Category Archives: Monthly Book club

September Reading – A Man Called Ove

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img_1596   This is  a wonderful read. Fredrick Backman, a Swedish blogger, columnist, creates a story filled with emotion. In my mind, I saw Paul Newman or Walter Matthau as Ove. A crawchty old man with little in his life until he starts to meet his neighbors. I’m looking forward to having this discussion. Reader’s guide from Simon and Schuester here.

The movie the trailer is here.

Release date is set for September 30, 2016 but that may not be in our fair city; as tends to be the case with foreign films. So if it doesn’t come within our reach soon, we may have to wait for the dvd release December 27,2016. Having a watch party may be a reason for a special edition book club meeting.

2015 Book Club List

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Here is our list for this year

January Unbroken (528 pgs) Laura Hillenbrand
February Big Little Lies (480 pgs) Liane Moriarty
March Orphan Train (278 pgs) Christina Baker Kline
April The Invisible Man (581 pgs Classic) Ralph Ellison
May –June 11/22/63: A Novel (880 pgs) Stephen King
July Where’d You Go, Bernadette (352 pgs) Maria Semple
August Stella Bain (288 pgs) Anita Shreve
September A Call to Action, Women, Religion, Violence, and Power (224pgs Non Fiction) Jimmy Carter
October Night Circus (516 pgs) Erin Morgenstern

Nov/Dec

The Light Between Oceans(352 pgs) M.L. Stedman

September: Lacuna

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When Barbara Kingslover’s book Lacuna came out, it was her first in 9 years. With the story of Harrison she takes us through history. Harrison meets icons on both sides of the borders. The attached video shows you the real Frida and Diego at their home.

Also consider these LitLovers talking points to help get a discussion started for The Lacuna:

1. What does Shepherd mean when he says, “The most important part of the story is the piece of it you don’t know.” And how does this oft stated remark relate to the book’s title?

2. What is the significance of the book’s title? What does it mean within the context of the novel?

3. Do Shepherd’s diaries feel realistic to you? Does he sound like a 12-year old at the beginning…and later a mature man?

4. What prompts Harrison to begin his journals? Why does he write? What does he mean by referring to his notebook as “prisoner’s plan for escape”?

5. Describe Shepherd, first as a 12-year-old and, later, as a mature adult. What kind of character is he? How does he change over the course of the novel?

6. How about Shepherd’s mother? In what way does her profligate life affect how Shepherd decides to lead his own life?

7. Describe the Riviera/Kahlo household. How does Shepherd see Riviera’s influence over Kahlo? Have you seen the movie Frieda? If so, does that film influence your reading of The Lacuana?

8. How does Kingsolver portray Leon Trotsky in this work? Were you aware of his background and the history of the Russian Revolution before you read the novel? If so, did your prior knowledge color your reading—or did your reading affect your knowledge?

9. Do you find the second-half of the novel, in the US, evocative of a time and place that no longer exists? If so, is that a good or bad thing? If not, what has remained the same? How does Kingsolver present those years?

10. What is Shepherd’s relationship with his secretary, Violet Brown? What kind of character is she? Why does she want to preserve Shepherd’s memory?

11. What role do the media play in this novel? Is it a fair or realistic portrait? What are the benefits of fame…and what are its costs?

12. Does this book enlighten you about the era of the Red Scare and the McCarthy hearings? Or do you feel this ground has been well tread by many others?

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Sylvia and the Barbizon Hotel

Click on the above title to go to the attached link.

Barbizon Hotel 1927 - Library of Congress

Barbizon Hotel 1927 – Library of Congress

The idea of a hotel full of career women in the 1920s intrigued me. Here is a blog posting with historical information about the famous hotel. The architecture is spectacular and the people that lived there were even more so. I want to know more.

August Reading – Sylvia Plath

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Some quick facts about the author

American poet, novelist, wife and mother of two

American poet, novelist, wife and mother of two

• Aka—Victoria Lucas
• Birth—October 27, 1932
• Where—Boston, Massachusetts, USA
• Death—February 11, 1963
• Where—London, England, UK
• Education—B.A., Smith College; Fulbright Scholar, Cambridge University
• Awards—Pulitzer Prize for Collected Poems

To see the full length (1hr) documentary, which aired a week after her death, go to http://youtu.be/wmamNSa3sP8

Questions to discuss:

1. What factors, components, and stages of Esther Greenwood’s descent into depression and madness are specified? How inevitable is that descent?

2. In a letter while at college, Plath wrote that “I’ve gone around for most of my life as in the rarefied atmosphere under a bell jar.” Is this the primary meaning of the novel’s titular bell jar? What other meanings does “the bell jar” have?

3. What terms does Esther use to describe herself? How does she compare or contrast herself with Doreen and others in New York City, or with Joan and other patients in the hospital?

4. What instances and images of distortion occur in the novel? What are their contexts and significance? Does Esther achieve a clear, undistorted view of herself?

5. Are Esther’s attitudes toward men, sex, and marriage peculiar to herself? What role do her attitudes play in her breakdown? What are we told about her society’s expectations regarding men and women, sexuality, and relationships? Have those expectations changed since that time?

6. Esther more than once admits to feelings of inadequacy. Is Esther’s sense of her own inadequacies consistent with reality? Against what standards does she judge herself?

7. With what specific setting, event, and person is Esther’s first thought of suicide associated? Why? In what circumstances do subsequent thoughts and plans concerning suicide occur?

8. In addition to Deer Island Prison, what other images and conditions of physical and emotional imprisonment, enclosure, confinement, and punishment are presented?9. What are the primary relationships in Esther’s life? Is she consistent in her behavior and attitudes within these relationships?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

Room by Emma Donoghue

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This book was written before Jaycee Dugard was found but this book kept reminding me of that story.  Then one of our members, Veronica, mentioned that she found a site that explained the inspiration is triggered from a different abduction story, Josef Fritzl. Read the author’s explanation here

Emma Donoghue (born 24 October 1969) is an Irish-born playwright, literary historian and novelist now living in Canada. Her 2010 novel ROOM was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize and an international bestseller.

Want to see what the room would look like?  Check out this site http://www.roomthebook.com/ You will find a virtual tour of ROOM and its contents.  Place your cursor over the different objects and you will hear a child narrrate. Someone really liked the book.

Spoiler Warning: These book club discussion questions reveal important details about Room by Emma Donoghue. Finish the book before reading on.

Why do you think the author chose to tell the story of Roomthrough Jack and not through an omniscient, third-person narrator?

Why does Jack call their captor “Old Nick?”

Which elements of Jack’s developmental delays and/or his integration issues surprised you most?

When Ma is interviewed, the interviewer implies that perhaps not everyone would agree with Ma’s decisions regarding Jack – first, her decision to keep him in Room when she could have tried to have Old Nick abandon him at a hospital, and second, to teach him that Room was all there is, that things in TV aren’t real, etc. What are your thoughts regarding these decisions?

Have you ever gotten into a car with someone you don’t know, as Ma did? Did you find this to be a believable way for a 19-year-old to be kidnapped?

Did you find yourself wanting to know more about Old Nick? If so, why do you think this is?

Jack often wishes he were back in Room. Is there any way in which he would be better off back in isolation with only his mother? Why or why not?

What sort of problems do you think Ma will face now that she and Jack are out on their own?