Category: Book Club

Oct 04

Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love by Simran Sethi

Audio Books, Book Club, Non Fiction 5

Greetings Bookworms!

I’ve discussed before that I’ve got a rather tenuous relationship with non fiction. Luckily, my relationship with bread, wine, and chocolate has always been top notch. Thus, when one of my neighbors chose Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love by Simran Sethi for book club, my curiosity was piqued.

breadwinechocolateThis  tome focuses on a series of five foods- the aforementioned bread, wine, and chocolate, as well as beer and coffee. Sethi takes the reader on a journey to explore the history and cultural importance of each of these foods, as well as delving deeply into the flavor profiles of some of the world’s most complex tastes. From far flung cacao fields to craft beer breweries, Sethi’s research is extensive and thorough. I learned a ridiculous amount from reading this book. I mean, genetic biodiversity? I didn’t even know this was a thing I should be concerned with. And now? I am CONCERNED, y’all.

I will forever sing the praises of listening to non-fiction audio books. I don’t know why they work so much better for me than just, you know, eyeball reading, but they do. I found the scientific bits fascinating and didn’t get bogged down at all even when things got super technical and scientific. My mind was legit blown several times. I mean, do you KNOW how chocolate comes to be? Like REALLY know? I’m willing to bet that a lot of you don’t. I always imagined little beans growing on a bush somewhere that were picked and ground and VOILA chocolate. Oh no. So many more steps. And bizarrely shaped fruits. And fermentation. And don’t even get me started on coffee.

Bread, Wine, Chocolate is the stuff of foodies’ dreams. It’s awesome, though, I’ll admit that NOT being a foodie, some of it was lost on me. I love to eat and drink and all, but I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to muster the intensity and enthusiasm Sethi and the professionals she interviewed had for flavor profiles. If you happen to BE a foodie though? THIS IS YOUR BOOK. SIMRAN SETHI IS YOUR PEOPLE. GO READ THIS.

Talk to me, Bookworms! Are you well versed in wine or does it mostly make you feel like a (tipsy) nincompoop?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Jun 27

Unfinished: A Pairing

Book Club 12

Howdy Bookworms!

I don’t usually tell y’all about books I don’t finish because, you know, why would I? I would, if I had interesting stories to explaining why I didn’t finish them. As luck would have it, I happen to have a pair of tales to explain why I didn’t finish my homework. And it’s not because the dog ate it, seeing as I do not have a dog. Side note: I went to school with a girl whose family had a pet monkey and one time the monkey legitimately did eat her homework. I think her mom called to explain the situation. That’s a better story than mine, but you can’t NOT tell a story about a monkey when it’s even marginally relevant, you know?

janesteeleI was super stoked to read Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye after seeing a bunch of amazing reviews for it. I mean, a Jane Eyre (review) inspired gothic novel about a murderess? Sign me up! I downloaded the audio book from the library and all was going wonderfully. I had just about reached the end of the novel, you know, when ALL THE SECRETS are being revealed when the darn loan expired. Normally I love that I never have to remember to return digital library books but this time it bit me in the butt. Now I’m torn. I don’t want to go out and buy a book I’ve already read 95% of. I put myself back on the library hold list, but heaven only knows when I’ll finally get to wrap it up. If you decide to read this (and you should because it’s pretty great) pay attention to your library due date. Or just buy it. Learn from my mistakes, y’all!

The second book I recently didn’t finish was another story entirely. My office started a book club. Cool, right? It’s co-ed which is a new experience for me as I’ve always been in ladies only book clubs. I thought it would be a great way to branch out and try books I wouldn’t ordinarily read. Like, say, a sports book. That’s right. After our inaugural reading of The Martian (my choice obvi, review here) I was very supportive of my co-worker’s interest in Friday Night Lights by HG Bissinger. Until I started reading it. I made it 38% through the book. It was really a perfect storm of factors as to why I didn’t finish it. First, I stalled and didn’t start it until a week before book club. Normally that’s not an issue for me, but it was nonfridaynightlights fiction, which is always more of a challenge for me to get into than fiction. I should have seen that coming. Plus the fact that it was about high school football. I am about as NOT into sports as it’s possible to be, so play by play football scenes are super not my jam. What really did me in though, was that I just started getting angry with this book. Or, more specifically, Odessa, Texas circa 1989. They only desegregated their schools in 1982. HOW IS THAT EVEN LEGAL? Plus, a bunch of the folks interviewed were super racist. Not really surprising considering the whole segregation issue, but we’re not talking micro-aggression racism here. We’re talking full on N-word horror show. I found it profoundly upsetting. Don’t even get me started on the academic standards of this school, let alone the extra lax standards the football team was held to. I nearly threw the dang book across the room when I read that a teacher played a movie version of the The Scarlet Letter for an English class in place of having the class read the book. I don’t even LIKE The Scarlet Letter, but COME ON. Suffice it to say Friday Night Lights and I aren’t going to be reuniting anytime soon. Or ever, probably. At least I wasn’t alone. Only one person in our little club finished the book, and it wasn’t even the guy who chose it. Ah well. It happens.

Talk to me Bookworms! What was the last book that you started but didn’t finish? Why didn’t you finish it? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Nov 11

My Neighbors Are Better Than Your Neighbors: Even When The Book Isn’t…

Book Club, Memoirs 6

Hello Bookworms,

Last week we had our monthly meeting of my neighborhood’s book club. We don’t have an official name, but I’ve dubbed us “My Neighbors Are Better Than Your Neighbors” because it’s true. I don’t usually write up full reviews for our selections, though that’s usually because I’ve already read and reviewed them on the blog. I told them a long time ago not to worry about choosing books I hadn’t read because I’m a book glutton and everyone should get to read what they want to read, you know? Plus, I have an unfair advantage with blogging and ARCs, so I’m kind of the worst. Anyway, this month was Jennifer’s turn to host and she picked a book I hadn’t read yet. Exciting!

Rose

Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor is a memoir by Rosina Harrison. She served for 35 years as a lady’s maid to Lady Nancy Astor, a temperamental world traveling Parliamentarian who often entertained royalty. Going into this book, I didn’t realize just how journal-like it was going to be. Don’t get me wrong, it was pretty darn fascinating to read how the other half lived. I mean, changing clothes 5 times a day? Fancy hats? Butlers and footmen and scullery maids and jewelry so valuable you needed a security detail? I’ve not seen Downton Abbey, but I imagine fans of the show would enjoy this book… Except… There really was no scandal, no hijinks. No below stairs drama or major impropriety on the part of the family. It was all pretty well on the up and up. Which again, is lovely… But rather dull. I did take issue with a couple of things in this novel. First, there is a discussion of the Astor family’s fortune and Harrison decided it wasn’t even interesting enough to footnote the fact that JJ Astor perished aboard the Titanic (which believe you me, is super noteworthy. Especially if when you consider that Victor from The Young and the Restless played him in the blockbuster movie version of the tragedy.) Secondly, there were a lot of typos in there for a book that was professionally published. I’m not usually a stickler for these things, which means that if the average book has a few mistakes that I never even notice, this book had a lot more than a few. They even spelled “Astor” wrong once, like “aster” the flower, and that was just weird. So. Yeah. Not the best book ever. Of course, Jennifer then made some really fancy treats which totally made up for the lackluster book. How pretty are these?!

Apples, puff pastry, jam, and prettiness.

Apples, puff pastry, jam, and prettiness.

Talk to me Bookworms! Do you watch Downton Abbey? Am I missing everything?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Sep 04

A Tale for the Time Being: A Fellowship of the Worms Discussion

Book Club 6

Konichiwa Bookworms!

smarty-mcwordypants-199x300It’s time that time again, y’all! The Fellowship of the Worms is in session! Today we’re going to be discussing the heart wrenching novel, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. WARNING: We will be discussing the WHOLE book. This will no doubt include SPOILERS. If you did not read the book and would like to participate, pick up a copy of A Tale for the Time Being and give it a read. This post will be here waiting for you when you finish. Now that the particulars are out of the way, I’ll remind you of the premise here. I’ll pose questions in bold and answer them in regular type.  If you don’t want your opinions influenced by my rantings, stick to the bold first. Feel free to answer questions in the comments, or if you’re so inclined, leave a comment linking to your review or discussion of A Tale for the Time Being on your own blog! I fully encourage shameless self promotion, so don’t hesitate to get your link on. Let’s do this!

  1. One of the things that struck me about this novel was how quickly Ruth became attached to Nao through her writing. Have you ever found yourself becoming attached to someone you don’t actually know through their writing? Have I ever! Some of my blog friends I feel as close to as anyone I’ve ever met in real life. Heck, there’s usually even a period before I pluck up the courage to “talk” to a blogger I admire where I feel like I know them only to realize they literally have no idea I exist. And still I care about them. Worry about them. Want to know that things turn out okay. I totally get Ruth’s predicament!

2. How much did you love Old Jiko? Do any of you have an impossibly wise older relative who has shaped who you became? I don’t know that I could say that I’ve ever had a relationship with a relative the way Nao bonds with Jiko, but reading about Jiko’s life in the temple, I couldn’t help but think of my great aunt. She was a Catholic nun and lived in a convent. People (myself included most of the time) tend to imagine that those who devote themselves entirely to religious pursuits tend to by stodgy and out of touch. That certainly wasn’t the case with Jiko and it definitely wasn’t true of Sister ataleforthetimebeingBernard either. While she never left me with cryptic words of wisdom, but she used to send THE BEST mail. That’s partially why I’m so fond of greeting cards. And stickers. A number of you have received mail from me, and I’d be willing to bet that there was at least one fun sticker on it. Sis used to include sheets of stickers in my birthday cards. She was pretty much the best, much like Jiko.

3. Did any of y’all break down when reading about the bullying Nao went through at school? Um, are you kidding me? I might have started crying a bit when Nao’s mom discovered her physical injuries, but hearing Nao describe her OWN FUNERAL and thinking that everyone pretending she was dead was an improvement in her situation? Why are people so awful? Whyyyyyyyy??? And that teacher. I can’t even. I literally can’t even. FICTIONAL RAGE PUNCHES ALL AROUND!

4. I feel like we can’t actually discuss this novel without addressing the elephant in the room, suicide. Despite Haruki #1’s kamikaze mission, Haruki #2’s failed suicide attempts, and Nao’s suicidal thoughts, the overall tone remains hopeful. How do you think Ozeki pulled that off? I am of the opinion that Ruth Ozeki is of Japanese, American, and unicorn descent. That magical gift had to come from somewhere, and my money is on unicorn. Don’t ask me how that works, I have no answer. I think that this book that the potential to be the most depressing book in the history of ever, but I think the humor injected into Nao’s narrative helped to lighten the mood. That and Jiko. Have I mentioned how much I love Jiko? “Up, down. Same thing.”

5. Nao’s narrative finding Ruth is pretty much the ultimate message-in-a-bottle scenario. Have you ever fantasized about leaving your story for an unknown reader to discover? What would you tell them? Sometimes I daydream about this sort of thing. I blog about books, and though I often discuss my personal life, I’m not really interested in publicly airing my dirty laundry, so to speak. I think the idea of a full Nao-style confessional document thrown out into the world for posterity is appealing, but I don’t think I could ever do it. I’m afraid that even if I made an attempt, I’d end up presenting something less than true and very tainted by my mood of the day. I mean, how often does something drive you ABSOLUTELY BONKERS when in hindsight it really wasn’t that big a deal? I’d be worried my mythical reader would think I was a whiny brat. I recognize my privilege and all, but those first world problems, man.

Sound off, Bookworms! I want to know your what you thought of A Tale for the Time Being. Tackle some of the questions in the comments, or if you’ve written a post on your own blog (discussion or review, anything goes!) LINK IT UP! 

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Jul 31

Fellowship of the Worms Announcement: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Book Club 10

Howdy Bookworms!

It’s been far too long since we read a book together, I think. Who’s up for another installment of The Fellowship of the Worms?! This time around, I’ve decided on A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. Here’s the Goodreads synopsis:

ataleforthetimebeingIn Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying, but before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in a ways she can scarcely imagine.

Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future. 

Full of Ozeki’s signature humour and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.

It sounds pretty intense, but I cannot wait. I’ve heard all sorts of rave reviews so I’m really excited to check this one out. For anyone out there interested in joining me, I’ll be posting discussion questions on Friday, September 4, 2015. Despite me interviewing myself earlier this week, I much prefer to internet with friends.

*If you purchase a copy of A Tale for the Time Being through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Seriously small. Right now my Amazon affiliate account has all of twelve cents in it.*

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Apr 27

The Fellowship of the Worms Blasts Off: The Martian

Audio Books, Book Club 20

Happy Monday Bookworms!

smarty-mcwordypants-199x300It’s time that time again, y’all! The Fellowship of the Worms is in session! Today we’re going to be discussing the impossibly suspenseful novel, The Martian by Andy Weir. WARNING: We will be discussing the WHOLE book. This will no doubt include SPOILERS. If you did not read the book and would like to participate, pick up a copy of The Martian and give it a read. This post will be here waiting for you when you finish. Now that the particulars are out of the way, I’ll remind you of the premise here. I’ll pose questions in bold and answer them in regular type.  If you don’t want your opinions influenced by my rantings, stick to the bold first. Feel free to answer questions in the comments, or if you’re so inclined, leave a comment linking to your review or discussion of The Martian on your own blog! I fully encourage shameless self promotion, so don’t hesitate to get your link on. Let’s do this! 

1. Does anybody else have a bit of a crush on Mark Watney after reading this? 

Um, heck yes! Super smart botanist/astronaut/engineer with a killer sense of humor and survival instinct? If MacGuyver, Bill Nye, and, I dunno, Tina Fey? got together and conquered Mars with science, duct tape, and hilarity, it might come close to matching Mark Watney’s awesomeness. Yes, please.

2. Do you think the crew was right in leaving Watney behind?

I’m with Mark on this one. I absolutely cannot blame the crew for leaving Watney. All their evidence pointed towardthemartian his being dead. It’s not like they were just like “he wasn’t back in time let’s go.” They were like “noooooo our friend is dead and Mars is evil!” The data all said “dude is dead, get out before you get sand stormed to death” so they did.

3. Do you think it’s realistic that Mark could have kept his sense of humor throughout his ordeal?

If it were me, I’d have given up early on and gone to a cold Martian grave. Watney’s maintenance of spirit is impressive, but I kind of believe it could happen. In listening to Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars (review), I learned that they have some crazy methods of picking astronauts. Would a person with an “ordinary” temperment have reacted the way Watney did? No. But they choose some pretty unusual characters to go into space. It makes sense to me, on some level. Plus, I loved Watney’s snarky humor so I’m talking myself into his being plausible.

4. Matt Damon is going to be playing Mark Watney in the upcoming movie version of The MartianHow do you feel about the casting decision? 

I listened to the audio version of this book (which was spectacular, BTW) and I can TOTALLY hear Matt Damon delivering Mark’s lines. I think he’s probably more handsome than what I imagine a botanist/engineer/astronaut would look like, but it’s Hollywood. Everybody is prettier than normal and that’s just something that happens in movie versions of books.

5. How many times did you think Mark was really, truly, going to bite it? 

The suspense killed me. Every time I thought Mark was really getting somewhere something insane would happen. Something would blow up or crash or get fried or be sucked into the Martian atmosphere and ruined. I was seriously stressed out reading and didn’t believe Watney would make it several times. Of course, in the earlier catastrophes, I tried to figure out what would fill the rest of the book if they killed off Watney but holy cats I don’t know HOW he made it out alive. Fictionally. Whatever. This has all been very intense and real for me, okay?!

Sound off, Bookworms! I want to know your what you thought of The Martian. Tackle some of the questions in the comments, or if you’ve written a post on your own blog (discussion or review, anything goes!) LINK IT UP! 

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*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Mar 20

Fellowship of the Worms Announcement: The Martian by Andy Weir

Book Club 14

Greetings Bookworms!

I think it’s about time for The Fellowship of the Worms to reconvene, don’t you? I’ve had my eye on The Martian by Andy Weir for a while now and I want to read it with you! Here’s the Goodreads synopsis:

themartianSix days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he’s stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive–and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills–and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit–he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Sounds awesome, right?! I’ll be posting discussion questions on Monday, April 20. Who’s in?!

*If you purchase your copy of The Martian through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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Feb 09

The Fellowship of the Worms: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Book Club, World War II 12

Happy Monday Bookworms!

smarty-mcwordypants-199x300It’s time that time again, y’all! The Fellowship of the Worms is in session! Today we’re going to be chewing on the brain food that is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. WARNING: We will be discussing the WHOLE book. This will no doubt include SPOILERS. If you did not read the book and would like to participate, pick up a copy of All the Light We Cannot See and give it a read. This post will be here waiting for you when you finish. Now that the particulars are out of the way, I’ll remind you of the premise here. I’ll pose questions in bold and answer them in regular type.  If you don’t want your opinions influenced by my rantings, stick to the bold first. Feel free to answer questions in the comments, or if you’re so inclined, leave a comment linking to your review or discussion of All the Light We Cannot See on your own blog! I fully encourage shameless self promotion, so don’t hesitate to get your link on. Let’s do this!

1. Marie-Laure is stricken blind at a young age. Despite her disability, she goes on to do some pretty amazing things. Were there any instances in Marie-Laure’s experiences that surprised you?

I am amazed at the way the human mind compensates for a compromised sense. Marie-Laure’s acute senses of smell and hearing were impressive. Of course, I think she’d have been in much rougher shape were it not for her AMAZING father. Oh that Daniel LeBlanc! Creating a miniature model of their neighborhood in Paris? Teaching Marie-Laure to navigate? The lengths he went to protect her? Their relationship was so incredibly sweet.

2. Werner has, without question, a brilliant mind. Unfortunately, being raised an orphan he is afforded few opportunities. When he is accepted into the prestigious Nazi school, his sister Jutta is opposed to his attending. What would you have done in Werner’s shoes?

Oh goodness, how I felt for Werner! And for Jutta! Seriously, there were so few options. Could Werner have declined the invitation to join the school? Maybe. Without consequences? That’s hard to say. I mean, did you SEE what happened to Frederick? The Nazi regime was really effing scary. I’d like to think I’d be noble and amazing, but I think I’d have taken Werner’s route. He had the best of intentions to make a difference from the inside, but it proved impossible. Luckily he managed to hold on to his humanity in the end, poor kid.

3. When Etienne and Marie-Laure are working for the resistance and broadcastingallthelightwecannotsee coded messages, Etienne frets that his actions will certainly get people killed. Marie-Laure tries to console him by telling him that they’re “the good guys.” Etienne expresses that he hopes so. Do you think there are ever any clear “good guys” or “bad guys” in war?

Ooooh, Katie, GOOD QUESTION. There’s nobody who would argue that the Nazi regime was a good thing. (Well, nobody who isn’t horrible on a fundamental level.) However. How many Werners were there in that army? How many innocent civilians would be caught in the crossfire? How many Allied soldiers did awful things of their own accord? War is such a big nightmarish sticky mess. Could we maybe stop having them already?! Gah!

4. That doggone Sea of Flames! It’s got quite the tale attached to it, what with its curse and all. A number of people believe this to be true, Von Rumpel among them. In fact, it’s almost as though the curse of the diamond started the whole dang war. Do you think it was cursed and/or brought protection to the one who held it?

Yeah I’m not big on superstitions, but wouldn’t it be nice to blame WWII on an evil diamond? I think Von Rumpel’s buy in was based directly on the fact that he was dying of cancer and desperate. You can’t deny that Marie-Laure, despite some super dangerous extra-curriculars survived. I doubt that Doerr really meant for the reader to believe a supernatural stone had all kinds of power, but it provided a nice narrative element.

5. Do you think if Werner hadn’t succumbed to illness, he and Marie-Laure might have had a future together?

Hi, I’m Katie and I want people to be happy! It would have ruined the book and I’d have hated it for having a cheeseball ending, but there’s a significant part of me that REALLY wanted Werner and Marie-Laure to have a happily ever after! They could move to Switzerland and she could have studied things and he could have made scientific breakthroughs and had babies. Jutta and Etienne could have lived with them in their modest ski chalet and they could collectively have worked to heal all their various broken psyches. Siiiiiiiiigh.

Sound off, Bookworms! I want to know your what you thought of All the Light We Cannot See. Tackle some of the questions in the comments, or if you’ve written a post on your own blog (discussion or review, anything goes!) LINK IT UP! 

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*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Jan 27

Sensational Selections For Your Book Club

Book Club, Top Ten Tuesday 39

Howdy Bookworms!

You know that feeling when it’s your turn to choose a book for book club and you’re freaking out because you don’t know what to pick? I’ve got you covered! I’ve made a list of fool proof choices for your next meeting, thanks to a prompt from The Broke and the Bookish. It’s Top Ten Tuesday time, y’all!

sensationalselections

1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett- This was the book choice for the very first book club meeting I ever attended. This was pre-movie and largely pre-hype, and we spent all kinds of time really talking about the book. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some unrelated-to-the-book book club chatting, but it’s rather novel when the conversation stays on topic.

2. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (review)- I didn’t actually read this with any book club, but it’s just SO GOOD and SO FULL of great discussion topics that it would be fantastic in a book club setting.

3. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (review)- My experience with discussion of this book is from an English class in college, but I love this book so much. How great would it be to talk about with your book club? There’s so much MEAT.

4. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (review)- We read this with The Fellowship of the Worms and it was utterly delightful. It’s like catnip for book nerds, you can’t resist the charm.

5. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls (review)- I discussed this book with two different book clubs and it provided excellent material both times. There’s just so much that’s jaw-dropping and crazy in this memoir that you can’t help but talk about ALL THE THINGS.

SS1

6. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (review)- This was another Fellowship of the Worms selection and it was great fun. I’m a sucker for books about book clubs, and reading it IN BOOK CLUB? So meta.

7. Still Alice by Lisa Genova (review)- I never discussed this one with a book club (though I have read Left Neglected by Lisa Genova with two book clubs and it’s another great choice) This book is SO powerful and heartbreaking. It’s utterly discussable.

8. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick (review)- Let’s face it. Sometimes it’s easier to convince a group to read a book if the movie version stars Bradley Cooper. This book was charming and chock full of things to talk about, so the Bradley Cooper factor is really just a means to an end.

9. Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi- I went back and forth trying to decide whether to include this book or The Book Thief (review) on this list. They’re both great and both tackle the fascinating subject matter of how ordinary Germans lived and felt during WWII. I went with Stones from the River because I feel like it’s less exposed and so incredible that more people ought to be reading it.

10. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (review)- Post apocalyptic novels always make for interesting discussions, and this is one of the best novels of its type I’ve read in a good long time. I think it would make a fantastic book club selection.

ss2I know there are zillions of wonderful book club appropriate books out there, what are some of your favorites, Bookworms?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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Jan 15

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Book Club, Contemporary Fiction, Family, Humor 23

Hi Ho, Bookworms!

Everyone’s family has a little bit of drama and/or weirdness going on. I mean, it wouldn’t be family if there weren’t some sort of dysfunction going on somewhere. I think that’s why I tend to be drawn to family dramas with a twisted sense of humor. This month, my IRL book club (affectionately dubbed “My Neighbors Are Better Than Your Neighbors” because, well, they are) chose This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper to discuss. Holy bagels and lox, Batman, this book was something else!

thisiswhereileaveyouThe Foxman family put the “fun” in “dysfunctional.” After their father passes away (because cancer is a jerk) the four Foxman children convene in their childhood home to sit shiva for their father. For anybody unfamiliar with Jewish custom, sitting shiva is kind of like a week long wake. The mourning family is visited throughout the week and inundated with sympathy food and awkward conversation. (There’s some sort of universal law that says one must feed the grieving. It’s one I subscribe to myself.) Most families would be on the verge of coming to blows after an entire week in close quarters, mourning not withstanding.

Judd Foxman is our narrator, one of the Foxman siblings. In addition to having recently lost his father, he is also in the midst of a messy divorce. Divorces tend to get messy when you catch your spouse in flagrante delicto with your boss. Even more so when you find out said spouse is expecting a child.

Reading about the Foxmans made me feel so normal. I had a great time reading this book and it ran quite the gamut emotionally. One of my favorite things about the book, though, was that almost every time I got the urge to jump through the pages and punch a fictional character, another fictional character took care of that for me. This one isn’t for the faint of heart or the easily offended, but if irreverent humor and quirky familial drama are your thing, you need to give This Is Where I Leave You a read!

Alright Bookworms, let’s talk. Are there any TV shows or books you like to indulge in simply because they make you feel like less of a screw up? I can’t be the only one… Dish!

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