Category: Book Club

Jan 09

Fellowship of the Worms Announcement: All the Light We Cannot See

Book Club 19

Howdy Bookworms!

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Mark Zuckerburg decided to start a book club in 2015. I think it’s awesome, I’m ALWAYS in favor of encouraging people to read. But really. Move over, Zuck, you’ve got nothing on The Fellowship of the Worms, yo! Let’s kick off the new year in style and tackle one of last year’s most celebrated works of fiction, Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. Check out the Goodreads Synopsis:

allthelightwecannotseeMarie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure’s agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.

In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.

Doerr’s gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is his most ambitious and dazzling work.

I know, right? It sounds pretty awesome to me. I’m going to be listening to this one as I won an audio copy during Armchair BEA this spring, but I’m really excited. I love me some historical fiction, and it’s been a while since I visited WWII. I’ll post discussion questions on Monday, February 9, 2015. Who’s with me?!

*If you purchase your copy of All the Light We Cannot See through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Dec 15

Tiny Beautiful Things: A Fellowship of the Worms Event

Book Club, Memoirs 26

Greetings Bookworms!

It’s time, it’s time! I’ve been really excited to talk about Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things with you and it’s finally time! Yaaaaaaaaaay! WARNING: We will be discussing the WHOLE book. This will no doubt include SPOILERS. This isn’t a novel, so I’m not sure how you can really spoil it, but I feel like I should warn you anyway. If you did not read the book and would like to participate, pick up a copy of Tiny Beautiful Things 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 them in the comments, or if you’re so inclined, leave a comment linking to your review of Tiny Beautiful Things on your own blog! I fully encourage shameless self promotion, so if you’ve reviewed this don’t hesitate to get your link on.

smarty-mcwordypants-199x3001. Did you ever read the “Dear Sugar” column on The Rumpus or frequent any other advice columns? I’ve mentioned before that I think I’m part bear, right? I mean, the minute it starts getting cold, I get the uncontrollable urge to eat everything in sight and hibernate for the winter. Apparently I also live in a CAVE because I didn’t know Dear Sugar was a thing before this book. Pitiful. But, more evidence of my bear-dom, so I’ve got that going for me.

2. Sugar uses a lot of terms of endearment in her responses. Do you like them? Does it bother you when you’re addressed with a term of endearment in real life? There’s something about being called “honey bun” and “sweet pea” that makes hearing difficult advice more bearable, in my opinion. Strayed’s use of the terms just made me want to hug her. In real life, it’s a whole lot more complicated. If a woman addresses me as “honey” in a genuine tone of voice, I kind of like it. It feels sweet and sisterly. If a dude calls me “sweetheart” condescendingly, my blood gets to boiling. That feels creepy and/or douchey. If a dude of any age has a English/Irish/Scottish/Australian accent and calls me “love” in virtually any tone of voice, I’ll squeal with delight. I have a wildly varying and unfair set of standards, don’t I? Maybe I should just stick with encouraging people to call me “Katie” and leave it at that.

3. Did any of the advice/questions make you uncomfortable? I wasn’t necessarily made uncomfortable by any of tinybeautifulthingsthese stories, but some made me desperately sad. I mean, the girls she mentored? The ones who’d “make it” if they grew up to hold a job at Taco Bell? My heart, my heart, MY HEART!

4. Did any of Sugar’s advice resonate with you? There were a number of essays I found touching (some hit closer to home than I’m willing to admit publicly), but “The Ghost Ship that Didn’t Carry Us” really hit me in the feels. It’s not so much that I’m torn about wanting kids, it’s more the idea that major life decisions lead you down a certain path that completely eliminates certain other possibilities. If you’d gone to a different college, what would have happened? If you’d taken a different job, where would you have ended up? If you chose to take a big risk or chose the path of least resistance, what would have happened IF? Sugar just GETS it, and MY WORD I want to hug the woman!

5. Strayed infused the “Dear Sugar” column with a heaping helping of memoir. Did her personal anecdotes add or detract from the advice she was trying to give to her readers? For me, Strayed’s personal asides only added to the book.What made Tiny Beautiful Things so powerful for me was that it felt like Sugar had been there. I don’t want to take advice from someone who’s always made the right decisions. I want to hear from someone who has royally effed things up and managed to come out wiser on the other side. We’re all broken, but we’re all going to be okay. Even when we’re not. It’s complicated, but you know what I’m saying, right?

Sound off, Bookworms! I want to know your thoughts. 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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Nov 14

Fellowship of the Worms Announcement: Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Book Club 12

Dear Bookworms,

It’s November, and if you’ve been hanging around the book-ternet, you’ll know that non-fiction is all the rage this month. (You can check out Non-Fiction November if you don’t believe me. Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness, Becca from I’m Lost In Books, Leslie from Regular Rumination, and Katie from Doing Dewey are hosting it!) Now, I’m not huge on non-fiction, but I was inspired by the event to choose a non-fiction title that I’ve been meaning to read for AGES as our Fellowship of the Worms pick this month. We’re going to be reading Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed! Check out the Goodreads synopsis:

tinybeautifulthingsLife can be hard: your lover cheats on you; you lose a family member; you can’t pay the bills—and it can be great: you’ve had the hottest sex of your life; you get that plum job; you muster the courage to write your novel. Sugar—the once-anonymous online columnist at The Rumpus, now revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild—is the person thousands turn to for advice.
Tiny Beautiful Things brings the best of Dear Sugar in one place and includes never-before-published columns and a new introduction by Steve Almond.  Rich with humor, insight, compassion—and absolute honesty—this book is a balm for everything life throws our way.

I’m really excited about this one! I’ve heard raves about it from lots of other bloggers (cough cough, SHANNON at River City Reading, cough.) If you’d like to participate in the discussion, we’re going to start chatting it up on Monday, December 15, 2014. There will be discussion questions and a link-up option, as per usual. I hope you’ll join me!!!

UPDATE: I wrote this post last week. Then I read this book. I absolutely devoured it and I’m DYING to talk about it. It’s been less than 24 hours and I’ve already recommended it to two friends. Seriously, y’all. Holy guacamole.

*If you purchase your copy of Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar from a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Oct 31

‘Salem’s Lot: The Fellowship of the Worms is Traumatized by Stephen King

Book Club, Vampires 11

Happy Halloween, grim grinning Bookworms!

Halloween Katoo

The penguin wanted to come in costume.

I am super stoked today! Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and I LOVE handing out candy to the oodles of Trick-Or-Treaters who come through our neighborhood. Today is extra super spooktacular because OMG THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE WORMS! This month we tackled a classic Stephen King tome, ‘Salem’s Lot. 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 ‘Salem’s Lot 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 them in the comments, or if you’re so inclined, leave a comment linking to your review of ‘Salem’s Lot on your own blog! I fully encourage shameless self promotion, so if you’ve reviewed this don’t hesitate to get your link on.

 1. Was this book as frightening as you anticipated?

No! I have been such a chicken about Stephen King for so long I fully expected to need to use my penguin nightlight on the regular. I found the book rather soporific, actually, it took me longer to read than usual because I kept conking out. At first I thought I’d just been desensitized by The Walking Dead but then I remembered I’d been watching the show before I read World War Z (review) and The Passage (review) and they BOTH scared the pants off me. I mean, they didn’t scare me as much as books about ghosts and evil spirits would have (I don’t believe in vampires and zombies. The others? Let’s just say I’m a bit on the terrified eccentric side.) Still. I was surprised by my relative lack of fright while reading this.

2. Did you have any nightmares while reading ‘Salem’s Lot?'salem's lot

I’m happy to report I had but one nightmare during the reading of this book, in which a childhood friend who is currently living in Europe was killed under suspicious circumstances. I’m not entirely sure I can attribute it to the book at all, as I don’t believe vampires were involved in her demise, but whatever. (Don’t worry, I emailed her about the dream just in case I’m psychic and told her to be careful. I’m sure she loved that. Right, Mary?)

 3. What’s your favorite part of vampire lore that was incorporated into ‘Salem’s Lot?

The piece of vampire lore that makes me feel better about the whole thing is that you HAVE to invite them into your home for them to get to you. Depending on the novel, this invitation clause isn’t always in play, but I feel safer when it is. I know they have hypnotic eyeballs or whatever, but shoot. I don’t even answer the door for my incredibly nice neighbors delivering holiday decorating prizes.

4. Young Mark Petrie’s parents dismiss the warnings from Ben, Dr. Cody, and Father Callahan as hokum. How long do you think it would take YOU to believe a vampire apocalypse was taking place? If this weird crew showed up at your house, how would you react?

I’m a chicken. Have I mentioned that?  I think I’d have a hard time dismissing a doctor, writer, priest, AND my own child, but I mean, a vampire infestation is a tough story to swallow. King described the town feeling super creepy and evil, and people kept going missing… I think given the circumstances I might be persuaded. Although, if face-to-face with Barlow, I’m afraid my cross might stop glowing too. Yikes!

5. Alright Bookworms, what’s the overall verdict on this one? What did you think, all-in-all?

I know this sounds ridiculous coming from ME of all people, but I was disappointed that this book didn’t frighten me! I mean, Stephen King, yo! I had EXPECTATIONS! I enjoyed it on the whole except for one thing. The copy of the book I got from the library tacked a bunch of deleted scenes onto the end of my copy… Only, I didn’t realize what they were at first. I mean, I thought everything ended at the epilogue, but then there was all this extra stuff and I got confused about the timeline of events. If I discount the confusion toward the end, though, it was certainly a Halloween appropriate read, and I should probably be grateful I was still able to sleep!

If you’ve reviewed ‘Salem’s Lot on your own blog or have tackled the discussion questions, please link up! I’m all kinds of interested in what y’all thought!

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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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Sep 26

Fellowship of the Worms Announcement: ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

Book Club, Vampires 32

Greetings Bookworms!

You’ll remember that Halloween is one of my FAVORITE holidays. You may also remember that I’m a ginormous chicken about scary books. 'salem's lotI’m feeling brave this month, as long as y’all are willing to join me. To get us in the Halloween spirit, we’re going to tackle a Stephen King novel, and NOT one of the carefully chosen less-horrifying tomes I normally pick. I’ve decided on ‘Salem’s Lot for a few reasons. First, Rory of Fourth Street Review (AKA my go-to Stephen King expert) assures me that it’s excellent. She also said it was terrifying, BUT it’s about vampires. I can handle vampires because I’m one thousand percent sure they could never be real. (How am I sure? I am DELICIOUS to mosquitoes. If vampires were a real thing, I’d be long gone.) I do better with nightmares when it comes to mythological creatures like vampires and zombies than do with ghosts and demons and psycho killers (which could TOTALLY BE REAL!) Check out the Goodreads synopsis:

Something strange is going on in Jerusalem’s Lot … but no one dares to talk about it. By day, ‘Salem’s Lot is a typical modest New England town; but when the sun goes down, evil roams the earth. The devilishly sweet insistent laughter of a child can be heard echoing through the fields, and the presence of silent looming spirits can be felt lurking right outside your window. Stephen King brings his gruesome imagination to life in this tale of spine tingling horror.

DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUN!!! Are you nervous-cited?! I know I am… Or at least I WILL be if I have your moral support! We’ll be talking about this big scary book on HALLOWEEN, Friday, October 31. Please join me? I have a penguin night light for these situations. I have a feeling it’s going to be getting a workout.

Talk to me Bookworms! Who’s in? What’s your favorite scary book?

*If you purchase your copy of ‘Salem’s Lot through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Sep 12

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: A Fellowship of the Worms SHOCKER

Book Club, Coming of Age 27

How Now, Bookworms?

smarty-mcwordypants-199x300 The Fellowship of the Worms is back in session! As you know, this month we read We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. It occurred to me that this book title would have been equally appropriate had it been by G. Lockhart, but I can only assume he’s still chilling in St. Mungo’s thanks to his own treachery. Way to be an ass, GILDEROY. 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 We Were Liars 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 them in the comments, or if you’re so inclined, on your own blog. A linky list will be provided at the end of this post for anybody who has reviewed We Were Liars on their own blog, even if it has nothing to do with the following discussion questions. Don’t be shy, please link up! Oh, and since the whole hook of this book is a surprise ending, please remember to issue spoiler alerts to your readers if appropriate.

1. Normally I attempt to work through these questions chronologically, but I simply can’t help myself. Was anybody well and truly shocked by the revelation at the end of this book? Knock, knock. Who’s there? Disappointment. Seriously, you guys. I wrote myself a note when I was 20% of the way through this book saying “the twist had better not be that the other three liars are dead, because that’s not much of a shocker.” I feel like I played a big part in my own disappointment though. If I hadn’t been on such high alert to suss out the shocking ending, maybe I wouldn’t have seen it coming. I mean, I probably still would have, because even hands-off parents don’t allow teenagers a house to themselves with zero family interaction on vacation, particularly if one of the teenagers has recently suffered a traumatic brain injury. Plus, even the most self absorbed youth respond to the emails and texts of their severely injured friends/cousins. Nobody’s that big a jerk. Maybe I should blame pop culture though… I’ve seen The Sixth Sense, and am now abnormally attuned to we were liarsthe details that might give away the secretly dead.

2. That said, do you think Cadence was lying about interacting with dead people? Having full on hallucinations? Or, you know, were there legit ghosts hanging around? I think she was hallucinating. Cadence was troubled, no doubt, and the Sinclairs were a hot mess, but I don’t think she was manipulative enough to have played off memory loss the way she did. And, despite my willingness to embrace the paranormal, I don’t think Cadence was being haunted. Brains do weird things when they experience trauma. Score one for hallucinations.

3. Despite the tragic end of the crime perpetrated by the Liars, did they in any way succeed in their goals? That’s tough to say. I mean, they wanted the family to quit fighting about money. They wanted their grandfather to quit pitting his daughters against each other. In some ways I suppose they were successful, since the Sinclairs were hit with a mega-dose of perspective when they compared the loss of their children to the money squabbling they’d been engaged in. Still though, they didn’t magically become the Cleavers or anything. Moral of the story? Arson is never the answer, kids!

4. Did you like the allusions to King Lear, Wuthering Heights (review), and fairy tales, or did you find them distracting? I love a good literary allusion. When Gat started explaining how he was Heathcliff to Cadence, I was all “YES! Spot on!” He also went on to talk about how Catherine and Heathcliff were horrible characters and in no way an appropriate model for romance (okay, maybe I’m projecting a little…) at which point I wanted to high five him. It made a nice change to want to high five a character instead of punch him. Way to go, Gat.

5. The Sinclairs own their own island and have named all the houses on it. Clairmont, Windmere, Red Gate, and (gag) Cuddledown. Would you ever name your home? I am neither especially wealthy nor especially pretentious, but I have been calling my home “The Gingerbread House” since the day we bought it. Of course, I’m also the sort of person who names cars, house plants, and the occasional penguin statue, so I’m not sure I’m a great case study. Seriously though, at least it’s not “Cuddledown.” I’m of the opinion “cuddle” should only be a part of something’s name if that thing is inherently fluffy. Or especially unfluffy, because irony is fun.

Talk to me Bookworms! What did y’all think of We Were Liars? If you’ve reviewed We Were Liars on your own blog or have answered the discussion questions, please link up! 

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*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Proceeds will be put toward the “buy Katie an island” fund.*

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Aug 04

Fellowship of the Worms Announcement: We Were Liars

Book Club 31

What’s up, Bookworms?

What’s that you say? You’re sad because I haven’t chosen a new book for the internet’s premiere book club, The Fellowship of the Worms? The wait ends today, my friends, because I have finally picked a book! I’m happy to announce that I’ve chosen We Were Liars by E. Lockhart for our next discussion. I’ve read several reviews of this book, but most of them say “OMG I don’t want to spoil anything, just read it!” So. We’re going to read it. And then discuss it and ALL THE SPOILERS because that’s how we roll in the Fellowship. (We warn people of spoilers, OF COURSE, but you know you want to be able to talk about it when there’s a big twist, right?!) If you don’t believe me on the secrecy thing, check out the Goodreads synposis:

we were liarsA beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
 
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

How am I supposed to not be intrigued by this?! Discussion questions will be posted on Friday, September 12. There will be a linky available for anybody who has reviewed We Were Liars or would like to answer the discussion questions on his or her own blog. If you’re going to tackle the discussion questions on your own blog, PLEASE issue a spoiler alert. Nothing is more hostile than an angry internet. If you just want to stick to discussing in the comment section of this blog, that’s cool too. I love talking about books with you crazy kids, I can’t wait for this one! Let’s conquer this mystery shall we? Who’s in?! 

*If you purchase a copy of We Were Liars through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Aug 01

How To Name Your Book Club

Book Club 33

Howdy Bookworms!

A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed by the fabulous Annabel Smith and she asked what my most popular post of all time was. In terms of longevity and search terms, the most popular post I ever published was the contest I held in order to name The Fellowship of the Worms. Apparently, people really want help in coming up with unusual names for their book clubs. I live to serve, and naming things is among my favorite activities. Here are some of my tips on choosing a fun and funky name for your book club!

BookClubNames

 

1. Who Are You? I know, it sounds kind of obvious, but one of the easiest ways to choose a book club name is to consider how it is that the book club came together. I’m involved in a book club with my neighbors which I’ve lovingly dubbed “My Neighbors are Better than Your Neighbors.” Did your group originate in the workplace? How’s about “Everybody’s Working for the Reading?” Are you a group of parents who met while sneaking in a few pages of reading during a little league game? School chums?  The way your crew came together can be a great resource for name mining!

2. What Do You Do? It’s rare that a book club talks about the book, the whole book, and nothing but the book. What else do you like to do? I book club I once belonged to (that has, sadly, disbanded) liked to drink wine and chat socially after book talk died down. I called it (rather cheekily) “Wine and Whining.” One of my favorite suggestions from the contest I ran came from Jen at The Relentless Reader. She suggested “BEER CHEESE BOOKS.” She’s from Wisconsin, if you couldn’t tell. But seriously! If y’all drink beer, eat cheese, and talk about books, GO WITH IT!

3. Alliteration is your friend. Have I ever told you about my fake band? It’s called The Alliterations and you can only fake join if your initials are the same for your first and last name. I play the fake drums. I’m spectacular, obviously. Is it weird to fangirl over a cheap literary device? “Raucous Readers.” “Badass Bookworms.” “Literary Ladies who Lunch.”  The possibilities are endless.

fake drums

My fake drum set. Obviously.

4. Make it Punny! How many times have you seen that picture of the bar called “Tequila Mockingbird?” And how many times have you chuckled at its cleverness? Get down with your punny self! “The Book Stops Here,” “Readers of the Lost Ark..”  For real, somebody stop me!

5. Bookspiration. Dude, our book club here ended up being named “The Fellowship of the Worms,” but that wasn’t the only fabulous suggestion. Most of them revolved around worms, but I understand that not EVERYONE wants to be associated with slimy invertebrates. What about “Gone with the Book” or “Through the Book-ing Glass”? Take a famous book title and make it your own.

A fun and funky name for your book club awaits! Use this list as a brainstorming guide and you’ll have something amazing in no time! Any Bookworms out there in a cleverly named book club?

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Jul 18

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry: A Fellowship of the Worms Fun-fest

Blogging, Book Club, Contemporary Fiction 15

Salutations Bookworms!

smarty-mcwordypants-199x300Who is excited and has two thumbs? THIS GIRL! Why? The Fellowship of the Worms is back in session!!! This month we took on The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. 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 Storied Life of A. J. Fikry 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 them in the comments, or if you’re so inclined, on your own blog. A linky list will be provided at the end of this post for anybody who has reviewed The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry on their own blog, even if it has nothing to do with the following discussion questions. Don’t be shy, please link up! (I’m looking at YOU, every book blogger ever!)

1. First things first. How much did you love all the book references? A.J. was constantly talking about the books he carried in his store, the books he recommended to his customers, the books he despised. What was your favorite book reference moment? I very nearly died laughing when the old woman came back to the store and yelled at AJ for recommending The Book Thief (review). The minute she said that it was narrated by Death I knew what she was talking about and I couldn’t help myself. It certainly IS rather traumatizing, if you’re not prepared for it. I’m not sure it’s worth berating a bookseller over, but I love quirky elderly characters.

2. How much did you love the AJ and Maya relationship? Am I the only person who got a MAJOR Silas Marner vibe here? Bitter man hoards riches and has heart opened by mysteriously abandoned child? I absolutely ADORED the thawing of AJ. I loved the way he interacted with Maya and conversed with her. Such a funny pair, these two! I think George Eliot would approve.

3. How did you like AJ and Amelia’s love story? Did you find it believable that such an intense relationship could AJFikrydevelop at a distance, especially considering the rocky start they had? I really enjoyed AJ and Amelia as a couple. Thank heaven for Maya- if it weren’t for her melting AJ’s frosty exterior, he never would have opened up to Amelia. I also rather liked the scene at the wedding when Maya gave Amelia the orange nail polish, “A Good MAN-darin is Hard to Find.” My not-so-secret career ambition is to be the nail polish namer for OPI. I’m so good at puns. SOMEBODY HIRE ME!

4. The book Amelia first tries to pitch to AJ was marketed as the memoir of an old man falling in love and getting married late in life. It is later revealed that the “memoir” was a work of fiction by a young female writer. Do you find it problematic that a book be falsely promoted in such a manner? Since I already name dropped George Eliot, let’s talk about pen names. Back in the day, it was SUPER common for female writers to use a male pseudonym to publish their work because a female name wouldn’t be taken as seriously. Even now, I see a lot of female writers using initials to publish as opposed to using their full names in an apparent effort to avoid being pigeon-holed into a lady genres (which is a sad reflection on the state of gender equality, but I digress.) I found it rather interesting that the author not only chose a pen name, but chose to call her novel a memoir. It actually reminded me of the whole hullaballoo when it was shown that James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces embellished his “memoir” so significantly that Oprah felt betrayed. I really liked that Zevin found a way to incorporate some of the dirty little secrets of publishing into her lovely book about books.

5. It turns out in the end that Ismay stole AJ’s copy of Tamerlane. Do you think his story would have gone the way it did if he’d been able to hold on to the valuable manuscript? I did not see this one coming! I mean, it made sense that is was Ismay, because she was one of the only people who knew he had it, but holy smokes! Much as I would have liked to, I found myself unable to hate Ismay. She was a hot steamy mess, that one, and I felt more pity for her than anger. I always love when I see flaws in a books heroes and humanity in the villains. It was really a blessing that AJ lost that dang book though. If he’d kept it, he’d have no Maya, no Amelia, and a whole lot more vindaloo on the wall.

Your turn, Bookworms! Tell me what you thought of this one! If you’ve responded to these discussion questions or reviewed The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry on your own blog, please link up!
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Jul 07

Book Club Selections: A Cheat Sheet

Book Club 13

Howdy Bookworms!

Show of hands, how many of y’all are in a book club (you know, in real life?) How many of you book clubbers get sweaty palms just thinking about the pressure that comes with choosing the next read for your club? Fear not, my friends, today I’m providing you with a handy cheat sheet for selecting a winning book!

*This post is being generously sponsored by Harlequin Mira in conjunction with the June 24th release of Heather Gudenkauf’s new novel, Little Mercies.*

littlemercies

Pretty cover, right?!

1. Choose a book with your club in mind. This seems pretty obvious, but hear me out. My neighborhood book club is a group of women in their 30s, most of whom have children. If you want to choose a book that encourages conversation, pick something your crew can relate to. I know that my neighbors are more likely to engage with a book that discusses family dynamics than they would with a history of the fall of Rome. That’s not to say that variety shouldn’t be encouraged, but a book club is something people do for fun. I always try to find a book that the majority of the group won’t view as a chore. (IE, If I’ve got a hankering for an epic war saga, I usually save that to read on my own time.)

2. Look for a book club guide in the back of the book. If you’re unsure of a book, flip to the back. Tons of books these days include reader’s guides and discussion questions designed specifically for book clubs. It’s a good indication that the book will spur some lively conversation. Plus, you don’t want to deal with coming up with your own discussion questions (ain’t nobody got time for that!) these guides are a huge time saver. Some books, like, oh, I don’t know, Little Mercies, for example, have an entire book club kit you can access online. How sweet is that?! Especially if you don’t want your only question to be “how much did you want to punch this character?” Not that I know anybody who asks some variation of that question in nearly every online book club she holds, or anything…

Lookie here! Little Mercies did all the work for you!

Lookie here! Little Mercies did all the work for you!

3. Keep it short. As much as I absolutely adore Diana Gabaldon’s 850 page chunksters, it’s not cool to ask your book club to chew through a book that size in a month. You might be the speediest reader in all the land, but picking a book over 500 pages is a pretty huge time commitment for those in the club who might not read at breakneck speeds. The longer the book, the less likely the group will have finished it, and THAT is a serious discussion killer.

4. Don’t panic if you pick a dud. It happens to the best of us, kiddos. Sometimes despite your best efforts, the book you choose will flop. It’s rare that I choose a book that I’ve already read, so the suck factor is always a risk. It’s okay! If your book club is full of folks you like and respect (and I hope that it is!) they’ll understand. You’ll laugh about it and drink a little more wine. No big deal.

5. Check out some book blogs. Ah, shameless self promotion. You saw that coming, right? Seriously though. If you poke around in the book blogosphere a little bit, you can discover a ton of great titles you may not have heard of otherwise. PLUS, if you can find a blogger whose tastes jive with that of your book club, you can trust their recommendations.

What say you, Bookworms? Have you got any tips for the masses on how to choose a fantastic book for book club?

For more information on Little Mercies:

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