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The Brandermill Woods Book Club

One of the best things about retirement is you can finally spend your time doing what you want to do rather than what you have to do. For many of us, that can mean catching up on our backlog of reading and discovering new books. At Brandermill Woods, many of our residents participate in a monthly book club, offering the chance not just to read a good book, but to discuss it with friends.

“The books offer new ideas and good conversation among the residents,” said Hope Bolger, the Brandermill Woods resident who current leads the monthly club.

The best part of the club, according to resident Ann Doyle, is “reading new books and discovering what I learn with others.”

Resident Shirley Bare agreed, saying she looks forward every month to “the camaraderie of the residents and talking about ideas with a like-minded group of women.”

This connection with fellow residents is the biggest highlight of the book club. The members are all big readers, and many of them devour more books than what the club discusses every month. But they all enjoy the chance to get together with their friends and hear what they have to say about the book each month.

We asked club members for book recommendations based on what they’ve read lately. Here are four novels and a short story that the club enjoyed and made for a lively discussion:

Frederik Backman’s A Man Called Ove

This comic and heartwarming story centers around a curmudgeon named Ove who finds an unexpected friendship after his chatty new neighbors accidentally flatten his mailbox. This Swedish author’s first book is a charming, feel-good novel for sure, reminiscent of Grumpy Old Men and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.

Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko

The story of Koreans in Japan during and after World War II is not well known in the U.S. This moving novel follows four generations of a Korean family as they struggle against the forces around them in the 20th century. Pachinko is a dramatic saga of strong women, fathers shaken by moral crisis, and children thriving against the indifferent arc of history.

Christina Baker Kline’s A Piece of the World

Inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious painting “Christina’s World,” this atmospheric novel takes you into small-town Maine and the world of the artist and his subject. Interweaving fact and fiction of Wyeth and Christina, Kline’s novel is about the burdens and blessings of family history, as well as the legacy of an artist and his muse.

Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior

Kingsolver—a Virginia writer—has been acclaimed for years for her fiction. This suspenseful novel offers a thrilling parable of catastrophe and denial in modern-day Appalachia. Trace the story of a young wife and mother on her failing farm in rural Tennessee, when she encounters something she cannot explain.

Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory”

This classic short story is the moving tale of a friendship between the young narrator and his elderly cousin, his best friend. Together, they make fruitcakes, exchange gifts and enjoy the merriment of the season. Beloved by generations, Capote’s story is a poignant story about human connections.