LAVA, a book group of the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, NY, reads a variety of books, especially literary fiction.    Reading and discussion resources are available for our selections since 2004.

Upcoming Discussions

Mar 9 The Distance Between Us: A Memoir by Reyna Grande, 352 pages, 2012.

This is the Writers & Books choice for their 2018 "Rochester Reads" program. The author tells her story about spending much of her childhood in poverty in Mexico with her negligent grandmother after her parents slipped across the border to the U.S. Later she crossed the border herself and became a successful writer.   LAVA traditionally discusses the "Rochester Reads" book in March, and we open our discussion to the public. Here is some initial information about the book.   LAVA's reading resources

Apr 13 The Children Act by Ian McEwan, 221 pages, 2014

In this novel, a judge who presides over family court issues finds herself dealing with a crisis in her own marriage. At the same time, she must decide the case of a boy who, three months too young to be able legally to make such decisions himself, is citing religious beliefs for refusing medical treatment that could save his life. His parents support him. Previous novels by this author have won the Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

May 11 Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, 314 pages, 2014

This novel is based on a true story about a woman convicted of murder in Iceland in the early 1800s who, for lack of jails, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution. The farm family, at first horrified at the idea of sharing their house with a murderer, learn that there is another side to her story.

June 8 Bellvue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America's Most Storied Hospital by David Oshinsky, 2017, 322 pages

This is the story of the nation's oldest hospital and the largest public hospital in its largest city. The author, who is director of the Division of Medical Humanities at the NYU School of Medicine, won the Pulitzer Prize for an earlier book on the history of polio.

July During this month we traditionally share a restaurant meal and see a film together at the Little Theater.
Aug 10 Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, 657 pages, 2009

Twin brothers born from a secret love affair between an Indian nun and a British surgeon come of age in Ethiopia, where their love for the same woman drives them apart. One is studious and the other is a moody genius. The latter narrates their "long, dramatic, biblical story set against the backdrop of political turmoil in Ethiopia, the life of the hospital compound in which they grow up and the love story of their adopted parents, both doctors... The boys become doctors as well." This novel won the Indie's Choice Book Award, which is given by owners of independent book stores

Sept During this month we traditionally share a restaurant meal and see a film together at the Little Theater.
Oct The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, 2017, 418 pages

In 1893, rumors appear that the Essex Serpent, a mythical creature, has returned to a coastal area outside London. A young window investigates, certain that she will discover what is in fact a new species. She is drawn into a relationship with the local vicar, who thinks the rumors are caused by the moral panic felt by those who have strayed from the righteous path. This novel won the British Book Award for Fiction.

Nov Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance, 272 pages, 2016

After World War II, Vance's parents moved from the poverty-stricken mountains of Kentucky to Ohio, where they raised a middle-class family. Even though their son went to Yale, things did not go smoothly for them. Vance shows how he himself still carries the demons of his chaotic family history of abuse and alcoholism.

Dec Lab Girl by Hope Jahren, 282 pages, 2016

This memoir, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography, is by a prominent geobiologist. According to Wikipedia, "Geobiology applies the principles and methods of biology and geology to the study of the ancient history of the co-evolution of life and Earth as well as the role of life in the modern world." An important aspect of the book is the author's relationship with her brilliant but eccentric lab manager.

Jan In January we hold a special meeting to share information and opinions about the books that have been proposed for the coming year.  Please note that this meeting is on a Saturday instead of the usual Friday.  Details for this meeting are sent via email.
Feb Killers of the Flower Moon: the Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann, 292 pages, 2017

In the 1800's, the Osage tribe was forced to move from Kansas to what was considered to be worthless land in Oklahoma. When oil was found there, envious whites used a variety of methods to limit their ability to profit from it. More than two dozen tribal members were murdered, leading to the involvement of the newly formed FBI.