The ACOM Book Club met via Zoom on Thursday, March 17, 2022. Attendees were Jim, Margaret, Andrea, Francis, Tom, Joe, Tashina, Peter, Cynthia and me. We continued last month's discussion of "Cloud Cuckoo Land" by Anthony Doerr.
As an introduction to the book, I'll paraphrase what Wikipedia has to say about it:
"Cloud Cuckoo Land is the story of five characters spanning eight centuries. In the fifteenth-century Byzantine Empire, Anna is a young seamstress living in Constantinople, and Omier is a village boy conscripted into the Ottoman army which is preparing to take the city. In the present day, Zeno, a Korean War veteran, works in a library in Idaho translating Ancient Greek texts, while Seymour, a disturbed autistic youngster, becomes caught up with a group of eco-terrorists. In the twenty-second century, Konstance is a young girl aboard the Argos, a generation starship heading for a planet called Beta Oph2.
Their stories are bound by an Ancient Greek codex entitled Cloud Cuckoo Land that each of the five characters discovers and finds solace in. It is a fictional book supposedly written by real Greek novelist Antonius Diogenes in the second century, and tells the story of Aethon, a shepherd on a quest to find the fabled paradise in the sky. In his travels, he is transformed into a donkey, a sea bass, and finally a crow, which allows him to fly to the gates of the city in the clouds."
(This month's notes by Peter)
The ACOM Book Club met on January 20, 2022. We met over Zoom. Outside it was -3 (-11 with the wind).
In attendance was Margaret & Jim, Leroy & Cynthia, Azad, Francis, Peter and Tom.
This month we read A Beginner's Guide to America: For the Immigrant and the Curious by Roya Hakkakian.
(Notes written by Peter)
The ACOM Book Club met on December 2, 2021 in the parlor at St Sahag.
In attendance were Francis, Tom, Azad, Jim, Margaret, Alfred, Tashina, Peter, and, via Zoom, Leroy and Cynthia.
This month we read "Justinian’s Flea: Plague, Empire, and the Birth of Europe" by William Rosen, which we discussed over the treats people brought. This book was chosen after reading Hamnet and the role the plague played in that narrative. It comes well-reviewed and created a buzz when it was released over a decade ago. Here's what the book club thought of it:
The ACOM Book Club met on Thursday, October 21, 2021. This month's meeting was held at Mim's Cafe. Attendees were Azad, Tashina, Andrea, Peter, Tom, Joe and Kassian. We did not get the Zoom working. Peter took notes (apologies for leaving anything out, please reply with edits).
The book this month was "Hamnet" by Maggie O'Farrell. While the book didn't have a direct Armenian connection, it's gotten a lot of rave reviews and press, and everyone gathered agreed it was nice to read something different.
The ACOM Book Club met on Thursday, September 16, 2021. This month's meeting was held in the back yard garden of Joe Tashjian's house. Attendees were Joe, Francis, Tom, Margaret, Jim, Peter, Cynthia and me. Joan attended remotely via Zoom.
The book for this month was "The Road to Home: My Life and Times" by Vartan Gregorian.
One of the opening comments was that Vartan Gregorian must have had a very good memory. He includes a lot of detail in his book.
It was noted that he just died in April of this year, at age 87.
He served in several highly visible positions in the U.S. He taught at the University of California at Berkeley, San Francisco State College, UCLA, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Pennsylvania. He became provost of the University of Pennsylvania. He then taught at New York University, after which he became president of New York Public Library for 8 years. From there he moved on to become president of Brown University for 8 years. After that, he served as president of the Carnegie Corporation until he retired.
The ACOM Book Club met on Thursday, June 24, 2021, at Mim's restaurant on Cleveland Avenue in St. Paul. Attending this month were Cynthia, Kass, Peter, Francis, Tashina, Al and me. We attempted to provide a Zoom link for remote users to join in, but it didn't prove usefully workable. (Workably useful?) Andrea, Margaret and Joan made the attempt, but left after just a few minutes.
The book for this month was "Gilgamesh: A New English Version" by Stephen Mitchell.
Due to a miscommunication, Andrea and Azad met at Mim's a week earlier, along with Azad's grandson, Owen, who will be a senior at Hamline University this fall. Andrea wrote up a set of notes for their meeting which covered the book so well that I will intermix them with my notes. Andrea's notes will appear in blue. (Well, that worked in Thunderbird, but not in Facebook. Look for text hints instead.)
The ACOM Book Club met on Thursday, May 20, 2021, as a virtual meeting using Zoom. Attending this month were Francis, Joe, Joan, Peter, Andrea, Lowell, Azad, Margaret, Tashina and me.
The book for this month was "Full Moon Over Noah's Ark" by Rick Antonson.
This book is, in my view, three books in one. It's a log of the author's trek to climb Mount Ararat combined with a survey of various theories of Noah's Ark and where it might have landed, if it really existed. The third part is a report of his trip through Turkey with sideline trips into Iraq, Iran and Armenia.
The ACOM Book Club met on Thursday, April 22, 2021, as a virtual meeting using Zoom. Attending this month were Francis, Kass, Azad, Tashina, Margaret, Andrea, Lowell, Joan, Al, Cynthia and me.
The book for the month was "Classified Woman" by Sibel Edmonds.
This book is a memoir by Sibel Edmonds of her dealings with the FBI and the U.S. government when she worked for a short time as a translator for the FBI and then became a whistle-blower trying to expose massive corruption and dereliction of duty that she observed.
The ACOM Book Club met on Thursday, March 18, 2021, as a virtual meeting using Zoom. Attending this month were Francis, Peter, Jim, Margaret, Tashina, Joan, Tom and me. Some of the members had difficulty connecting this month. Tom was unable to connect through Zoom and ended up calling Francis and just talking and listening through his phone. Azad was unable to connect at all.
The book for this month was "Istanbul: City of Majesty at the Crossroads of the World" by Thomas F. Madden.
The ACOM Book Club met on Thursday, February 18, 2021, as a virtual meeting using Zoom. Attendees this month were Francis, Azad, Mark W., Margaret, Tom, Peter, Joan, Garin (a new Twin Cities resident) and me. The book for this month was "Armenian-American Sketches" by Bedros Keljik.
Bedros Keljik was one of the first, if not the first, Armenian to live in the Twin Cities area. His grandchildren are some of the most active members of ACOM today, so there was a very great interest in reading this book.
A portion of the book had been published in 1944 in Armenian. His grandchildren had not been aware of the existence of the book until Mark Keljik, while at the Library of Congress, searched for the name Keljik on a whim. It shocked him when he found out that his grandfather had a book listed in the Library of Congress.
Another portion of the book consists of stories that were published in the Armenian-American newspaper Baikar between 1942 and 1949. Another story is one written by a friend that Bedros Keljik translated from Armenian to English in 1910.
The last portion of the book is the biographical essay that Mark and Tom Keljik wrote about their grandfather.
The ACOM Book Club met on Thursday, January 21, 2021, as a virtual meeting using Zoom. Attendees this month were Francis, Tom, Azad, Al, Jim, Margaret and me.
The book for this month was "Feast of Ashes: The Life and Art of David Ohannessian" by Sato Moughalian. The author is David Ohannessian's granddaughter.
The book starts out with several pages talking about how the author slowly learned about her grandfather while she was growing up, but had to do a lot of searching to get the full information about the genocide and how his family was able to survive it.
The ACOM Book Club met on Thursday, November 19, 2020, as a virtual meeting using Zoom. Attendees this month were Francis, Margaret, Jim, Peter, Tashina, Andrea, Azad and me. The book for the month was "The Structure Is Rotten, Comrade" by Viken Berberian. This book is a graphic novel, largely told in the pictures with a much smaller amount of text than normal in a novel.
In days gone by I would write about how we shared a bottle of Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon along with whichever Armenian pastries Azad or Andrea provided plus nuts or apples from Francis or Mark or Tom. Well, in today's world all that I can say is that I enjoyed a couple of ounces of Appleton Estates 12-year aged Jamaican rum along with some southwest seasoned Dot's pretzels. Maybe by next September we can again share a bottle of wine.
I started out the meeting stating that this was the rare book that I didn't like. I challenged the rest of the group to say what they liked about it. Well, I was the lone outsider. Everyone else liked it.
The ACOM Book met on Thursday, October 15th, as a virtual meeting using Zoom. Attendees this month were Al, Tom, Azad, Kass, Tashina, Peter, Margaret, Jim and me, a nice representation.
The book for the month was "The Children of Armenia" by Michael Bobelian.
I'm going to do things a little bit different for this month's report because I think that this is a very important book that all of the followers of the ACOM Book Club reports should know about. I'll give you a brief synopsis of the book before I report what we talked about in the meeting.
The ACOM Book Club held its first meeting of the fall on Thursday, September 17, 2020. It was a virtual meeting using Zoom. Attendees this month were Azad, Andrea, Tom, Francis, Margaret & Jim and me. Azad was able to attend even though he was visiting family in Michigan. Margaret and Jim also connected in from a "non-home" location.