Friday, January 29, 2010

Book Club Broadens Horizons

The Bealeton Library book club, formed in 2005, has an eclectic focus. We read a wide range of genres and topics, including general, literary and historical fiction; mysteries; memoirs and other types of nonfiction. All agree that the book club has introduced us to works we probably would not have read otherwise and has broadened our horizons considerably.

One pleasant discovery during our first year of reading was Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival by Virginia author Dean King. This tome retells the tale of the 1815 shipwreck of an American merchant ship off the northwest coast of Africa, the crew’s capture by nomads, and their excruciating ordeal in the desert. King relies heavily on the ship captain’s written account, which was very popular with 19th century readers. King's writing updates the story for a contemporary audience and is a superb page-turner.

Another author of histories that read like novels is Erik Larson. Our group has enjoyed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, which interweaves the creation of the 1893 Chicago world’s fair with the case of a notorious serial murderer, and Thunderstruck, which juxtaposes Marconi’s invention of the wireless telegraph with the hunt for another psychotic killer. We enjoyed Larson’s books so much that we chose another of his titles this year. At our February meeting we will discuss Isaac’s Storm, a graphic account of the deadly 1900 Galveston hurricane and the story of the meteorologist whose personal life was profoundly affected by this disaster.

In June we will read Timothy Egan’s The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, a well-reviewed oral history about the depression of the 1930s. In addition to these history selections, we will also sample a mystery, two novels and a travel book during the spring and summer.

To inquire about the Bealeton Book Club, e-mail Beth Stenberg or call at 439-9728. New members are always welcome.

Beth @ Bealeton


  1. I am going to add these to my "to-read" list. All sound like compelling reading.

  2. Great choices! Isaac's Storm is an excellent book; I've read many books on hurricanes, and this one is quite good. It does get a bit technical, I think, but that is probably its only downside.