Library to host May book discussions

Decorah Public Library staff will host five book discussions in May. 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. 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 Happy Hour Book Group will meet at Pulpit Rock Brewing Co. Wednesday, May 8 at 5:15 p.m. to discuss Hanna Pylväinen’s “The End of Drum-Time.” It’s 1851 at the edge of the arctic circle. The church outpost that Lutheran minister Lars Levi mans is a rugged, sparsely populated one, and the Sámi reindeer herders he’s been sent to minister to are skeptical of the Christian values he preaches. But when Biettar, one of the most respected herders, has a religious awakening, more and more of the Sámi people become ready to let their long-held traditions and beliefs give way. Biettar’s new commitment to Lars and his teachings means that Biettar’s son, Ivvár, is left to tend the family’s reindeer herd alone, an increasingly impossible task. Meanwhile, Lars’s daughter, Willa, has always been the picture of obedience, until a chance encounter with Ivvár leads to an infatuation that gradually becomes something more. When a catastrophic illness threatens the life of her young brother, everything she’s ever believed is called into question.

The History Book Group will meet on the 2nd floor of the library Thursday, May 16 at 3 p.m. to discuss Amy S. Greenberg’s “A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico.” When President James K. Polk compelled a divided Congress to support his war with Mexico, it was the first time that the young American nation would engage another republic in battle. Caught up in the conflict and the political furor surrounding it were Abraham Lincoln, then a new congressman; Polk, the dour president committed to territorial expansion at any cost; and Henry Clay, the aging statesman whose presidential hopes had been frustrated once again.

The Friday Book Group will meet on the 2nd floor of the library Friday, May 17 at 2 p.m. to discuss Matthew Desmond’s “Poverty, By America.” The United States, the richest country on earth, has more poverty than any other advanced democracy. Why does this land of plenty allow one in every eight of its children to go without basic necessities, permit scores of its citizens to live and die on the streets, and authorize its corporations to pay poverty wages? In “Poverty, By America,” sociologist Matthew Desmond draws on history, research, and original reporting to show how affluent Americans knowingly and unknowingly keep poor people poor. Those of us who are financially secure exploit the poor, driving down their wages while forcing them to overpay for housing and access to cash and credit. We prioritize the subsidization of our wealth over the alleviation of poverty, designing a welfare state that gives the most to those who need the least. Some lives are made small so that others may grow.

The Speculative Fiction Book Group will meet via Zoom Wednesday, May 22 at 6 p.m. to discuss stories # 4-6 from Kim Fu’s collection “Lesser-Known Monsters of the 21st Century.” Zoom link available on the library website. Immediately following the short fiction discussion, the group will discuss P. Djèlí Clark’s “A Master of Djinn” (beginning at 6:30 p.m. using the same Zoom link). Cairo, 1912. Although Fatma el-Sha’arawi is the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, she’s certainly not a rookie, especially after preventing the destruction of the universe last summer. When someone murders a secret brotherhood dedicated to one of the most famous men in history, al-Jahiz, Agent Fatma is called onto the case. Al-Jahiz transformed the world fifty years ago when he opened up the veil between the magical and mundane realms before vanishing into the unknown. This murderer claims to be al-Jahiz, returned to condemn the modern age for its social oppressions. His magical abilities instigate unrest in Cairo and threaten to spill over onto the global stage. Alongside her Ministry colleagues and clever girlfriend Siti, Agent Fatma must unravel the mystery behind this imposter to restore peace to the city—or face the possibility he could be exactly who he seems.
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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