Looking back, looking ahead…

As we head into the next reading season and roll out our 2022 line up (yippee!!) I’m looking back at where we’ve been in awe! 

As a young wife and new mom in 2008 I never imagined my book club dream would become the amazing reality it is today. I was new to the reading life and as a verbal processor I wanted to talk to everyone I ran into about my latest read… but they hadn’t read the book. Enter my book club plan. 


I knew from the beginning I wanted this club to be different. I truly wanted to discuss the work of literature. (And even as someone with a studio art degree, I now call this is my favorite form of art.) In those early days book clubs weren’t trending and there wasn’t much about them on the internet.

In an effort to keep running the best book club here are some things that will remain the same and then some new changes we are implementing. 

  • We will remain a women-only book club (nursing babies are an exception to attendance restrictions)
  • We will continue to be a book club that has the expectation that members read the book before the meeting. 
  • We will still discuss the book during our meeting time. To respect your time we can move to extra visiting before or after the meeting. 

New changes:

  • We are putting a temporary moratorium on new members. We believe this is needed so all can hear and have an opportunity to participate. Our discussions are the heart of our bookclub and we want to ensure they can be good. 
  • You know we love our special event months, so if there is interest we may bring back the “bring a friend month” and tie that into a wait list to join if needed.
  • We’ve set up a form to receive title suggestions for future discussions. We always love getting more books to include in the giant spreadsheet of possible titles we use when developing the reading list for each year. You can suggest books at any time, and although there is space for additional details, the only required field is the book title.  We refer to this spreadsheet when we make decisions on future selections.

21 in 21

Our line up this year has the numbers aligning thanks to a near-monthly optional bonus book. We’ve finally put one of our favorite inspectors on the official schedule. Over the next two years we will read through the Inspector Gamashe series of published books to date. (Discussion will take place 30 minutes prior to each month with a bonus book listed. Special events months will not have an extra book.)

January 2021
Still Life by Louise Penny

February 2021
Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Bonus Book: A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

March 2021
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Bonus book: The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny

April 2021 *Tea Party*
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

May 2021
The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi
Bonus Book: A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny

June 2021
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Bonus Book: The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny

July 2021 *Summer Picnic*
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Bonus Book: Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

August 2021
The Lost Man by Jane Harper
Bonus Book: A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny

September 2021 *Dinner Party*
Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber

October 2021
True Grit by Charles Portis
Bonus Book: The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny

November 2021
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Bonus Book: How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny

December 2021 *Christmas Party*
The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson
– or – The Falcon Thief by Joshua Hammer

Reading Around the Globe

Last year we began to travel the globe through books. I guess it actually started in 2017 while we read Tsh’s book At Home In The World, if we’re getting technical. I’m all for reading widely and reading with variety. I like to mix up genre, fiction and non fiction, personal development, classics etc. but I wasn’t sure how I felt about being locked into the idea of reading from a new location each month.

No reservation was needed. Now I’m craving books from new locations. We are being choosy and selecting books that more heavily include the location in part of the book. Highly recommend pushing your current reading zone and broadening your horizons! (hehe, see what I did there?)

Where we’ve been, and a peek of where we’re going next:

January – Scottland
February – Netherlands
March – Kenya
April – Laos
May – Space
June – China
July – Bhutan
August – Burma
September – Greece
October – Ireland
November – Spain
December – Global

January – Tibet
February – Norway
March – England
April – South Africa
May – Cuba
June – Canada
July – Afghanistan
August – Rwanda
September – Germany
October – Mars & Venus
November – Romania
December – Pakistan

Jan – global
Feb – Iceland
Mar –  Australia
April – Iran
May – US
June – Brazil
July –  Chechnya
August – Antarctica
September – Italy
October – book flight in France
November – Norway
December – global

November: The Martian

FullSizeRender 16

Ahh, The Martian. What a fun book to read!!

I’m on who tends to never give a second glance to a book with even a whiff of a “space” theme and certainly no science fiction or fantasy. BUT part of our Purpose Statement (and club name!) is to broaden horizons, so after many rave reviews (including my husband’s) and having decided to toss out the previous book planned for November The Martian was quite a win. And would you believe I gave this one 5 stars?

It had a decent amount of language which we discussed, and some felt if it had been left out it wouldn’t have really made much sense. He DID get left on Mars after all.

Now I can say my horizons have been broadened and I’m keeping a ear out for other science fiction and fantasy I could tolerate. (I say “tolerate” with a smile, but I think my feelings towards these books has something to do with my INFJ-ness, as I tend to roll my eyes at fantasy. #confession #butImopentochange )

Thursday December 17, 2015
84 Charing Cross Road
12 84 charing

October: Northanger Abby

dinner party

This month we enjoyed our sixth (can you even?!) annual dinner. Our first dinner party was also a Jane Austen book, Mansfield Park.

FullSizeRender (3)
Discussing Northanger finished off our reading of all of Austen’s novels! We drew a smaller crowd, but I’ve been in a mellow mode lately and a small group dinner is just what I need.

As we finished up our meal and discussion we decided to make a last minute change for our November title. We’ll now be reading The Martian

(Hold off on seeing the movie, for sure! This is one to read first!)



Thursday November 12
The Martian by Andy Weir
@ Jodi’s

Parnassus on Wheels


Ahh! Parnassus! This book used to give me visions of hot summer sun, a big shade umbrella, and kids splashing in the wading pool near by. …Is it obvious I read this first last summer 😉

But now, it being our January book club read, I think of big fluffy scarves, Catherine’s yummy tea, and wheel-shaped bread and cheese. Mmmm!

The wheels of parnassus took us on an unexpected adventure with surprises around every corner… thieving hobos, he said/she said hilarity, and a most interesting non-abduction that still involved cutting the telephone lines! What’s not to love?!

Who’s with me… “traveling bookstore” FABULOUS idea! …and can you stop by tomorrow? …and I’d like a latte with that too please!

So glad all of you were able to get out in the frigid temps and join us! If you haven’t read it are you convinced with my tempting of “thieving hobos” in this short, little 1917 book?


See you all in February for our discussion of A Prayer for Owen Meany at Sarah J’s. Watch for discussion questions from our facilitator Adrienne. (I’m slowly chipping away at the audiobook… can it really be I have 14 hours left?!! This is one big puppy!)

Parnassus Discussion Questions

Parnassus On Wheels Discussion Questions01Parnassus

Why the name “Parnassus on Wheels?” What does it mean?

What is Helen’s relationship to books at the beginning?

How does Helen view literature? How does Andrew view it? How does the Roger? How are their views complementary? How do they influence the way each character views the wagon?

Why does Helen buy the wagon?

What does everyone think when Helen takes off?

Why does Helen fall in love with Roger? How do the books play a role (or do they)?

Why can’t Roger actually let Parnassus go?

What do you think about Roger’s commitment to putting the right book in someone’s hands?

How does Roger’s approach to selling books differ from industry approach?

What do you think about Roger’s refusal to give certain people Shakespeare or other books? Are some books above certain people? Is there a secret progression to books?

How is the Parnassus approach different from the traveling salesman who sold the volumes of funeral orations?

What Alice Forgot discussion questions

2014’s first book club discussion is just around the corner. Here are a some discussion questions I found at litlover.com on our book:

what alice forgot

1. Did you like the younger Alice best? Or did you relate more to the older Alice?
2. What would your younger self of ten years ago think of the person you are today?
3. What would surprise your younger self most about the life you’re currently leading? What would disappoint you?
4. What would you think of your children? Are they how you imagined they would be? Are you the parent you envisioned? Why or why not?
5. Alice is shocked by many transformations—her gym-toned body, her clothes, her house. Are you more or less polished than you were a decade ago? And do you think there’s any deeper significance to such change?
6. Do you think it was realistic that Alice ended up back with Nick? Were you happy with that ending? Do you think they would have ended up together if she hadn’t lost her memory?
7. How did you feel about the sections written from the perspectives of Elisabeth and Frannie? Did they add to your enjoyment of the book, or would you have preferred to have it written entirely from Alice’s point of view?
8. Do you think it was unavoidable that Elisabeth and Alice had grown apart, because of the tension caused by Elisabeth’s infertility versus Alice’s growing family? Or do you think their rift had more to do with the kind of people both of them had become?
9. It’s not only Alice who changed over the last decade. Elisabeth changed, too. Do you think she would have been so accepting of the new Alice at the end if she herself didn’t get pregnant?
10. Out of all the characters in the book, who do you think had changed the most over the past decade and why?
11. If you were to write a letter to your future self to be opened in ten years, what would you say?

See you all Thursday……unless we get snowed out. Then we’ll most likely push book club back to next Thursday. I’ll keep you posted.

October Recap

October started with a fantastic weekend that I’ve been planning for a looong time. (My ultimate goal is that our group might last many, many more years and we can take a longer retreat, sans-kids, to a beach location. #girlsgottadream Right?!)

This past May was our book club’s 5 year anniversary so the first weekend in October we took off for a little retreat.

book club retreat

I invited our regular attenders to a weekend of what I hoped would be time of rest and relaxation and of course reading, fellowship and delicious food! I think it was completely successful at that!

We rented a beautiful house less than 2 hours away. Each of us brought some of our favorite dishes for each meal. I’d recommend this kind of trip to every book club!

Next time, we will plan a book flight to discuss for sure! When I saw this post by Anne I knew a weekend trip would be THE perfect opportunity to discuss three books. We just had trouble deciding which three to select and then we were getting a little short on time.

Photo Oct 16, 2 43 49 PM
The following week we met for our October book:

Photo Oct 10, 1 12 32 PMThe House of Mirth
by Edith Wharton
The oil I chose with this book is Joy. The definition of mirth is “amusement, esp. as expressed in laughter.” In a way, this book was about seeking.

I think this oil could have possible helped Lily Bart, the main character, with her big picture plan in life. She was oh-so very concerned with having the newest, latest (and expensive fashions) to be able to look and play the part in society above her means. Instead, if she would have realized that finding true friends and marrying the man that loved her we would have probably had no book here.

Catherine found the meaning of the title comes from a verse in Ecc. 7:4 4 “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.”  Read more of Catherine’s thoughts on the book in her post.

This is one of, probably, many essential oils Lily could have used. She was excellent at making very poor choices. We jokingly decided that if we needed to make a decision we should just ask “What would Lily do?” Then do the opposite. 

November’s Book:

It’s Not About the Tapas by Polly Evans

September: Bread & Wine

September was our 4th annual Dinner Party! Always one of my favorite’s. Growing up we often had a fancy meal every Sunday after church: china, crystal stemware, the works. (But now that I’m grown up, I get to add wine to the list!)

dinner party11This month our book was Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequest. This book earned a solid spot on my list of favorite reads for 2013. If most everyone I knew hadn’t already read it I’d be buying this for Christmas presents all around.

For a little more about the evening hop over to my blog Simple Sarah and find out how I paired an essential oil with this book.

Next month:
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
October 10th @ 7pm
Panaradise @ HTC mall