Our Discussion of Emma (and Some Kids’ Books Too)

Hands holding copies of Emma

Another Jane Austen book, another fun book club discussion night. This month we all read Emma and the answer to the question of “Do you like her?” was a mixed bag.

Emma Book Covers

We had a mixed bag of covers for this book, as well. We also had a couple of people who listened to the audiobook and one who read an e-book version.

Most of us thought Jane Austen had created one of her more unlikeable characters for the heroine, but we agreed that Emma Woodhouse seemed to come around in the end. As far as the book itself, the reactions mainly seemed to fall into two camps: either we really liked the story and would name it among our favorite Jane Austen books, or we just had a hard time getting into the story.

After discussing some of the ridiculous characters in the novel (Mrs. Elton and her request to ride donkeys to the party at Mr. Knightley’s house taking the cake), going through through our list of discussion questions, and choosing some conversation starters from the Table Topics cards (Most thought-provoking: If the book was a dream, what do you think it would signify?), we somehow got on the topic of some of our favorite books from when we were children. There were lots of books we had read in common, and some we sort of remembered but couldn’t recall the titles. If you can help us identify a book at about a fifth or sixth grade reading level with kids who could stop time that had a scene where they stop a dog from attacking them that might have contained some questionable language that a teacher reading it aloud would have skipped over or changed, Sarah would really like to know what it is.

Discussing Jane AustensEmma

We hope you can join us for our April 12 meeting! We’ll be reading and discussing The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (among other subjects, I’m sure) and having a delightful tea party at Sarah’s house. We’ll keep you posted on the details.

Happy reading!

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Happy to be Here

With the hum of a cafe all around we sat at our circle table, happy to be here there, enjoying some good old-fashioned read-alouds.  For me, this book was a little hard to wade through.  But it stretched my comfort-zone of reading and I almost made it to the end.  (I do plan to finish up the last few short stories I missed.)  A few ladies found the book more humorous than others.  A few favorites we discussed were:

Jack Schmidt, Art Administrator
The Slim Graves Show
The Tip-Top Club
My Stepmother, Myself
Your Transit Commission
After a Fall

As it is with most books we read for book club, no matter how much I like or don’t like the book I ALWAYS like it more after book club Thursdays.  Insights I missed, deeper characters and plot than I thought, or finally understanding the humor of Keillor that I just “didn’t get” when reading it on my own are just a few reason I love book club discussions!

When you combine reading great books, a night out with friends (and making new ones!) and talking about something we all have in common is a recipe for success in my cookbook for a good time!

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I have a feeling March will prove to be a full house for “book club Thursday” as we revisit a past popular author and discuss Jane Austen’s Emma on March 8th at 7:00.  Be sure to RSVP to the evite, we might be moving locations if it looks like we’ll have a big crowd.  (If you didn’t get the evite, let me know broadenedhorizonsbookclub {at} gmail {dot} com)

Bring a Friend Night: Recap!


Bring A Friend Night was definitely a success! A record-breaking 16 women showed up to discuss The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

 We ended up breaking up into 3 groups for discussion so that we didn’t have to shout so much.

BABY!
 
(Infants are always welcome!)

As usual, we had our TableTopics Book Club questions on hand to liven up discussion! 

We talked about our favorite characters, moments, and naturally, how the book was so much better than the movie.
I didn’t, until now, appreciate the timeliness of our discussion on racial inequality then and now. Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!
Revenge. Always a good topic! Would you have done the “terrible awful” thing that Minnie did? Some said, YES! haha. My favorite quote was from Gwynne who said, “I’ve never been on board with poo as a revenge tool.” I agree, friend!
As usual, if you want in on the full discussion, you have to come to the event! Join us next month, February 9th, for our discussion of Happy to Be Here, by Garrison Keillor.

A Dinner Fit for a Hobbit (and Some Recipes Too)

Another Book Club dinner party is in the books, and this year’s event was just as lovely as the previous year.

Beautiful decor…

Fresh Salad…

Delicious soup…

Decadent dessert…

Oh, and conversation about The Hobbit as well…

While this book goes down as a favorite for some of us, others were not fans of the fantasy fiction genre or any of Tolkien’s works. However, we all could agree that the dramatized version available on Audible got a big thumbs down for leaving out narration, the dialog being too hard to follow and just generally not doing justice to the story.

For those of us that liked the book, we appreciated Bilbo as the reluctant hero and enjoyed following his very unhobbitlike adventures. Several of us are excited to one day read this book to our own kids as they start looking for adventures of their own.

And now, what you all have been waiting for…the recipes!

Corn Potato Poblano Soup
Makes about 2 quarts
6 ears organic corn, kernels shaved and reserved, cobs cut in half for stock following
8 c. water
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. sea salt

  1. In a medium saucepan combine corn cobs, water, oregano and salt. Simmer 30 minutes.

2 poblano peppers
3 yellow onions, small dice
4 ribs celery, small dice
4 yukon gold potatoes, medium dice
1/4 c. olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
pinch of cayenne
1 c. white wine
red bell pepper coulis or cilantro pesto

  1. Using tongs, roast poblano peppers directly over a medium high flame. The skin of the peppers should be blistered and black all over. Put roasted peppers into a small bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap.
  2. In a large stock pot combine corn kernels, onions, celery, olive oil and remaining salt. Cook medium high until vegetables color.
  3. Add white wine and cook a few minutes more.
  4. Add potatoes, and strain corn stock into the main pot.
  5. Peel seed and chop poblanos, and add to soup. Simmer until potatoes are tender and flavors combine.
  6. Garnish with red bell pepper coulis or cilantro pesto.

Roast Pumpkin Soup
Makes about 5 cups
4 medium cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 kg peeled deseeded pumpkin (you will need about 1.5 kg or pumpkin to yield the 1 kg of peeled, deseeded pumpkin needed for this recipe)
1 tablespoon oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
Cream, for serving
Ground nutmeg, for serving

Preheat oven to 375º.
Chop pumpkin into even-sized pieces (larger pieces will require a longer roasting time). Place pumpkin and unpeeled garlic cloves in a baking tray/dish, drizzle with three teaspoons of the oil and toss to coat with oil.

Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the garlic so that it doesn’t overcook. Continue baking pumpkin until tender and cooked through. Keep an eye on the pumpkin to ensure it doesn’t burn.

Heat remaining teaspoon of oil in large (at least 3 quart capacity) saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, nutmeg, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for one minute.

Add pumpkin and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until the onion is soft and stock has reduced, about 20 minutes. The more the stock reduces, the thicker the soup will be.

Peel roasted garlic and add to saucepan. Allow the soup to cool for about half an hour before pureeing in batches in a blender.

Serve the soup hot. Top with a drizzle of cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg, if desired.

Store soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

Chocolate Mousse
The recipe for the chocolate mousse can be found here at Allrecipes.com.

Pumpkin Spice Latte
Jodi shared her pumpkin spice latte recipe last year, and we put it to use for this dinner party, too. Here is the recipe.

Hope you can join us for October meeting where we will discuss Agatha Christie’s The Murder at the Vicarage (the first Miss Marple mystery). See you October 13 at 7 p.m. at Paradise Café and Bakery at Hamilton Town Center!

A Girl Named Zippy: Recap

Thank you so much to everyone who joined us for our discussion of
“A Girl Named Zippy!!”
(not pictured: me. the photographer. :D)
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Zippy was full of laughs, so we enjoyed reading some of our favorite bits and pieces aloud. If you didn’t get a chance to read it this month, stash it away for when you need to relax and have a good laugh.
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It was a great night, so we sat outside enjoying the cool breeze and the waning sunshine. Have you ever been more excited for fall?
I sure hope you’re excited because next month is our book club dinner party, and we’re hoping to kick off the fall book reading season with a soup and salad dinner on September 8th. Our book this month is The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. RSVPing is important for the dinner party, so go ahead and do so on the Facebook event. (If you don’t have Facebook, leave a comment or e-mail Sarah.) Other than the Christmas party, this is our favorite event of the year, so I can’t wait to see you there!

A Walk Down Memory Lane.

A week ago we met to discuss Peter Pan, our children’s literature choice for the year. And as we took our minds on a merry trip down memory lane, we took ourselves back to our summer meeting place: Paradise 🙂

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See! summer = blended coffee beverages. yum!

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Our discussion flowed through topics like: what do we really think of Peter? What might the book have to say about a parent’s role in growing imaginative children? Would you want a dog for a nanny? as well as various comparisons between the book and film adaptations.

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One of our favorite aspects of the book was ridiculousness that was peppered amongst the pirate fights and pert pixies.
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Do you know what else is favorite? 1/2 price cookies before closing time!
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Join us for our next meeting! We’re giving you 2 months to tackle this puppy: Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. It’s a big-un. So, we’re giving you TWO months to read it. So, no excuses? I don’t remember where we’re meeting or when. So just start reading the book, and we’ll fill you in on that later. 🙂

Discussing the Tipping Point

It was a beautiful evening, and time for our monthly book club excursion. It was also time to commemorate St. Patrick, and the celebrations were in full force in the tent outside the Irish pub at Hamilton Town Center. Once we finally found parking spots, I don’t think any of us minded the extra walk to Borders; the weather was especially nice.

Despite not joining in the nearby St. Patrick’s Day merrymaking, we still sported some festive green!

Armed with tea, coffee and our answers to the pre-meeting Mad Lib Sarah posted, we launched into our discussion of The Tipping Point. Certain parts of the book resonated with each of us more than others, but I think we all agreed that it was fascinating and could see points that Malcolm Gladwell brought up at work in the world around us. Here are a few highlights of what came up in our discussion:

  • We could identify some traits in us of connectors, mavens or salesmen, but none of us would strongly identify ourselves as one. However we all  could think of people who fit these roles. A couple of us, myself included, admitted that we failed the phonebook test miserably — we’re definitely not connectors! 
  • Each of us had experience with Sesame Street and Blues Clues and could see the stickiness factor of their messages at work. The way stickiness can be built in somewhat creeped a few of us out.
  • We were rather amazed at how powerful the power of context can really be. Cleaning up graffiti and prosecuting fare-beaters in the subway can start a reversal of crime in New York City. People will be prone to not help someone because they think someone else will. A harmful or lethal act will seem OK because the people doing it seem heroic and that can give someone else “permission.”
  • Several of us were so intrigued by this book that we have or are planning to read some of Gladwell’s other works.
At one point during our discussion, a group of St. Patrick’s Day revelers who were meeting at Borders before a concert in the tent asked us what book we were discussing. When they found out it was the The Tipping Point, they pointed to one of the guys in the group and said, “That is his FAVORITE book!” I think the fact that the conversation died out from there proved that none of us are strong “connectors,” I think a connecter would have been all over that, Not even a weak connection was to be had there! 🙂
If you couldn’t join us for our March meeting, I hope you can make it out for our April discussion of Three Cups of Tea. We’ll be meeting at Tea’s Me, so that alone will make it an outing you won’t want to miss. Hope to see you on Saturday, April 16!

The Chosen: A Recap

It’s official. Chaim Potok is definitely one of our favorite authors. He is an excellent storyteller! Did you read My Name is Asher Lev with us? We liked that one, too, and it was hard for us to decide which one of these books we liked best.

In short, The Chosen is the story of two boys, Reuven and Danny, who meet under hostile circumstances, live in different circles, and yet become very good friends. The story follows them through their growing up years, the end of World War II, and the death of president Roosevelt. Like My Name is Asher Lev, there is a sequel called The Promise which follows Reuven through the next phase of his life.

I marked up my book with quotes to share during our discussion:

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Take a look at this awesome beverage: (a perk to meeting at Borders!)

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Another perk of Borders? Comfy chairs!:

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Some highlights of the story were the baseball game at the beginning, the themes of sight and silence that Potok worked in seamlessly, and the interesting characters Reuven meets during his time in the hospital. What about you? Did you read the book? What were your favorite parts?Can I also say that I am SO excited about our next book? The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell- another excellent storyteller. We’ll be meeting on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th) at 7pm at Borders. See you there!

book club Thursday

Trying to discuss The Year of Living Biblically in one short evening might be large undertaking, but we sure enjoyed it!

I always look forward to book club Thursday’s, even when the turn-out is small. Three of us were in attendance while the snow fell quietly outside.

Jacobs learned a great deal about the Bible through his crash-course in reading it and then following through with this 12 month book project. He says this about his background with the Bible: “I grew up in an extremely secular home in New York City. I am officially Jewish, but I’m Jewish in he same way The Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant. Which is to say: not very. I attended no Hebrew school, ate no matzoh.”

We all agreed he had a religious experience not a spiritual one. But it seems he definitely enjoyed this more than he expected too. Wearing white clothes, carrying a staff, the works. It seems it was like a game to him, a fun project, not an honest spiritual searching.

The first 8 months or so he follows the teaching from the Old Testament and when he got to the end of that and looked to what the New Testament says, he hit a speed bump. “The emphasis on faith is a key difference between modern Judaism and current evangelical Christianity.”

Did you finish the book? I don’t want to give away the ending. Hope you find time to finish this great read some snowy winter night.

Leave a comment with your favorite strange command that Jacobs practiced or tried out. Some of ours… the stoning scene: hilarious! The handy seat… and why he bought it: classic! Dropping money on the sidewalk!

What’s Next?

February 17th is quickly approaching, have you found a copy of The Chosen yet? Be sure to check the sidebar for a heads up of what books we’ll be reading in the next few months. And never miss a blog post by signing up with Feedburner at the top of the sidebar.

2010 Book Club Christmas Party: A Recap

The fondue was ready…

The table was set..

The atmosphere at Janet’s house was just lovely…

It was December 22, and time for the Book Club Christmas Party!

Complete with our discussion about December’s book – Little Women, a classic game of Telephone Pictionary…

And our “White Elephant” Book Exchange.

We all wrapped a used book we have enjoyed, wrote a three-word description and then did our “white elephant” exchange. We didn’t unwrap our books until everyone was done exchanging, and there were definitely some surprises. Can you guess what these books were from just their three-word descriptions? (The answers are at the bottom of the post.)

  1. Murder, Modern, Motivational
  2. Comedy, Christian, Laugh
  3. Real, Like Lewis, Letters
  4. Happiness, Relationship, God
  5. Oats, Ginger, Cab
  6. Romantic, Spontaneous, Old-Fashioned
  7. Adventure, Non-Fiction, Silly
  8. Grandpa, Goats, Free Spirit
  9. 1800s, Journal Format, Fiction
  10. God, Honesty, Growth
  11. Mystery, Suspenseful, Male Author

We all left with something new to read and a lovely handmade ornament (constructed from the pages of A Christmas Carol).


And what book club event would be complete without a group photo?

The not-so-successful…

and the successful!

I know I had a great time; I hope the rest of you who attended our Christmas Party did too! We hope you can join us in January as we read The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A.J. Jacobs!

We’re looking forward to some great reads in 2011!

Answers:
 1.  The Secret Life of Bees
 2.  Stuff Christians Like
 3.  Lord Foulgrin’s Letters
 4.  The Secret of Happiness
 5.  Black Beauty
 6.  The Bridges of Madison County
 7.  Round Ireland with a Fridge
 8.  Heidi
 9.  Stepping Heavenward
10. Honest to God
11. A Painted House