Alexander McCall Smith is best known as the creator of Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s leading––and only––female private detective and heroine of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. The discussion will focus on the tenth book in the series, Tea Time for the Traditionally Built, which is on the New York Times Best-seller List, and why the series has such appeal.
Other books in the series are The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Tears of the Giraffe, Morality for Beautiful Girls, The Kalahari Typing School for Men, The Full Cupboard of Life, In the Company of Cheerful Ladies, Blue Shoes and Happiness, The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, and The Miracle at Speedy Motors. The series has sold over 14 million copies in the English language worldwide, has been translated into 39 languages, and has been dramatized by the BBC and for HBO.

McCall Smith was born in Zimbabwe and educated there and in Scotland. His home is in Edinburgh, where he is professor of medical law at the University of Edinburgh, with a specialty in bioethics. He has had over 60 books published in medical and criminal law, philosophy, children’s books, short stories and novels, and three other series (The Sunday Philosophy Club series, The von Igelfeld series, and The Scotland Street series).

Elsie’s Book Club will not have a traditional meeting in May. Instead we will host a special author program.
Angelica Carpenter is the author of four biographies for young people about writers of classic children’s literature —Robert Louis Stevenson, L. Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll, and Frances Hodgson Burnett. She is an authority of children’s literature as the curator of the prestigious Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature.
She’s be making a presentation about her work as an author and the Arne Nixon Center on Wednesday, May 13 at 7pm.

For June, we will read two fun books: Stardust by Neil Gaiman and The Princess Bride by William Goldman. Both are fantastic examples of modern, adult fairytales. Stay tuned for additional information about June’s selections as we get closer to the meeting date: June 10.

Many of you may have read this book already or even discussed it in a book group. The title has been a bestseller and book club favorite for months…and with good reason! We hope you will enjoy reading it and will take the opportunity to join us for a discussion of the book on April 15, 2009 at 7pm. You can also discuss it online here if you like. (Note that Elsie’s Book Club will be meeting the 3rd Wednesday of the month in April rather than the 2nd because of a special art & poetry engagement–which, of course, you are also invited to attend)
A little about the book:
The letters comprising this small charming novel begin in 1946, when single, 30-something author Juliet Ashton (nom de plume Izzy Bickerstaff) writes to her publisher to say she is tired of covering the sunny side of war and its aftermath. When Guernsey farmer Dawsey Adams finds Juliet’s name in a used book and invites articulate—and not-so-articulate—neighbors to write Juliet with their stories, the book’s epistolary circle widens, putting Juliet back in the path of war stories. The occasionally contrived letters jump from incident to incident—including the formation of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society while Guernsey was under German occupation—and person to person in a manner that feels disjointed. But Juliet’s quips are so clever, the Guernsey inhabitants so enchanting and the small acts of heroism so vivid and moving that one forgives the authors (Shaffer died earlier this year) for not being able to settle on a single person or plot. Juliet finds in the letters not just inspiration for her next work, but also for her life—as will readers.

March 11th: Elsie’s Book Club: In March, in honor Women’s History Month, we will discuss the books of Jane Austen. Austen was an English novelist whose realism, biting social commentary, and masterful use of language, burlesque, and irony have earned her a place as one of the most widely read and beloved writers in English literature. Austen’s plots, though fundamentally comic, highlighted the dependence of women on marriage to secure social standing and economic security. (Austen never married.) Throughout March on Monday nights, we will be showing movies based on the life and works of Austen, as well.
Austen’s books include Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1815), Northanger Abbey (1817; published posthumously), and Persuasion (1817; published posthumously). No single title is assigned for reading; the group will discuss Austen’s oeuvre as a whole.

Also, join us Monday evenings in March at 7pm for a “Jane Austen-related” film festival. Films featured will be about Jane Austen and her works, particularly modern twists on her classic novels.

In preparation for the February book club meeting I’ve been reading several of Sparks books (listed below). Leslie, one of my coworkers and fellow adult programmers asked me if I knew about his biography. I didn’t and started reading it a week ago. Three Weeks with My Brother is a fantastic book! Whether or not you like Sparks’ fiction, this is a must read. And if you do like his fiction it will definitely give you some insight into how he became a writer, why he writes about what he does and you will even recognize some of his storylines or plot points pulled from his own life and experiences. I have laughed outloud and cried several times going through this book and I’m still not finished. It is really a gem…thanks Leslie for the suggestion! ~Jennifer

The Notebook (1996)

Message in a Bottle (1998 )

A Walk to Remember (1999)

The Rescue (2000)

A Bend in the Road (2001)

Nights in Rodanthe (2002)

The Guardian (2003)

The Wedding (2003)

Three Weeks with My Brother (2004)

True Believer (2005)

At First Sight (2005)

Dear John (2006)

The Choice (2007)

The Lucky One (2008 )

For February’s meeting of Elsie’s Book Club we will be discussing books written by Nicholas Sparks. You do not need to read a particular title, we will be discussing Sparks works as a whole, his style, what we like, don’t like, and making reading recommendations to those who like his books.
Nicholas Charles Sparks (born December 31, 1965) is an internationally bestselling American author. He writes novels with themes that include love, tragedy and fate. He has 14 published novels, four of which have been made into films.
We plan to watch the movie The Notebook, which was based on the novel by Sparks on Monday, February 9. The book discussion will be on the 2nd Wednesday as usual—Feb 11. Both programs will begin at 7pm.
Stay tuned for discussion questions and more information.

Join us as we discuss President-elect Obama’s books The Audacity of Hope and Dreams from my Father.

Dreams from My Father. In this lyrical and compelling memoir, the son of a black African father and a white American mother searches for a workable meaning to his life. Obama’s emotional odyssey takes him first to a small town in Kansas, from which he retraces the migration of his mother’s family to Hawaii, and then to Kenya, where he meets the African side of his family, confronts the bitter truth of his father’s life, and at last reconciles his divided inheritance.
Questions to consider in your reading:
What impact does his father’s absence have on Obama’s life?
How does he cope with this, or fail to?
When his father finally visits him, how does the real man compare to the figure
of his imagination?
Why do you think that Obama opens the book with the news of his father’s
death?

The Audacity of Hope. In this book, Obama calls for a different brand of politics for those weary of bitter partisanship and alienated by the “endless clash of armies” seen in Congress and on the campaign trail. He explores those forces that can stifle even the best-intentioned politician. At the heart of this book is Obama’s vision of how we can move beyond our divisions to tackle concrete problems.
Questions to consider in your reading:
What do you think binds us together as Americans?
What do you think are the country’s greatest challenges?
What do you think is meant by the “common good”?
What does Obama need to do to avoid the pitfalls of politics?

Elsie’s Book Club will hold its first meeting on Wednesday, January 14 at 7pm. To commemorate the inauguration of our new president we will be discussing Barack Obama’s two books “The Audacity of Hope” and “Dreams from My Father”.
It is not necessary to have read the books to attend and be a part of the discussion. Please check back here periodically for items that will make your reading more interesting.

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Who was Elsie Wood?

Elsie Wood was the wife of St. Helena Public Library benefactor Dr. George Wood. Dr. George J. Wood was a physician, philanthropist, citizen, and friend of many in the small town of St. Helena, California. Beginning in the 1950s, Dr. Wood provided scholarship funds for local students to attend college. Upon his wife's death in 1972, he provided a trust fund to establish the Elsie Wood Memorial Scholarship. His strong convictions regarding the value of education prompted Dr. Wood to make the first contribution to the St. Helena Library's building fund. With his leadership and generosity, the doctor led a community movement that built what is now called the George and Elsie Wood Library. Dr. Wood once said that sponsoring the local library had been his greatest honor. Dr. George Wood died on May 29, 1997. By a trust document entitled the George J. Wood Trust he bequeathed over $2.6 million to "THE GEORGE & ELSIE WOOD PUBLIC LIBRARY, also known as THE ST. HELENA PUBLIC LIBRARY, INC., St. Helena, California. In St. Helena, the Library and its users continue to benefit from the great generosity of Dr. Wood as his funds have provided for library construction, the purchase of materials, staff training, and more. Dr. Wood's endowment will continue to ensure the future of the George and Elsie Wood Library and are a fitting tribute to a man who valued education so immensely.
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