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Open Book Night: Looking Forward, Looking Back

Open Book Night consists of an informal, devoted group of readers to discuss books we have read or are reading, based on a broad theme, each month. When we talk about our reading, we meander like a river, branching off into different subject areas—perhaps a comparison comes to mind, or the style piques an interest for discussion, or we discover likable and unlikeable characters. However, we always stay away from the negative. We simply want an opportunity to talk about books, and reading, in a positive way. We look for something that will trigger an idea, comparison, something that will help launch an animated discussion about the book each of us are presenting that evening. We talk about our books individually, presenting the title, author, and genre. Then we talk about our book in relation to the theme. 
To start the new year of 2017, our title and theme for January was Looking Forward and Looking Back. See below for the full list:

Arrowood: A Novel by Laura Mchugh

A rich and moving book by McHugh, where a childhood home, named Arrowood, takes center stage in this satisfying Gothic mystery. Three sisters together in old family home, Arden the oldest, is designated to watch over her younger siblings, who happen to be twins. The unimaginable happens while Arden is in charge of her sisters, they turn up missing, no trace. And over the years, the tragedy leaves a wake of broken lives and unsettled hearts. After the death of her father, Arden inherits her childhood home Arrowood and disturbing mystery of the disappearance of her sisters. 
Joan was attracted to the unusual mysterious story-line of Arrowood and upon reading was enjoyably taken in by the characters and their struggles.

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt Ph.D

Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt is about the discovery of Lucretius' On the Nature of Things in 1417 by papal emissary Pggio Bracciolini. The copy of the ancient manuscript was found on a long forgotten library shelf, in a faraway monastery, untouched for hundreds of years. This important discovery of Lucretius' On The Nature of Things helped to further expand the revolutionary thought of the Renaissance. Greenblatt won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for non fiction for this single subject examination. Another example of a single subject book would be Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture by Ross King. These books are directed at a general audience and offer some of the best narrative nonfiction there is. 
Elizabeth discovered Swerve by way of a library reader, who offered it as an interesting and enjoyable book to read. Normally a reader of fiction, she found herself drawn into the story after just a few paragraphs, good writing has a way of seducing a reader and narrative nonfiction done well, reads like the best books of fiction, according to Elizabeth.
Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts I & II by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany

Dedicated Harry Potter fans were very excited when they learned that an 8th installment of the Harry Potter series was coming out.  It was different than than previous installments, because this recent publication is a play, but no matter. Devoted fans of the Harry Potter series were not disappointed. 
Richard read all the Harry Potter books as a child. At our discussion he stressed he was very excited to read the new book. He breezed through it one sitting, noting the challenges for a child are not that same for an adult. The story tells the present by going back to the beginning of the Potter books. Richard liked the book immensely because he has been a total Potter fan since childhood.

Canada by Richard Ford

A story told from the perspective of a young teen, who is the narrator. As the story progresses so does the age of the narrator and by the story's end is an adult with all the breadth and understanding that comes with age and maturity. It is a story told "backwards. Tragic circumstances destroy a family, and like leaves scattered by wind, the family is torn apart and flung in distant directions.
Cynthia said Canada is a dark tale, set in a harsh and bleak landscape. One part she really enjoyed was how much the landscape plays a part in the story, as an important and equal character, that makes the story deeper and richer.
This is a nonprofit curated website, devoted to nonfiction articles with 2000 or more words and selected from a variety of publications. Longform consists of good quality articles on a range of subjects. Jason reads strictly non fiction and really enjoys Longform for the vast range of subjects and quality of the articles. Though he would like to read more fiction, his first choice is nonfiction, and for articles, Longform is the best, for looking forward and back!
Thanks to everyone who joined us for Open Book Night.  We had a lovely time talking about books with you and appreciate your great recommendations! Check out these other reading lists to see books recommended at past Open Book Nights. We hope to hear your reading recommendations at an Open Book Night soon or read them in the comments below. Open Book Night at Mid-Manhattan Library meets on the second Friday of the month. Our next Open Book Night meets on Friday, February 10 at 6 PM. We hope you’ll join us and share a favorite book that "Ain't Nothing but A Love Thang.”


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