Reading Roundup: Bealeton Book Club Discussions in April
In April, the Bealeton Book Clubs discussed two bestselling, non-fiction books.
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
The Bealeton Evening Book Club discussed this amazing story of Louis Zamperini, covering his antics in boyhood, his running and participation in the Olympics, his service as a lieutenant and bombardier in World War II, his survival on the ocean and in a Japanese prison camp, and his journey to faith and forgiveness. The movie release of Unbroken in 2014 brought renewed interest in the book.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
The Bealeton Afternoon Book Club this part biography, part scientific account, and part social narrative. Henrietta Lacks came from a poverty-stricken black family and received treatment for cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins’ charity ward. Her doctors took a biopsy of her cervical tissue, which was then used by a lab to grow the cells in culture. The cells became known as HeLa and were used by many research facilities to study various cancers and other diseases and to create vaccines and medications. Henrietta’s family did not learn of the research and discoveries enabled by HeLa cells until long after her death. Her life truly became “immortal.” The ethical issues of privacy, patient consent, and buying and selling of patient cells are a large part of the narrative. The author’s exhaustive research into the family, the science of HeLa, and the medical issues that arose is remarkable and eye-opening.
Book Club Reviews
Both books are best-selling non-fiction that required an amazing amount of research to complete. They both tell stories of resilience.
Unbroken is recommended by the evening book club as an excellent read. The parts about Zamperini’s survival in the ocean and as a prisoner of war are difficult, but important to read. This is an inspirational book about survival and faith against great odds.
The afternoon book club thought The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was a well-researched and important read. Some members thought the science and the ethical issues were a little overdone, but pivotal to the story. Many were unaware of the scientific implications of HeLa cells in modern science.
I loved both books. Louis Zamperini and Henrietta Lacks both had interesting and impactful lives, in completely different ways. I especially enjoyed the exhaustive research and delightful narratives in each book.
If you are looking for similar reads, try the following books.
Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown
Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In by Louis Zamperini
Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff
In Harm’s Way by Doug Stanton
Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Read-Alikes:
American Pandemic by Nancy Bristow
The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
The Hot Zone by Richard Preston
League of Denial by Mark Fainaru-Wada
The Panic Virus by Seth Mnookin
Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder
The Bealeton Book Clubs meet once per month. If you would like to join us, please check our schedule for dates, times, and reading selections.
Bealeton Evening Book Club, Monday, 7:30 p.m.
Bealeton Afternoon Book Club, Thursday 2:30 p.m.
Mary Sue, Adult Reference, Bealeton branch library