I can’t believe they kicked us out!

Well, actually, I can. We stayed about an hour after they closed! It turns out that our new “Panaradise” closes at 8pm not 9pm. Whoops.

Before you get bored with my yammering and stop reading, what you need to know is that next month we will be meeting at Shelia’s house! Her address will be in the e-vite.

Confession: I totally forgot to take photos. #photographerfail

Instead, here are some of my favorite quotes from Nature:

“When we speak of nature in this manner, we have a distinct but most poetical sense in the mind. We mean the integrity of impression made by manifold natural objects. It is this which distinguishes the stick of timber of the wood-cutter, from the tree of the poet. The charming landscape which I saw this morning, is indubitably made up of some twenty or thirty farms. Miller owns this field, Locke that, and Manning the woodland beyond. But none of them owns the landscape. There is a property in the horizon which no man has but he whose eye can integrate all the parts, that is, the poet.” (emphasis mine. i read on my phone and have no page numbers, but it’s an essay for crying out loud. find the page yourself. :D)

“Nature, in its ministry to man, is not only the material, but is also the process and the result. All the parts incessantly work into each other’s hands for the profit of man. The wind sows the seed; the sun evaporates the sea; the wind blows the vapor to the field; the ice, on the other side of the planet, condenses rain on this; the rain feeds the plant; the plant feeds the animal; and thus the endless circulations of the divine charity nourish man.” (again, emphasis mine. he had a habit of using lots of illustrations and then wowing me with a really poetic point at the end of the paragraph. i felt like this read a lot like poetry, actually.)

“Willingly does she follow his steps with the rose and the violet, and bend her lines of grandeur and grace to the decoration of her darling child.” (i have no recollection of what he was talking about, but the visual is stunning.)

“good thoughts are no better than good dreams, unless they be executed!” (amen.)

“What noble emotions dilate the mortal as he enters into the counsels of the creation, and feels by knowledge the privilege to BE!” (here. here.)

“Nature is made to conspire with spirit to emancipate us. Certain mechanical changes, a small alteration in our local position apprizes us of a dualism. We are strangely affected by seeing the shore from a moving ship, from a balloon, or through the tints of an unusual sky. The least change in our point of view, gives the whole world a pictorial air. A man who seldom rides, needs only to get into a coach and traverse his own town, to turn the street into a puppet-show. The men, the women, – talking, running, bartering, fighting, – the earnest mechanic, the lounger, the beggar, the boys, the dogs, are unrealized at once, or, at least, wholly detached from all relation to the observer, and seen as apparent, not substantial beings. What new thoughts are suggested by seeing a face of country quite familiar, in the rapid movement of the rail-road car! Nay, the most wonted objects, (make a very slight change in the point of vision,) please us most. In a camera obscura, the butcher’s cart , and the figure of one of our own family amuse us. So a portrait of a well-known face gratifies us. Turn the eyes upside down, by looking at the landscape through your legs, and how agreeable is the picture, though you have seen it any time these twenty years!” (great photography advice. 10 points if you know what a camera obscura is without having to look it up :D)

“The true philosopher and the true poet are one, and a beauty, which is truth, and a truth, which is beauty, is the aim of both.” (i think this is actually the origin of the phrase, “beauty is truth, truth is beauty.” agree? disagree?)

“I have no hostility to nature, but a child’s love to it. I expand and live in the warm day like corn and melons.” (fantastic. my favorite quote. hilarious, too.)

“As a plant upon the earth, so a man rests upon the bosom of God; his is nourished by unfailing fountains, and draws, at his need, inexhaustible power. Who can set bounds to the possibilities of man? Once inhale the upper air, being admitted to behold the absolute natures of justice and truth, and we learn that man has access to the entire mind of the Creator, is himself the creator in the finite.” (basically he’s yammering on about nature poetically. i love it. if you don’t like nature or poetry, this might not be the essay for you.)

Walking by Thoreau:

I found so much truth and hilarity in this essay. Yes, it does just sound like an old man yammering on about how much he loves to take walks. BUT I LOVE TAKING WALKS. If you like walking or even the idea of walking, you might like this essay. I sort of went overboard on Emerson quotes, so I’ll spare you here.

Both essays are in the public domain I believe, so there’s no reason not to track them down if you’re intrigued!

Next month is a DEFINITELY going to be a winner. It’s The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. A memoir. Rachel says it’s her all-time favorite book. But you don’t have to take our word for it. (butterfly in the sky… i can go twice as high. you’re welcome.)


A Book Picnic

Leas Miserables Book Club Picnic

Our June book club meeting took us back to Geist Park, where our book club began several years ago, for a picnic and our discussion of Les Misérables. After I had posted a few pictures from our June meeting to Facebook, one of my co-workers told me he would join our book club, but he was solely interested in the food. I can’t say that I blame him. The food was delicious.

Book Club Picnic Food

The décor was perfect for a summer picnic…

Book Club Picnic Decorations

And Sarah’s mason jar cheesecakes were a huge hit…

Mason Jar Cheesecakes

Quite a few of us attempted Les Misérables, some of us watched a film adaptation instead, and a few of us finished. One thing we realized is that all abridgements (and film adaptations, for that matter) are not created equal. The Barnes & Noble classic edition abridged by Laurence M. Porter that a couple of us had seemed to be the best at cutting out some of the lengthy passages that didn’t really contribute to the story (including about 15 chapters about the Battle of Waterloo). However, a couple of us had abridged editions that cut out so much, the story didn’t really make sense anymore. We spent a lot of the time filling in the gaps and recounting the story, talking about the characters of Jean Valjean, Fantine, Marius and Cosette as we went along. I think we all are looking forward to seeing how the new film adaptation of the musical that will be coming out in December will treat the story and how it will compare to the novel.

Book Club Group Photo

For July, we’re taking it a little easier and will be reading the (much shorter) essays “Nature” by Ralph Waldo Emerson and “Walking” by Henry David Thoreau. Hopefully the summer weather and warm sunshine will give you some inspiration to read these classics by two of the most famous naturalist authors. We will see you July 12 at 7 p.m. We will keep you posted on the location for this month, so watch for that information coming soon.

Happy reading!

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!

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!


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)

Happy To Be Here: Discussion Questions

I’m so excited to see you all on Thursday at Paradise Bakery to discuss Garrison Keillor’s Happy To Be Here! Here are some questions to get your minds processing his short stories:
  1. Many of the stories Keillor tells start from a premise or situation that is out of the ordinary or a bit ridiculous (the arts administrator, a radio station that starts in a restaurant to promote its sandwiches). What are some examples of this throughout the book?
  2. What sort of role did the setting play in the stories? Do you think it was important and why?
  3. The stories in the book are divided up in sections with loose threads connecting the stories in each section together. What are some examples of the ways the stories are connected?
  4. In a number of the stories, Keillor makes references to groups of people and the general public. What sort of interactions do various characters in the stories have with the public? Do you think this says anything about Keillor’s own views of people?

See you soon!

(Oh, and next month is Austen again! We’re reading Emma! So go ahead and get your copy and start reading.)

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.

(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 Christmas party recap

Thought I’d share a few glimpses of our book club Christmas party!
Sarah did an excellent job decorating her house for the occasion!

Our white elephant books sat wrapped under the tree waiting for us to finish our dissuasion of A Year In Provence. (Which I still say we should all just go there on a book club road (air and sea) trip some day!)

Don’t you love her tree with just sliver and green decorations? I do!

Table runner inspired by The Nester’s tablecloth.

Amazing hot chocolate bar fixings.
This truly scrumtious hot chocolate recipe that must be tried by all.
It just must. Helen at Tartelette is a genius.
And the beautiful book trees were made by our very own Wendy! Thanks Wendy!
I was having way too much fun enjoying the party and didn’t take very many photos.
We also enjoyed some heavenly Gingerbread apple upside down cake that Gwynne made from SmittenKitchen. It looked almost exactly like this… and tastes better than it looks if you can believe it!

This year we got festive with some Pomegranate-Champagne Punch from Martha Stewart
Minus the liqueur, but still YUM!

We finished up our evening with a lil ol’ game of cherades. Wonder what we were acting out?

…next year’s books! Shall I say entertaining? Yes.
(Janet and I will be sharing a vlog soon with all the 2012 book club books!
This will be the first time we’ve released all 12 books at one time. Be excited!)

Each guest left with a mini Broadened Horizons book club journal. I spent many nights cutting up old books, making library cards, counting pages and watching more than my fair share of Netflix while putting these together but enjoyed every minute!
See you January 12th for The Help at Paradise Bakery and Cafe at 7:00pm.

Velma will not be spoiled:

Velma Still Cooks In Leeway
We all agreed this probably wouldn’t be our first choice of a title for this book rich with story and plot. One of us was originally NOT even going to read it BECAUSE of the title. Yes, it is a very fitting title now having finished the book. BUT please don’t judge this book by it’s title.
I would LOVE to share all about our discussion and review of this book. I would LOVE to tell you all about these characters and story that gave me new hope in the Christian Fiction genere. (Which, I must be honest, is not a personal favorite of mine.)
This is not a spoiler post. I encourage you to read this if you have not, and if I say pretty much anything I will spill the beans on some unexpected twists that stumped us all!
Let me remind you, this blog is only a tool. A tool to assist the main event, the IRL (in real life) book club discussion each month. Granted, I love blogging and the friendships, potential possibilities and opportunities for learning without even leaving my home, BUT this blog is a place to maybe learn about a new author or hear about an upcoming month’s book that you’ve never heard of or to even try (and learn you actually LIKE!**) a new genre! This blog, I hope, is a tool to get out out from behind your computer so we can all see your face!
I hope we can see YOUR face next month! December 8th come for a night with no kids, no stress, just friends, food and of course some discussion of another excellent book:
A Year in Provence transports us into all the earthy pleasures of Provençal life and lets us live vicariously at a tempo governed by seasons, not by days.

Please be sure you RSVP for December’s discussion because this will also be our annual Christmas Party! I want to have enough goodies for each and every one of you!

**This happend to me twice…so far: First with Shane, a Western and now with Christian Fiction with this little story of a lady full of wisdom, Velma.

Murder At the Vicarage Recap

It was unanimous. After reading our first Agatha Christie novel, we understand why she is the bestselling author she is. She is so clever; we were all surprised by the ending. There’s a good chance we’ll be reading more of her work in the future. So if you haven’t finished yet, go ahead and do that right now.

We’re not fond of the truly scary, and this book fit the light-hearted murder mystery bill. It actually reminded us a lot of Monday the Rabbi Took Off by Harry Kemelman which we read in September of 2008.

For more discussion, show up on the 2nd Thursday of the month for the live, play-by-play reaction to what we’re reading!

Plus, there’s always yummies to snack on!
(and who can say no to a pumpkin spice latte this time of year?)

Next time, Thursday Nov. 10th @7pm, we’ll be discussing Velma Still Cooks in Leeway. All I know about Velma is that life happens, and she still cooks. I’m ready to dig into this highly recommended novel and perhaps try a few of her recipes!
(While you’re ordering Velma, go ahead and buy A Year In Provence, our December book by Peter Mayle. Who couldn’t use comedic stories of the South of France to add even more cheer to your Holidays?)

How did you compare to Miss Marple?

If you haven’t finished Agatha Christie’s Murder at the Vicarage, you still have a few hours left to get reading before we meet tonight at Paradise Bakery and Café for our discussion. With cooler, damp, fall weather moving in, it’s the perfect time to be inside a cozy café sipping a warm beverage, enjoying a delicious baked treat and discussing a good old fashioned murder mystery from one of the most prolific authors of all time.

Here are a few questions to get you thinking and to get us talking about the book (in no particular order):
  1. The book is told from the first person point of view of the vicar rather than from the point of view of a narrator or Miss Marple. Was this unusual to you? Do you think it enhanced or hurt the book?
  2. At one point Miss Marple says she has a certain number of suspects. Did you suspect the same number of people she did?
  3. When the mystery was solved, were you right? If not, who was your prime suspect and why?
  4. Do you have a “Miss Marple” in your life? Do you see your self having Miss Marple-like tendencies?
  5. How did this mystery novel compare with any other mystery novels you have read. Were they written after this one? If so, do you think Agatha Christie’s writing may have influenced that author? Why or why not?
Hope to see you all tonight at 7!