Thursday, July 13, 2006

July 2006 Book Pick: The City is a Rising Tide

Summer is the perfect time for lots of travel. If you can’t hop on a plane or a train, you can certainly take your mind abroad and read great books that bring those glamorous locations to you. Our July book club pick is North Carolina author Rebecca Lee’s debut novel, “The City is a Rising Tide”. The author, who lives between North Carolina and New York, takes the readers from Central Park to the Three Gorges Dam in China’s Yangtze River.

It’s the story of young woman’s obsession with her boss and the great lengths she will go to secure his love and attention. In the midst of this, they are working together to create a holistic center in the middle of the building of a great dam, considered by the environmental community to be one of the most dangerous things of modern world, is being constructed. Just how far will Justine go for love and how can you fall for someone without losing yourself are just some of the questions this book asks.

Please join us for summery evening of wine and tasty tidbits on Monday, July 17, 2006 at 7PM at Joseph-Beth Booksellers where we will chat with the book’s author. Because it’s summer, we’re going to mix it up and this event is open to everyone, boyfriends, brothers, husbands or anyone else who would like to come to a summery cocktail party. Please RSVP at:

Interview with Rebecca Lee

Rebecca Lee, author of CW’s book pick this month lives a fascinating life. She divides her time between New York City and North Carolina, teaches writing at UNC Wilmington and is a mother to an 18-month-year old daughter. In the midst of all of this, her first novel, “The City is a Rising Tide” has just come out on bookshelves around the nation.

“For me, the novel grew out of a description of place,” she said. “I realized that when I was in North Carolina, I missed NY and when I was in the City I missed the countryside and the ocean. After that characters formed around that and then the plot.” They had to be characters she loved. Lee spent ten years working on the novel but as the 2001 winner of the National Magazine Award for fiction, she realized that writing a novel used different kinds of creative muscles. “An old college professor said that a short story is like a one night stand whereas a novel is like a relationship,” Lee said. “A novel is more thoughtful and meandering which was more suited to me.”

Lee, is a consummate writer, who not only practices what she preaches, she teaches it too. She said teaching has impacted her writing. “You can tell other people what to do but it’s hard to tell yourself the same thing,” she said. “It’s so inspirational for me to be teaching because you can see how really devoted writers can make leaps if they are devoted to working on the same thing.”

Meet the author
Join Ms. Lee at CW Book Club’s one-year anniversary cocktail party with on Monday, July 17th at 7PM at Joseph-Beth at SouthPark Mall. RSVP at

Novello Festival

The Novello Festival of Reading debuted its list of big-name authors who will visit the Queen City this fall. Amy Tan (author of "The Joy Luck Club" and "The Kitchen God’s Wife"), Mitch Albom (author of “Tuesdays with Morrie” and “The Five People You Meet in Heaven”) and Dr. Andrew Weil (author of “Healthy Aging: Your Lifelong Guide to Physical and Spiritual Well-Being “) are some of the well-known authors that will be featured during this year’s festival. The festival is a celebration of reading and books and has been held each October since 1991. This year the festival will start on October 9th and will run until November 8th. For more information, click on to:

Book Review: "Water for Elephants"

Summer evokes an image of lazy days, of random opportunities and explorations that pan out into some of the best-valued memories. “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen is an ideal supplemental Charlotte Weekly book club pick for July because it falls into that pattern of endeavor turned treasure; the reviewers at USA Today call Gruen’s work this summer’s delightful sleeper novel. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, run – don’t walk – to your nearest bookseller. You’re in for a treat.

Set in the 1930s, the novel explores the mostly unexamined world of the circus. In the center ring of Gruen’s narrative is the kindhearted circus veterinarian, Jacob. After some misfortune, he finds his way to the Benzini Brothers’ Circus and his life takes off.

If you’ve ever been curious about just who circus performers are and how they got to be in such a “spec” (circus speak for the spectacular or the show), wonder no more. Gruen constructs her characters in such vivid detail that the reader feels like he or she living life with them, not excepting the numerous animals, such as Rosie the elephant, who populate the story.

“The story contains a lot of plot points that are parallel to the Old Testament story of Jacob,” Gruen said. “But you don’t need to know anything about that to enjoy the story.” Gruen said she felt compelled to write “Water for Elephants” after seeing a photograph of circus performers during that era. “The last time that a train circus performed under the canvas was 1956,” she said. “This is an era that’s disappearing from memory and it’s an important part of American history. Whether you hate the circus or love the circus, it was definitely an important slice. I wanted to record it and wanted to do it right.”

“Water for Elephants” is a delightful read with characters that remain on the mind long after the last page is read.

Meet the author
Gruen will be at Park Road Books in South Charlotte on Tuesday, July 18, at 7 p.m. For more information, call 704-525-9239. Learn more about the book and its author at