Monday, November 19, 2018

Dear Great Book Guru, At our Thanksgiving dinner, we talked about the roles we assume with family, friends, and community. We concluded that we all belonged to many, many different groups but what was it ultimately that determined who we were?   One of the guests mentioned a new book about identity and suggested we read it before our next gathering.  Are you familiar with the book?
Thanksgiving Seeker of Truth

Dear Thanksgiving Seeker of Truth, IDENTITY CRISIS by authors Sides, Tesler, and Vavreck is a fascinating study of the 2016 presidential campaign and what it revealed about America and each of us. Their most startling conclusion was that we possess many identities that lie dormant until activated by outside forces.  Sometimes it is economics which causes us to identify with one group; sometimes, it’s religious beliefs.  Frequently it’s racial in origin.  Many politicians use these “hot buttons” to prompt a response at the voting booth almost without our consciously being aware of what’s going on. Elections rely on the need for a tribal identity - an “us against them” mentality.  What we saw and continue to witness is an iconic battle for who and what kind of people we want to be.  A very disturbing but worthwhile book - highly recommended!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Dear Great Book Guru, My family will be coming to Sea Cliff for our annual Thanksgiving celebration. Many of my cousins are great readers and always have some interesting books to share. I would like to have one too - something topical, fast moving, and with far-reaching appeal.  Any recommendations?
 Book and Turkey Lover

Dear Book and Turkey Lover, I have just the book for you: GHOSTED by Rosie Walsh.  This novel uses the rules and rubrics of Facebook to present a romance gone awry, a horrifying tragedy, and a tantalizing mystery.   When Sarah meets Eddie in a small English village, they immediately connect and plans are made to meet again.  A few days later, he disappears and Sarah begins to search Facebook for him only to find herself “ghosted” (when someone disappears from your life without any explanation.)  Where is Eddie, why has he cut off contact, when will he reappear, if ever?   We watch as Sarah tries desperately to communicate on social media with him, his family, his friends, but he has become…. a virtual ghost. Just when you think you understand what is happening, new information turns the mystery around and around again.  In a series of short chapters, we meet many colorful characters who give us varying insights into Sarah’s quest, and surprises abound.   Recommended! 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Dear Great Book Guru, Next Saturday (November 17 @ 3pm) is the Sea Cliff Civic Association’s annual Turkey Hunt at Geohegan (aka Headless) Park chaired by Heidi Hunt. I plan on attending with my family but earlier in the day I would like to read something that will explain this week’s electoral results. Any thoughts?
Toy Turkey Troubadour

Dear Toy Turkey Troubadour, On Election Day, a movie opened based on Matt Bai’s book THE FRONT RUNNER (previously titled ALL THE TRUTH IS OUT) that reveals a lot about today’s political climate. Bai’s story begins in May 1987 when Gary Hart, a young reform-minded Democrat Senator from Colorado, is set to win his party’s presidential nomination. He was leading George H.W. Bush by double digits. Then, a media blitz exploded with salacious photos of Hart and a beautiful model, Donna Rice, on board a leased yacht unfortunately named “Monkey Business.” The newly launched 24-hour cable news stations seized on this story and ran it with unrelenting glee. Never before had a candidate’s personal life received such prurient attention and Hart found it impossible to continue his run for the presidency. Recent information suggests the entire scandal had been orchestrated by his political opponents. Bai recounts in meticulous detail the virtues and vices of this flawed man and concludes that the tabloids and cable news brought Hart down.  The question that haunts the reader is… what have we  wrought. Highly recommended!