Decorah Public Library staff are hosting nine book discussions in May. The groups are open to the public and newcomers are encouraged to attend. Anyone interested should call the library at 382-3717 to learn more or to reserve a book. Zoom links are available on the Library’s website or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to any of the six groups’ email distribution lists. Funds for multiple copy sets were generously provided by Friends of Decorah Public Library.
For more information, contact Tricia Crary (Friday Book Group), Zach Row-Heyveld (Cookbook, Quick Bites Groups and Troubled Water) or Kristin Torresdal (Happy Hour, History, and Speculative Fiction Book Groups) at 563-382-3717.
Sea Oak and Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience
Our first Quick Bites discussion in May will focus on two short stories about down-on-their-luck characters in absurdist dystopias. “Sea Oak” written by George Saunders, was originally published in the New Yorker in 1998 and was featured in his collection “Pastoralia.”
“Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™” by Rebecca Roanhorse won the Hugo, Nebula, and Sturgeon Awards for Best Short Story after it was published in Apex Magazine in 2017.
Once Nothing, Twice Shattered
The May 24 Quick Bites features a short story and an essay all about demolition derbies. Tyler Barton tells us the story of a charismatic kingpin and cast of desperate characters who smash cars into oblivion in “Once Nothing, Twice Shatter”.
And from fiction to nonfiction, JC Hallman investigates the chaos and culture of demolition derbies, going so far as to enter one himself in rural Maine.
The Last Blue
The Happy Hour Book Group will hold a hybrid meeting Wed. May 11 at 5:15 p.m. to discuss Isla Morley’s “The Last Blue.” In-person attendees will meet in the lower-level public meeting room at the library and digital attendees will join via Zoom. In 1937, two government-sponsored documentarians from Ohio are dispatched to Appalachia for President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration. For photographer Clay Havens, the assignment is his last chance to reboot his flagging career. So when he and his journalist partner are warned away from the remote Spooklight Holler, they set off eagerly in search of a headline story. What they see will haunt Clay into his old age: Jubilee Buford, a woman whose skin is a shocking and unmistakable shade of blue.
The Weekday Vegetarians
The Cookbook Group will meet on Thursday, May 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the lower-level meeting room of the library to discuss “The Weekday Vegetarians,” Jenny Rosenstrach’s award winning cookbook. Featuring more than 100 recipes of comforting, family-friendly foods like Pizza Salad with White Beans, Mushroom-Leek Galette, and Squash and Black Bean Tacos. Jenny also offers key flavor hits that will make any tray of roasted vegetables or bowl of garlicky beans irresistible—great things to make and throw on your next meal, such as spiced Crispy Chickpeas (who needs croutons?), Pizza Dough Croutons (you need croutons!), and a sweet chile sauce that makes everything look good and taste amazing. The Weekday Vegetarians is loaded with practical tips, techniques, and food for thought, and Jenny is your sage guide to getting more meat-free meals into your weekly rotation.
Troubled Water: A Journey Around the Black Sea
On Tuesday, May 17, the library is hosting a discussion of Jens Mühling’s new book “Troubled Water: A Journey Around the Black Sea” from 6-7 p.m in the library’s mezzanine. Discussion of the book will be facilitated by Dr. Orçun Selçuk, Luther College Political Science professor. “Troubled Water” is a travelogue through all nine countries that border the Black Sea. Mühling weaves together the history of the Black Sea, from the ancient Greeks to Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 with interviews, stories, and profiles of the diverse cast of characters who call the Black Sea home. Dr. Orçun Selçuk is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Luther College. He is originally from Turkey and will help facilitate the discussion about the book. He’ll help participants dive deeper into the background of Turkey’s role in the Black Sea, the rise of populism in the region, and help talk about current events around the Black Sea.
The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine
The History Book Group will will hold a hybrid meeting Thurs. May 19 at 3:00 p.m. to discuss Serhii Plokhy’s “The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine.” In-person attendees will meet in the lower-level public meeting room at the library and digital attendees will join via Zoom. Ukraine is currently embroiled in a tense battle with Russia to preserve its economic and political independence. But today’s conflict is only the latest in a long history of battles over Ukraine’s existence as a sovereign nation. Situated between Europe, Russia, and the Asian East, Ukraine was shaped by the empires that have used it as a strategic gateway between East and West—from the Romans and Ottomans to the Third Reich and the Soviet Union, all have engaged in global fights for supremacy on Ukrainian soil. Each invading army left a lasting mark on the landscape and on the population, making modern Ukraine an amalgam of competing cultures. Please note that this discussion will focus on historical context rather than current events.
A Long Petal of the Sea
The Friday Book Group will hold a hybrid meeting Fri. May 20 at 2:00 p.m. to discuss Isabel Allende’s “A Long Petal of the Sea.” In-person attendees will meet in the lower-level public meeting room at the library and digital attendees will join via Zoom. In the late 1930s, civil war grips Spain. When General Franco and his Fascists succeed in overthrowing the government, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee in a treacherous journey over the mountains to the French border. Among them is Roser, a pregnant young widow, who finds her life intertwined with that of Victor Dalmau, an army doctor and the brother of her deceased love. In order to survive, the two must unite in a marriage neither of them desires. Together with two thousand other refugees, they embark on a ship to Chile: “the long petal of sea and wine and snow.”
The Speculative Fiction Book Group will meet via Zoom Wed. May 25 at 5:15 p.m. to discuss Drew Magary’s “The Postmortal.” Imagine a near future where a cure for aging is discovered and—after much political and moral debate—made available to people worldwide. Immortality, however, comes with its own unique problems: evil green people, government euthanasia programs, a disturbing new religious cult, and other horrors.
The Speculative Fiction Novella Group will meet via Zoom Wed. May 25 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss K.J. Parker’s “Prosper’s Demon.” Prosper of Schanz is a man of science, determined to raise the world’s first philosopher-king, reared according to the purest principles. Unfortunately, he’s demonically possessed. Fortunately, the unnamed and morally questionable narrator of “Prosper’s Demon” is an exorcist. His methods aren’t delicate but they’re undeniably effective: he’ll get the demon out—he just doesn’t particularly care what happens to the person.