Join us on Tuesday, September 12th at 6:00 p.m. as we talk about Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly.
Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets and astronauts into space.
Among these problem solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly these overlooked math whizzes had shots at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton, Virginia, and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.
Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black West Computing group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War and complete domination of the heavens.
Tuesday, June 13, 6:00 p.m.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (2014).
Ove, a grumpy, isolated retiree who spends his days enforcing block association rules and visiting his wife’s grave, decides to give up on life until an unlikely friendship develops with a boisterous young family that moves in next door.
Tuesday, May 9, 6:00 p.m.
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (1998).
Following his return to America after twenty years in Great Britain, the author decided to reacquaint himself with his native country by walking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, which provided him with the opportunity to test his own powers of ineptitude while witnessing the majestic silliness of his fellow human beings.
Tuesday, February 14, 6:00 p.m.
Imperial Woman by Pearl S. Buck.
Imperial Woman is the fictionalized biography of the last Empress in China, Ci-xi, who began as a concu-bine of the Xianfeng Emperor and on his death be-came the de facto head of the Qing Dynasty until her death in 1908. Buck recreates the life of one of the most intriguing rulers during a time of intense turbulence.
Tuesday, December 13, 6:00 p.m.
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren (2016).
Jahren has studied flowers, seeds, and soil since she was a girl. She tells of the sanctuary she found in science, and the disappointments, triumphs and exhilarating discoveries of scientific work. She also tells of a relationship she forged with Bill, her lab partner and best friend. Their sometimes rogue adventures in science take them over the Atlantic to the ever-light skies of the North Pole and to tropical Hawaii.
Tuesday, November 8, 6:00 p.m.
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (2010).
The last thing to disturb the town of Chabot, and its lone lawman, Silas Jones, was the disappearance of a teen girl nearly twenty years ago. However, when somebody tries to kill the town recluse, another young woman vanishes, and a drug dealer is found murdered all in a short amount of time, the quaint Mississippi town is shaken to the core.
We’ll be discussing the book A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (2007) on Tuesday, September 13 at 6:00 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend and join in our lively discussion and snacks. A Thousand Splendid Suns tells of two women born a generation apart witness the destruction of their home and family in war torn Kabul and the losses incurred over the course of thirty years that test the limits of their strength and courage.
Everyone is welcome to attend as we discuss The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: and Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer (2016) on Tuesday, August 9 at 6:00 p.m. This book describes how a group of Timbuktu librarians enacted a daring plan to smuggle the city’s great collection of rare Islamic manuscripts away from the threat of destruction at the hands of Al Qaeda militants to the safety of southern Mali.
Tuesday, June 14, 6:00 p.m.
The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan (2013).
The incredible story of the young women of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, who unwittingly played a crucial role in one of the most significant moments in U.S. history.
The Tennessee town of Oak Ridge was created from scratch in 1942. One of the Manhattan Project’s secret cities, it didn’t appear on any maps until 1949, and yet at the height of World War II it was using more electricity than New York City and was home to more than 75,000 people, many of them young women recruited from small towns across the South. Their jobs were shrouded in mystery, but they were buoyed by a sense of shared purpose, close friendships—and a surplus of handsome scientists and Army men!
But against this vibrant wartime backdrop, a darker story was unfolding. The penalty for talking about their work—even the most innocuous details—was job loss and eviction. One woman was recruited to spy on her coworkers. They all knew something big was happening at Oak Ridge, but few could piece together the true nature of their work until the bomb “Little Boy” was dropped over Hiroshima, Japan, and the secret was out. The shocking revelation: the residents of Oak Ridge were enriching uranium for the atomic bomb.
Though the young women originally believed they would leave Oak Ridge after the war, many met husbands there, made lifelong friends, and still call the seventy-year-old town home. The reverberations from their work there—work they didn’t fully understand at the time—are still being felt today. In The Girls of Atomic City, Denise Kiernan traces the astonishing story of these unsung WWII workers through interviews with dozens of surviving women and other Oak Ridge residents. Like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, this is history and science made fresh and vibrant—a beautifully told, deeply researched story that unfolds in a suspenseful and exciting way.
Join us this summer for some romance based reads that are sweet & sassy to hot & spicy. This new summer book group will meet the first Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. in June, July, and August. Due to some subject matter, this book group may not be suitable for anyone under 18.
Come Set Your Summer on Fire!