Category: Book Club

Jun 13

Fellowship of the Worms Announcement: The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Book Club 22

Hidey Ho, Bookworms!

I don’t know about you, but after reading Northanger Abbey last month, I’m totally jazzed about The Fellowship of the Worms! A good discussion will do that for you. After careful consideration (by which I mean I saw a whole lot of super positive reviews around the blogosphere) I’ve chosen The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin for our next book, which we’ll discuss on July 18th. Check out the synopsis (via Goodreads):

AJFikryOn the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

Are you as excited as I am?! I will post discussion questions on July 18th, as well as a link-up opportunity to any blogger who has reviewed this book (and I know there are LOTS of you out there!) What are you waiting for? Get thee a copy of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry and join the party!

*If you purchase your copy of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry through a link on this site, I will receive a commission. I’m not getting rich here, I’m just supporting my habit. Thanks for enabling me!*

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Jun 06

Books about Book Clubs: An Idiosyncratic Lit List

Book Club, Idiosyncratic Lit List 35

What’s up, Bookworms?

I have been having so much fun with The Fellowship of the Worms lately. Y’all are a super fantastic crew to have a book club with. I also adore my neighborhood book club (lovingly dubbed “My Neighbors Are Better Than Your Neighbors.”) Frankly, all the book club love has got me thinking about books about book clubs. Naturally. Who’s ready for a list?!

idiosyncraticlitlist

1. Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik: I read this book while I was still in college, but it’s stuck with me. A group of female neighbors who like to read form a book club. They navigate through their lives, motherhood, and the 1960s while leaning on each other. For as cute as it is, it focuses on some tough stuff. Women’s rights, family drama, the Vietnam War, domestic abuse- it’s got everything. Luckily it’s still optimistic and has a great feeling of sisterhood. Love this book. Actually, I might make my neighborhood book club read this. It seems appropriate, no?

2. The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler: A group of ladies and one lone dude team up to read ALL THE AUSTEN. The crew tackles all six of Jane’s masterpieces… And their own lives. Books about book clubs always have such great tidbits about the people reading the books. Since reading this about a thousand years ago, I’ve had a goal to read ALL THE AUSTEN. Mansfield Park is the only one left on my list!

booksaboutbookclubs

3. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows: Meta moment, y’all. We totally discussed this book about a book club in The Fellowship of the Worms, our online book club. It’s turtles all the way down, seriously. I love, love, loved this book! Post WWII tales from occupied Guernsey? Bonding over books? Love in the countryside? So sweet!

4. Xingu by Edith Wharton: The latest addition to my collection, this is a short story by the brilliant Edith Wharton. That Edith Wharton, man. What a pistol. She was constantly lampooning the uppity upper crust and this story is no exception. Lesson: don’t be a snob. You’ll make a fool of yourself. Especially if you mistake a river for a book.

I know there are more books about book clubs out there, I’ve just not read them yet. 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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May 30

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen: The Fellowship of the Worms goes Classic

Book Club, Classics 30

Cheerio, Bookworms! smarty-mcwordypants-199x300

It’s that time again. The Fellowship of the Worms is now in session! This month’s selection was Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. 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 Northanger Abbey 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 Northanger Abbey on their own blog, even if it has nothing to do with the following discussion questions. Don’t be shy, please link up!

1. When tackling a classic, there’s always a bit of difficulty (at least for me) adapting to the language. Did any of you struggle with Ms. Austen’s flowery and polite prose?  I didn’t actually READ this novel, I listened to an audio version on a road trip. I think that was a wise choice, because the narrator was fantastic. There were a few points where I thought to myself, “Dang. The inflection helps a ton. I probably would have fallen asleep trying to read that sentence.” (I should mention I do most of my reading before bed… Though I will admit that classics tend to conk me out much faster than contemporary works.) I especially enjoyed the narrator’s inflection and found myself laughing aloud more than I would have expected… And yelling, actually. Because JOHN THORPE.

 2. And since it wouldn’t be the Fellowship of the Worms if I didn’t insight violence, how much did you want to northangerabbeypunch John Thorpe? I was so thoroughly irritated with John Thorpe I can’t even tell you. I wanted to punch him SO SO SO much! Acting like he owned Catherine, cancelling plans on her behalf, being a money-grubbing jerk weasel. Ugh. Horrible. And always hating on novels and talking about his stupid horses. Because, you know. His horses are better than your horses. His carriage is better too. Oh, and did he mention his horses?

3. The prevailing opinion of the time by the presumed literary elite was that novels were silly and not worth reading. Does this attitude surprise you at all? It really does surprise me that novels used to be considered inferior reading. I mean, I know a few non-fiction snobs who refuse to read fiction, but they’re few and far between. Most people I meet who prefer non-fiction aren’t jerks about it. Of course, book snobbery is TOTALLY still a thing. There are the highbrow literary fiction folks who turn a stink eye toward YA and Romance (and I have to admit I occasionally fall into the snobby category. I’m working on it, though.) so I suppose things haven’t really changed all THAT much, except that now SOME novels are considered worthy.

4. Money, money, money. Was anybody else appalled by the fact that these people were SOOOO fixated on money? I saw Isabella’s true colors a mile away. I mean, her brother was obviously a gold digger  from the first, but General Tilney surprised me. I mean, he CAST CATHERINE OUT. How unimaginably rude! And all because her fortune wasn’t what the wicked Thorpe had initially rumored and THEN denied? Seriously. Catherine was a catch. A bit of a ninny, maybe, but I suppose that was rather prized at the time. I know class snobbery certainly hasn’t disappeared, but I’d like to think people are better about it now… Maybe I should meet some rich people and test the theory. Wait! Is this why I don’t know rich people?! Now I’m giving myself a complex…

5. Ah Catherine and her runaway imagination. In what ways did you find Northanger Abbey parodied gothic novels? Anybody have an inclination to check out the The Mysteries of Udolpho? Catherine’s expectations upon arriving at Northanger Abbey cracked me up. She was like “Where are the secret passageways? We need more ghosts here!” It was like she expected foreboding musical accompaniment in her explorations. DUN DUN DUN! I was terribly amused by her assessment of General Tilney. Though it was proven false that he murdered his wife, he clearly was a bit of a turd. Just not a murderous turd. Part of me wants to read The Mysteries of Udolpho just so I can say that I did, but who am I kidding? The odds are incredibly slim.

Alright Bookworms, it’s your turn! What did you think of Northanger AbbeyPlease link up below if you’ve written a review of Northanger Abbey somewhere on the interwebz or if you’ve chosen to answer The Fellowship questions! Don’t be shy, y’all!

[inlinkz_linkup id=407325]

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May 02

Bookish Baby Shower!

Book Club 34

Howdy Bookworms!

I am very excited today because I officially get to check an item off my Bookish Bucket List! That’s right, kiddos, I helped put on a Bookish Baby Shower for one of the members of my book club and it was so much fun! “C” is our resident pregnant lady, expecting a little lady of her own come July. How could we NOT put on a shower? I mean, look at how adorable “C” is!

showercollage

My compatriots “A” and “M” came up with the concept for theme-ing the food and it was so stinking cute. We matched each snack with a children’s book. We had pink lemonade to go with Pinkalicious, veggies to go with The Tale of Peter Rabbit, meatballs to go with Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, fruit to go with The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bearhoney Teddy Grahams to go with Winnie-the-Pooh, and water in a “pail” to go with Jack and Jill . And by pail, we mean trifle bowl. We improvised.

showerfoodWe asked that everyone include a children’s book with their gift to help beef up the little lady’s library, so I thought it might be fun to create a Dr. Seuss diaper cake. I’m not actually particularly crafty, but diaper cakes don’t require much other than patience. Since I’ve made a couple in my time, so it seemed like a good option. (Yes, I checked with “C” beforehand to make sure she wasn’t planning to cloth diaper. I’m thoughtful that way.) My other contribution was the decorative picks for the cupcakes. “A” made the super tasty cupcakes and frosted them all pretty-like. I contributed by printing out some mini photos of children’s book covers, gluing them to a scrapbook paper backing, and taping them to toothpicks. My crafting is strictly 3rd grade level, but it turned out nicely, I think…

cakes

Those super fuzzy pipe cleaners screamed Seuss to me, and the board book versions of Seuss classics integrated into the project more easily than the full size would have. Plus, babies, you know? They drool and rip and gnaw on things, so board books are a good starting point while they learn to control their juiciness. And yes, I absolutely DID include Everyone Poops in my cupcake picks, because, well. This is me we’re talking about. (It’s in the back so you can’t see it in the photo, but trust me. It happened.) In the end, “C” ended up having a wonderful time and her little lady now has a good start on a library of her very own. I had fun playing with glue and ribbon. A great success!

Have any of you bookworms attended or thrown a bookish party? 

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

 

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Apr 25

Fellowship of the Worms Announcement: Northanger Abbey

Book Club, Classics 38

How Now, Bookworms?

It’s been a little while since our last installment of The Fellowship of the Worms, so it’s about time for another selection, methinks. I was talking to one of my favorite Bookworms (hi Ashley Z!) on Facebook about this month’s book choice, and she mentioned she had a hankering for a classic. I’ve been meaning to read some more Jane Austen for a while now, so it seemed like a serendipitous opportunity. I’ve chosen Northanger Abbey! (Cue applause.)

northangerabbey I have a road trip I’m planning to make in May so I’m considering listening to the audio version on the long drive. I don’t typically listen to audio books except in the case of a road trip, so it’ll be an adventure. Here’s the synopsis via Goodreads:

A wonderfully entertaining coming-of-age story, Northanger Abbey is often referred to as Jane Austen’s “Gothic parody.” Decrepit castles, locked rooms, mysterious chests, cryptic notes, and tyrannical fathers give the story an uncanny air, but one with a decidedly satirical twist.

The story’s unlikely heroine is Catherine Morland, a remarkably innocent seventeen-year-old woman from a country parsonage. While spending a few weeks in Bath with a family friend, Catherine meets and falls in love with Henry Tilney, who invites her to visit his family estate, Northanger Abbey. Once there, Catherine, a great reader of Gothic thrillers, lets the shadowy atmosphere of the old mansion fill her mind with terrible suspicions. What is the mystery surrounding the death of Henry’s mother? Is the family concealing a terrible secret within the elegant rooms of the Abbey? Can she trust Henry, or is he part of an evil conspiracy? Catherine finds dreadful portents in the most prosaic events, until Henry persuades her to see the peril in confusing life with art.

Executed with high-spirited gusto, Northanger Abbey is the most lighthearted of Jane Austen’s novels, yet at its core this delightful novel is a serious, unsentimental commentary on love and marriage.

I’ve heard that this book is one of Austen’s cheekier novels, so I’m looking forward to it. An exciting perk of choosing this book is that you can download a Kindle version for FREE. That’s zero dollars and zero cents, and there should be copies-a-plenty at your local library. I will be posting discussion questions and my thoughts on May 30. As always, I will be relying on your participation to make me feel less alone in the universe. If you’d like to join in the discussion (please, oh please?) you can leave comments on the post, answer the questions I pose in a blog post of your own, or simply link up a review you’ve written of Northanger Abbey

Group reading really is the best way to do the classics, don’t you think? Who’s with me?

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Apr 03

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens: My Favorite Things Party!

Book Club, Personal 38

Greetings Bookworms!

You know how I’m always raving about my IRL book club, My Neighbors Are Better Than Your Neighbors? I’m about to rave some more.  This month, in addition to our discussion of Reconstructing Amelia (my review) we decided to do a “My Favorite Things” party. We took a page out of the old Oprah handbook and decided to share stuff we love with each other. Each member purchased enough of her “favorite things” for everyone attending.

myfavoritethingsparty

Smile for the Internet, ladies!

Fun right?! Since none of us live on Oprah’s budget, we couldn’t go around buying everyone cars. We decided to cap the spending limit on each favorite thing to $10. Each participating member purchased 6 of her favorite $10 things to share, and got 6 of the other’s favorites in return. Soooo… You wanna know what we love, right?!

  • “A” is a big fan of bubble baths, so she hooked us all up with some delightful Ulta bubble bath… But what bubble bath is complete without Ghirardelli chocolate squares? No bubble bath I want to be a part of, I’ll tell you that much. Aaaand because our book club apparently has a severe lip balm addiction (more on this later), she added a tube of Burt’s Bees to the stash.
  • “C” is super adorable right now, with her teeny tiny baby bump. One of her favorite things was a colorful paring knife. (Don’t piss off the pregnant lady, she will cut you!) She also included a big old Ghirardelli chocolate bar, because, well. Chocolate. (I should probably mention that “C” is pretty much the sweetest gal ever, she would not, in fact, cut anyone. That’s part of why it makes me giggle so much, her tiny-ness and her Southern accent… The idea of her wielding a knife against anything other than a vegetable is pretty hilarious.)
  • “K” hosted this shindig in style! Her choice of favorite thing is a set of wine sealers– they seal out the air and keep the leftover wine fresh! Because leftover wine… That’s a thing… I think? Seriously though, these ROCK.

favoritethings2

  • “E” is as big a flower nerd as I am, so I wasn’t surprised she brought in something that grows. Her favorite thing was lucky bamboo, which is the most difficult house plant to kill. I swear. Leave it in a vase with water and it will live FOR-E-VER. I’ve had a stalk in my office since 2006, yo!
  • “M” loves her some lip balm, as do the rest of us. Her choice of favorite thing was a 4 pack of Burt’s Bees lip balm. As luck would have it, nothing in the 4 pack was the same scent as the tube “A” brought everyone, because variety in lip balm? That’s like getting a new pack-o-Lip Smackers when you’re 13. (Or 30… Joules sent me a set of Disney Princess Lip Smackers last year for my birthday that I use on the regular.Un-ironically.)
  • “J” is all about the hidden talents. She’s a flipping scientist (no lie) who plays the harp, sews, and knits like a boss. She knitted each of us a little blue bag made of THE SOFTEST YARN EVER. (I think she said it was silk bamboo yarn, but I’m no yarn expert.) It took her a week to knit each one, which shocks me because it’s got some really impressive fancy stitches going on. Girl’s got skills. She also included a container of Bath & Body Works foaming hand soap, which THRILLS me, because that’s the only hand soap we use in the Gingerbread House.
  • Oh yes. And then there’s ME, isn’t there? Well. I love having fancy finger nails. I’m not great with the fine motor skills, so I suck pretty hard at painting my nails. It doesn’t stop me, but sometimes I want my nails to look great and artsy. When I do, I bust out some Sally Hansen nail polish strips and go to town with the nail art, so I brought a package for everyone. I also included an EOS lip balm (I told you we have a problem) because I’m OBSESSED with it.

Have you ever done anything not-so-bookish with your book club? I want to hear all about it, Bookworms! Spill!

*I linked to some of our favorite things on Amazon, in case you want to check them out. I’m not sure I got everything perfectly right, but I tried. If you decide to buy anything I’ll get a small commission, but mostly I just want to push lip balm at you. LIP BALM!*

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Mar 31

The Fellowship of the Worms: The House Girl

Art, Book Club, Historical Fiction 8

Welcome, Bookworms!

smarty-mcwordypants-199x300It’s that time again. The Fellowship of the Worms is now in session! This month’s selection was The House Girl by Tara Conklin. 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 House Girl 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 House Girl on their own blog, even if it has nothing to do with the following discussion questions. Don’t be shy, please link up!

1. The House Girl is told in a dual narrative, switching back and forth between Lina in modern day NYC and Josephine in 1852 Virginia. In addition to the two major narrators, there are a number of additional characters advancing the story through letters. Did you enjoy the multiple perspectives? Did you find it added or detracted from the story Conklin was trying to tell? 

Personally, I dig the dual (or more) narrative. I like being able to get inside the heads of multiple characters. I thought Conklin did a great job in fleshing out Josephine and Lina’s personalities. Though, if I could lodge one small complaint, it’s that I couldn’t get inside the head of Lu Anne Bell. What a crazy contradiction SHE was. I’m always interested in how people rationalize cruelties to themselves. Given what Lu Anne clearly knew about her husband’s non-consensual relationships with his female slaves, it’s no wonder she seemed to yo-yo between compassion and jealousy when dealing with Josephine.

thehousegirl

2. Do you think that Lu Anne intentionally passed off Josephine’s art work as her own? Do you think she would have done things differently had she known the notoriety the art would eventually garner? 

Lu Anne was a complicated character, I’m a little obsessed with her, since I was thwarted in my desire to get inside her head. The Pollyanna in me doesn’t think that Lu Anne had any idea that the artwork she and Josephine (okay, mostly Josephine) created was going to become famous. Of course, as much as I’d LIKE to think that Lu Anne would have taken steps to ensure proper credit was given had she known what was going to become of the art, I doubt she would have changed her actions. The product of her shameful environment, that one.

3. Lina is the daughter of the artsiest artists in all the land, and yet she chose to pursue a career in law. What in her upbringing to you think helped spur her decision to choose a career so based in reason? 

Lina’s upbringing was never quite stable. When it was just Lina and Oscar, their existence always seemed precarious. I think Lina’s choice of career was based in part on the desire to have some financial security (I can’t blame her for that!) I also think there was an element of rebellion there… She sort of goes Alex P. Keaton and rebels against her artsy upbringing by going corporate. (If you’re too young to get my Family Ties joke, get thee to the CBS.com. Full episodes!)

4. As a house slave, Josephine walks a lonely road. How does her unique status contribute to her desire to run? 

Poor Josephine! Because she was tasked with domestic duties, she was separated from the field workers. However, being in the house didn’t mean that she was a part of the family- she was still a slave, for heaven’s sake. She was stuck in this crappy middle ground trying to muddle through. Yes, she had relationships with Lottie and a few others, but Josephine was still separate. Oh, yeah. And being in the house only made it easier for her master to make his nocturnal visits- that sure as heck wasn’t a perk. Loneliness, prolonged sexual abuse, and, uh, being property? Yep. Seems like enough motivation to get out of Dodge to me!

5. How did you feel when Oscar dropped the bombshell about what really happened to Lina’s mother Grace?

What I want to know is how this was even possible. I know Grace told Oscar to tell everyone she’d died, but COME ON. It can’t be that easy to disappear! Wouldn’t people be suspicious that there was no funeral or memorial service? Maybe artsy people don’t do funerals? The whole thing seemed really weird to me. I’m glad Oscar came clean and gave Lina her mom’s contact information, but sheesh! What would you even SAY to your fake dead mother?! I can’t even.

Tell me your thoughts, Bookworms! How did you feel about The House GirlPlease link up if you’re so inclined! 

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Mar 26

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

Book Club, Coming of Age, Psychological 24

Hidey Ho, Bookworms!

Remember last month when I got all philosophical about choosing a book for book club because last month’s selection in my neighborhood book club (cleverly named My Neighbors Are Better Than Your Neighbors) hit a sour note? You can click HERE if you’re interested. But you’ll be happy to know that this month’s selection worked out infinitely better for me. This month we read Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight, and WHOA.

ReconstructingAmelia hc c.JPGKate is a high powered lawyer living with her teenage daughter Amelia in Brooklyn. Kate has raised Amelia on her own since unexpectedly finding herself pregnant in law school. Kate has done her best to balance her career and single motherhood, though she feels guilty much of the time that her career has won out. When she’s called to Amelia’s hoity toity private school in the middle of an important meeting, she is frustrated. The situation that awaits her is more tragic than she ever imagined. Amelia fell to her death from the school’s roof.

Because dealing with the death of your child isn’t horrifying enough, Kate begins to get mysterious text messages saying that her daughter didn’t commit suicide. Kate embarks on a journey into investigating what was going on in her daughter’s life leading up to her untimely demise and what she uncovers is a whole lot more than she bargained for.

The hoity toity private school is a hotbed of elitism, secret societies, bullying, and all kinds of psychological warfare. Reading about this school, I have never been so grateful to have been raised thoroughly middle class. I went to high school where nobody gave a crap. Seriously. Heck, my school could barely even muster the energy for a traditional social hierarchy, never mind an elaborate set of secret social clubs.

As you probably know, psychological thrillers and murder mysteries aren’t typically my jam, but the addition of the scandalous school elements, really sucked me in. Two thumbs up, kiddos!

Alright Bookworms, I’ve got to know. Was your high school experience ANYTHING like what you’ve seen in pop culture?

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

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Mar 12

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka

Book Club, Family 21

Privit Bookworms,

That’s a Ukrainian greeting right there, translated into familiar characters, because Ukrainian uses a whole different alphabet. It looks pretty cool, but I thought I’d avoid having y’all think I was hacked first thing in my post. Why all the chatter about Ukrainian? A book, obviously. Last month I joined The Book Wheel and Love at First Book in their book club. Their choice was A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka.

tractors2The title is deceiving, kids! Very little of this book has anything to do with tractors. It’s actually a family drama. There’s this Ukrainian family that emigrated to England in the aftermath of WWII, see? They lived happily ever after… Or at least, more happily ever after than would have been possible if they’d stayed living under the thumb of a government employing a secret police and famine as a means of submission.

After a good long life, the mother of the family succumbs to cancer. Things start to get dicey when a few short years later, the elderly patriarch proposes marriage to a Ukrainian immigrant in her 30s who is obviously (at least to daughters Vera and Nadia) out for money and citizenship. It’s every bit as scandalous as it sounds, I promise.

I was pleased how quickly this book moved- it kept a good pace without feeling rushed. I found it to be an easy read, with an unexpected amount of humor injected into what could have been a wildly depressing story. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy myself nearly as much as I did. Yay for happy surprises, right?

It’s kind of ironic that I picked up this book now, you know? Ukraine isn’t ordinarily a country I’d expect to be popping up in the news, but there it is all embroiled in conflict. Sadness for all involved. However. I did learn something, thanks to Ukraine’s newfound notoriety. I have a Facebook friend who knows ALL THE THINGS about Russian culture. Anybody else out there have a knee-jerk desire to refer to Ukraine as “the” Ukraine? APPARENTLY, Soviet-era Russian newspapers popularized the phrasing “the” Ukraine in order to belittle the country. Grammar aggression? Low blow, guys.

 Tell me bookworms, have you ever been reading a book to have it suddenly become topical? 

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Feb 21

That Awkward Moment: Book Club Fail

Book Club 26

Happy Friday, Bookworms!

Tonight I’m meeting with my neighborhood book club, which I’ve not-so-cleverly dubbed “My Neighbors are Better than Your Neighbors.” I’m super lucky to have a great group of gals to hang out and talk books with. This month, one of our members (who also happens to be my Girl Scout cookie hookup) chose The Giant’s House: A Romance by Elizabeth McCracken.

thegiant'shouseIn 1950s Cape Cod, small town librarian Peggy Cort feels like she’s passed her expiration date. She’s resigned herself to a small life, when a very large boy walks into it. James Sweatt is 6 foot 2 inches at 11 years old, and nowhere near finished growing. The two strike up the sort of connection only outsiders can truly understand, and their lives are never the same. And there’s maybe kind-of-sort-of some romance, depending on your perspective.

I’ll just come right out and say it: this book wasn’t for me. The prose is perfectly lovely, and to a different reader this book might be fantastic. But for me? Meh. Yes, “meh.” Charleen of Cheap Thrills Book Blog (who is more eloquent than I) wrote a fantastic piece on the merits of using the term “meh” that you should read. (Really, click on it. HERE.) Writing a review of a book that hits you upside the head with all the meh is crazy hard to do. I’m stuck in a gray area of stumbling over words, and it makes me all twitchy.

To be fair, I haven’t spoken to any of the ladies to hear how they felt about the book, other than a couple of vague “this is really depressing” text messages. Knowing them as I do, though, I can’t imagine this is a new favorite for any of them. bookclubflopActually, knowing them as I do, I’d be surprised if many of them even finished this one…

Choosing the book for a book club can be nerve wracking. It’s not just about choosing a “good” or “bad” book, it’s about choosing a good fit for your group. If your book club is really into dystopian YA, busting in with some highbrow literary fiction probably isn’t going to go over too well. Nobody wants to read the same thing all the time, (okay, well *I* don’t want to read the same thing all the time.) That’s part of the beauty of a book club, reading something you might not have picked up on your own. That said, everything new carries ALL THE POSSIBILITIES. You could love it, feel like a giant ball of “meh,” or rage at the heavens that such a piece of literature was ever brought into being.

Because I’m not much of a re-reader, whenever I make a book club selection, I typically go in blind. These days I’ve got a pretty hefty advantage. I read a lot of book blogs, and have a killer group of blogger friends who know my taste well enough to help me make my decisions. But you know something? Sometimes it doesn’t even MATTER that you’ve researched and read reviews and polled your pals. You really don’t know if something is going to work for you (and your book club) until you read the darn thing!

I’m not going to give my Girl-Scout-Cookie-Hookup too much crap for picking a book I didn’t like. Then I’d have to go out and make another friend with a Girl Scout daughter, and I just don’t have the energy to go hunting one down. Not to mention, one of these days IT MIGHT BE ME responsible for the book club bomb. It’s cool, Emily. I still love you!

What about you, Bookworms? Do you feel pressure choosing books for your book clubs? Is my anxiety a reflection of my own inner turmoil or do y’all deal with this too? 

 

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