This eclectic collection includes novels, poetry and plays, that have been read and discussed by members of the Arroyo Book Club. Once a month they meet at the Arroyo Seco Branch Library, and faithfully submit an annotation about the most recently read book.
Explore a grim, dystopian future with a government so in control of its people that it seeks to dictate how they think. Written 70 years ago about an imagined 1984, the novel still provides warnings about social control and engineering techniques we have not yet avoided.
Beautifully written, this story of a young blind French girl and a young German soldier, whose lives collide in France toward the end of the Nazi occupation. Watch their lives intersect in surprising ways as their fortunes are shaped by the people and world around them.
This book manages to explore the world of comic books, Jewish flight from World War II-era Europe, and the magic of escapism (think Houdini), among other things.
Who’s really the villain in this overwrought tale of power and love? You decide.
In this classic of early feminist writing, a woman bound by marriage and children in 19th century Louisiana, looks to break those bonds and find personal fulfillment.
The graphic novel credited with revolutionizing not only Batman, but all superhero comics. Miller takes a look at a Batman of the future, an old man who finds his world has passed him by, but fights on regardless. A biting, violent, disjointed take on Batman which demonstrates how a graphic novel can be as entertaining as any straight-up novel. Not a story for everyone, but an important work of comic history.
This seductively wordy novel touches on the tragedy of both WWII and the Vietnam War, while bringing to life a wonderful set of characters.
This novel about an African immigrant and small business owner explores issues like gentrification, escaping the weight of the past, otherness in community, new and old relationships and more, all in clear, pellucid language.
Young Anthony Márez tells the tale of his boyhood, his friends, his religious stirrings, the events of his small community, and the wisdom of Ultima, a curandera who became his teacher, in this lyrical novel.
Explore human nature in the face of adversity, in this disturbing, dystopian analysis of a society laid to waste by an epidemic.
The story of a girl in World War II as she is separated from her family, helps her foster family shield a Jew from the Nazis, and becomes a book thief.
Details the experiences of Oscar and his family and friends in New Jersey and the Dominican Republic, exposing you to a rich mix of the cultures in both locations.
Explore the collective lives of a group of Japanese “picture brides” brought to the US in the early part of the 20th century. Otsuka gives us a compelling yet wrenching tale of the immigrant experience in this novel.
Though both of Yaas' Iranian parents are Jewish, her father's upper class family is contemptuous of her mother, who comes from an impoverished community of South Tehran. But the real challenge to her parents' marriage is her father's love for his beautiful Muslim mistress. Hoping to spare her daughter the misery she endures, Yaas' mother expects her daughter to excel academically, but something prevents Yaas from grasping the basics of learning.
Tayo, WW II vet and former prisoner of war, returns to his Laguna Pueblo reservation, but does not find any consolation for all that he endured. Severly damaged by his experiences he searches for restoration finding some comfort in the stories and rituals of the Laguna people. Only by delving into the history, traditions, beliefs and ritual practices of his people will he find resolution.
A personal work that uses a lyrical voice to describe the visceral impact of daily acts of racism. This is a difficult book, both thematically and stylistically, so be prepared to think.
In this novel, the same story enriches and haunts the lives of five unique characters across several centuries, featuring children on the cusp of adulthood, each facing a myriad of challenges, and all of them using the same ancient Greek story for solace and inspiration. This well crafted and haunting tale beautifully illustrates the power of storytelling to both bring comfort and transform lives.
Explore the lives of a group of small town, Victorian, English women as they, sometimes humorously, grapple with daily challenges in this episodic novel.
The novel is available on e-Media.
Pregnant and abandoned in Chile by her lover who is lured by the California gold rush, sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Sommers heads to San Francisco herself. Disguised as a boy, she spends four years searching for the man she thought she loved, all the while being guided and cared for by Tao Chi-en, a Chinese healer.This is a sweeping historical novel that follows the adventures of its heroine from her childhood in Chile to the gold fields of California as she searches for her first love.
A spare narrative that spans the life of the missionary bishop to the territory of New Mexico. It provides snapshot moments of a deeply contemplative life while inducing a yearning to explore the geography and see the sights of the southwest desert.
Williams tells the story of a life, of a woman who inherited a love of words from her father (who worked on the Oxford English Dictionary), and sought to find and keep the hidden and censored words that spoke to her own experiences as she lived through some calamitous events.
This grim book explores the lives of a man and his daughter and the myriad meanings of disgrace in South Africa. It is a challenging book that lovers of literature will find rewarding.
Can an ordinary citizen successfully fight against a repressive regime? In this grim but rewarding book we follow a pair of such citizens in WWII Germany.
This slender debut novel is deceptively quiet and elegantly restrained on the surface, but packs a knock-out punch. The story of how and why teenager Lydia Lee, the beautiful, brilliant, best-loved child of a 1970's mixed-race Ohio family, meets her shocking death is much more than just a Midwestern mystery. Within her very specific rendering of one family's tragedy, author Celeste Ng illuminates America's poisonous history of racism, sexism, and homophobia, but never at the expense of a suspenseful plot and a compellingly original cast of characters.
This book takes you behind the scenes of the successful marriage of two very questionable people. See both sides of the story and delve into the nuances of appearance versus reality, and how we can even fool ourselves.
Do you like the chance to get your dander up through the vehicle of satire? Do you reminisce fondly about geometry and enjoy geometric visualization? Then this is the perfect book for you.
Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to house, or rather hotel, arrest in 1920’s Soviet Russia and watches the 20th century unfold from the rooms of that hotel in this surprisingly magical tale.
Perhaps the most famous of the current crop of Scandinavian psychological thrillers, this is the first of three novels pairing misunderstood genius Lisbeth Salander and determined journalist Mikael Blomkvist as they encounter violence and corruption to get to the bottom of a long-ago disappearance.
To read or not to read Shakespeare’s tragic tale of a young Danish Prince’s very dysfunctional family? We say read. Enjoy soap operaesque plot twists and marvelous turns of phrase in a tale that has stood the test of time.
In 1962, three Mississippi women—two black maids and a young white woman from a privileged family with dreams of becoming a writer—fight back against the established racism of the South by publishing a tell-all book about the lives of black maids in their town. A firestorm erupts.
If you are looking for a book with a complex, detail rich plot; with characters that show all the worst sides of humanity as well as characters who show moments of the goodness humanity can be capable of; and that still has room to share a larger lesson, then look no further than this engrossing tale.
Two young sisters have a succession of guardians growing up in the house their grandfather built in a remote western, mountain town in this powerfully poetic novel.
A heart-rending collection of nine vibrant short stories about the Filipino diaspora and life in Manila. The stories center on the Filipino experience both worldwide and “in the country.”
Yu plays with literary form in new and interesting ways as he tells a story about a Chinese American bit part actor while simultaneously investigating concepts of assimilation, the history of Asian immigration, and how the self fits into society.
All the men have left Tres Camarones for the United States, leaving its residents vulnerable to abuse from local bandidos. But after 19-year-old Nayeli watches The Magnificent Seven, she and her friends hatch a plan to take back their village.
This book tells the tale of two women of the 19th century, Handful born a slave and Sarah born to a slave-owning family. The story follows their trials and tribulations across the early 1800s as Sarah grows into both an abolitionist and a feminist and Handful, horribly constrained by her circumstances, eventually makes the perilous quest for freedom.Handful and Sarah are two young women living in the same household, both desiring to find a place in the world. But these independent spirits have quite different obstacles: they are women in 19th-century South Carolina, and Handful is Sarah's slave.
One of the landmarks of 20th-century literature, this was the only novel that Ellison published in his lifetime. It is the story of an unnamed African-American man who looks back on his brief career and his journey from the Deep South to a basement in Harlem where he has retreated after realizing that he is invisible to society. Ellison's unfinished second novel has been published posthumously as, Three Days Before the Shooting.
Intrigue. Betrayal. Politics. Honor. Death. Find it all in this stirring tale of the last days of Julius Caesar as dramatized by William Shakespeare.
Witness a year in the tumultuous lives of the Alvarado family as they grapple with the secrets they’ve been keeping from each other.
Ursula Todd has a habit of dying. She dies when she's born, in childhood accidents, in war, and yet, Ursula Todd seems to have an infinite number of lives, chances to correct her own missteps, and to intervene in the lives of others. As she follows many paths through the first half of the 20th century - as an English schoolgirl, an Air Raid Precautions worker during the Blitz, an expat in Munich, a miserable wife, and a mistress, among other things - the question presses: if Ursula can change the course of her own life, can she change history? Page-turning and wildly inventive, Life After Life is truly a book to get lost in. Atkinson explores the impact of circumstance on fortune and character by examining a reiterated life, an approach that leads to some deep philosophical, or maybe quantum mechanical, musing.
Pi Patel, the teenage son of a zookeeper, emigrates with his family from India to America aboard a cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes. The ship sinks and Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat with a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Pi’s fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with the tiger for 227 days lost at sea.
A tale of Willie Lincoln’s first night after interment, his father’s grief, and their combined impact on a number of souls fighting against death. Hard to describe but fascinating to read.
If you’re looking for an amusing but not light-hearted book, one that doesn’t shy away from what makes life grim and depressing, without leaving you feeling grim and depressed when you’ve finished the book, then this is the book for you. It tells the tale of a grumpy old man named Ove and what happens when new, kind of pushy, neighbors move in, a cat adopts him, and his old nemesis’ family needs help, just when he wants to end it all.
This richly detailed historical novel explores British naval life in the Napoleonic Era. The first of a 20-volume series, this book introduces the principal characters and paints a fascinating picture.
Lou, a small-town British girl desperate to find a job, accepts a position assisting a wheelchair-bound young man. Will was recently paralyzed following an accident and he is angry and moody, but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves. Soon, she finds herself developing strong feelings for him, yet it turns out that Will has shocking plans of his own. Take out a tissue.
Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice asks you to choose between justice and mercy. Read it and decide which camp you fall in.
This story follows Florens, who is sold away from her mother, Jacob, the man who buys Florens, and the women in his life, and provides a look at all the forces impinging on the lives of women in the late 1600s in America.
A lover seeking to best his beloved sets a mischievous sprite meddling in the affairs of two other couples, in this dream of a play.
Try the classic tale of obsession and all things whale. It is both interesting and informative and, of course, a requirement if you wish to seem well-read.
Born in Boston soon after his parents arrive from Calcutta, Gogul Ganguli grows up embracing American ways that are an affront to his family’s Bengali heritage. He even legally changes his given name, which his father had chosen to honor a Russian writer he credits with saving his life.The book is beautifully descriptive, capturing 30 years in brief, relevant snippets.
This is a tale of life set in Malaysia nearly a century ago. The author masterfully weaves folk lore and the supernatural into this mysterious story that will enthrall readers and keep them guessing until the end.
This excellent series of what are essentially short stories, from a number of viewpoints, combine to give us a picture of a very human woman.
A WWII nurse unexpectedly finds herself in Scotland at the time of the Jacobite uprising. Trapped in the past she has one adventure after another and falls in love. Perfect for fans of historical fiction who like action and can get behind a bit of a romance
A tour de force centering trees, both literally and metaphorically, as the plot details the interlocking stories of a number of different people finding their places in our warming world. This multi-layered work poses many questions, leaving the reader with much to think about.
Explore questions of justice, violence, and the mob in this dissection of a lynching set in 19th century Nevada.
In a decaying America society, set in the not-too-distant future, 18-year-old empath Lauren Olamina leads a band of refugees from Southern to Northern California, sustained by belief in their new philosophy, Earthseed.
Enjoy the epic of Gĩkũyũ and Mũmbi in this poetical (and feminist) interpretation of a foundational myth of the Gĩkũyũ people of Kenya.
Four girls share their story of being moved to the Congo by their missionary father in the early 1960s. They explore the wonders of Africa while being exposed to the misery and conflict that is both local political turmoil and international exploitation and each emerges from the crucible of this experience changed in a different way.
A man investigates the death of an acquaintance, and in the process explores the experiences of a generation of Colombians impacted by Escobar and the drug trade.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” We read Dickens' classic tale of a family and their friends caught up in the mill of vast societal changes.
A recently released prisoner winds up on an ill-fated revenge quest in this stream of consciousness novel by Egyptian Nobel Winner Mahfouz.
Read this book for the lyrical prose, the loving depictions of a place wreathed in the memories of youth and family and first love, and for its purely human characters and think about what is happiness for you.
“If music be the food of love…” Dip your toes into this enchanting tale of disguise and deception and practical jokes that go too far, with the assurance that love will come in the end.
This book is the prototype of the western genre. It paints a picture of Wyoming in the age of the cattle rancher and establishes a particularly American mythos.
Nathaniel Williams reminisces about his life as a young boy during World War II, when he and his sister were left in the care of a mysterious stranger. Has time blurred his memory, or was there something more to the neighbor and his relationship to the young boy's parents?
A biographical novel that explores the life of that ‘20s it couple, the Fitzgeralds. Told from Zelda’s point of view, you’re left with a vivid picture of the damage that was done by the attitudes and beliefs from that time period.