Mindhouse Book Club – August 22, 2014 at 703 Bestgate, Annapolis, MD
The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi
First our deepest condolences to Robyn who lost her father this month (at 98, but that's still too soon).
This was Afghan-American Nadia Hashimi's debut novel.
Ray started with a brief summary of the parallel worlds of Rahima (present day) and Shekiba (~WW I) where hope lies in the custom of bacha posh, where young women can dress as boys until of marriageable age.
The group was appalled by the brutality toward women, that not much seemed changed over the span of the novel and how different in custom and opportunity this Afghan culture was from our own. The group reflected on current events in Gaza, and with ISIS, and in Ferguson, MO.
After a long week the group quickly steered itself away from the powerful and disturbing themes of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell to the task of selecting the next book. Melissa brought in a stack of books which overwhelmed us. To escape the burden of overwhelmingness Melissa showed us a YouTube called HOT CRAZY MATRIX on her iPhone. It was difficult to see on the iPhone but very funny and we all requested the URL, especially Doug who wants to show it to his stats class as an introduction to linear regression and regions of significance. Actually the YouTube HOT CRAZY MATRIX had nothing to do with statistics but was a men's guide to women. In fairness this YouTube also included a comprehensive women's guide to men (about 3 seconds).
For the middle eastern theme Ray and Rachel found a bottle of wine (not Afghani wine - there was none):
Ray and Rachel were attracted to the little label " ... a tree of life ... ". Sue and Jim reached into the very back of their pantry and found some kind of Egyptian nut and spice blend ... again close to the session's theme:
The group started to struggle with next month's selection - some wanted informative; some wanted light and uplifting (i.e., on the beach in Nantucket in August reading). To get our mind off of this hard choice (Hard Choices was not in contention), Ray and Rachel showed the group photos of them swimming with Animal Planet sized sting rays in the Caribbean. The photos were difficult to see on the iPhone but, Crikey!, the sting rays were impressive!
Unable to decide the group decided on two books:
1. This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin: a fascinating discussion of how music creates meaning;
2. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce: an uplifting and funny adventure of an out of shape 65 year old walking across England ... the audible version narrated by the actor Jim Broadbent is excellent, entertaining and easy to follow.
At the next meeting we'll discuss one or both of these books or a third yet unnamed book.
All agreed that it was a fun if a bit mad evening, so we changed our name from mad to mind.
Next meeting of the Mindhouse Book Club: Friday, September 26th at Jim and Sue's office at 6:30 PM (THANKS for hosting again!).