May Recap: The Secret Garden

May 2008 was our first book club meeting.

Back then we met every other month. And I’ll admit it was a crunch for me to read one book over a two month period. I was often hurring to finish the night before club!

These seem like five very fast and very long years all at the same time. In that time I’ve had two babies, we’ve moved houses, David’s changed jobs twice, and we’ve changed churches. When I think in those terms it seems like a very, very long five years.

But if I look back at the list of books we’ve read, they all seem so recent.  After the time I’ve spent debating which book to select, then reading and discussing them they really have stuck with me. Some were more liked than others, some flopped, in that no one could make it to the meeting, and others I was happily shocked by how many could join us.

This May we met and discussed The Secret Garden as best we could between the crafting of bookmarks and clowns making balloon animals and tattoo painting. The children outnumbered us this month: four little girls and three(!) book club babies. We were lucky, the clowns just happening to be there on the Thursday we met.

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IMG_9912 IMG_9928Next month we are meeting at Rachel’s house and discussing A Homemade Life… and of course sampling some recipes from this delicious memoir!

June 13th @ 7pm
Book: A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
@ Rachel’s House

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April Tea Party: Recap

Recap of that Guernsey Potato Peel book 😉

We enjoyed a lovely tea party last month discussing The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peal Pie Society and the lost art of letter writing.

Check out Catherine’s review of this book and our evening over on A Spirited Mind. Sheila also has a great review on The Desperate Reader. They both described the book so well I’m sure they can convince you to read this book if you weren’t able to attend in April.

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Our May book is The Secret Garden. We’ll meet at Panara-dise at Hamilton Town Center. It’s also bring-your-daughter-month! I’ve got a fun little book mark craft ready for the girls too! See you May 9th at 7:00.

Murder on the Orient Express: Recap

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We all love reading, but getting together is definitely my favorite part of book club.  Even though this is our second Agatha Christie book to read as a club, we still had plenty to discuss, and for many it was their first taste of her writing. I don’t want to say much about the book, Murder on the Orient Express, but I will encourage you to go read it! (Or any other Agatha Christie novel.) They are fun and easy to read.

April is tea party month, and we are reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. What a name, right? But don’t judge this book by it’s title; I found it to be witty, unexpected, and enjoyable. I hope you’ll join us!

Murder on the Orient Express

Up next::

March 14th @ 7pm
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
@ Hamilton Town Center’s “Panaradise”

Join us as we discuss this well-known mystery by Ms Christie.

I can say for sure I’m horrible at guessing “who dun it?” Really, it’s quite comical how wrong I was, wait till you hear my thoughts as I read the alibis of all  Poirot’s suspects. I’m blaming my pregnant-brain-fog. 

Hope to see you in about a month,
Happy Reading!

Recap The Old Curiosity Shop

Last week we met and discussed Charles Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop. It’s not one of his most well known stories. As with many of his novels, this was written as a serial. The chapters were being published as he was writing them, so there was no going back and changing the story!

A few of our members reviewed the book, and I have linked to them below. I apparently liked the book more than they did, but I’m a pretty big fan of Dickens! I like his foreshadowing, flowing sentences, and just the general way he paints a picture in your mind. This story has some pretty wacky characters in it, and we shared some pictures and quotes that made us laugh as we were reading along. Even though it wasn’t a favorite, I think most people enjoyed it at least a little bit, and we had a lively discussion.

More reviews can be found at: A Spirited Mind, The Deliberate Reader, & Simply Sarah

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As always, babies are very welcome at book club! Next month we are discussion Sense & Sensibility on Valentine’s Day.

 

A Recipe for the Perfect Book Club Christmas Party

I look forward to book club Thursday’s every month.  But I think the Christmas Party is my very favorite book club Thursday, and we try our best to do it right!

Our recipe for The Perfect Book Club Christmas Party:

Food & Drinks::
Fancy cheese and cracker platter
sweet and salty cheese dip
Apple carmel tart
fruit kabobs
trader Joe’s chocolate covered almonds
chocolate-chocolate brownies
homemade hot chocolate
sparkling fruit punch
pomosas (pomegranate mimosas!)

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Games::

White Elephant Book Swap:
Each member brought a used copy of their favorite book wrapped but not labeled. (Requirement: not a book our club has read.) Once they arrived I had them fill out a card with 3 descriptive words or phrases about that book. Then we played your traditional White Elephant game. Everyone picked a number and the choosing and swapping and swapping and swapping began!!

Telephone Picitonary:
This is our traditional Christmas party book club game, playing it every December except one. (What?! were we thinking?) I hole punched index cards in a corner and used binder rings to hold them together. One set of cards per person, each set containing the number of cards as number of people playing. On the first card everyone writes a phrase. (We say anything goes, but you could choose a theme: song titles/lyrics, Christmas, book titles or quotes, the possibilities are endless!) Once everyone writes a phrase you pass your set of cards to the left. Now you read the phrase on top, flip to card 2 and draw, to the best or you ability, the phrase you just read. Then we continues on, passing to the left, look at the drawing, flip to card three, and now write out what you saw in the drawing. And it keeps going until you get your set back… pass, write, pass, draw, pass write… In the end, we all share our set of cards with the group. It’s obviously the last drawing is not what you started with and is hilarious to see the when, why, and how things got so twisted and turned in the short trip around the circle.

(Note: this is a fabulous game for baby or wedding showers instead of the “traditional games” and a HOOT if you play it at family functions (like your Christmas get-together, when you have everyone from Grandpa Fred to your younger niece or nephew! I speak from experience on all counts here! Tears of laugher.every.time.)

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Our awesome members:
It wouldn’t be a party without all of you lovely ladies!! Thank you for always bringing your smiling faces and unique thoughts and discussion to “the table.” (And little Lucy, our book club baby in attendance! Note: we LOVE it when babies can join us, and next year we might get the chance to see MANY little ones in attendance! Four members are currently expecting!!)

A little something to take home:
Last year I crafted mini book club notebooks. This year I went with something to pamper. I met Karen at a conference last year and she has an awesome little e-book: Simple Scrubs to Make and Give. I made 3 varieties to pamper the feet of all these lovely ladies in attendance.

And new this year,as a treat to us, we were sponsored by a friend of many of ours and his company. (Charter Advisory Corporation) As a gift we received a copy of January’s book by Charles Dickens: The Old Curiosity Shop!! Many members use the financial planning services of Randy. He shared for about 5 minutes about what it is he does and how he can help anyone, no matter where you are financially.

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General fellowship/chatting/visiting, of course:
We plan plenty of time in the evening for just talking! You can’t have a party with ladies and not catch up with everyone!! One topic we discussed, since it WAS book club Thursday, was our reading goals. Last year many of us set reading goals for 2012. (Check back with what you wrote, did you meet your goals?!) This year Sheila is encouraging goal setting on her blog The Deliberate Reader for our 2013 Reading Goals. What will YOU be reading next year?

Thank you Sarah for being such a fantastic host, you have a beautiful home!
I’m so excited for what 2013 has to offer and for all the future book club Thursdays!
See you all next month, January 10th at 7:00pm at Panaradise at Hamilton Town Center as we discuss The Old Curiosity Shop

Dear Ernest…

Dear Ernest,

Well, Janet finally convinced us to add one of your books to our book club reading list. No, not one of your novels, but your memoirs from living in Paris, A Moveable Feast. I didn’t realize that the book was finished and published after you died. And I thought it was pretty interesting that it was put together from manuscripts that were found long after your time in Paris living, working, drinking, gambling and hanging out with some of the greatest names in literature at that time. Not many people can say they were welcome to randomly stop by Gertrude Stein’s apartment or that they rode around the European countryside in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s car.

As I read about your time in Paris in the early 1920s, I thought about how your time as an ambulance driver in World War I and the injuries you suffered there might have affected your writing, and, well, your life in general. I imagine your experience had a profound impact on you and it seemed to show up in some of the melancholy and wistfulness of your tone. I wonder if I was the only one who observed sadness in your writing or if my other book club friends noticed it too. I guess I will just have to ask them when we meet today. And not to psychoanalyze you (since I have no training whatsoever), but I also theorize that your time in World War I (and reporting on The Spanish Civil War and World War II) shaped and affected you to such a degree that it probably played some role in the depression and alcoholism you suffered throughout your life, your failed marriages and your eventual suicide in 1961.

But I’ll spare you my judgment or any lectures (since I doubt you would care much anyway), and instead I’ll offer compassion for all of the hard times you experienced during your life. I’ll also thank you for leaving such a literary legacy. I can see why many people enjoy your direct, straightforward style that I am sure your journalistic endeavors helped you to hone.

Out of all of your writings, I’m glad our book club chose A Moveable Feast for our first experience with your work, especially since  part of your literary legacy includes inflicting quite a bit of pain and suffering on high school students, like my husband, who have been assigned The Old Man and the Sea for their high school English classes. Somehow, I think me telling you that would make you smirk a little bit. I had similar feelings about your friend F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, but we can talk about that another time.

Thank you for your contribution to literature that we get to read and discuss this month!

Sincerely yours,

Gwynne

P.S. I hope you are enjoying your current job in human resources. I am sure helping a young startup company is quite rewarding. 🙂

We hope you can join us to discuss A Moveable Feast this evening, Thursday, November 8 at 7 pm at Catherine’s house (let us know if you need directions).

Here are a few questions to think about for our discussion:

  1. What sort of letter would you write to Ernest Hemingway? A friendly letter, a thank you note, an invitation to dinner, a notice to sue for pain and suffering?
  2. What do you make of Hemingway’s remark in his Preface,”If the reader prefers, this may be regarded as fiction. But there is always the chance that such a book of fiction may throw some light on what has been written as fact.”? What is he saying? Is he suggesting little of none of his memoir is true? (Don’t worry if you’re not sure: no one is—the line is a bit of a puzzle.)
  3. Given his later renown and personal excesses (alcoholism, braggadocio and bluster, womanizing, meanness), what do you make of this young Hemingway? How would you describe him? Is he a likable? Admirable?
  4. What was the relationship between Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley, as described in A Moveable Feast? Where do you see the fault lines of their marriage? What part did horse racing play? Some have surmised that Hadley was the one woman (wife) he truly loved. What happened?
  5. Talk about Hemingway’s depictions of the famous literary characters in his Paris circle of friends. Whom do you find most interesting? What does he say, for instance, about F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald? Some readers have found his observations (even his treatment) cruel; others see Hemingway as honest if acerbic. What do you think?
  6. Which episodes do you find particularly funny—perhaps the luncheon incident with Ford Madox Ford? Or Ezra Pound? Or the trip to Lyons with Fitzgerald?
  7. Writing from a distance of some 30 years, Hemingway paints a beauty, even glamour, in being poor and hungry…in Paris…at that moment. Why does this seem to have been such a happy time for him? What lends this work its twilight nostalgia?
  8. Have you read any of Hemingway’s novels or short stories (which some scholars consider his finest writing)? If so, does reading A Moveable Feast affect how you read his fiction? If you have not other Hemingway works, does this book inspire you to do so?

Thanks to Wikipedia for the biographical information and to litlovers.com for discussion questions 2-8!

Update: Dear Mr. Hemingway,
It has come to my attention that I may have caused considerable offense by addressing you as “Ernest” in my letter above, as several of my fellow book club members (who are more attentive readers than I) reminded me that you detest your given first name. Please accept my most sincere apology for this egregious oversight, and I hope this mistake will not cause you detest me any more than you already would have been predisposed to detest me.

Sincerely,

Gwynne

Hemingway is next!

We had a great meeting last Thursday discussing The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Everyone gave the book a thumbs up and would recommend it if you haven’t already had the pleasure of reading it. I’m not a big fan of mystery and crime books, but this was light and entertaining. I just got an email from the library today saying book two in this series that I’ve reserved is in. I recommend having the second book in the series handy for when you finish reading book one.
November 8th at 7:00pm we’ll gather again for A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway at Paradise Bakery & Cafe.  Happy Reading!! See you next month!

An Ivanhoe Dinner Party

We had a wonderful dinner and evening full of fellowship and conversation at our Ivanhoe meeting. Not all of us were able to finish the book before the meeting but I think by the time we left we were all excited to finish reading it or watch the new Ivanhoe movie due in theaters next year!!

This week we’ll be meeting on Thursday at Paradise Bakery for the discussion of The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency. This was a quick read for me a few weekends ago while we were on a mini-vacation. I was kicking myself for reading it so fast without having the next book of the series with me! I’m first on the waiting list for book two from the library. Can’t wait to read more of the story!

On my personal blog sarahronk.com I’ll be blogging this month about how our book club works in a series called Reading Is Social. If you’re new here or curious to know more of the behind-the-scene details I hope you’ll check it out!