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Nebraska Heritage Book Club – Archive

The Nebraska Heritage Book Club
Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors
Bennett Martin Public Library (3rd floor)

136 S. 14th St.
441-8516 (Heritage Room phone #)

The Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors at Bennett Martin Public Library is pleased to be the new official meeting spot for The Nebraska Heritage Book Club (formerly The Nebraska History Book Club) as of 2019!

For several years, this group met at the Nebraska History Museum (15th & “P”). This group was formed to discuss books about Nebraska history, highlighting the books on the Nebraska150books.org booklist. Everyone is welcome. Feel free to bring lunch. Come when you can!

This group has now relocated their monthly meetings to the Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors, on the 3rd floor of the downtown library. The group meets on the 4th Friday of every month, from Noon to 1:00 p.m., for the discussion of books by Nebraska authors or with a Nebraska history theme. A specific novel, story collection or non-fiction title is selected in advance for discussion during each meeting.

Friday, October 28 2022 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the October meeting is Ben Nelson’s Death of the Senate: My Front Row Seat to the Demise of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.

Here’s the description from the introduction to this 2021 book:

“Something is rotten in the U.S. Senate, and the disease has been spreading for some time. But Ben Nelson, former U.S. senator from Nebraska, is not going to let the institution destroy itself without a fight. Death of the Senate is a clear-eyed look inside the Senate chamber and a brutally honest account of the current political reality. In his two terms as a Democratic senator from the red state of Nebraska, Nelson positioned himself as a moderate broker between his more liberal and conservative colleagues and became a frontline player in the most consequential fights of the Bush and Obama years. His trusted centrist position gave him a unique perch from which to participate in some of the last great rounds of bipartisan cooperation, such as the “Gang of 14” that considered nominees for the federal bench — and passed over a young lawyer named Brett Kavanaugh for being too partisan. Nelson learned early on that the key to any negotiation at any level is genuine trust. With humor, insight, and firsthand details, Nelson makes the case that the “heart of the deal” is critical and describes how he focused on this during his time in the Senate. As seen through the eyes of a centrist senator from the Great Plains, Nelson shows how and why the spirit of bipartisanship declined and offers solutions that can restore the Senate to one of the world’s most important legislative bodies.”

Friday, September 30 2022 — Noon-1:00 p.m. (Date changed due to the Library In-Service closing on 23rd)

The title for discussion at the September meeting is Amor Towle’s The Lincoln Highway. Note: This title is the winning selection for One Book – One Lincoln in 2022! Meredith will lead this discussion.

Here’s the description from the introduction to this 2021 book:

“The bestselling author of A Gentleman in Moscow and Rules of Civility and master of absorbing, sophisticated fiction returns with a stylish and propulsive novel set in 1950s America

In June, 1954, eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the juvenile work farm where he has just served fifteen months for involuntary manslaughter. His mother long gone, his father recently deceased, and the family farm foreclosed upon by the bank, Emmett’s intention is to pick up his eight-year-old brother, Billy, and head to California where they can start their lives anew. But when the warden drives away, Emmett discovers that two friends from the work farm have hidden themselves in the trunk of the warden’s car. Together, they have hatched an altogether different plan for Emmett’s future, one that will take them all on a fateful journey in the opposite direction–to the City of New York.

Spanning just ten days and told from multiple points of view, Towles’s third novel will satisfy fans of his multi-layered literary styling while providing them an array of new and richly imagined settings, characters, and themes.”

Friday, August 26 2022 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The titles for discussion at the August meeting will be Wahoo, NE author C.W. Anderson’s juvenile picture book series featuring Blaze the horse. You can read (or re-read) any of the books in the series in preparation for the discussion — the libraries have several of them in circulating editions at various branches, as well as a larger collection available for reading in the Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors.

Here’s the description of the first book in this popular series, Billy and Blaze:

“Billy was a little boy who “loved horses more than anything else in the world.” Imagine how happy he was when he got his very own pony for his birthday! From that day on, Billy was seldom seen without his new friend, Blaze.

Riding through fields and woods, Billy and Blaze learned to trust and understand one another—and to jump over fences and fallen trees with ease. They were a great team, but were they good enough to win the gleaming silver cup at the Mason Horse Show?

This is the first book in the classic Billy and Blaze series. Sensitive drawings and easy-to-read words capture the warmth and gentle understanding between a boy and his horse.”

Friday, August 26 2022 — Noon-1:00 p.m. [ READING ASSIGNMENT CHANGED (see above) DUE TO LIMITED COPIES OF THIS BOOK ]

The title for discussion at the August meeting was originally scheduled to be Jeff McArthur’s Two Gun Hart: Lawman, Cowboy, and Long Lost Brother of Al Capone. but was changed due to the lack of availability of enough circulating copies of this book for group members.

Here’s the description from the introduction to this 2013 book:

“Born in Italy and raised in Brooklyn, Vincenzo Capone left home when he was a teenager. He traveled with a wild-west show and fought in Europe during the Great War where he earned a medal for sharp-shooting.Upon his return, he settled in Nebraska where he went by the name Richard Hart. He married, had children, and worked closely with the local Indian communities. He dressed like the type of cowboy he had seen in silent movies, rode a horse, and wielded two six-shooters at his side, which earned him the name “Two Gun” Hart.When the Volstead Act made alcohol production illegal, Richard joined the ranks of law enforcement and became one of the most successful Prohibition officers in the country. He chased down criminals, busted alcohol stills, and protected the Indian reservations he served, all under an assumed name. But his past caught up with him when his younger brother, Al Capone, became one of the most infamous criminals in the country. They were two siblings on opposite sides of the law, both ambitious and skillful, and both of the same family.”

Friday, July 22 2022 — Noon-1:00 p.m. [ MEETING CANCELLED DUE TO LACK OF COPIES OF THIS BOOK ]

The title for discussion at the July meeting is Evelyn Vinduska McKnight and Travis Thorne Bennington’s A Never Event: Exposing the Largest Outbreak of Hepatitis C in American Healthcare History.

Here’s the description from the introduction to this 2008 book:

“In the small, farming community of Fremont, Nebraska, townspeople eagerly welcomed an acclaimed doctor as the first full-time oncologist at the new, local cancer treatment center. But the fanfare soon turned into a nightmare. During chemotherapy treatments, 857 patients who were already waging the fights of their lives against cancer were inexplicably exposed to the deadly, blood-borne hepatitis C virus. At least ninety-nine of them contracted the lethal illness. The horror was unprecedented as this was the largest healthcare-transmitted outbreak of hepatitis C in American history, and remains so to this date. A Never Event – a term used to describe a preventable medical tragedy – is a searing account of the health challenges these patients encountered and their quest for justice, as well as the painstaking investigation to uncover the source of the outbreak. It s a story of recklessness, deception and betrayal by the person these patients should have been able to trust the most: their physician, a man who, when the outbreak was discovered, fled the US for his native country in the Middle East. Written by a survivor of the tragedy and an attorney who represented many of the victims, A Never Event is a wake-up call to medical and legal communities nationwide.”

Friday, June 24 2022 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the June meeting is Sharon Schmeckpeper’s These Three Things.

Here’s the description from the introduction to this 2019 book:

“It’s 1943, and Clair Wagner and her mother, Ann, are hanging onto the windswept farm in South Central Nebraska that her German grandparents homesteaded fifty years earlier. They’ve survived almost every plague in God’s handbook, including grasshopper invasions, famine, floods. The flu epidemic of 1918 took Clair’s father, and the “Great War” took her husband. Now, Hitler is after her only son, and a new war has strained old friendships. Clair blames the Germans and God for her perils and is angry when she learns a German prisoner of war camp is opening just down the road. When one of the prisoners shows up to work on the farm, Clair is forced to face her prejudices. Sheryl Schmeckpeper is a Nebraskan, a journalist and a historian, who has researched and published numerous articles on World War II and the prisoner of war camps in Nebraska.”

Friday, May 27 2022 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the May meeting is Lucy Adkins and Becky Breed’s The Fire Inside: A Companion for the Creative Life.

Here’s the description from the introduction to this 2021 book:

“Wherever you are in your creative life — just tiptoeing in or fully immersed, The Fire Inside can be a source of encouragement and inspiration.

Rodin said that “The main thing is to be moved, to love, to tremble, to live.” In other words, to be fully engaged in life and the creativity that exists within.

The Fire Inside, through a well-researched collection of essays and heart-opening personal stories, invites readers to uncover their unique talents and live out their individual dreams.

Within each one of us are vast untapped reservoirs of creativity, and when we connect with that potential, our lives will open in wonderful and joy-filled ways.

Few books on creativity are so inclusive, so welcoming as this book, offering insight not only for furthering one’s abilities in the traditional arts, but also in the day to day creativity which so enriches our lives. Based on the authors’ combined fifty-five years of teaching and presenting workshops on writing and creativity, The Fire Inside is written in a spirit of warmth and generosity. It invites the reader to say yes to creativity, choose to live a bigger life, and discover how “the magic” happens.

These writers have great authority and expertise on this topic. They write ideas that are fresh and new with profound potential for empowering readers as well as writers, connecting them with their honest, authentic peers.” – Mary Pipher, author of The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture and Writing to Change the World

Friday, April 22 2022 — Noon-1:00 p.m. (This month’s meeting will take place in the 4th floor Conference Room)

The title for discussion at the April meeting is Shannon Baker’s Dark Signal. Meetings will return to “In Person” again this month.

Here’s the description from the introduction to this 2017 book:

Dark Signal by Shannon Baker is the second installment in the Kate Fox mystery series, called “A must read” by New York Times bestselling author Alex Kava, starring a female Longmire in the atmospheric Nebraska Sandhills.

Reeling from her recent divorce, Kate Fox has just been sworn in as Grand County, Nebraska Sheriff when tragedy strikes. A railroad accident has left engineer Chad Mills dead, his conductor Bobby Jenkins in shock. Kate soon realizes that the accident was likely murder.

Who would want to kill Chad Mills? Kate finds that he made a few enemies as president of the railroad workers union. Meanwhile his widow is behaving oddly. And why was his neighbor Josh Stevens at the Mills house on the night of the accident?

While her loud and meddling family conspires to help Kate past her divorce, State Patrol Officer Trey closes in on Josh Stevens as the suspect. Kate doesn’t believe it. She may not have the experience, but she’s lived in the Sandhills her whole life, and knows the land and the people. Something doesn’t add up — and Kate must find the real killer before he can strike again.”


Friday, March 25 2022 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

This month’s meeting will be held online via Zoom meeting software. See above for instructions on how to be sent the login code.

The title for discussion at the February meeting is Jay Brady’s Do You Remember? Roger Lempke will lead the discussion.

Here’s the description from the introduction to this 1999 book:

The book Do You Remember?, contains a collection of Jay Brady’s columns, in which each is a journey back in time to post-World War II, as seen through the eyes of a young boy and teenager growing up in rural Nebraska. Jay’s down-home sense of humor, his broad knowledge of sports and music, and his uncanny, though sometimes controversial, memory of people, places and events will take you down memory lane. Combining facts and humor, Do You Remember? lives up to its name, as each column brings out a memory of the way life was in the mid-nineteen hundreds. Jay Brady’s column originally appeared in the Ainsworth Star Journal, the Grand Island Independent, and both the Nebraska and Colorado Fenceposts magazines.


Friday, February 25 2022 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

This month’s meeting will be held online via Zoom meeting software. See above for instructions on how to be sent the login code.

The title for discussion at the February meeting is Dorothy Thomas’ Ma Jeeter’s Girls.

Here’s the description from the introduction to this 1933 book:

“Ma Jeeter, a sensible and hearty farm woman, tells the stories of the courtships of five daughters to the schoolteacher who boards with her. Ella, Bell, Lena, Laura, and Lizzie all got bitten and burdened early, thanks to the bumblebee of love. Now her youngest, Evie, is coming home to be married, and everything is as it should be.

The Jeeters are based loosely on a funny, goodhearted family that Dorothy Thomas lived with in her school-teaching days. H. L. Mencken, the famed editor, author, and critic, encouraged her to write these vignettes about them.”


Friday, January 28 2022 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

This month’s meeting will be held online via Zoom meeting software. See above for instructions on how to be sent the login code.

The title for discussion at the January meeting is Melanie Benjamin’s The Children’s Blizzard. Joyce Vanier will lead the discussion.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“The morning of January 12, 1888, was unusually mild, following a punishing cold spell. It was warm enough for the homesteaders of the Dakota territory to venture out again, and for their children to return to school without their heavy coats-leaving them unprepared when disaster struck. At just the hour when most prairie schools were letting out for the day, a terrifying, fast-moving blizzard blew in without warning. Schoolteachers as young as sixteen were suddenly faced with life and death decisions- keep the children inside, to risk freezing to death when fuel ran out, or send them home, praying they wouldn’t get lost in the storm?

Based on actual oral histories of survivors, The Children’s Blizzard follows the stories of Raina and Gerda Olsen, two sisters, both schoolteachers-one who becomes a hero of the storm, and one who finds herself ostracized in the aftermath. It’s also the story of Anette Pedersen, a servant girl whose miraculous survival serves as a turning point in her life and touches the heart of Gavin Woodson, a newspaperman seeking redemption. It was Woodson and others like him who wrote the embellished news stories that lured Northern European immigrants across the sea to settle a pitiless land. Boosters needed them to settle territories into states, and they didn’t care what lies they told these families to get them there-or whose land it originally was. At its heart, this is a story of courage, of children forced to grow up too soon, tied to the land because of their parents’ choices. It is a story of love taking root in the hard prairie ground, and of families being torn asunder by a ferocious storm that is little remembered today-because so many of its victims were immigrants to this country.”

Friday, November 19 2021 — Noon-1:00 p.m. (one week early so as to not conflict with Thanksgiving Holiday)

The title for discussion at the November meeting was William Kloefkorn’s The Coldest Christmas, or How Do You Start a Reindeer? And Nine Other Yuletide Stories.

Here’s a blurb from the back of this 1993 book:

“William Kloefkorn is a poet who approves of children. So each year he writes a Christmas story, one calculated to entertain the young — most especially those who aren’t. When he isn’t tinkering with a story of a poem, he teaches classes at Nebraska Wesleyan in Lincoln. He is married to Eloise. They have four children — Terry Lynn, John Charles, Tracy Ann, and Robert Karl — and eight grandchildren: Michelle, William, Anna, Kylie, Jamie, Nicole, Nate and Alyssa.” (this book compiles 10 of Kloefkorn’s children’s Christmas stories)

Friday, October 22 2021 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the October meeting was L. Robert Puschendorf’s Nebraska Post Office Murals: Born of the Depression, Fostered by the New Deal.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“As a part of the New Deal that offered hope during the Great Depression, scores of public art projects were commissioned around the country. Now they are among the most enduring visual legacies of that era. Twelve Nebraska post offices were chosen to receive individualized murals from the program. Nebraska’s Post Office Murals presents the story of these valuable historical pieces.

Richly illustrated with color fold-outs and never-before-published artists’ sketches, the book reveals the personalities, conflicts, and spirit of the times from which the art emerged. Each of the artists commissioned to paint the murals had a background story. Author Robert Puschendorf, NSHS associate director and the deputy state historic preservation officer, follows the journey of each mural to its completion.”

Friday, September 24 2021 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the September meeting was Willa Cather’s O, Pioneers!

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“The first of Cather’s renowned prairie novels, O Pioneers! established a new voice in American literature-turning the stories of ordinary Midwesterners and immigrants into authentic literary characters.

O Pioneers! was Willa Cather’s first great novel, and to many it remains her unchallenged masterpiece. No other work of fiction so faithfully conveys both the sharp physical realities and the mythic sweep of the transformation of the American frontier-and the transformation of the people who settled it. Cather’s heroine is Alexandra Bergson, who arrives on the wind-blasted prairie of Hanover, Nebraska, as a girl and grows up to make it a prosperous farm. But this archetypal success story is darkened by loss, and Alexandra’s devotion to the land may come at the cost of love itself.

At once a sophisticated pastoral and a prototype for later feminist novels, O Pioneers! is a work in which triumph is inextricably enmeshed with tragedy, a story of people who do not claim a land so much as they submit to it and, in the process, become greater than they were.”

Friday, August 27 2021 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the August meeting was James J. Kimball’s Prairie Forge: The Extraordinary Story of the Nebraska Scrap Metal Drive of World War II. Discussion lead by Georgean McReynolds.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“In the wake of Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt called for the largest arms buildup in our nation’s history. A shortage of steel, however, quickly slowed the program’s momentum, and arms production fell dangerously behind schedule. The country needed scrap metal. Henry Doorly, publisher of the Omaha World-Herald, had the solution. Prairie Forge tells the story of the great Nebraska scrap drive of 1942 — a campaign that swept the nation and yielded five million tons of scrap metal, literally salvaging the war effort itself.

James J. Kimble chronicles Doorly’s conception of a fierce competition pitting county against county, business against business, and, in schools across the state, class against class–inspiring Nebraskans to gather 67,000 tons of scrap metal in only three weeks. This astounding feat provided the template for a national drive. A tale of plowshares turned into arms, Prairie Forge gives the first full account of how home became home front for so many civilians.”

Friday, July 23 2021 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the July meeting was Ann Patchett’s The Magician’s Assistant. Discussion lead by Georgean McReynolds.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“A secretive magician’s death becomes the catalyst for his partner’s journey self-discovery in this “enchanting” book (San Francisco Chronicle)“that is something of a magic trick in itself” (Newsweek).
 
When Parsifal, a handsome and charming magician, dies suddenly, his widow Sabine–who was also his faithful assistant for twenty years–learns that the family he claimed to have lost in a tragic accident is very much alive and well. Sabine is left to unravel his secrets, and the journey she takes, from sunny Los Angeles to the bitter windswept plains of Nebraska, will work its own magic on her. Sabine’s extraordinary tale, “with its big dreams, vast spaces, and disparate realities lying side by side” captures the hearts of its readers and “proves to be the perfect place for miraculous transformations” (The New Yorker). “

Friday, June 25 2021 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the May meeting was Mari Sandoz’ Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“Crazy Horse, the legendary military leader of the Oglala Sioux whose personal power and social nonconformity contributed to his reputation as being “strange,” fought in many famous battles, including the Little Bighorn, and held out tirelessly against the U.S. government’s efforts to confine the Lakotas to reservations. Finally, in the spring of 1877 he surrendered, only to meet a violent death. More than a century later Crazy Horse continues to hold a special place in the hearts and minds of his people. Mari Sandoz offers a powerful evocation of the long-ago world and enduring spirit of Crazy Horse.”


Friday, May 21 2021 — Noon-1:00 p.m. [Note: One week earlier than usual]

This month’s meeting was held online via Zoom meeting software.

The title for discussion at the May meeting was Bob Greene’s Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“In search of “the best America there ever was,” bestselling author and syndicated columnist Bob Greene finds it in a small Nebraska town few people pass through today — a town where Greene discovers the echoes of the most touching love story imaginable: a love story between a country and its sons.

North Platte, Nebraska, is as isolated as a small town can be, a solitary outpost in the vast midwestern plains, hours from the state’s urban centers of Omaha and Lincoln. But from Christmas Day 1941 to the end of World War II, a miracle happened there.

During the war, American soldiers from every city and walk of life rolled through North Platte on troop trains, en route to their ultimate destinations in Europe and the Pacific. The tiny town, wanting to offer the servicemen warmth and support, transformed its modest railroad depot into the North Platte Canteen — a place where soldiers could enjoy coffee, music, home-cooked food, magazines, and convivial, friendly conversation during a stopover that lasted only a few minutes. It was a haven for a never-ending stream of weary, homesick military personnel that provided them with the encouragement they needed to help them through the difficult times ahead.

Every day of the year, every day of the war, the Canteen — staffed and funded entirely by local volunteers — was open from 5 A.M. until the last troop train of the day pulled away after midnight. Astonishingly, this remote plains community of only twelve thousand people provided welcoming words, friendship, and baskets of food and treats to more than six million GIs by the time the war ended.

In this poignant and heartwarming eyewitness history, based on interviews with North Platte residents and the GIs who once passed through, Bob Greene unearths and reveals a classic, lost-in-the-mists-of-time American story of a grateful country honoring its brave and dedicated sons.”


Friday, April 23 2021 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

This month’s meeting was held online via Zoom meeting software.

The title for discussion at the April meeting was Jane Kleeb’s Harvest the Vote: How Democrats Can Win Again in Rural America.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“The Democratic Party has lost an entire generation of rural voters. By focusing the majority of their message and resources on urban and coastal voters, Democrats have sacrificed entire regions of the country where there is more common ground and shared values than what appears on the surface.

In Harvest the Vote, Jane Kleeb, chair of Nebraska’s Democratic Party and founder of Bold Nebraska, brings us a lively and sweeping argument for why the Democrats shouldn’t turn away from rural America. As a party leader and longtime activist, Kleeb speaks from experience. She’s been fighting the national party for more resources and building a grassroots movement to flex the power of a voting bloc that has long been ignored and forgotten.

Kleeb persuasively argues that the hottest issues of the day can be solved hand in hand with rural people. On climate change, Kleeb shows that the vast spaces of rural America can be used to enact clean energy innovations. And issues of eminent domain and corporate overreach will galvanize unlikely alliances of family farmers, ranchers, small business owners, progressives, and tribal leaders, much as they did when she helped fight the Keystone XL pipeline. The hot-button issues of guns and abortion that the Republican Party uses to wedge voters against one another can be bridged by putting a megaphone next to issues critical to rural communities.

Written with a fiery voice and commonsense solutions, Harvest the Vote is both a call to action and a much-needed balm for a highly divided nation”


Friday, March 26 2021 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

This month’s meeting was held online via Zoom meeting software.

The title for discussion at the March meeting was Douglas Wellman and Mark Musick’s Boxes: The Secret Life of Howard Hughes.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“Eva McLelland was good at keeping secrets, and she had a big one. Sworn to secrecy for thirty-one years until the death of her husband, Eva was at last able to come forward and share a story that turns twentieth century history on its head and fills in puzzling blanks in the mysterious life of the tycoon Howard Hughes. How could Hughes appear to witnesses as an emaciated, long finger-nailed, mental incompetent, yet fly a jet aircraft four months later? How could a doctor describe him as looking like a “prisoner of war,” when at the same time investment bankers, politicians, and diplomats who met him said he was articulate and well-groomed? The answer is a perfect example of the brilliance of the elusive billionaire. He simply found a mentally incompetent man to impersonate him, drawing the attention of the Internal Revenue Service and an army of lawyers who pursued him, while he conducted his business in peace from Panama with his new wife, Eva McLelland. Sound fantastic? It is. However, after seven years of research and verification, Eva’s story produces the final pieces in the mysterious puzzle that was Howard Hughes.”


Friday, February 26 2021 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

This month’s meeting was held online via Zoom meeting software.

The title for discussion at the February meeting was Lee Child’s Worth Dying For. Discussion will be lead by Roger Lempke.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“There’s deadly trouble in the corn country of Nebraska . . . and Jack Reacher walks right into it. First he falls foul of the Duncans, a local clan that has terrified an entire county into submission. But it’s the unsolved case of a missing child, already decades-old, that Reacher can’t let go.

The Duncans want Reacher gone–and it’s not just past secrets they’re trying to hide. They’re awaiting a secret shipment that’s already late–and they have the kind of customers no one can afford to annoy. For as dangerous as the Duncans are, they’re just the bottom of a criminal food chain stretching halfway around the world.

For Reacher, it would have made much more sense to keep on going, to put some distance between himself and the hard-core trouble that’s bearing down on him.

For Reacher, that was also impossible.

Worth Dying For is the kind of explosive thriller only Lee Child could write and only Jack Reacher could survive–a heart-racing page-turner no suspense fan will want to miss.”


Friday, January 22 2021 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

This month’s meeting was held online via Zoom meeting software.

The title for discussion at the January meeting was Dorcas Cavett’s My First 81 Years.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“The author recounts her life as a classroom teacher, a mathematical instructor for educational television, a wife, and a stepmother.”


Friday, November 20, 2020 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

This month’s meeting was held online via Zoom meeting software.

The title for discussion at the November meeting was Margaret Dolezal’s Christmas Tales and Poems.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“Filled with sweet nostalgia, these stories and poems of Christmases speak to our longing for the gentle joys of friends, family and simple pleasures”

Friday, October 23 2020 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

This month’s meeting was held online via Zoom meeting software.

The title for discussion at the October meeting was Dirk Chatelain’s 24th & Glory:The Intersection of Civil Rights and Omaha’s Greatest Generation of Athletes.

Special Note: Author Dirk Chatelain will attend and participate in this month’s discussion on Zoom!

Here’s the description from our catalog:

” In 1968, Bob Gibson was in the middle of one of the most dominant pitching performances in World Series history, but he wasn’t the only North Omahan on the sports page.That first week of October, one native son led the NFL in rushing. Another averaged 22 points per game in the NBA. One was about to begin a 17,000-point pro basketball career. Another was about to break football’s most stubborn racial barrier. One — a future Heisman Trophy winner — broke Friday night records.They all came from the same parks and gyms. The same schools and coaches.They rose out of segregation — higher and higher — as racial tensions in North Omaha boiled hotter and hotter.”24th & Glory: The intersection of civil rights and Omaha’s greatest generation of athletes” from award-winning World-Herald staff writer Dirk Chatelain tells the story behind one incredible neighborhood that produced so many world-class athletes.”

Interested participants are invited to watch Dirk Chatelain’s Ames Reading Series presentation on YouTube if they want before the book club.

Friday, September 25 2020 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the September meeting was Lou Leviticus’ Tales From the Milestone: My Life Before and During 1940-1945.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“Wajikra’s story details his life before the WWII and the last days he was with his parents, how he survived on his own, and his treatment on the farm where he hid for a while. He details aspects of “underground” activities and lets others tell their stories. The last chapter is a rather horrifying story of a raid on a farm and the defensive actions he and others had to take.”

[MEETING NOT HELD, DUE TO CORONAVIRUS SAFETY MEASURES.]

Friday, August 28, 2020 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the August meeting was Bradford Morrow’s Prague Sonata.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

” Pages of a weathered original sonata manuscript – the gift of a Czech immigrant living in Queens – come into the hands of Meta Taverner, a young musicologist whose concert piano career was cut short by an injury. The gift comes with the request that Meta find the manuscript’s true owner – a Prague friend the old woman has not heard from since the Second World War forced them apart – and to make the three-part sonata whole again. Leaving New York behind for the land of Dvorak and Kafka, Meta sets out on an unforgettable search to locate the remaining movements of the sonata and uncover a story that has influenced the course of many lives, even as it becomes clear that she isn’t the only one seeking the music’s secrets.”

[MEETING NOT HELD, DUE TO CORONAVIRUS SAFETY MEASURES.]
 

Friday, July 24, 2020 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the July meeting was Ron Hansen’s Hitler’s Niece.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“In September 1931, a 23-year-old woman was found dead in the Munich flat owned by Adolf Hitler, an unfinished letter on her desk and his handgun on the floor beside her. She was Geli Raubal, the daughter of Hitler’s widowed half-sister, and, as Hitler later melodramatically claimed, the only woman he ever loved.

Although he had known of Geli since her birth, he was aloof from his Austrian family during his first years as head of the struggling Nazi Party. But in 1927, six years before he became chancellor, Hitler invited his half-sister to become housekeeper of his alpine home in Obersalzberg and to bring along her daughter, offering to pay for Geli’s medical studies at the university in Munich. Seeing his niece on a daily basis, he soon fell jealously in love, for Geli was, as Hitler’s friends later said, “an enchantress,” pretty, fun-loving, witty, flirtatious, and able, as no one else was, to put her strange, high-strung uncle at ease.

In a carefully researched historical novel that is haunting, unflinching, shocking, profound, and as compulsively readable as a psychological thriller, Ron Hansen presents Adolf Hitler as he has never before been seen in fiction, but as his intimates must have seen him. And through the eyes of a favorite niece who has been all but lost to history, we see the frightening rise in prestige and political power of a vain, vulgar, sinister man who thrived on hate and cruelty and would stop at nothing to keep the horror of his inner life hidden from the world.

Hitler’s Niece is a masterpiece, a luminous, suspenseful, beautifully crafted novel, full of passion, events, and insight, that reinforces Ron Hansen’s growing reputation as one of our foremost writers of fiction.”

[MEETING NOT HELD, DUE TO CORONAVIRUS SAFETY MEASURES.]

Friday, June 26, 2020 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the June meeting was John Ferak’s Bloody Lies: Scandal in Heartland.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“The remote farming community of Murdock, Nebraska, seemed to be the least likely setting for one of the heartland’s most ruthless and bloody double murders in decades. In fact, the little town had gone more than a century without a single homicide. But on the night of Easter 2006, Wayne and Sharmon Stock were brutally murdered in their home. The murders garnered sensational frontpage headlines and drew immediate statewide attention. Practically everybody around Murdock was filled with fear, panic, and outrage. Who killed Wayne and Sharmon Stock? What was the motive? The Stocks were the essence of Nebraska’s all-American farm family, self-made, God-fearing, and of high moral character. Barely a week into this double murder investigation, two arrests brought a sense of relief to the victims’ family and to local residents. The case appeared to fall neatly into place when a tiny speck of murder victim Wayne Stock’s blood appeared in the alleged getaway car.

Then, an obscure clue left at the crime scene took the investigation down a totally different path, stretching into Iowa, Louisiana, New York, Texas, and Wisconsin. By the time this investigation was over, the charges against the original suspects were dismissed and two new individuals emerged from the shadows. Author John Ferak covered the Stock murders from the very beginning, including all of the trial proceedings. When the criminal prosecution finally ended in 2007, he remained puzzled by one nagging question: Why was the blood of victim Wayne Stock in a car that was ultimately proven to have no connection to the murders?

Over the next few years, the astonishing “bloody lies” were revealed, culminating in a law enforcement scandal that turned the case on its head and destroyed the career of Nebraska’s celebrated CSI director, David Kofoed.”

[MEETING NOT HELD, DUE TO CORONAVIRUS SAFETY MEASURES.]

Friday, May 22, 2020 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the May meeting was Donald Stratton’s All the Gallant Men: An American Sailor’s First-Hand Account of Pearl Harbor.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“At 8:06 a.m. on December 7, 1941, Seaman First Class Donald Stratton was consumed by an inferno. A million pounds of explosives had detonated beneath his battle station aboard the USS Arizona, barely fifteen minutes into Japan’s surprise attack on American forces at Pearl Harbor. Near death and burned across two thirds of his body, Don, a nineteen-year-old Nebraskan who had been steeled by the Great Depression and Dust Bowl, summoned the will to haul himself hand over hand across a rope tethered to a neighboring vessel. Forty-five feet below, the harbor’s flaming, oil-slick water boiled with enemy bullets; all around him the world tore itself apart.

In this extraordinary never-before-told eyewitness account of the Pearl Harbor attack–the only memoir ever written by a survivor of the USS Arizona–ninety-four-year-old veteran Donald Stratton finally shares his unforgettable personal tale of bravery and survival on December 7, 1941, his harrowing recovery, and his inspiring determination to return to the fight.

Don and four other sailors made it safely across the same line that morning, a small miracle on a day that claimed the lives of 1,177 of their Arizona shipmates–approximately half the American fatalaties at Pearl Harbor. Sent to military hospitals for a year, Don refused doctors’ advice to amputate his limbs and battled to relearn how to walk. The U.S. Navy gave him a medical discharge, believing he would never again be fit for service, but Don had unfinished business. In June 1944, he sailed back into the teeth of the Pacific War on a destroyer, destined for combat in the crucial battles of Leyte Gulf, Luzon, and Okinawa, thus earning the distinction of having been present for the opening shots and the final major battle of America’s Second World War.

As the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack approaches, Don, a great-grandfather of five and one of five living survivors of the Arizona, offers an unprecedentedly intimate reflection on the tragedy that drew America into the greatest armed conflict in history. All the Gallant Men is a book for the ages, one of the most remarkable–and remarkably inspiring–memoirs of any kind to appear in recent years.”

[MEETING NOT HELD, DUE TO CORONAVIRUS SAFETY MEASURES.]

Friday, April 24, 2020 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the April meeting was Laura Love’s You Ain’t Got No Easter Clothes.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“Laura Love has an uncanny knack for getting an audience to listen. Today she is beloved by fans around the world for her funk-folksy music. But Love’s life wasn’t always so good. Growing up in racially troubled Nebraska, Love survived a miserable childhood, shuffling among a mentally unstable mother, foster homes, and orphanages. Despite the odds, Love survived, thanks ultimately to her enormous will. You Ain’t Got No Easter Clothes is Love’s wrenching, shocking, yet hopeful story of the survival of a deeply rooted, but broadly cultured woman.”

[MEETING NOT HELD, DUE TO CORONAVIRUS SAFETY MEASURES.]

Friday, March 27, 2020 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the March meeting was Jonis Agee’s Bones of Paradise.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“The award-winning author of The River Wife returns with a multigenerational family saga set in the unforgiving Nebraska Sand Hills in the years following the massacre at Wounded Knee–an ambitious tale of history, vengeance, race, guilt, betrayal, family, and belonging, filled with a vivid cast of characters shaped by violence, love, and a desperate loyalty to the land.

Ten years after the Seventh Cavalry massacred more than two hundred Lakota men, women, and children at Wounded Knee, J.B. Bennett, a white rancher, and Star, a young Native American woman, are murdered in a remote meadow on J.B.’s land. The deaths bring together the scattered members of the Bennett family: J.B.’s cunning and hard father, Drum; his estranged wife, Dulcinea; and his teenage sons, Cullen and Hayward. As the mystery of these twin deaths unfolds, the history of the dysfunctional Bennetts and their damning secrets is revealed, exposing the conflicted heart of a nation caught between past and future.

At the center of The Bones of Paradise are two remarkable women. Dulcinea, returned after bitter years of self-exile, yearns for redemption and the courage to mend her broken family and reclaim the land that is rightfully hers. Rose, scarred by the terrible slaughters that have decimated and dislocated her people, struggles to accept the death of her sister, Star, and refuses to rest until she is avenged.

A kaleidoscopic portrait of misfits, schemers, chancers, and dreamers, Jonis Agee’s bold novel is a panorama of America at the dawn of a new century. A beautiful evocation of this magnificent, blood-soaked land–its sweeping prairies, seas of golden grass, and sandy hills, all at the mercy of two unpredictable and terrifying forces, weather and lawlessness–and the durable men and women who dared to tame it. Intimate and epic, The Bones of Paradise is a remarkable achievement: a mystery, a tragedy, a romance, and an unflagging exploration of the beauty and brutality, tenderness and cruelty that defined the settling of the American West.”

[MEETING NOT HELD, DUE TO CORONAVIRUS SAFETY MEASURES.]

Friday, February 28, 2020 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the January meeting was Mari Sandoz’s Capital City.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“First published in the dark days immediately before World War II, Capital City is Mari Sandoz’s angriest and most political novel. Like many important American novels of the 1930s — John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Jack Conroy’s The Disinherited, Robert Cantwell’s Land of PlentyCapital City depicts the troubles of working people trapped in the Great Depression. A unique portrayal of how the Depression affected the Great Plains, it examines the forces that bitterly contended for wealth and power. Sandoz researched the daily life and behind-the-scenes operations of several state capitals in the thirties before synthesizing them in this novel, which is part allegory, part indictment, part warning. Famous for her passionate writing, Sandoz imbued Capital City with the full measure of her outrage.”

Friday, January 24, 2020 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the January meeting was Christine Harris’ The Gypsy in My Soul.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“Poland, 1943-Heinrich Himmler orders the mass deportation of Gypsies to concentration camps. Sasha Karmazin, a Gypsy woman living in Warsaw, Poland, is torn from her family by the Gestapo and must leave behind her Polish husband, Henryk, and her two teenage sons, Karl and Dimitri. After being transported to Auschwitz, Europe’s largest Nazi concentration camp, Sasha is forced to work as an interpreter for the Nazis. Her survival depends on her wits, and she will do anything to stay alive.

Nebraska, 1976-Beth Karmazin, a beautiful, bronze-skinned young woman and daughter of Karl Karmazin, is all too aware of her Gypsy heritage. But when she learns that her grandmother Sasha, presumed to be dead, is accused of having taken a Nazi lover and collaborating with the Nazi’s while at Auschwitz, Beth is determined to prove her grandmother’s innocence.

Beth’s commitment takes her on a three-year quest deep into Communist-controlled Eastern Europe at the height of the Cold War, a journey that changes not only her life, but also the course of history.

Seamlessly moving from the turbulent 1940s to the 1980s, The Gypsy in My Soul. creates a riveting portrait of one woman’s devotion to family-and to uncovering the truth.”

Journey into Christmas - cover

Friday, November 15, 2019 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

This month’s meeting was moved forward by a week from the 22nd to the 15th!

The title for discussion at the November meeting was Journey into Christmas by Bess Streeter Aldrich.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

The true meaning of Christmas emerges in these stories about reunited families, good fellowship, and restored faith. This is not to say that all is sugar candy. The mother in the title story faces a lonely Christmas in an empty house–but then something quite ordinary but miraculous happens. In “The Drum Goes Dead,” a small-town bank cashier, a solid citizen and sterling friend, is dispirited by hard times until he discovers, through his own resources, that it is indeed a wonderful life.

Here are nine other holiday stories, by turns dramatic, humorous, and inspirational. The closing piece recalls the author’s childhood in Iowa.

[Reminder: There is no meeting in December 2019.]

Friday, October 25, 2019 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The author for discussion at the October meeting is Terese Svoboda, however no specific titles were selected. Participants could read any of Terese Svoboda’s work, up to and including her latest, Great American Desert.

The author, Terese Svoboda, joined the group for this discussion.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

Water, its use and abuse, trickles through Great American Desert, a story collection by Terese Svoboda that spans the misadventures of the prehistoric Clovis people to the wanderings of a forlorn couple around a pink pyramid in a sci-fi prairie. In “Dutch Joe,” the eponymous hero sees the future from the bottom of a well in the Sandhills, while a woman tries to drag her sister back from insanity in “Dirty Thirties.” In “Bomb Jockey,” a local Romeo disposes of leaky bombs at South Dakota’s army depot, while a family quarrels in “Ogallala Aquifer” as a thousand trucks dump chemical waste from a munitions depot next to their land. Bugs and drugs are devoured in “Alfalfa,” a disc jockey talks her way out of a knifing in “Sally Rides,” and an updated Pied Piper begs parents to reconsider in “The Mountain.” The consequences of the land’s mistreatment is epitomized in the final story by a discovery inside a pink pyramid.

In her arresting and inimitable style, Svoboda’s delicate handling of the complex dynamics of family and self seeps into every sentence of these first-rate short stories about what we do to the world around us–and what it can do to us.

Zoo Nebraska - cover

Friday, September 27, 2019 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

Zoo Nebraska: The Dismantling of an American Dream, by Carson Vaughan, was the featured title.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

A resonant true story of small-town politics and community perseverance and of decent people and questionable choices, Zoo Nebraska is a timely requiem for a rural America in the throes of extinction.

Royal, Nebraska, population eighty-one–where the church, high school, and post office each stand abandoned, monuments to a Great Plains town that never flourished. But for nearly twenty years, they had a zoo, seven acres that rose from local peculiarity to key tourist attraction to devastating tragedy. And it all began with one man’s outsize vision.

When Dick Haskin’s plans to assist primatologist Dian Fossey in Rwanda were cut short by her murder, Dick’s devotion to primates didn’t die with her. He returned to his hometown with Reuben, an adolescent chimp, in the bed of a pickup truck and transformed a trailer home into the Midwest Primate Center. As the tourist trade multiplied, so did the inhabitants of what would become Zoo Nebraska, the unlikeliest boon to Royal’s economy in generations and, eventually, the source of a power struggle that would lead to the tragic implosion of Dick Haskin’s dream.

Friday, August 23, 2019 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the August meeting was Mary K. Stillwell’s The Life and Poetry of Ted Kooser.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“Like a flash of lightning it came to him— the unathletic high school student Ted Kooser saw a future as a famous poet that promised everything: glory, immortality, a bohemian lifestyle (no more doing dishes, no more cleaning his room), and, particularly important to the lonely teenager, girls! Unlike most kids with a sudden ambition, Kooser, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and thirteenth poet laureate of the United States, made good on his dream. But glory was a long time coming, and along the way Kooser lived the life that has made his poetry what it is, as deeply grounded in family, work, and the natural world as it is attuned to the nuances of language.

Just as so much of Kooser’ s own writing weaves geography, history, and family stories into its measures, so does this first critical biography consider the poet’ s work and life together: his upbringing in Iowa, his studies in Nebraska with poet Karl Shapiro as mentor, his career in insurance, his family life, his bout with cancer, and, always, his poetry. Combining a fine appreciation of Kooser’ s work and life, this book finally provides a fuller and more complex picture of a writer who, perhaps more than any other, has brought the Great Plains and the Midwest, lived large and small, into the poetry of our day.”

Friday, July 26, 2019 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the July meeting was Theodore Wheeler’s Kings of Broken Things.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“With characters depicted in precise detail and wide panorama–a kept-woman’s parlor, a contentious interracial baseball game on the Fourth of July, and the tragic true events of the Omaha Race Riot of 1919 — Kings of Broken Things reveals the folly of human nature in an era of astonishing ambition.

During the waning days of World War I, three lost souls find themselves adrift in Omaha, Nebraska, at a time of unprecedented nationalism, xenophobia, and political corruption. Adolescent European refugee Karel Miihlstein’s life is transformed after neighborhood boys discover his prodigious natural talent for baseball. Jake Strauss, a young man with a violent past and desperate for a second chance, is drawn into a criminal underworld. Evie Chambers, a kept woman, is trying to make ends meet and looking every which way to escape her cheerless existence.

As wounded soldiers return from the front and black migrant workers move north in search of economic opportunity, the immigrant wards of Omaha become a tinderbox of racial resentment stoked by unscrupulous politicians. Punctuated by an unspeakable act of mob violence, the fates of Karel, Jake, and Evie will become inexorably entangled with the schemes of a ruthless political boss whose will to power knows no bounds.

Written in the tradition of Don DeLillo and Colum McCann, with a great debt to Ralph Ellison, Theodore Wheeler’s debut novel Kings of Broken Things is a panoramic view of a city on the brink of implosion during the course of this summer of strife.”

Theodore Wheeler, the author of Kings of Broken Things, will be joining the group for this month’s discussion.

Friday, June 28, 2019 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The titles for discussion at the June meeting were the picture books of Bruce Arant, including Simpson’s Sheep Won’t Go To Sleep!

Here’s the description of that specific title, from our catalog:

“Farmer Simpson works all day. He plants his corn, and beans, and hay. His feet get tired, his nose gets red. At night, he likes to go to bed. But Simpson’s sheep have other plans–and sleep is not one of them! They think of every excuse to stay awake. They need a drink. They want a snack. They have to “go!” They like to yack. Will poor Simpson ever find a way to lull his sheep to sleep? Illustrated with soft pastel drawings that are both silly and soothing–Simpson’s Sheep Won’t Go to Sleep! is a story for every parent who has put a child to bed–and every child who has creatively resisted.”

Friday, May 24, 2019 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the February meeting was Ted Genoways’ This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm. This title is the selection for One Book One Nebraska for 2019.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“The family farm lies at the heart of our national identity, and yet its future is in peril. Rick Hammond grew up on a farm, and for forty years he has raised cattle and crops on his wife’s fifth-generation homestead in Nebraska, in hopes of passing it on to their four children. But as the handoff nears, their small family farm — and their entire way of life — are under siege. Beyond the threat posed by rising corporate ownership of land and livestock, the Hammonds are confronted by encroaching pipelines, groundwater depletion, climate change, and shifting trade policies. Add GMOs, pesticides, and fossil fuel pollution to their list of troubles and the question is: can the family farm survive in America?”

Friday, April 26, 2019 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the February meeting was Stephanie Grace Whitson’s Karyn’s Memory Box.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“Prairie life challenges newlywed Karyn Ritter, but she finds beauty in the wilderness while learning that love can come from unexpected places.”

Friday, March 22, 2019 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The featured title for March was Bess Streeter Aldrich’s The Rim of the Prairie.

A special treat is in store for March 22. The group indicated that we would like to take a field trip to Elmwood, NE, the home of Mrs. Aldrich. If you are interested in attending, contact the Heritage Room at 402-441-8516.

We will start at the museum (124 West D Street), which is in the back half of the Elmwood Library at 1:30. That part of our tour will take about 30 minutes. Then we will drive about 4 blocks to the Aldrich House, 204 East F Street. That will take about 45-60 minutes. The exhibit in March is vintage sheet music, music boxes, and vintage musical instruments. There is a $5.00 charge.

You will appreciate the book even more when you visit Elmwood.

If you would like to carpool, we will meet in the Kohl’s parking lot (just north of 84th & O Streets) at 12:45.

Here’s the description from the back cover of the book:

“A western story set in a small town in Nebraska on ‘the rim of the prairie.’ The characters include a gay, tantalizing heroine made more attractive by a hint of mystery, a steadfast hero, and two delightful pioneers.”

Friday, February 22, 2019 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the February meeting was Gabe Parks’ Nebraska Trivia.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“Nebraska Trivia is the who, what, when, where, and how book of the great state of Nebraska. Filled with interesting questions and answers about well-known and not so well-known facts of this colorful, historic state, Nebraska Trivia will provide hours of entertainment and education. Designed for use in a wide variety of settings―home, office, school, parties―it focuses on the history, culture, people, and places of the fascinating Cornhusker State. Nebraska Trivia is readily adaptable for use with trivia format games.”

Friday, February 23, 2018 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the February 2018 meeting was Jeff Kurrus’ Have You Seen Mary?.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“‘. . . and the sky blackened with dark, gray bodies. In the blurry confusion, John lost Mary.’ So begins Have You Seen Mary?, Jeff Kurrus’s fictional account of one sandhill crane’s faithful search during spring migration for his lost mate. Set on Nebraska’s Platte River, this tenderly woven story of love is also a stirring introduction to these majestic birds, replete with Michael Forsberg’s radiant color photographs. This book will appeal to all ages, for it both entertains and educates readers about sandhill cranes.”

Friday, November 17, 2017 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the November 2017 meeting was Mari Sandoz’s The Christmas of the Phonograph Record.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“Charmingly, Mari Sandoz tells of a long-ago Christmas in western Nebraska when her father’s house was filled with good music. Old Jules had ordered an Edison phonograph and boxes of cylinder records from the East, paying for them with an inheritance and ignoring debts, to the chagrin of his long-suffering wife. But the entire family soon entered into the holiday spirit as neighbors arrived to feast and dance and enjoy musical selections ranging from Lucia di Lammermoor to Casey at the Telephone. Even old enmities dissolved under the spell, for, as Old Jules said, “The music is for everybody.”

A classic in the tradition of Dylan Thomas’s Child’s Christmas in Wales and Truman Capote’s Christmas Memory, this story by the famous author of Old Jules was first published posthumously in December 1966.”

Friday, October 27, 2017 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the October 2017 meeting was Frances G. Reinehr’s Bloody Mary, Gentle Woman.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“Mary Ann Partington (1889-1979) became a legend when blood was shed for independence on her lonely farmstead. A retired school teacher and avid church-worker, she suffered not gladly the intrusions on her person and property by a generation of teenagers bent on riling her. Their rite of passage cost her dearly.

Spurred on by the enthusiasm of her fifth grade glasses who were enchanted by the legend, author Reinehr search for the person behind the legend. In Bloody Mary, Gentle Woman, she explores the contradictions embodied in that title.”

Friday, September 29, 2017 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the September 2017 meeting was Jonis Agee’s The Bones of Paradise.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“The award-winning author of The River Wife returns with a multigenerational family saga set in the unforgiving Nebraska Sand Hills in the years following the massacre at Wounded Knee–an ambitious tale of history, vengeance, race, guilt, betrayal, family, and belonging, filled with a vivid cast of characters shaped by violence, love, and a desperate loyalty to the land.

Ten years after the Seventh Cavalry massacred more than two hundred Lakota men, women, and children at Wounded Knee, J.B. Bennett, a white rancher, and Star, a young Native American woman, are murdered in a remote meadow on J.B.’s land. The deaths bring together the scattered members of the Bennett family: J.B.’s cunning and hard father, Drum; his estranged wife, Dulcinea; and his teenage sons, Cullen and Hayward. As the mystery of these twin deaths unfolds, the history of the dysfunctional Bennetts and their damning secrets is revealed, exposing the conflicted heart of a nation caught between past and future.

At the center of The Bones of Paradise are two remarkable women. Dulcinea, returned after bitter years of self-exile, yearns for redemption and the courage to mend her broken family and reclaim the land that is rightfully hers. Rose, scarred by the terrible slaughters that have decimated and dislocated her people, struggles to accept the death of her sister, Star, and refuses to rest until she is avenged.

A kaleidoscopic portrait of misfits, schemers, chancers, and dreamers, Jonis Agee’s bold novel is a panorama of America at the dawn of a new century. A beautiful evocation of this magnificent, blood-soaked land–its sweeping prairies, seas of golden grass, and sandy hills, all at the mercy of two unpredictable and terrifying forces, weather and lawlessness–and the durable men and women who dared to tame it. Intimate and epic, The Bones of Paradise is a remarkable achievement: a mystery, a tragedy, a romance, and an unflagging exploration of the beauty and brutality, tenderness and cruelty that defined the settling of the American West.”

Friday, May 26, 2017 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the May 2017 meeting was Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits-smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love-and just how hard it pulled you under.”

Friday, April 21, 2017 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the April 2017 meeting was Dennis Vossberg’s Hector’s Bliss: Black Homesteaders at Goose Lake, Nebraska.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“This novel traces the struggles of the Hector Dixon Family from his early days as a slave in Virginia, and his wife’s harrowing escape to the North as a young girl. The story continues through their burial in the lost Negro Cemetery by peaceful Goose Lake.”

Friday, March 24, 2017 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the March 2017 meeting was Diane Bartles’ Sharpie: The Life of Evelyn Sharp – Nebraska’s Aviatrix.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

“The life story of a woman who simply loved to fly, Sharpie is a biography of an early Nebraska barn-storming pilot who became one of the first women to ferry U.S. Army Air Force fighters during World War II. She gave her life for her country — a war heroine.”

Friday, February 25, 2017 — Noon-1:00 p.m.

The title for discussion at the February 2017 meeting was John G. Neihardt’s Black Elk Speaks.

Here’s the description from our catalog:

Black Elk Speaks, the story of the Oglala Lakota visionary and healer Nicholas Black Elk (1863–1950) and his people during momentous twilight years of the nineteenth century, offers readers much more than a precious glimpse of a vanished time. Black Elk’s searing visions of the unity of humanity and Earth, conveyed by John G. Neihardt, have made this book a classic that crosses multiple genres. Whether appreciated as the poignant tale of a Lakota life, as a history of a Native nation, or as an enduring spiritual testament, Black Elk Speaks is unforgettable.

Black Elk met the distinguished poet, writer, and critic John G. Neihardt in 1930 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and asked Neihardt to share his story with the world. Neihardt understood and conveyed Black Elk’s experiences in this powerful and inspirational message for all humankind.”