by Kit Darling

At our January meeting we discussed Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family and the Mystery of Our Hidden Genes by Emily Urquhart. After her daughter Sadie, born with white hair and sensitive eyes, is diagnosed with albinism, Urquhart turns to science, stories from folklore and personal interviews with others living with albinism. In her effort to understand what her daughter may confront as she grows Urquhart interviews parents of albino children and others with albinism across North America. Her research leads her to Tanzania to learn firsthand the struggles of albinos in that country where a pervasive folk belief in the magical healing power of albino’s body parts leads to horrific slaughter and dismemberment. Reactions to the book were mixed with several members disliking the book completely, some having difficulty finishing it, but the discussion was lively and wide-ranging.

And here are recommended reads available from the Hamilton Public Library. Visit the Bookmobile at Bennetto Recreation Centre on Tuesday (2:30 to 4:30) and Thursday (6:00 to 8:00) or go online at to reserve a copy.

Lawrence In Arabia – The making of the modern Middle East by Scott Anderson.  Western attention was primarily focussed on the European theater in WW1. Little attention was paid to the Middle Eastern theater. As a result the conflict was shaped by a small handful of adventurers far removed from the center of power. The German Curt Prufer whose role was to foment Islamic Jihad against Britain, Aaron Aaronsohn a Zionist who was committed to the goal of founding a Jewish state in the region, the American Wm. Yale who travelled the Ottoman Empire on behalf of Standard Oil to gain valuable oil concessions, and the romantic figure of T.E. Lawrence battling both the enemy and own his own British government to bring about his vision for the Arab people. The book portrays the destruction brought on by European colonial plots and the way in which the folly of the past creates the problems of the present. (Kathy)

And After the Fire by Lauren Belfer. Part fiction, part historical, part mystery, and part love story, this novel spans centuries and continents as it tells the tale of an unknown church cantata composed by Johann Sebastian Bach that was hidden for over two hundred years. Why was it hidden and by whom? Susanna Kessler tries to solve the mystery behind this very disturbing musical score. (Paige Turner)

Have you read any of our recommendations? Liked any of the same books we talked about or disagreed totally? Let us know at .