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Book Group > November 2012 - POTUS

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message 1: by Kate (last edited Nov 14, 2012 10:55AM) (new)

Kate (kisigler) | 101 comments Hi everyone! Welcome to our November book discussion!

Each month we'll announce the theme and you choose the book you want to read.

It is election season in DC, so what could be more appropriate to read about this month than Presidents? The suggestions below and on the POTUS bookshelf cover alternate histories, political satire, historical fiction, biography and more.

Alternate Histories
- 11/22/63 by Stephen King
- The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen L. Carter
- The Two Georges by Richard Dreyfuss and Harry Turtledove
- The Plot Against America by Philip Roth

Historical Fiction
- Lincoln by Gore Vidal
- Libra by Don DeLillo
- Mount Vernon Love Story by Mary Higgins Clark
- Lucy by Ellen Feldman

- Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
- Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard
- Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
- Then Everything Changed: Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics: JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan by Jeff Greenfield

Please post a comment letting us all know what you plan to read and suggesting any good presidential books you know about!

Also, this month's happy hour meet-up will be Monday, November 26 from 6-8pm at The Passenger. Attendance at the happy hours has not been huge, so this will be the last one specifically for the Goodreads group. Starting in January, we’ll transition to a more general book-lovers meet-up. Keep an eye on the Library News thread for more details.

message 2: by Kate (new)

Kate (kisigler) | 101 comments I loved Sarah Vowell's The Partly Cloudy Patriot, so I might try Assassination Vacation. I've also been really intrigued by Taft 2012 too though...

message 3: by Tim (new)

Tim (timothymey) | 20 comments Assassination Vacation was awesome; probably my favorite Sarah Vowell book so far. I've been in the middle of Unfamiliar Fishes for a while, and it just doesn't flow like Assassination Vacation does. I think you'll really like it.

message 4: by Tony (new)

Tony | 45 comments One more to add to the list, Philip K. Dick's 1962 alternate history of the U.S. as loser in WWII, The Man in the High Castle.

message 5: by Kate (new)

Kate (kisigler) | 101 comments I have Assassination Vacation and Taft 2012 in hand, so I will try to read both. Anyone else decided on their November read yet?

message 6: by Tim (new)

Tim (timothymey) | 20 comments Kate wrote: "I have Assassination Vacation and Taft 2012 in hand, so I will try to read both. Anyone else decided on their November read yet?"

I think I'll finish 11/22/63 (finally) before embarking on another one of these titles...

message 7: by Erissa (new)

Erissa | 9 comments I've been wanting to read Assassination Vacation since I read The Wordy Shipmates. I will be reading that as well this month.

message 8: by Maria (new)

Maria | 159 comments Mod
Tim-- I loved 11/22/63 and couldn't put it down.
I'm going to try some more alternate history - either of the Philip's (Roth or K. Dick) books or Stephen Carter's. We'll just see which one I can get my hands on first!

message 9: by Tim (new)

Tim (timothymey) | 20 comments Maria--Just finished it, and I have to say, it was quite awesome. Once I picked it back up again, there was no stopping. My review will be coming soon. I've just picked up The Man in the High Castle, I'll let you know how it goes.

message 10: by Kate (new)

Kate (kisigler) | 101 comments How are everyone's presidential books coming? I just finished Taft 2012 and am gathering my thoughts to post here.

Here are a few questions to be thinking about while we're reading and discussing this month:

- What drew you to this particular presidential book?
- What did you learn about presidential history? Were you inspired to do research beyond the book you read?
- How did reading about POTUS, real or fictional, affect your experience of our recent presidential election?

message 11: by Maria (new)

Maria | 159 comments Mod
I just got my hands on the Philip K. Dick book, and I'll report back on it!

message 12: by Kate (new)

Kate (kisigler) | 101 comments Sooooo, Taft 2012. There were things I really liked about this book, and other things I didn't think worked too well. The premise of the book is that after losing his reelection bid to Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft disappeared. Then, in 2011 he reappears, not knowing where he's been for the past 100 years. The book alternates between narrative and "primary source documents", like letters, news articles, cable news transcripts, tweets, etc. This could have been gimmicky, but I thought it was an effective way to tell the story.

I knew very little about Taft going into this, and in fact I have to admit that I mostly chose this book because I love the cover Taft 2012 by Jason Heller. The parts of the book that dealt directly with Taft, as a man and President, were very interesting. Partway through, I stopped to look him up on wikipedia and discovered that after being President, he went on to become the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, which is pretty cool and definitely something I will be looking into more.

Where the book fell apart a bit for me was in the plot. When a seemingly grassroots "Taft Party" (loosely modeled on the current Tea Party) starts to gain momentum and Taft returns to politics as their leader, the author's critiques of our current political situation got heavy handed. Taft's reflections and misadventures adjusting to the 21st century would have been enough to get the point across. The political manipulators and evil corporate scion were unnecessary.

Anyone know of a good Taft biography?

message 13: by Kate (new)

Kate (kisigler) | 101 comments Come to the Goodreads happy hour tonight from 6-8 at The Passenger! We'll be drinking amazing cocktails and discussing Presidents. Sounds like a fantastic Monday night to me.

message 14: by Erissa (last edited Nov 28, 2012 05:23AM) (new)

Erissa | 9 comments I really enjoyed Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation . The book is broken down into four long chapters, covering the assassinations of Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley. Vowell brings in a lot of detail about the assassinations and the surrounding history, making even the Lincoln assassination (which I had previously felt I knew a fair bit about) both very informative and entertaining. I love her description of Robert Todd Lincoln as an assassination omen. I thought that the Lincoln chapter was a little slow to start, but definitely picked up by about fifty pages in.

My favorite part of the book was the Garfield chapter. I can't say that I knew anything about the man prior to reading this, other than that he had been one our presidents. She has a great anecdote about him where he was giving a graduation speech in which he complained about success having the downside of really cutting down on your free time.

I now have the urge to look into both Garfield and McKinley a bit further, possibly Roosevelt as well...

message 15: by Kate (new)

Kate (kisigler) | 101 comments Unfortunately, I didn't quite make it to Assassination Vacation this month, but I still really want to read it. Erissa, if you're interested in Garfield, Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President is all about him and it was supposed to be a great book.

message 16: by Kate (new)

Kate (kisigler) | 101 comments Thanks everyone for another great discussion! Just because November is over, though, doesn't mean our discussion of Presidential books has to stop. If you didn't quite finish your November pick in time, if you read more great political books in the future, or if you're looking for a suggestion, please post here!

Also, don't forget to let us know what your YA/Crossover pick is for December!

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