February book discussions announced

Decorah Public Library staff will host five book discussions in February. 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; and email ktorresdal@decorahlibrary.org to be added to any of the five groups’ email distribution lists. Funds for multiple copy sets were provided by Friends of Decorah Public Library.

The History Book Group will meet on the second floor of the library Thurday, Feb. 15, at 3:p.m. to discuss Evan D.G. Fraser’s “Empires of Food: Feast, Famine, and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations.” Using the colorful diaries of a sixteenth-century merchant as a narrative guide, Empires of Food chronicles the fate of people and societies for the past twelve thousand years through the foods they grew, hunted, traded, and ate—and gives us insights into what to expect in years to come. Agricultural expert Evan D. G. Fraser and journalist Andrew Rimas tell stories that capture the flavor of places as disparate as ancient Mesopotamia and imperial Britain, taking us from the first city in the once-thriving Fertile Crescent to today’s overworked breadbaskets and rice bowls in the United States and China, showing just what food has meant to humanity.The Friday Book Group will meet on the second floor of the library Friday, Feb. 16, at 2 p.m. to discuss Nathan Thrall’s “A Day in the Life of Abed Salama.” Five-year-old Milad Salama is excited for a school trip to a theme park on the outskirts of Jerusalem. On the way, his bus collides with a semitrailer. His father, Abed, gets word of the crash and rushes to the site. The scene is chaos―the children have been taken to different hospitals in Jerusalem and the West Bank; some are missing, others cannot be identified. Abed sets off on an odyssey to learn Milad’s fate. It is every parent’s worst nightmare, but for Abed it is compounded by the maze of physical, emotional, and bureaucratic obstacles he must navigate because he is Palestinian.

The Happy Hour Book Group will meet at Pulpit Rock Brewing Co. Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 5:15 p.m. to discuss Emma Donoghue’s “Learned by Heart.” In 1805, fourteen-year-old Eliza Raine is a school girl at the Manor School for Young Ladies in York. The daughter of an Indian mother and a British father, Eliza was banished to this unfamiliar country as a little girl. When she first stepped off the King George in Kent, Eliza was accompanied by her older sister, Jane, but now she boards alone at the Manor, with no one left to claim her. She spends her days avoiding the attention of her fellow pupils until, one day, a fearless and charismatic new student arrives at the school. The two girls are immediately thrown together and soon Eliza’s life is turned inside out by this strange and curious young woman.

The Speculative Fiction Book Group will meet via Zoom Wednesday, Feb. 28, at 6 p.m. to discuss the following short stories from Kim Fu’s “Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century”: “Pre-Simulation Consultation XF007867,” “Liddy, First to Fly,” “Time Cubes,” and “#ClimbingNation.” Zoom link available on the library website.

Immediately following the short story discussion, the group will discuss James Islington’s “The Will of the Many” (beginning at 6:30 p.m. using the same Zoom link). The Catenan Republic—the Hierarchy—may rule the world now, but they do not know everything. I tell them my name is Vis Telimus. I tell them I was orphaned after a tragic accident three years ago, and that good fortune alone has led to my acceptance into their most prestigious school. I tell them that once I graduate, I will gladly join the rest of civilised society in allowing my strength, my drive and my focus—what they call Will—to be leeched away and added to the power of those above me, as millions already do. But the truth is that I have been sent to the Academy to find answers. To solve a murder. To search for an ancient weapon. To uncover secrets that may tear the Republic apart. Zoom link available on the library website.

For more information, contact Tricia Crary (Friday Book Group) or Kristin Torresdal (Happy Hour, History, and Speculative Fiction Book groups) at 563-382-3717.

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