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Bookmarked—A TNSF Community Book Club

February 17 @ 12:00 pm - December 16 @ 1:30 pm


FRIDAY February 17, 2023 @ Noon CENTRAL =  Foster, by Claire Keegan

Critics are guilty of emphasizing, ad nauseam, the novella’s size. Their epithets (“short,” “slim,” “brief”) imply slightness, something lesser than, as if they owe the reader a trigger warning: not a novel.

But who doesn’t want to finish a book over the course of a weekend?

For those of you who do, the Irish writer Claire Keegan’s beautiful new novella, “Foster,” is no less likely to move you than any heaping 400-page tome you’ll read this year.

Although the time period in “Foster” is never stamped down, it is determine that is takes place somewhere in the early 1980s by the adult chatter the girl overhears about the Irish hunger strike.

The narrator is a young girl in rural Ireland who is sent by her parents to live with the Kinsella family while her mother, Mary, carries to term another child in a household already bustling with siblings. The Kinsellas, John and Edna, have no children of their own and will foster the girl on their small farm in Wexford, toward the southeastern coast of Ireland. This isn’t Sally Rooney’s Ireland, where posh Dublin millennials struggle in matters of love and privilege. Keegan’s world is a provincial one, and her characters, mostly farmers, discuss things like “the price of cattle, the E.E.C., butter mountains, the cost of lime and sheep-dip.” This adult world is mostly overheard by our narrator and observed with precise insight: “It is something I am used to, this way men have of not talking: They like to kick a divot out of the grass with a boot heel, to slap the roof of a car before it takes off.”

EveryBody is welcome to join in the conversation and your input for this year’s book choices it greatly appreciated!

***FRIDAY April 7, 2023 @ Noon CENTRAL = All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake, by Tiya Miles

***RESCHEDULED TO APRIL 14, 2023 @ NOON CENTRAL: In a display case in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture sits a rough cotton bag, called Ashley’s Sack, embroidered with just a handful of words that evoke a sweeping family story of loss and of love, passed down through generations.

In 1850s South Carolina, an enslaved woman named Rose gave this sack filled with a few precious items to her daughter, Ashley, as a token of love and to try to ensure Ashley’s survival as well. Soon after, the nine-year-old girl was separated from her mother and sold.

Decades later, Ashley’s granddaughter Ruth embroidered this family history on the bag in spare yet haunting language—including Rose’s wish that “It be filled with my Love always.” Now, in this illuminating, deeply moving book inspired by Rose’s gift to Ashley, historian Tiya Miles carefully unearths these women’s faint presence in archival records to follow the paths of their lives—and the lives of so many women like them—to write a singular and revelatory history of the experience of slavery, and the uncertain freedom afterward, in the United States. 

All That She Carried is a poignant story of resilience and of love passed down through generations of women against steep odds. It honors the creativity and fierce resourcefulness of people who preserved family ties even when official systems refused to do so, and it serves as a visionary illustration of how to reconstruct and recount their stories today.

FRIDAY MAY 12, 2023 @ Noon CENTRAL = Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck

A controversial tale of friendship and tragedy during the Great Depression

They are an unlikely pair: George is “small and quick and dark of face”; Lennie, a man of tremendous size, has the mind of a young child. Yet they have formed a “family,” clinging together in the face of loneliness and alienation.

Laborers in California’s dusty vegetable fields, they hustle work when they can, living a hand-to-mouth existence. For George and Lennie have a plan: to own an acre of land and a shack they can call their own. When they land jobs on a ranch in the Salinas Valley, the fulfillment of their dream seems to be within their grasp. But even George cannot guard Lennie from the provocations of a flirtatious woman, nor predict the consequences of Lennie’s unswerving obedience to the things George taught him.

FRIDAY JUNE 16, 2023 @ *3:00 CENTRAL = Running Around Naked: A Memoir, by Jelaine Lombardi

When Jelaine’s parents purchased and moved the family into their own nudist camp, life slid off the rails of normalcy. Her childhood became divided between the casual, free-thinking camp and the uptight, judgmental world outside.

As hard as Jelaine worked to keep her two worlds separate, her parents worked equally hard to bring them together, to convert the world to nudism.

When theatrical plays, pageants and a movie production were thrown into the mix, the family secret became impossible to keep.

Join Jelaine for the struggles and capers of growing up naked. There’s no need to peek through the fence. Just throw off your inhibitions and come on in.

A real “coming-of-age” story like no other!


FRIDAY JULY 14, 2023 @ Noon CENTRAL = If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t), by Betty White

It-girl Betty White delivers a hilarious, slyly profound take on love, life, celebrity, and everything in between.

Drawing from a lifetime of lessons learned, seven-time Emmy winner Betty White’s wit and wisdom take center stage as she tackles topics like friendship, romantic love, aging, television, fans, love for animals, and the brave new world of celebrity. If You Ask Me mixes her thoughtful observations with humorous stories from a seven- decade career in Hollywood. Longtime fans and new fans alike will relish Betty’s candid take on everything from her rumored crush on Robert Redford (true) to her beauty regimen (“I have no idea what color my hair is and I never intend to find out”) to the Facebook campaign that helped persuade her to host Saturday Night Live despite her having declined the hosting job three times already.

Featuring all-new material, with a focus on the past fifteen years of her life, If You Ask Me is funny, sweet, and to the point-just like Betty White. (272 pages)

FRIDAY AUGUST, TBD, 2023 @ Noon CENTRAL = Under a Flaming Sky The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894, by Daniel James Brown

On September 1, 1894 two forest fires converged on the town of Hinckley, Minnesota, trapping over 2,000 people. Daniel J. Brown recounts the events surrounding the fire in the first and only book to chronicle the dramatic story that unfolded. Whereas Oregon’s famous “Biscuit” fire in 2002 burned 350,000 acres in one week, the Hinckley fire did the same damage in five hours. The fire created its own weather, including hurricane-strength winds, bubbles of plasma-like glowing gas, and 200-foot-tall flames. In some instances, “fire whirls,” or tornadoes of fire, danced out from the main body of the fire to knock down buildings and carry flaming debris into the sky. Temperatures reached 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit–the melting point of steel. As the fire surrounded the town, two railroads became the only means of escape. Two trains ran the gauntlet of fire. One train caught on fire from one end to the other. The heroic young African-American porter ran up and down the length of the train, reassuring the passengers even as the flames tore at their clothes. On the other train, the engineer refused to back his locomotive out of town until the last possible minute of escape. In all, more than 400 people died, leading to a revolution in forestry management practices and federal agencies that monitor and fight wildfires today.

Author Daniel Brown has woven together numerous survivors’ stories, historical sources, and interviews with forest fire experts in a gripping narrative that tells the fascinating story of one of North America’s most devastating fires and how it changed the nation. (288 pages)


February 17 @ 12:00 pm
December 16 @ 1:30 pm


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