Thursday, July 3, 2014

July 2014 - Across Many Mountains by Yangzom Brauen

We are now heading over to Tibet in the month of July with a discussion of "Across Many Mountains: A Tibetan Family's Epic Journey from Oppression to Freedom" by Yangzom Brauen. 

Here's a Book Summary:
A powerful, emotional memoir and an extraordinary portrait of three generations of Tibetan women whose lives are forever changed when Chairman Mao’s Red Army crushes Tibetan independence, sending a young mother and her six-year-old daughter on a treacherous journey across the snowy Himalayas toward freedom.

Kunsang thought she would never leave Tibet. One of the country's youngest Buddhist nuns, she grew up in a remote mountain village where, as a teenager, she entered the local nunnery. Though simple, Kunsang's life gave her all she needed: a oneness with nature and a sense of the spiritual in all things. She married a monk, had two children, and lived in peace and prayer. But not for long. The Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950 changed everything. When soldiers arrived at her mountain monastery, destroying everything in their path, Kunsang and her family fled across the Himalayas only to spend years in Indian refugee camps. She lost both her husband and her youngest child on that journey, but the future held an extraordinary turn of events that would forever change her life--the arrival in the refugee camps of a cultured young Swiss man long fascinated with Tibet. Martin Brauen will fall instantly in love with Kunsang's young daughter, Sonam, eventually winning her heart and hand, and taking mother and daughter with him to Switzerland, where Yangzom will be born.

Many stories lie hidden until the right person arrives to tell them. In rescuing the story of her now 90-year-old inspirational grandmother and her mother, Yangzom Brauen has given us a book full of love, courage, and triumph, as well as allowing us a rare and vivid glimpse of life in rural Tibet before the arrival of the Chinese. Most importantly, though, ACROSS MANY MOUNTAINS is a testament to three strong, determined women who are linked by an unbreakable family bond.


We will be meeting in the Hayes Valley neighborhood at the Arlequin Cafe on Sunday July 20 at 2pm.

Next Books to Read:

August - Ghana must Go by Taiye Selasi

September - The Rent Collector by Camron Wright

Thursday, May 29, 2014

June 2014: Mayada, Daughter of Iraq

Hi everyone!
Let's travel to Iraq and discuss the book "Mayada, Daughter of Iraq: One Woman's Survival under Saddam Hussein" by Jean Sasson.
Here's a book summary:
A member of one of the most distinguished and honored families in Iraq, Mayada grew up surrounded by wealth and royalty. But when Saddam Hussein’s regime took power, she was thrown into cell 52 in the infamous Baladiyat prison with seventeen other nameless, faceless women from all walks of life. To ease their suffering, these “shadow women” passed each day by sharing their life stories.
Now, through Jean Sasson, Mayada is finally able to tell her story—and theirs—to the world.
We will be discussing this book on Sunday June 22 at 2pm in the Castro neighborhood.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

May 2014 WOW Book Club: The Memory of Love

Hi everyone!

We are now traveling to Freetown, Sierra Leone through the book "The Memory of Love" by Aminatta Forna.

Here's a Book Summary:

Since its publication in hardcover, Aminatta Forna’s The Memory of Love has been hailed as a book of rare beauty and importance, and has been shortlisted for the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction and selected for the January 2011 Indie Next List. With astounding depth and elegance, it takes the reader through the haunting atmosphere of a country at war, delicately intertwining the powerful stories of two generations.

In contemporary Freetown, a devastating civil war has left an entire populace with secrets to keep. In the capital hospital Kai, a gifted young surgeon is plagued by demons that are beginning to threaten his livelihood. Elsewhere in the hospital lies Elias Cole, a man who has stories to tell from the country’s turbulent postcolonial years that are far from heroic. As past and present intersect, Kai and Elias are drawn unwittingly closer by Adrian, a British psychiatrist with good intentions, and into the path of one woman at the center of their stories.

We will be meeting in the SoMA area, near Market street at The Roastery on Saturday May 10 at 1pm (DATE AND TIME DIFFERS FROM USUAL TIME).

Next Book to Read:
June - Mayada, Daughter of Iraq by Jean Sasson

Sunday, March 16, 2014

April 2014: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

Hi everyone!
 
Due to Easter holidays, our next book club discussion will be Sunday April 13, and we'll be sharing perspectives on "Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity" by Katherine Boo

Here's a Book Summary:

From Pulitzer Prize-winner Katherine Boo, a landmark work of narrative nonfiction that tells the dramatic and sometimes heartbreaking story of families striving toward a better life in one of the twenty-first century’s great, unequal cities.

Annawadi is a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, and as India starts to prosper, Annawadians are electric with hope. Abdul, a reflective and enterprising Muslim teenager, sees “a fortune beyond counting“ in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. Asha, a woman of formidable wit and deep scars from a childhood in rural poverty, has identified an alternate route to the middle class: political corruption. With a little luck, her sensitive, beautiful daughter—Annawadi’s “most-everything girl“—will soon become its first female college graduate. 

Please join us on Sunday April 13 at 2pm, in the Financial District of San Francisco at the Station SF coffee shop.

Next Books to Read:
May: The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna
June: Mayada, Daughter of Iraq by Jean Sasson

Saturday, February 8, 2014

March 2014: The Siege by Helen Dunmore

Hi everyone!
Apologies for having to skip February!
Nevertheless, we will meet on Sunday March 9th to read our next book "The Siege" by Helen Dumnore, about Leningrad.

Here's a Book Summary:

The Siege is Helen Dunmore's masterpiece. Her canvas is monumental -- the Nazis' 1941 winter siege on Leningrad that killed six hundred thousand -- but her focus is heartrendingly intimate. One family, the Levins, fights to stay alive in their small apartment, held together by the unlikely courage and resourcefulness of twenty-two-year-old Anna. Though she dreams of an artist's life, she must instead forage for food in the ever more desperate city and watch her little brother grow cruelly thin. Their father, a blacklisted writer who once advocated a robust life of the mind, withers in spirit and body.

At such brutal times everything is tested. And yet Dunmore's inspiring story shows that even then, the triumph of the human heart is that love need not fall away. Amid the turmoil of the siege, the unimaginable happens -- two people enter the Levins' frozen home and bring a kind of romance where before there was only bare survival. A sensitive young doctor becomes Anna's devoted partner, and her father is allowed a transcendent final episode with a mysterious woman from his past. 

We will be meeting in the Castro neighborhood on Sunday March 9 at 2pm!

Next Books to Read:
Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo (India)
The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna
Mayada, Daughter of Iraq by Jean Sasson

January 2014 - Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende

Happy New Year!
Let's start the year with a bit of San Francisco and Latin America with Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende

Here's a Book Summary:

Orphaned at birth, Eliza Sommers is raised in the British colony of Valparaíso, Chile, by the well-intentioned Victorian spinster Miss Rose and her more rigid brother Jeremy. Just as she meets and falls in love with the wildly inappropriate Joaquín Andieta, a lowly clerk who works for Jeremy, gold is discovered in the hills of northern California. By 1849, Chileans of every stripe have fallen prey to feverish dreams of wealth. Joaquín takes off for San Francisco to seek his fortune, and Eliza, pregnant with his child, decides to follow him.

As we follow her spirited heroine on a perilous journey north in the hold of a ship to the rough-and-tumble world of San Francisco and northern California, we enter a world whose newly arrived inhabitants are driven mad by gold fever. A society of single men and prostitutes among whom Eliza moves--with the help of her good friend and savior, the Chinese doctor Tao Chien--California opens the door to a new life of freedom and independence for the young Chilean. Her search for the elusive Joaquín gradually turns into another kind of journey that transforms her over time, and what began as a search for love ends up as the conquest of personal freedom

Please join us Sun January 19 in the Noe Valley neighborhood!!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

WOW Book Club - December 2013 - Love InshAllah

Let's celebrate our final WOW Book Club discussion this December 2013, which is taking place on a SATURDAY - please don't forget!

Our final discussion will focus on Love InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women, short stories collected by Nura Maznavi & Ayesha Mattu - both local authors!

Here's a Book Summary:
In this groundbreaking collection, American Muslim women writers sweep aside stereotypes to share their real-life tales of flirting, dating, longing, and sex. Their stories show just how varied the search for love can be—from singles' events and college flirtations to arranged marriages, all with a uniquely Muslim twist.

These heartfelt tales are filled with passion and hope, loss and longing. One follows the quintessential single woman in the big city as she takes a chance on a Muslim speed-dating event. Another tells of a shy student from a liberal college town who falls in love online and must reveal her secret to her conservative family. A third recounts a Southern girl who surprises herself by agreeing to an arranged marriage, unexpectedly finding the love of her life.

These compelling stories of love and romance create an irresistible balance of heart-warming and tantalizing, always revealing and deeply relatable.

We will be meeting Saturday December 14 @ 2pm at Cafe Murano in the Lower Pacific Heights neighbourhood.