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Ashe County Reading Challenge Book Club Guide: September 2023 Meeting Notes

September 2023


RCBC September 2023 Meeting Notes

Books Discussed (Click on the titles below to link to our Cardinal website.)

Carolina Moonset by Matt Goldman

  • Written by a New York Times best-selling author and an Emmy Award winning television writer, this book takes a unique perspective on dealing with aged parents suffering from dementia. As the lead protagonist visits home, he discovers that his father’s illness, Lewy Body Dementia, is more advanced than he anticipated. As he spends time with his dad, their seemingly hallucinatory conversations point in the direction of scandal, danger, and even murder in the family’s past. How do you handle protecting someone you love who looks suspicious of murder, especially when that person is vulnerable and not always cognitively aware? An interesting novel filled with suspense, love (both familial and intimate), and difficult life choices. A Vickie’s Book Club pick for the month of September 2023.

Secret Lives by Mark De Castrique 

  • A 2023 Sue Grafton Memorial Award Nominee, this novel was written by a 2023 On The Same Page author from Charlotte, NC. Secret Lives introduces us to a feisty 75-year-old retired FBI agent who is nobody’s fool! Ethel Fiona Crestwater may look like a frail grandma, but when a body shows up at her boarding house, she kicks into gear and shows her double-first-cousin-twice-removed how to get things done! A lively murder mystery and a charming family bond await the reader for this one! You may just find yourself laughing out loud, which is, of course, a Reading Challenge category.  
  • Next in the series: Dangerous Women

The Spirit of Sweetgrass by Nicole Sietz  

  • This debut novel, written in the first-person narrative, portrays the life of a Gullah-Creole African American native of Mt. Pleasant, SC. Essie Mae Laveau Jenkins is a 78-year-old sweetgrass basket weaver who sits on the side of Hwy. 17 selling her “love baskets” and praying over folks who visit her stand, all while conversing with her dead husband! With elements of the magical and the mystical, the author weaves Gullah/Geechee history and culture into a story about the importance of family and tradition.

Driving the Green Book by Alvin Hall

  • This nonfiction book written by an award winning broadcaster, takes the reader on a journey through the Jim Crow south by visiting stops listed in the famous The Negro Motorist Green Book, a guide to businesses where black Americans could eat, rest, and sleep without fear. The original “Green Book” was a literal life-saving document for thousands of individuals traveling the roads of America from 1936-1967. Violence and murder were not uncommon for black Americans caught alone on the open road, especially in Sundown towns in the south. Hall takes the reader on a road trip from New York to Detroit to New Orleans, visiting establishments listed in the “Green Book” while outlining the history of each place. He also engages with and interviews some surviving witnesses of the Green Book era, whose tales will educate and shock many readers. From Amazon, “Driving the Green Book is a vital work of national history as well as a hopeful chronicle of Black resilience and resistance.”
  • You can listen to Alvin Hall’s Driving Green Book Podcast here.
  • In 2018, a movie about the Green Book was made starring Vigo Mortensen. You can check out that trailer here.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

  • A book that pretty much everyone who reads it loves, this novel introduces us to a grumpy, bitter, and suicidal old gentleman who is saved by the chatty and infuriatingly aggravating young family next door. The author effortlessly weaves sadness and humor into a remarkable story about the power of human connection. The book's promo say it best:

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

  • A movie starring Tom Hanks called A Man Called Otto is streaming now for Netflix subscribers. You can check out the trailer here.
  • For lovers of the Swedish author Fredrik Backman, you can check out all of his novels here.

A Spindle Splintered by Alix Harrow

  • A unique retelling of The Sleeping Beauty with a feminist slant. In this adventure, no man is needed as women save themselves. A short, illustrated, interesting book that takes the reader through time travel adventures involving multiple sleeping beauties in fairy-tale multiverses. A Good Reads nominee for Best Fantasy 2021.
  • The first book in the Fractured Fables series. 

The Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd

  • A fiction novel based on historical facts, this book tells the story of a young South Carolina girl who helped shape the economy of the south. In 1739, Eliza Lucas was placed in charge of her father’s three crop plantations when she was just 16 years old. Her mother wished the plantations would fail so the family could go back to England. Her father siphoned every bit of money earned by the plantations to fulfill his military ambitions. And Eliza got no help from friends and family due to her age and sex. In the face of failure, Eliza turned to an older horticulturist, a married gentleman lawyer, and the slaves she interacted with daily to help her build a profiting business producing indigo dye. Through dangerous deals, love, betrayal, and perseverance, Eliza Lucas became so important to a young America that George Washington served as her pallbearer at her funeral in 1793. A written homage to an important, yet often neglected, figure in early American history.

Note: The group is debating whether or not we should set a limit of one book per person or have a time limit for discussion. There is some concern that a time limit would feel punitive. It was suggested that we put the issue to a group vote. ACPL is considering sending out a poll to see what the group would like to do in this regard. Of note, the group is authorized to have a meeting space from 11:00-12:30, or 90 minutes.