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.
ACOM Book Club Meeting on May 21, 2020 by Zoom
The ACOM Book Club held its second Zoom meeting on May 21st, 2020. The book under discussion this month was "Armenian Crisis of Identity" by Ruth Charchian. In attendance this month were Tom, Kass, Jim, Margaret, Cynthia, Tashina, Peter, Azad & me, plus Ruth and Aram. If you include the brief appearances by Agni, Mitchell, Sarah & Bradley, that easily makes it the best attended book club meeting yet.
The ACOM Book Club met on Thursday, April 16, 2020, ... well, kind of. We held a virtual meeting using the Zoom meeting software. Since nobody had to leave their homes, we had the largest group attendance in a long time, if not ever. Thirteen members joined in using their computers or cell phones. Attendees were Tom, Joan, Jim and Margaret, Andrea, Joe, Kass, Cynthia, Azad, Francis, Peter, Tashina and me. While most of us were at our homes, one attendee connected in from San Francisco and actually had a fourteenth attendee, 2-year old Agni, sit in for awhile.
The ACOM Book Club met on Thursday, February 20, 2020, at Mim's Cafe in St. Paul next to the U of M St. Paul campus. In attendance were Andrea, Jim, Margaret, Francis, Joe, Azad, Peter and me. Some of us ordered supper (schwarma, falafel), others ordered snacks (pita & hummus) or dessert (paklava). Margaret also passed around some nuts to share.
The ACOM Book Club met on Thursday, January 16, 2020, at the Bulbulian house. In attendance were Francis, Jim, Margaret, Kass, Tom, Andrea, Lowell and me. (Barb was around, too, but didn't take part in the discussion.) This month's book was "Mr Five Per Cent" by Jonathan Conlin, a biography of Calouste Gulbenkian.
This month's discussion was a little bit different than normal because the book by Conlin was difficult to get a copy of other than by buying the kindle edition. Because of this a couple of members read a previous biography of Gulbenkian by Ralph Hewins, also called "Mr. Five Per Cent." Kass got copies of both books from the library (distant libraries) and had a short time to compare them. He said that the Hewins book was much easier to read but that the Conlin book had a lot more detail.
The ACOM Book Club met on Thursday, October 17, 2019, at the St. Anthony Park library in St. Paul. In attendance were Azad, Tom, Al, Andrea, Joe and me. For snacks, Azad provided date cookies and Andrea provided dates. The book for this month was "Nowhere a Story of Exile" by Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte.
We all were of the opinion that it was a very worthwhile book to read. Azad was very impressed that the author was able to turn her diary pages, which were written when she was about 11 to 13 years old, into such a powerful account of her experiences.
The ACOM Book Club met on September 19, 2019, at the Merriam Park library in St. Paul. In attendance were Tom, Peter, Azad and me.
One reason for the low attendance might be the book selection for the month: "The Making of Nagorno-Karabagh: From Secession to Republic" edited by Levon Chorbajian. While it is definitely a worthwhile book and contains a lot of information on an area that none of our other books has covered, it was very difficult to obtain copies of. Neither the Ramsey County nor Hennepin County libraries have copies. Three Minnesota university libraries have copies, but they are a bit more difficult to get (but that's how I got a copy to read). Copies are available from Amazon or some used book stores, but are quite expensive (more than $60.) Because of this, only Azad and I had read the book.
The ACOM Book Club met on June 20, 2019, at the St. Anthony Park library in St. Paul. In attendance this month were Tom, Lowell, Andrea, Azad and me, a reasonably sized group for June.
Nibbles this month were ... nothing? Well, meeting in the library tends to suppress the red wine and chocolates tendency. Although, nobody ever checks on us. Maybe in September ?
The book for this month was by Lou Ureneck, alternately titled "The Great Fire" and "Smyrna 1922". (Honestly, the soft cover and hardcover editions have different titles but the identical contents.)
The five of us all agreed that we really thought that it was a very good book. The author wrote with a style that drew us in and made us want to continue reading, even though the content was, in many cases, making us absolutely sick to our stomachs.
The ACOM Book Club met on May 16, 2019, at the St. Anthony Park library in St. Paul. In attendance this month were Francis, Jim, Margaret, Azad, Joe, Peter, Andrea and me (a nice, large group). Nibbles this month included date filled pastries from Azad, fruit coated walnuts from Margaret (Sujuk? Rijok? Western Armenian? Eastern Armenian? Who knows, I'm Swedish!!!), and a mix of almonds & raisins from Andrea.
This month's book was "Three Kisses of the Cobra" by Z. T. Balian. Everyone seemed to like the book to different degrees and in different ways. Many of us had objections to different areas of the book, too.