February book discussions offered locally

Decorah Public Library staff will host six book discussions in February.

Decorah Public Library staff will host six 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. Zoom links are available on the Library’s website or you can email ktorresdal@decorahlibrary.org to be added to any of the six groups’ email distribution lists. Funds for multiple copy sets were generously provided by Friends of Decorah Public Library.

* The Happy Hour Book Group will meet via Zoom Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 5:15 p.m. to discuss Carolina De Robertis’ “Cantoras.” In 1977 Uruguay, a military government crushed political dissent, and in this environment, homosexuality is a dangerous transgression to be punished. But five women still manage to find one another, and together, they discover an isolated, nearly uninhabited cape, Cabo Polonio, which they claim as their secret sanctuary. Over the next thirty-five years, their lives move back and forth between Cabo Polonio and Montevideo, the city they call home.

* The Cookbook Group will meet in person in the library’s mezzanine on Thursday, Feb 9 at 6:30 to discuss “In Bibi’s Kitchen” by Hawa Hassan and Julia Turshen. In this James Beard Award winning cookbook, Somali chef Hawa Hassan and food writer Julia Turshen present 75 recipes and stories gathered from bibis (or grandmothers) from eight African nations: South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, and Eritrea. Most notably, these eight countries are at the backbone of the spice trade, many of them exporters of things like pepper and vanilla. Those attending will meet women such as Ma Shara, who helps tourists “see the real Zanzibar” by teaching them how to make her famous Ajemi Bread with Carrots and Green Pepper; Ma Vicky, who now lives in suburban New York and makes Matoke (Stewed Plantains with Beans and Beef) to bring the flavor of Tanzania to her American home; and Ma Gehennet from Eritrea who shares her recipes for Kicha (Eritrean Flatbread) and Shiro (Ground Chickpea Stew).

* The History Book Group will hold a hybrid meeting Thursday, Feb. 16 at 3 p.m. to discuss J.K. Hall’s “Rare Encounter.” In-person attendees will meet in the lower-level public meeting room at the library and digital attendees will join via Zoom. Roger Lincoln Shinn is a professor of social ethics at a prestigious New York institution. During the Vietnam War, Shinn reveals to stunned students his astounding story as a soldier and prisoner in the Second World War, and the story of John William Hall, a defiant captain in his outfit who ruptures the boundaries of conventional warfare. The destinies of the two captains intertwine at the ferocious Battle of the Bulge.

* The Friday Book Group will meet via Zoom Friday, Feb. 17 at 2 p.m. to discuss Celeste Ng’s “Our Missing Hearts.” Twelve-year-old Bird Gardner lives a quiet existence with his loving but broken father, a former linguist who now shelves books in a university library. For a decade, their lives have been governed by laws written to preserve “American culture” in the wake of years of economic instability and violence. Libraries have been forced to remove books seen as unpatriotic—including the work of Bird’s mother, a Chinese American poet who left the family when he was nine years old. But when he receives a mysterious letter containing only a cryptic drawing, he is pulled into a quest to find her.

* The Speculative Fiction Book Group will meet via Zoom Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 5:15 p.m. to discuss Dan Simmons’ “Hyperion.” On the world called Hyperion, beyond the law of the Hegemony of Man, there waits the creature called the Shrike. There are those who worship it. There are those who fear it. And there are those who have vowed to destroy it. In the Valley of the Time Tombs, where huge, brooding structures move backward through time, the Shrike waits for them all. On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to Hyperion seeking the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives. Each carries a desperate hope—and a terrible secret. And one may hold the fate of humanity in his hands.

Following the Speculative Fiction Book Group, the Speculative Short Fiction Group will meet at 6:15 p.m. via the same Zoom link to discuss stories 7-9 from Ted Chiang’s collection “Exhalation”: “The Great Silence,” “Omphalos,” and “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom.”

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