December is the time for year-end “best of” lists and the many book groups that meet at the Alamance County Public Libraries have announced their favorite books discussed in 2016.
One book that the Lunch Bunch Book Club really enjoyed reading and discussing is The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens, a suspenseful novel about a college student assigned to interview a Vietnam veteran and convicted murderer living out his last days in a nursing home. As he gets to know the older man, he cannot reconcile the military hero with the murderer and begins a journey to track down the truth, confronting problems in his own life along the way. Librarian Melissa Kammerer says everyone in the group liked the book because “it was a good mix of really well-developed characters and a gripping, suspenseful story.”
Another book the Lunch Bunch enjoyed in 2016 is Tracy Kidder’s biography about a homeless refugee from Burundi, The Strength in What Remains. Kammerer says it was dark but still hopeful and generated a lot of interest during the discussion, so much so that a passerby in the library overheard the group talking about the book, was intrigued, and spontaneously joined in.
If you would like to join the Lunch Bunch, they meet at May Memorial Library on the second Monday of the month at 12:00 p.m.
Graham’s Breakfast Book Club had great success with The Three-Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui’s Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory, a nonfiction book that introduces readers to a little-known piece of history. One book club member says about it, “Being raised in the Deep South, certain words took on special significance. Perseverance was one of those words…and The Three-Year Swim Club was a very good example of perseverance.” This may be the perfect follow-up for those readers that enjoyed The Boys in the Boat, another book club favorite about underdogs fighting for Olympic glory.
Join the Breakfast Book Club at the Graham Public Library the first Saturday of the month at 10:00 a.m.
The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker is a novel mentioned by several members of Mebane’s Evening Book Group as a favorite from this past year. The story of two young lovers in Burma blends romance, mysticism, and a bit of mystery. One group member says she “liked the idea of lives being so deeply connected over time and space,” and another was “very touched by the relationship and connectedness of the main characters and how their love was so strong even when separated.”
Another book well-liked by the Mebane group is Kent Haruf’s Our Souls at Night, a story of two widowers finding solace in each other’s company. This is an unassuming novel whose appeal can be summed up by one member’s comment about why she chose it: “Because it made me feel good.”
The Mebane Public Library Evening Book Group meets at 7:00 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month.
These are just a few of the book groups that meet at the libraries. Check out the ACPL website for others including ones for teens and children. If you are not active in a book club, think about joining one in the New Year. As one participant said “I have enjoyed reading books ‘outside my comfort zone.’ Most avid readers have a particular genre that we feel comfortable with; our book club has provided opportunities to read and discuss a variety of books in a variety of genres.”
Katherine Arends is the Branch Manager at the Mebane Public Library. She can be reached at email@example.com.