled with poetry, revelatory, and real. less...
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The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger
Chantal W. Says: A Vista Book Group member described this book as a fun book that did a great job with the setting of Rochester, NY.
Amazon Says: A powerful, funny, richly observed tour de force by one of America’s most acclaimed young writers: a story of love and marriage, secrets and betrayals, that takes us from th more...
Amazon Says: A powerful, funny, richly observed tour de force by one of America’s most acclaimed young writers: a story of love and marriage, secrets and betrayals, that takes us from the backyards of America to the back alleys and villages of Bangladesh. In The Newlyweds, we follow the story of Amina Mazid, who at age twenty-four moves from Bangladesh to Rochester, New York, for love. A hundred years ago, Amina would have been called a mail-order bride. But this is an arranged marriage for the twenty-first century: Amina is wooed by—and woos—George Stillman online.  For Amina, George offers a chance for a new life and a different kind of happiness than she might find back home. For George, Amina is a woman who doesn’t play games. But each of them is hiding something: someone from the past they thought they could leave behind. It is only when they put an ocean between them—and Amina returns to Bangladesh—that she and George find out if their secrets will tear them apart, or if they can build a future together. The Newlyweds is a surprising, suspenseful story about the exhilarations—and real-life complications—of getting, and staying, married. It stretches across continents, generations, and plains of emotion. What has always set Nell Freudenberger apart is the sly, gimlet eye she turns on collisions of all kinds—sexual, cultural, familial. With The Newlyweds, she has found her perfect subject for that vision, and characters to match. She reveals Amina’s heart and mind, capturing both her new American reality and the home she cannot forget, with seamless authenticity, empathy, and grace. At once revelatory and affecting, The Newlyweds is a stunning achievement. less...
Amazon


Chantal W. Says: As a young father a Vista Book Group member said this book really spoke to him.
Amazon Says: “Chabon has always been a magical prose stylist, adept at combining the sort of social and emotional detail found in Philip Roth’s Goodbye, Columbus stories with the metap more...
Amazon Says: “Chabon has always been a magical prose stylist, adept at combining the sort of social and emotional detail found in Philip Roth’s Goodbye, Columbus stories with the metaphor-rich descriptions of John Updike and John Irving’s inventive sleight of hand. . . . As in his novels, he shifts gears easily between the comic and the melancholy, the whimsical and the serious, demonstrating once again his ability to write about the big subjects of love and memory and regret without falling prey to the Scylla and Charybdis of cynicism and sentimentality.” — Michiko Kakutani, New York Times “Wondrous, wise and beautiful.” — David Kamp, New York Times Book Review The bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Werewolves in Their Youth, Wonderboys, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union Michael Chabon “takes [his] brutally observant, unfailingly honest, marvelously human gaze and turns it on his own life” (Time) in the New York Times bestselling memoir Manhood for Amateurs. less...
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Lush Life: A Novel by Richard Price
Chantal W. Says: A Vista Book Group member chose this book for it's wonderful dialogue and gritty realism. Written by the screenwriter of The Wire.
Amazon Says: So, what do you do?" Whenever people asked him, Eric Cash used to have a dozen answers. Artist, actor, screenwriter . . . But now he's thirty-five years old and he's still liv more...
Amazon Says: So, what do you do?" Whenever people asked him, Eric Cash used to have a dozen answers. Artist, actor, screenwriter . . . But now he's thirty-five years old and he's still living on the Lower East Side, still in the restaurant business, still serving the people he wanted to be. What does Eric do? He manages. Not like Ike Marcus. Ike was young, good-looking, people liked him. Ask him what he did, he wouldn't say tending bar. He was going places--until two street kids stepped up to him and Eric one night and pulled a gun. At least, that's Eric's version. In Lush Life, Richard Price tears the shiny veneer off the "new" New York to show us the hidden cracks, the underground networks of control and violence beneath the glamour. Lush Life is an Xray of the street in the age of no broken windows and "quality of life" squads, from a writer whose "tough, gritty brand of social realism . . . reads like a movie in prose" (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times). less...
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Chantal W. Says: A Vista Book Group member really enjoyed this book about family history, medicine, and patient rights. This book will be a Vista Book Group read in 2013.
Amazon Says: Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken wi more...
Amazon Says: Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave. Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia—a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo—to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells. Henrietta’s family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family—past and present—is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of. Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family—especially Henrietta’s daughter Deborah, who was devastated to learn about her mother’s cells. She was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Did it hurt her when researchers infected her cells with viruses and shot them into space? What happened to her sister, Elsie, who died in a mental institution at the age of fifteen? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn’t her children afford health insurance?             Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences. less...
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Chantal W. Says: A Vista Book Group member chose this favorite to read. A historical mystery placed in 1950's England with a young Flavia de Luce as amateur sleuth.
Amazon Says: It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplic more...
Amazon Says: It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath. For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.” less...
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