Decorah Public Library staff are hosting six book discussions in March. 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 email@example.com 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.
The Happy Hour Book Group will meet via Zoom Wed. March 8 at 5:15 p.m. to discuss S.J. Sindu’s “Blue-Skinned Gods.” In Tamil Nadu, India, a boy is born with blue skin. His father sets up an ashram, and the family makes a living off of the pilgrims who seek the child’s blessings and miracles, believing young Kalki to be the tenth human incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. In Kalki’s tenth year, he is confronted with three trials that will test his power and prove his divine status and, his father tells him, spread his fame worldwide. While he seems to pass them, Kalki begins to question his divinity.
In Bibi’s Kitchen
The Cookbook Group will meet on Thurs. March 9 at 6:30 pm in the Library’s lower level meeting room for the potluck and final discussion of “In Bibi’s Kitchen” by Hawa Hassan and Julie Turshen. In this James Beard Award winning cookbook, Somali chef Hawa Hassan and food writer Julia Turshen present 75 recipes and stories gathered from bibis (or grandmothers) from eight African nations: South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, and Eritrea. Most notably, these eight countries are at the backbone of the spice trade, many of them exporters of things like pepper and vanilla. We meet women such as Ma Shara, who helps tourists “see the real Zanzibar” by teaching them how to make her famous Ajemi Bread with Carrots and Green Pepper; Ma Vicky, who now lives in suburban New York and makes Matoke (Stewed Plantains with Beans and Beef) to bring the flavor of Tanzania to her American home; and Ma Gehennet from Eritrea who shares her recipes for Kicha (Eritrean Flatbread) and Shiro (Ground Chickpea Stew)
Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan
The History Book Group will meet on the 2nd floor of the library Thurs. March 16 at 3:00 p.m. to discuss chapters 1-9 of Herbert P. Bix’s “Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan.” In this biography of the Japanese emperor Hirohito, Herbert P. Bix offers a look at the enigmatic leader whose sixty-three-year reign ushered Japan into the modern world. Bix shows what it was like to be trained from birth for a lone position at the apex of the nation’s political hierarchy and as a revered symbol of divine status. Influenced by an unusual combination of the Japanese imperial tradition and a modern scientific worldview, the young emperor gradually evolves into his preeminent role, aligning himself with the growing ultranationalist movement, perpetuating a cult of religious emperor worship, resisting attempts to curb his power, and all the while burnishing his image as a reluctant, passive monarch.
The Friday Book Group will meet via Zoom Fri. March 17 at 2:00 p.m. to discuss Dani Shapiro’s “Signal Fires.” “Signal Fires” opens on a summer night in 1985. Three teenagers have been drinking. One of them gets behind the wheel of a car, and, in an instant, everything on Division Street changes. Each of their lives, and that of Ben Wilf, a young doctor who arrives on the scene, is shattered. For the Wilf family, the circumstances of that fatal accident will become the deepest kind of secret, one so dangerous it can never be spoken.
The Speculative Fiction Book Group will meet via Zoom Wed. March 22 at 5:15 p.m. to discuss Fonda Lee’s “Jade City.” The Kaul family is one of two crime syndicates that control the island of Kekon. It’s the only place in the world that produces rare magical jade, which grants those with the right training and heritage superhuman abilities. When the simmering tension between the Kauls and their greatest rivals erupts into open violence in the streets, the outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones and the future of Kekon itself.
To Be Taught, If Fortunate
Following the Speculative Fiction Book Group, the Speculative Fiction Novella Group will meet at 6:15 p.m. via the same Zoom link to discuss Becky Chambers’ “To Be Taught, If Fortunate.” As an astronaut on an extrasolar research vessel, Ariadne and her fellow crewmates sleep between worlds and wake up each time with different features. Her experience is one of fluid body and stable mind and of a unique perspective on the passage of time. Back on Earth, society changes dramatically from decade to decade, as it always does. But the moods of Earth have little bearing on their mission: to explore, to study, and to send their learnings home.