Everyone Is Welcome!
Summit Avenue Readers will reconvene in the fall. Titles and dates for 2023 and 2024 books are listed below! Haven’t joined us yet for a book discussion? We would love to see you!
For more information contact Julie Ditzler or Deb Varner (email addresses in your membership directory). Thank you!
2023-2024 Book List
NOTE: All book summaries are sourced from information on Amazon.com.
September 12, 2023 @ 9:30 a.m.
West with the Night by Beryl Markham
In West with the Night, Beryl Markham chronicles her unconventional, free-spirited girlhood in Kenya and her adventures as a rescue pilot, mail carrier, and bush pilot, scouting game for safaris all over Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. The book earned high praise upon its publication in 1942 but fell out of print and into obscurity. When it was republished in 1983, the book became an international bestseller and is now considered a classic of its genre. National Geographic Adventure ranks it number 8 in a list of 100 best adventures.
-Discussion led by Deb Varner
October 10, 2023 @ 9:30 a.m.
Finding Me, A Memoir by Viola Davis
It’s clear from the first page that Davis is going to serve a more intimate, unpolished account than is typical of the average (often ghost-written) celebrity memoir. Finding Me reads like Davis is sitting you down for a one-on-one conversation about her life, warts and all. Finding Me is a deep reflection, a promise, and a love letter of sorts to self. Her hope is that her story will inspire you to light up your own life with creative expression and rediscover who you were before the world put a label on you.
-Discussion led by Judy Regan
November 14, 2023 @ 9:30 a.m.
River of the Gods by Candice Millard
River of the Gods is a thrilling narrative nonfiction full of adventure, ambushes, false starts, and the pursuit of conquest. Richard Burton, a British explorer born in 1842, was a consummate explorer, with a penchant for languages, sex, and glory. This is a recounting of Burton’s life and epic journeys that not only involved harrowing physical feats, but stiff competition and epic clashes with his fellow explorers. A fascinating portrait of the characters and the era in which they roamed that is an adventure to read.
-Discussion led by Barbara Waldschmidt
January 9, 2024 @ 9:30 a.m.
Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel
Set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse—the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity. Kirsten Raymonde will never forget the night Arthur Leander, the famous Hollywood actor, had a heart attack on stage during a production of King Lear. That was the night when a devastating flu pandemic arrived in the city, and within weeks, civilization as we know it came to an end. And as the story takes off, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, the strange twist of fate that connects them all will be revealed.
-Discussion led by Gay Bartholic
February 13, 2024 @ 9:30 a.m.
Round House by Louise Erdrich
From one of the most revered novelists of our time, an exquisitely told story of a boy on the cusp of manhood who seeks justice and understanding in the wake of a terrible crime that upends and forever transforms his family. While his father, a tribal judge, endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, his 13 year old son, Joe, becomes frustrated with the official investigation and sets out with his trusted friends, Cappy, Zack, and Angus, to get some answers of his own. Their quest takes them first to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning.
-Discussion led by Linda Woodstrom
March 12, 2024 @ 9:30 a.m.
The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
The Personal Librarian tells the story of Belle de Costa Greene, a black woman who became the personal librarian to the famed banker J. P. Morgan by passing as white. While the book is historical fiction, Belle de Costa Greene was a real person who managed to achieve a status in society under pressure of her concealed identity, working as a woman in a male dominated world, and supporting her mother and siblings. The authors draw from many historical events and show us many real-life details about Belle’s life. There is a great deal of research that went into this novel on how Belle became such a successful woman. The Personal Librarian tells the story of an extraordinary woman, famous for her intellect, style, and wit, and shares the lengths she must go to—for the protection of her family and her legacy—to preserve her carefully crafted white identity in the racist world in which she lives.
-Discussion led by Jan Kloepper
April 16, 2024 @ 9:30 a.m.
Last Green Valley by Mark Sullivan
The Last Green Valley is a compelling and inspiring story of heroism and courage in the dark days at the end of World War II. This new historical novel is inspired by one family’s incredible story of daring, survival, and triumph. In late March 1944, as Stalin’s forces push into Ukraine, young Emil and Adeline Martel must make a terrible decision: Do they wait for the Soviet bear’s intrusion and risk being sent to Siberia? Or do they reluctantly follow the wolves―murderous Nazi officers who have pledged to protect “pure-blood” Germans? Caught between two warring forces and overcoming horrific trials to pursue their hope of immigrating to the West, the Martel family’s story is a brutal, complex, and ultimately triumphant tale that illuminates the extraordinary power of love, faith, and one family’s incredible will to survive and see their dreams realized.
-Discussion led by Julie Ditzler
2022-2023 Book List
The Whole Language: The Power of Extravagant Tenderness by Gregory Boyle
The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn
The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel
The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson
Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Jefferson’s Daughters by Catherine Kerrison
Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo