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

November 2023


RCBC November 2023 Meeting Notes

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

Good for a Girl by Lauren Fleshman

  • One heck of a novel by a strong willed, strong minded, and just plain strong professional athlete.  Lauren Fleshman tells her story with unabashed honesty about what it was like to grow up and become one of the most decorated women athletes in professional running.   Throughout the book, Lauren highlights her struggles performing in a sport designed by men, for men.  Through her courage and perseverance, Lauren is sharing a new understanding of the sport for all athletes, regardless of gender, and shaping a better path forward for future runners, especially women.

Mr. Ledbetter’s Boots by M. Ernest Johnson (Not available in the NC Cardinal system at the time of note preparation.)

  • An On the Same Page festival non-fiction author, this is Mark Ernest Johnson’s fictional debut.  Mr. Johnson uses his background as an experienced mountain climber and hiker to tell the story of 95 year old Raymond and his quest to scale Mt. Everest.  Joining Raymond is a young and eager social-justice journalist from Raleigh whose life will be forever transformed by the historical accounts of his elder hiking partner.  Humorous dialogue to be had in this one, folks!  As the title hints, boots will be significant…

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton  

  • Winner of the Man Booker Prize, this novel is a well written, fictionalized historical account of events happening during the New Zealand gold rush in the late 1800s.  Astrology is used to sculpt the story.  The book has been described as thrilling and gripping, although one member of the RCBC group, while praising the artistry of the writer, commented that she may have been too fancy with “the way” she was writing rather than “the what” she was writing.  Further, the novel has been depicted as a ghost story, but our RCBC reader did not agree.  Here is what The Guardian has to say about the novel.  (Warning: there could be some spoilers.)

Organizing for the Rest of Us by Dana K. White

  • A wonderfully helpful book for “deslobification”!  Written by a decluttering expert with an aim to give you the tools you need to tackle various “jumble disorders” of the home.  Another helpful declutter resource is

Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes

  • A heart rending debut novel set in North Carolina following a young mother and her five year old daughter as they navigate the mother’s terminal diagnosis.  In order to prepare for the future, the mother must introduce two people she is estranged from back into her life to care for her daughter when she passes.  The first is her daughter’s father, who has no idea of the girl’s existence.  The second is her own father with whom she has a fraught relationship.  The novel is a beautiful evolution of growth in character from diagnosis to death.  At the end, the daughter is grown and shares her perspective.  Of note, the title is in reference to a heartwarming story within the book about trying to explain to a small child what happens when someone dies.

  • A 2011 Carol Award winner for Debut Author from ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers).

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

  • This is the second time this book has been mentioned in RCBC with excellent reviews!  A true crime non-fiction account of the Osage Nation murders in Oklahoma during the 1920s.  The Osage murders were one of the first major cases of the newly formed FBI which worked hand in hand with a Texas Ranger and an undercover Native American to expose a horrible and gruesome conspiracy in American history.  A truly unforgettable and educational book.

  • Now a major motion picture starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro.  

The Way of the Bear by Anne Hillerman

  • Anne Hillerman is the daughter of Tony Hillerman.  Tony Hillerman was the author of the Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito series.  Anne has taken up her father’s pen to continue these popular books.  You can find a list of all novels in the series here.  Further, the Dark Winds series on AMC is based on these books.

  • The Way of the Bear is set in Utah’s Bears Ears monument.  The story centers around a couple of murders, including the death of a well-known paleontologist which introduces the reader to the fascinating world of ancient fossils and archaeology.  As Amazon puts it:

    • The Bears Ears area, at the edge of the Navajo Nation, is celebrated for its abundance of early human habitation sites and the discovery of unique fossils which revolutionized the scientific view of how early animals dealt with their changing world. Chee and Manuelito appreciate the area’s scenery and wealth of human and scientific resources, but their visit to this achingly beautiful place is disrupted by a current of unprecedented violence that sweeps them both into danger. Illicit romance, a fossilized jawbone, hints of witchcraft, and a mysterious disappearance during a blizzard add to the peril.

  • Native American phrases and terminology are peppered throughout the novel which some readers may find quite educational.

  • Winner of the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award for Best Mystery.

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

  • Historical fiction about the bubonic plague!!  Inspired by the true story of the small village of Eyam, England from which the bubonic plague arose, ostensibly from a bolt of flea-infested fabric sent to a young tailor staying in the home of a housemaid.  The book beautifully narrates the rising hysteria accompanying the recognition of a communicable, deadly disease and portrays how one clergyman fought to keep the spread contained by pleading for villagers to sacrifice themselves by staying quarantined in place.  Prayer, blame, witch-hunting, lamentation, anger, denial are everywhere.  Sound familiar?  

  • Geraldine Brooks is a past winner of the Pulitzer Prize for her novel March.

The Storyteller’s Secret by Sejal Bedani

  • A young journalist, Jaya, while mourning a third miscarriage travels to India to learn more about her family history.  While there, she discovers the story of her grandmother, Amisha, who fell in love during the British occupation of India with a young English lieutenant.  Unfortunately, Amisha was forced into a marriage by her Indian family with a man she respected, but did not love.  And, therein lies the hook to the story!  Through Amisha’s history, Jaya discovers a strength of character passed down to her through generations that bolsters her resolve to carry on through her grief.  A story to show the value of family history and of course, love.

  • Of note, this novel talks about two Indian holiday celebrations, Navrati and Diwali, which means it would fit beautifully into this year’s Reading Challenge category 35, “A book about a holiday you don’t typically celebrate.