Serving since 1992

Save the dates: New 2015 book club selections announced

March 13, 2015

The Employee Forum book club is pleased to announce that we will continue with new selections through February 2016. All book club meetings will take place at Bulls Head Book Shop on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. Lunch will be provided with registration, which is free to all UNC staff. Check back in coming months for more details and registration for each of the book club dates.

Each of the book selections will be available for purchase at Bulls Head Book Shop at a 25% discount!

May 28: The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

ReasonIJumpPublisher’s description:

You’ve never read a book like The Reason I Jump. Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, it is a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one at last have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within.

Using an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct words, sentences, and thoughts that he is unable to speak out loud, Naoki answers even the most delicate questions that people want to know. Questions such as: “Why do people with autism talk so loudly and weirdly?” “Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks?” “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?” and “What’s the reason you jump?” (Naoki’s answer: “When I’m jumping, it’s as if my feelings are going upward to the sky.”) With disarming honesty and a generous heart, Naoki shares his unique point of view on not only autism but life itself. His insights—into the mystery of words, the wonders of laughter, and the elusiveness of memory—are so startling, so strange, and so powerful that you will never look at the world the same way again.

In his introduction, bestselling novelist David Mitchell writes that Naoki’s words allowed him to feel, for the first time, as if his own autistic child was explaining what was happening in his mind. “It is no exaggeration to say that The Reason I Jump allowed me to round a corner in our relationship.” This translation was a labor of love by David and his wife, KA Yoshida, so they’d be able to share that feeling with friends, the wider autism community, and beyond. Naoki’s book, in its beauty, truthfulness, and simplicity, is a gift to be shared.

June 25: Sea of Poppies by Amitav GhoshSeaofPoppies

Publisher’s description:

The first in an epic trilogy, Sea of Poppies is “a remarkably rich saga . . . which has plenty of action and adventure à la Dumas, but moments also of Tolstoyan penetration–and a drop or two of Dickensian sentiment” (The Observer[London]).

At the heart of this vibrant saga is a vast ship, the Ibis. Her destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean shortly before the outbreak of the Opium Wars in China. In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown together a diverse cast of Indians and Westerners on board, from a bankrupt raja to a widowed tribeswoman, from a mulatto American freedman to a free-spirited French orphan. As their old family ties are washed away, they, like their historical counterparts, come to view themselves as jahaj-bhais, or ship-brothers. The vast sweep of this historical adventure spans the lush poppy fields of the Ganges, the rolling high seas, and the exotic backstreets of Canton. With a panorama of characters whose diaspora encapsulates the vexed colonial history of the East itself, Sea of Poppies is “a storm-tossed adventure worthy of Sir Walter Scott” (Vogue).

Just-Mercy-A-Story-of-Justice-and-Redemption-by-Bryan-Stevenson

July 30: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (summer reading selection)

Publisher’s description:

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

 Aug 27: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichieamericanah

Publisher’s description:

A powerful, tender story of race and identity by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author ofHalf of a Yellow Sun.

Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.

Sept 25: Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

elizabethismissingGoodread’s description:

In this darkly riveting debut novel—a sophisticated psychological mystery that is also a heartbreakingly honest meditation on memory, identity, and aging—an elderly woman descending into dementia embarks on a desperate quest to find the best friend she believes has disappeared, and her search for the truth will go back decades and have shattering consequences.

Maud, an aging grandmother, is slowly losing her memory—and her grip on everyday life. Yet she refuses to forget her best friend Elizabeth, whom she is convinced is missing and in terrible danger.

But no one will listen to Maud—not her frustrated daughter, Helen, not her caretakers, not the police, and especially not Elizabeth’s mercurial son, Peter. Armed with handwritten notes she leaves for herself and an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth needs her help, Maud resolves to discover the truth and save her beloved friend.

This singular obsession forms a cornerstone of Maud’s rapidly dissolving present. But the clues she discovers seem only to lead her deeper into her past, to another unsolved disappearance: her sister, Sukey, who vanished shortly after World War II.

As vivid memories of a tragedy that occurred more fifty years ago come flooding back, Maud discovers new momentum in her search for her friend. Could the mystery of Sukey’s disappearance hold the key to finding Elizabeth?

Oct 29: Empire Falls by Richard Russo

Publisher’s description:

Richard Russo—from his first novel, Mohawk, to his most recent, Straight Man—has demonstrated a peerless affinity for the human tragicomedy, and with this stunning new novel he extends even further his claims on the small-town, blue-collar heart of the country.Empirefallsbookcover

Dexter County, Maine, and specifically the town of Empire Falls, has seen better days, and for decades, in fact, only a succession from bad to worse. One by one, its logging and textile enterprises have gone belly-up, and the once vast holdings of the Whiting clan (presided over by the last scion’s widow) now mostly amount to decrepit real estate. The working classes, meanwhile, continue to eke out whatever meager promise isn’t already boarded up.

Miles Roby gazes over this ruined kingdom from the Empire Grill, an opportunity of his youth that has become the albatross of his daily and future life. Called back from college and set to work by family obligations—his mother ailing, his father a loose cannon—Miles never left home again. Even so, his own obligations are manifold: a pending divorce; a troubled younger brother; and, not least, a peculiar partnership in the failing grill with none other than Mrs. Whiting. All of these, though, are offset by his daughter, Tick, whom he guides gently and proudly through the tribulations of adolescence.

A decent man encircled by history and dreams, by echoing churches and abandoned mills, by the comforts and feuds provided by lifelong friends and neighbors, Miles is also a patient, knowing guide to the rich, hardscrabble nature of Empire Falls: fathers and sons and daughters, living and dead, rich and poor alike. Shot through with the mysteries of generations and the shattering visitations of the nation at large, it is a social novel of panoramic ambition, yet at the same time achingly personal. In the end, Empire Falls reveals our worst and best instincts, both our most appalling nightmares and our simplest hopes, with all the vision, grace and humanity of truly epic storytelling.

itotallymeanttodothatNov 19: I Totally Meant to do that by Jane Borden

Goodread’s description:

Jane Borden is a hybrid too horrifying to exist: a hipster-debutante. She was reared in a propert Southern home in Greensboro, North Carolina, sent to boarding school in Virginia, and then went on to join a sorority in Chapel Hill. She next moved to New York and discovered that none of this grooming meant a lick to anyone. In fact, she hid her upbringing for many years–it was easier than explaining what a debutante “does” (the short answer: not much).

Anyone who has moved away from home or lived in (or dreamed of living in) New York will appreciate the hilarity of Jane’s musings on the intersections of and altercations between Southern hospitality and Gotham cool.

Jan 28: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami1Q84

Publisher’s description:

The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.

A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.

As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.

A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s—1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.

Feb 25: The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs

peacebookPublisher’s description:

A heartfelt, and riveting biography of the short life of a talented young African-American man who escapes the slums of Newark for Yale University only to succumb to the dangers of the streets—and of one’s own nature—when he returns home.

When author Jeff Hobbs arrived at Yale University, he became fast friends with the man who would be his college roommate for four years, Robert Peace. Robert’s life was rough from the beginning in the crime-ridden streets of Newark in the 1980s, with his father in jail and his mother earning less than $15,000 a year. But Robert was a brilliant student, and it was supposed to get easier when he was accepted to Yale, where he studied molecular biochemistry and biophysics. But it didn’t get easier. Robert carried with him the difficult dual nature of his existence, “fronting” in Yale, and at home.

Through an honest rendering of Robert’s relationships—with his struggling mother, with his incarcerated father, with his teachers and friends and fellow drug dealers—The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace encompasses the most enduring conflicts in America: race, class, drugs, community, imprisonment, education, family, friendship, and love. It’s about the collision of two fiercely insular worlds—the ivy-covered campus of Yale University and Newark, New Jersey, and the difficulty of going from one to the other and then back again. It’s about poverty, the challenges of single motherhood, and the struggle to find male role models in a community where a man is more likely to go to prison than to college. It’s about reaching one’s greatest potential and taking responsibility for your family no matter the cost. It’s about trying to live a decent life in America. But most all the story is about the tragic life of one singular brilliant young man. His end, a violent one, is heartbreaking and powerful and unforgettable.

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Join us for The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

October 28, 2014

527141df7cd2b-preview-300UNC Staff are invited to join the Employee Forum book club on Friday, January 30, 2015 from 12pm-1pm at Bulls Head Book Shop. We will discuss the book The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. The book can be purchased at a special discount online here or in the store at Bulls Head Book Shop.

Lunch will be provided with registration. Please email employeeforum@unc.edu if you have special dietary concerns.

Publisher’s description:

Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love–and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch is a mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate. – See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/donna-tartt/the-goldfinch/9780316055437/#desc.

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Join us for The Ocean at the End of the Lane

September 3, 2014

gaimanUNC Staff are invited to join the Employee Forum book club on November 26, 2014 from 12pm-1pm at Bulls Head Book Shop. We will discuss the book The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. The book can be purchased at a special discount online here or in the store at Bulls Head Book Shop.

Lunch will be provided with registration. Please email employeeforum@unc.edu if you have special dietary concerns.

Publisher’s description:

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

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Join us for The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou

July 30, 2014

heartofawomanUNC Staff are invited to join the Employee Forum book club on October 24, 2014 from 12pm-1pm at Bulls Head Book Shop. We will discuss the book The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou. The book can be purchased at a special discount online here or in the store at Bulls Head Book Shop.

Lunch will be provided with registration. Please email employeeforum@unc.edu if you have special dietary concerns.

Publisher’s description:

In The Heart of a Woman, Maya Angelou leaves California with her son, Guy, to move to New York. There she enters the society and world of black artists and writers, reads her work at the Harlem Writers Guild, and begins to take part in the struggle of black Americans for their rightful place in the world. In the meantime, her personal life takes an unexpected turn. She leaves the bail bondsman she was intending to marry after falling in love with a South African freedom fighter, travels with him to London and Cairo, where she discovers new opportunities.

The Heart of a Woman is filled with unforgettable vignettes of such renowned people as Billie Holiday and Malcom X, but perhaps most importantly chronicles the joys and the burdens of a black mother in America and how the son she has cherished so intensely and worked for so devotedly finally grows to be a man.

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New book selections added through April 2015

July 3, 2014

We are pleased to announce new book selections through April 2015! Mark your calendars and look for registration links closer to the meeting dates. All book club meetings are scheduled to take place at Bulls Head Book Shop. Books can be purchased at a discount online or in store at Bulls Head.

September

• Friday, September 26, 2014 at noon– The Round House by Louise Erdrich (registration)

October

• Friday, October 24, 2014 at noon– The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou

November

• Wednesday, November 26 at noon– The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

December-January (no meeting in December)

• Friday, January 30, 2015 at noon– The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

February

• Friday, February 20, 2015 at noon — Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

March

• Friday, March 27, 2015 at noon– Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

April

• Thursday, April 30, 2015 at noon– Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

 

 

 

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September book selection: The Round House by Louise Erdrich

July 3, 2014

roundhousecoverUNC Staff are invited to join the Employee Forum book club on September 26, 2014 from 12pm-1pm at Bulls Head Book Shop. We will discuss the book The Round House by Louise Erdrich. The book can be purchased at a special discount online here or in the store at Bulls Head Book Shop.

Lunch will be provided with registration. Please email employeeforum@unc.edu if you have special dietary concerns.

Publisher’s description:

The Round House won the National Book Award for fiction.

One of the most revered novelists of our time—a brilliant chronicler of Native-American life—Louise Erdrich returns to the territory of her bestselling, Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves with The Round House, transporting readers to the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. It is 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.

Riveting and suspenseful, arguably the most accessible novel to date from the creator of Love Medicine, The Beet Queen, and The Bingo Palace, Erdrich’s The Round House is a page-turning masterpiece of literary fiction—at once a powerful coming-of-age story, a mystery, and a tender, moving novel of family, history, and culture.

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August book selection: Nickel and Dimed

July 3, 2014

nickeldimedcoverUNC Staff are invited to join the Employee Forum book club on August 29, 2014 from 12pm-1pm at Bulls Head Book Shop. We will discuss the book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich. The book can be purchased at a special discount online here or in the store at Bulls Head Book Shop.

Lunch will be provided with registration. Please email employeeforum@unc.edu if you have special dietary concerns.

Publisher’s description:

Our sharpest and most original social critic goes “undercover” as an unskilled worker to reveal the dark side of American prosperity.

Millions of Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job — any job — can be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. Very quickly, she discovered that no job is truly “unskilled,” that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned that one job is not enough; you need at least two if you int to live indoors.

Nickel and Dimed reveals low-rent America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity — a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate stratagems for survival. Read it for the smoldering clarity of Ehrenreich’s perspective and for a rare view of how “prosperity” looks from the bottom. You will never see anything — from a motel bathroom to a restaurant meal — in quite the same way again.

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July book selection: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

July 3, 2014

leanincoverUNC staff are invited to join the Employee Forum book club on July 25, 2014 from 12pm-1pm at Bulls Head Book Shop. We will discuss the book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg. The book can be purchased at a special discount online here or in the store at Bulls Head Book Shop.

Lunch will be provided with registration. Please email employeeforum@unc.edu if you have special dietary concerns.

Publishers description:

Thirty years after women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry. This means that women’s voices are still not heard equally in the decisions that most affect our lives. In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential.

Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and is ranked on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2010, she gave an electrifying TEDTalk in which she described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. Her talk, which became a phenomenon and has been viewed more than two million times, encouraged women to “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto.

In Lean In, Sandberg digs deeper into these issues, combining personal anecdotes, hard data, and compelling research to cut through the layers of ambiguity and bias surrounding the lives and choices of working women. She recounts her own decisions, mistakes, and daily struggles to make the right choices for herself, her career, and her family. She provides practical advice on negotiation techniques, mentorship, and building a satisfying career, urging women to set boundaries and to abandon the myth of “having it all.”  She describes specific steps women can take to combine professional achievement with personal fulfillment and demonstrates how men can benefit by supporting women in the workplace and at home.

Written with both humor and wisdom, Sandberg’s book is an inspiring call to action and a blueprint for individual growth. Lean In is destined to change the conversation from what women can’t do to what they can.

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Join Us for I am Malala

June 3, 2014

 

malalacover

UNC Staff are invited to join the Employee Forum book club on June 27, 2014 from 12pm-1pm at Bulls Head Book Shop. We will be discussing the book I am Malala: The Girl who Stood up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai. The book can be purchased at a special discount online here or in the store at Bulls Head Book Shop.

Lunch will be provided with registration. Please email employeeforum@unc.edu if you have special dietary concerns.

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Join us for Giving Voice to Values

April 7, 2014

UNC Staff are invited to join the Employee Forum book club on April 25, 2014 from 12pm-1pm at Bulls Head Book Shop. We will be discussing the book Giving Voice to Values: How to Speak Your Mind When You Know What’s Right by Mary Gentile. The book can be purchased at a special discount online here or in the store at Bulls Head Book Shop.

Lunch will be provided with registration. Please email employeeforum@unc.edu if you have special dietary concerns.

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