Happy To Be Here

Keeping with our name and purpose statement, you know that we read from a variety of genres. February we’ll be reading a collection of short stories. Hopefully they will bring a smile to your face and maybe even encourage a laugh.

by Garrison Keillor

The work focuses mainly on the everyday lives of ordinary people, especially in Minnesota and North Dakota. Among them are musings about trains, baseball, politics, farming, marriage, and the rights of shy people. (source)

Grab your copy of the book, arrange for that sitter, if needed, and we’ll see you February 9th at Paradise Bakery and Cafe at 7:00pm.
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Introducing… The Help

For one summer during college I worked at a country club in one of the ritziest suburbs of Columbus, Ohio. I worked in the “play room” where I essentially babysat the country club members’ kids while they ate lunch, went to the pool, or attended a workout class. I didn’t mind watching the kids (most days), but I definitely felt like a second-class citizen working there. We could only enter through the laundry room door (never the front), we had to stay as out-of-the-way as possible and cut through the locker rooms to get to other places in the building instead of walking through the halls, and on really busy days at the club like the Fourth of July, we had to park out in a field and walk about a half a mile to the building so the members and their guests could use the staff parking spots. We were expected to try really hard to address all of the members by name, but I had people whose kids I watched very regularly who would introduce their kids to me every time they were dropped off, which showed they didn’t even notice the same person was watching their children over and over again. Later, when I would tell people of my experiences working there, I would jokingly refer to the myself and my fellow staff members as “the help,” since it seemed like that was how the members viewed us.

Although I had that summer feeling like “the help,” my experience pales in comparison to the characters in our January book, The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Set in Mississippi during the 1960s, the book focuses on the relationships of several African-American maids and their white employers. For the maids, their employment is more than just a summer college job—they have few options to do much else. They also have to deal with a culture where racism is deeply embedded, which affects how they are treated in their work. The book tells of what happens when the daughter of one of the prominent white families in the town begins to realize how differently her friends’ maids are treated from the ways white people are treated.

So what about you? Have you had an experience that helped you identify on some level with the characters in The Help? If you’ve finished the book already, what do you think? If you haven’t gotten the book yet, there’s still some time to put it on your Christmas list. We hope you can come join us on January 12 at 7 p.m. at Paradise Bakery and Café at Hamilton Town Center. Don’t forget that it’s also “Bring a Friend Month.” This is the perfect book to get someone plugged into the Book Club. We can’t wait to see you all there.

Happy reading!

Book Club Thursday

Christmas lights, book discussion, and a heavenly hot chocolate bar… book club Thursday’s are the best!! Especially when they come in December because that means our discussion is paired with our annual Christmas party!

If you weren’t able to come last year, or the year before, or the year before that, this isn’t to be missed!

a few images from Christmas’ past

We’ll be discussing A Year In Provence. We’ll provide the treats and goodies. Just bring your lovely selves and a wrapped book for the exchange.* We’ll have a stress free night this busy Christmas season! (Maybe that last one is your favorite reason to come?!)

Please let us know if you’ll be joining us and if you need directions to Sarah’s lovely home.

See you Thursday at 7:00pm!

* We are playing the secret book swap game again this year!! Please bring a USED copy of one of your favorite books wrapped (and unlabeled) for our book swap game.

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A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle: An Introduction

Who wouldn’t want to spend a year in the South of France? I’m thinking old cobblestones and outdoor markets, an abundance of farm and wild animals accompanied by charming and quirky characters, and scenery that would bring me to tears.

salon de the
through the arch
hike to the calanque
calanque de sugiton
old man and the sea
vines

Most of us probably can’t afford an actual year in Provence, but A Year in Provence? Totally fits the budget!  It’s funny. It’s nostalgic. It’s travel writing at its best!

Join Peter and his wife as they face many of the everyday challenges we do, just in a more interesting place! Then, join us for the Christmas party on December 8th at 7pm. See you then!

Where’s your sense of adventure?

The Bagginses had lived in the neighborhood of The Hill for time out of mind, and people considered them very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also because they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected: you could tell what a Baggins would say on any question without the bother of asking him. This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the neighbours’ respect, but he gained–well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end. 

 –J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Do you seek out new experiences? Love to travel? Will you try just about anything once? Do you secretly enjoy getting lost because you get to be somewhere you hadn’t expected and might get to meet someone new? Or do you prefer the comforts of home and the familiar? Enjoy the company of close friends? Does the thought of traveling to places unknown make you uneasy? If presented with the opportunity, how quickly would you jump into an adventure?

In the passage above, J.R.R. Tolkien is introducing us to Bilbo Baggins, the hero of this month’s book, The Hobbit. In the full section of the chapter, we learn exactly what a hobbit is, and we find out that adventures are frowned upon and avoided in hobbit society. Bilbo’s quest goes against everything he has been taught as a hobbit, yet he goes anyway, and he finds himself in the middle of situations unlike anything he had ever imagined in his warm and safe hobbit hole.

So where is your sense of adventure? When an unexpected party of visitors comes knocking at the door of Bilbo’s hobbit hole will you join them on their journey? I hope you will accept their invitation and travel “There and Back Again” with Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. And when you have come “Back Again, ” I hope you will join us for our dinner party on September 8th at 7 p.m. If you can make it, please RSVP in a comment or reply to the Facebook invitation. Can’t wait to see you there!

Don’t judge a book by its movie.

Now, granted I haven’t seen the movie Gone With The Wind. But… after hearing the general consensus of the group, I won’t.
The book, on the other hand, was highly rated by our gathering of 10 ladies. Most of us gave it an 8-9.5! I’d love to hear how you’d rate this book on a scale of 1-10 if you were unable to join us. Leave us a comment!

Since the mercury wasn’t dropping, we moved our summer picnic indoors.
And you women sure do know how to make a salad! Excellent food, ladies- excellent!
Yum!
This summer is a rare one for me… all three of my sisters are local and were able to join us! Often the summers have found us on multiple continents!
Usually our discussions are peppered with discussion of the book that we read and the stories of our life.
This epic novel offered plenty of topics to discuss. I hope next time you will be able to join us as we chat great literature.
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Next time we’ll meet August 11th at 7:00pm at Paradise Bakery and Cafe.
Discussing:
A Girl Named Zippy
This may not seem like “great literature” at first glance, but like they always say don’t judge it by it’s cover. This is a funny lady who grew up very near us and gives quite the comical view of small town life from the eyes of a tom-boy third grader. A quick read and not one to skip!
Remember to think of your book-loving friends! August is Bring A Friend month!
See you in two weeks,
Happy Reading!
Sarah

Walking Contradiction: An Introduction to Gone with the Wind

From Gone with the Wind Chapter Six:

She heard the soft muffled sound of his footsteps dying away down the long hall, and the complete enormity of her actions came over her. She had lost him forever. Now he would hate her and every time he looked at her he would remember how she threw herself at him when he had given her no encouragement at all… And the thought stung her to a new rage, rage at herself, at Ashley, at the world. Because she hated herself, she hated them all with the fury of the thwarted and humiliated love of sixteen. Only a little true tenderness had been mixed into her love. Mostly it had been compounded out of vanity and complacent confidence in her own charms. Now she had lost and, greater than her sense of loss, was the fear that she had made a public spectacle of herself… Was everyone laughing at her? She began to shake at the thought.

Her hand dropped to a little table beside her, fingering a tiny china rosebowl on which two china cherubs smirked… She picked up the bowl and hurled it viciously across the room to toward the fireplace. It barely cleared the tall back of the sofa and splintered with a little crash against the marble mantlepiece.

“This,” said a voice from the depths of the sofa, “is too much.”

Nothing had ever startled her or frightened her so much, and her mouth went too dry for her to utter a sound. She caught hold of the back of the chair, her knees going weak under her, as Rhett Butler rose from the sofa where he had been lying and made her a bow of exaggerated politeness…

“Sir, you should have made known your presence.”

“Indeed?” His white teeth gleamed and his bold dark eyes laughed at her…

Her temper was beginning to rise again at the thought that this rude and impertinent man had heard everything–heard things she now wished she had died before she ever uttered.

“Eavesdroppers–” she began furiously.

“Eavesdroppers often hear highly entertaining and instructive things,” he grinned. “From a long experience in eavesdropping, I–“

“”Sir,” she said, “you are no gentleman!”

“An apt observation,” he answered airily. “And, you, Miss, are no lady.”

This scene early in Gone with the Wind is one of my favorites in both the book and the movie. Not only do we get a great preview of what many of Rhett and Scarlett’s interactions are going to be like throughout the story, but we get a lot of insight into their characters.

I always enjoyed the movie Gone with the Wind–for nerdy reasons like history is one of my favorite subjects and that it is a groundbreaking example of epic filmmaking–but it was when I read the book for the first time that I really fell in love with the story. It is the story of Scarlett O’Hara, a complicated character, an anti-hero of sorts, full of contradictions and powerful emotions–at the same time driven by love and hate, selfish ambition and loyalty, the desire to be a great lady like her mother and the need to shirk old societal conventions in order to rebuild a life in the South destroyed by the Civil War. The book lets us read Scarlett’s thoughts and gives us insight into her motives that we can only get a glimpse of in the movie. Margaret Mitchell’s brilliant writing makes Scarlett a character you’ll find yourself rooting for as she drives you crazy at the same time.

Please Note: Like our last book, I have to issue a disclaimer about some of the language, but for different reasons. The word [email protected]*n (if you catch my drift) is used by some of the characters, and because it’s set in Georgia during the Civil War and Reconstruction when it would have been a common term, there is use of the “n-word” as well. In my opinion, it doesn’t detract from the story or the novel as a whole, but I wanted to be sure no one has any surprises–especially for those of you who might be listening to the audiobook with kids around. 🙂

Gone with the Wind is a long book, but that’s why we’re taking two months to read it! You still have plenty of time, and it’s a great summer read. We’ll be meeting July 28 at Geist Park for a picnic. I really hope you all enjoy meeting Ashley, Melanie, Aunt Pittypat, Mammy, Rhett, and of course, Scarlett O’Hara.

Happy reading!

The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up

Wish I could give you some fairy dust this week! …But since I’m not Tinker Bell here are some “lovely thoughts” to get you thinking before book club on Thursday…

“You just think lovely wonderful thoughts, and they lift you up in the air.”

The magic of dreams are never ending! Do you remember your dreams when you wake? What does your Neverland look like?

A dog for a nanny, a mom cleaning and straightening children’s brains… what was your favorite unrealistic part or scene of this story?

The loss of childhood is inevitable, what do you miss most from your youth? When did you loose your ability to fly? Aka: At what point in your life did you start considering yourself an adult? …if you are, in fact, a grown-up 🙂

Assuming you’ve seen the Disney version of Peter Pan, what are your thoughts on the differences? and similarities?

If you are a mother, how do you encourage your children to dream? Also, Mommies of preschoolers this is an excellent resource to accompany the book from Homeschool Creations: Peter Pan Preschool Pack

Peter Pan discussion:
this Thursday May 12th
@ 7:00pm
Paradise Bakery & Cafe

You Can Fly!

Happy thoughts of this month’s book are lifting me off my feet and into my dreams. Full of whimsy and witty banter, this story is a joy to read as an adult. Peter Pan was a huge hit on the stage before it was transformed into a novel. Children enjoy the story, but the only ones who can truly appreciate the magic of Barrie’s writing are adults willing to tap into their inner child.

What is your childhood fantasy? What would happen if your fantasy came to life? How can you live in the fantasy as an adult? Let Barrie’s story take you on your own magical journey. You already know the way: “Second star on the right and straight on till morning!”

Join us May 12th @ 7pm at Paradise Bakery, Hamilton Town Center. Peter Pan is our young reader for the year. Follow the links to buy it online at Borders (the version I selected has footnotes for some of the British terms). It’s in the public domain so you can find free downloads and audio books online (only in the US) which means e-reader versions should be extremely low-priced.

*disclaimer!!! In my version, Tinker-Bell says a naughty word a few times, and the British language can be tricky to understand here and there. I recommend selecting a children or teen version for reading to your children.