To Marry an English Lord is a nonfiction book about Anglomania and the trend in the last nineteenth century and early twentieth century for wealthy A To Marry an English Lord is a nonfiction book about Anglomania and the trend in the last nineteenth century and early twentieth century for wealthy American girls to marry titled Englishmen.
The first half of this book is about how this trend got started and then how American mothers got their daughters prepared to marry Englishmen. The very beginning of the book that discusses the old money (the Knickerbockers) and the new money was really interesting. I got a little bogged down by all the stories of girls marrying English Lords. I think we heard about too many in the book. I couldn't keep them all straight. The second half of the book was all about what happened to these girls once they married. I liked this part of the book. I was completely engaged again.
We had a great book club discussion. There was a lot to talk about. Also, I was watching Victorian Slum House on PBS at the same time that I was reading the book, and I really liked how that gave me a chance to see how the other half lived....more
A couple of years ago my book club read The Rent Collector by Camron Wright, and I didn't love it. So I was really dreading reading The Orphan Keep A couple of years ago my book club read The Rent Collector by Camron Wright, and I didn't love it. So I was really dreading reading The Orphan Keeper when it was selected for book club. Maybe because my expectations were so low, I was pleasantly surprised. My biggest complaint with The Rent Collector was that I didn't understand why Wright claimed it was based on a true story when it was obviously so fictional. (An Author's Note at the end discussing the inspiration came from a real place and real people would have been the better way to go, but I digress.) Because The Orphan Keeper is based in its entirity on a true story, the authenticity of the real story shines through in this tale.
However, and this is a big however, Wright and Taj Khyber Rowland decided to diverge quite far from the source material. (Presumably to reach a bigger audience?) And this left our book club with so many questions as we tried to piece together the real story from the fictional one. I don't really understand why the author didn't stick with a nonfiction format.
Discussion almost always makes a book better or at least makes me appreciate why others appreciated it, but with this one we all kind of floundered over the inconsistencies between the real life facts and the fictionalized version. And so, in the end, this is one of the few books about which I can say that I left book club liking it less than when I got there. ...more
I've read a lot of books about Poland during World War II in the last couple of years. It feels like finally some of those stories have been able to gI've read a lot of books about Poland during World War II in the last couple of years. It feels like finally some of those stories have been able to get out into the world after the war years and the communist years. Seriously, Poland got such a raw deal.
The Zookeeper's Wife is the story of the role the Warsaw Zoo played in Poland's resistance efforts. Specially, the story focuses on Antonina Zabinski, who sheltered many in the zoo throughout the war years. I first learned of Jan and Antonina and their efforts to hide people at the zoo in the book Irena's Children, which I also highly recommend (I read the young reader's edition).
This book also offers some insight into the Nazi's zoological aims (of course they had some).
I agree with those who complained about the chronology in this book. It does skip around quite a bit, which is odd for a nonfiction narrative. However, I listened to this book really quickly (I think it only took me 3 days to finish it--my loan was ending and I had to get it done), so that wasn't so much a problem for me. ...more
This is not the type of book that I normally read, and I definitely would not have picked it up if it hadn't been a book club pick.
I'm of two minds a This is not the type of book that I normally read, and I definitely would not have picked it up if it hadn't been a book club pick.
I'm of two minds about this book. On the one hand, I'm really impressed by what Katie Davis accomplished. That she was willing to completely upend her life to live and work in Uganda at such a young age is remarkable. She obviously has accomplished so much, and I think a lot of her work is good.
On the other hand, I can't help but look at this book through the lens of colonialism and imperialism, and the postcolonial issues in this book are a real problem. I'm not just talking about how Katie, as a white American brings Christianity as a solution to the ills of Uganda, but how she talks about the Ugandan people and their culture. She is admittedly very young, and perhaps much of this is due to her lack of experience and sensitivity. But still.
Also, the whole book kind of felt like one big sermon, which was repetitive. But beyond that, I felt like the message of God's love would have been even better conveyed by more human stories. ...more
What is Not Yours is Not Yours is probably not something I would have read if it weren't for book club, and that is exactly why I love book clubs. Th What is Not Yours is Not Yours is probably not something I would have read if it weren't for book club, and that is exactly why I love book clubs. They get me reading things that I probably wouldn't read on my own volition. Here's to wider reading. Most of the time I love what even the books outside of my comfort zone.
I read the first story in this collection and then put the book down. I didn't really like the style of the first story. Then book club was the next day, and I just decided I should just sit down and read a few more stories so that I would have something to contribute to the discussion. Well, I read almost the entire rest of the book. In one sitting. What I loved about it is that the stories were written in a variety of styles.
This collection of stories definitely has that postmodern, magical-realism air to it. The identities of the characters are mutable. The stories are meandering and often cyclical. The characters are diverse. I really loved all of this. I loved the variety of European settings. I liked that many of the characters were POC and LGBTQ without that being the point of the stories.
Overall, I'm really happy that I read this book. It was a great change of pace for me. ...more
The Ghost Talkers was a fun book club pick that satisfied our club's desire for a Halloween read and a book that could commemorate the centennial of The Ghost Talkers was a fun book club pick that satisfied our club's desire for a Halloween read and a book that could commemorate the centennial of World War I.
American Ginger Stuyvesant is a member of Britain's secret weapon, The Spirit Corps, a group of mediums who confer with deceased soldiers before they pass on completely.
Ghost Talkers is a fun genre-bender. It is an alternate history, a love story, and a murder mystery.
I listened to the audiobook, and it is narrated by the author who is also a professional audiobook narrator. ...more
Jeff Zentner wrote a pretty stunning debut. The Serpent King is about three high school seniors in rural Tennessee. Dill is the son of a preacher wh Jeff Zentner wrote a pretty stunning debut. The Serpent King is about three high school seniors in rural Tennessee. Dill is the son of a preacher who is in jail. Lydia is a popular fashion blogger with big dreams. Travis loves fantasy novels and seems content to live in a fantasy-world himself.
When I lived in Kansas City, I had a fabulous book club, and this fall we had a reunion in Nashville. (Yes, the book club was that awesome.) Because it was a book club reunion we had to read a book and have a book discussion while we were there. We chose this one because it is set in Tennessee and because one of my fellow book clubbers had a connection to the author. I love a richly evocative setting and reading a novel that was set in a place I was visiting was so satisfying. What a fun way to prepare for a trip.
I was surprised by how serious and gritty this novel is. I did not know what I was getting myself into when I started it. The book took me through the entire gamut of emotions. I laughed out loud and cried while reading this book. (view spoiler)[Travis, sob! (hide spoiler)]
Lydia actually drove me crazy at the beginning of this book. I thought she was so pushy and not very understanding of Dill's situation, but she made progress throughout the course of the book, and I ended up appreciating her character.
I had heard great things about this book, but, as novels about crazy religious fanatics kind of make me nuts, it wasn't at the top of my TBR. I'm glad the book club gave me the push to read it because it was pretty fantastic....more
Fast forward a couple of years and I got half of my wish. My friend Megan read Ms. Warren's book on my recommendation and decided to pick it for her book club. By this time Candace Fleming had published Presenting Buffalo Bill, and Megan decided to read both and let her fellow book clubbers pick the version they wanted to read. As I had introduced her to the book in the first place, Megan invited me to crash her book club, and I decided that since I'd already read one of the Buffalo Bill books I would be super prepared by also reading the other. Since I loved Candace Fleming's The Family Romanov, this was not a huge sacrifice.
As in The Family Romanov, Fleming takes a real demystifying approach in this book. She was pretty skeptical about a lot of the things that Buffalo Bill said he did (and that Andrea Warren included in her book). I liked how Fleming's book covered all of Buffalo Bill's life. His final years were rather sad. I was pleased to find that this book corroborates Buffalo Bill's respectful attitude toward the Native Americans who performed in his shows (and their respect for him). It was interesting to learn about how the Wild West Show got started and about its tours to Europe. Buffalo Bill was a living performance.
I also liked the format of this book. Fleming begins each chapter with a description of one of the performances from the Wild West Show, and I liked that I walked away from the book with a little bit of knowledge about the performances themselves and what it would be like to be an audience member.
If you are like me, the Vietnam War is something of a hole in your historical knowledge. This book helped to fill in some of the gaps. Government insider Daniel Ellsberg risked everything to expose secret government documents to a country very divided over the war. It was fascinating to learn these how various elements of history that were distinct in my mind are, in truth, very related. The major themes in this book are still very relevant today, and I've been telling everyone I know to read this book.
Megan picked this book for book club, and I was very glad because I had been wanting to read it for quite some time. The book club discussion turned out to be absolutely fascinating because there were several women there who had worked or currently are working in Washington.
I saw the 1985 film version of A Room with a View in graduate school. I was taking a fin de siecle class and one of my classmates decided to have A RoI saw the 1985 film version of A Room with a View in graduate school. I was taking a fin de siecle class and one of my classmates decided to have A Room with a View party. The movie is pretty fabulous. My friend, Cristy, who organized the party, said that this was a rare case where she liked the movie better than the book. For some reason, in my mind, that translated as, "the book is not very good." Well, my friend Rachel picked this book for book club last week, and now I can definitively say that the book is also very, very good.
I think my fondness for the film definitely contributed to my enjoyment of the book. At the very least, it helped with comprehension. I was surprised to find that the movie followed the book so closely. Really, it's a fabulous adaptation.
A Room with a View is the story of Lucy Honeychurch and the people she meets while touring Italy. E.M. Forster's book has such a splendid cast of characters. And his book is so funny in a fusty, early 20th-century British kind of way. I found it quite amusing. The bathing scene was even funnier in the book than it is in the movie.
For such a slim little book, Forster really packs in a lot. We had such a great discussion, and I was so happy that I read the book with a book group.
I actually listened to the audio version of this book. Overdrive has a copy, but, from experience, I know that recordings of classics are often not up to snuff, and after listening to the preview, I could tell it wasn't going to be the greatest experience. (I listened to library copies of Howard's End and Great Expectations. I have paid my dues.) So I pulled out my Audible subscription and listened to the previews of every copy they had. I settled on Joanna David's reading. (Really why are so many of the others narrated by men? It just seems wrong.) I'm certain that my experience was much improved thanks to this careful selection....more
I do not think that I have ever read a book that has inspired the level of outrage that this book did. Reading about Mariam and Laila's live made me tI do not think that I have ever read a book that has inspired the level of outrage that this book did. Reading about Mariam and Laila's live made me think about the how over the history of the human race so many other women have lived in similar situations. It just makes my blood boil.
I think this type of visceral reaction is exactly the point of a book like Khaled Hosseini's. The book itself is well written and compelling. It could not inspire the types of emotion it does if it were not.
Leon Leyson was ten years old when the Nazis invaded Poland. This book is a memoir of his young life. He experienced the Krakow ghetto, survived the Plaszow concentration camp, and was eventually taken under the wing of Oskar Schindler. As one of the youngest children on Schindler's famous list, Leyson's story is the perfect way to introduce young readers to that amazing story of bravery, compassion, and intelligence.
I think everyone in my book club enjoyed reading and discussing this book. It's a very quick read. It only took me about 2 and a half hours to read the whole book, but its power is not at all diminished by its brevity. ...more
I really enjoyed this biography of Charles Darwin. Deborah Heiligman focuses on Darwin's relationship with his wife, Emma, and their family life. It was incredibly interesting to learn about their remarkable relationship and how they raised their children. I also did not know that Darwin was so sick for most of his life.
In Heiligman's book, Darwin's doubts about God and Emma's religiosity are a microcosm from the greater conflict between the theory of evolution and the Christian society. I thought that Heiligman treated each side with respect.
The whole time I was listening to this book, I kept thinking about how much I wanted to discuss it with my book group. As luck would have it, it was my turn to pick a book. And, this book did provide very interesting discussion material. We discussed the historical conflict between religion and science, Emma and Charles's relationship, the way they raised their children, Darwin's reluctance to publish, among other topics. ...more
I've been eyeing all the good reviews that keep rolling in for Illuminae and itching to read it.
The year is 2575 and Kady and Ezra's planet has justI've been eyeing all the good reviews that keep rolling in for Illuminae and itching to read it.
The year is 2575 and Kady and Ezra's planet has just been invaded by a rival corporation. The harrowing escape to the evacuation ship is just the beginning.
I don't remember the last time I talked so much about a book. Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff tell their story through a collection of interviews, secret documents, instant messages, and emails. The way the the story is delivered is very interesting. The authors do a nice job distinguishing between the various voices. Consequently I enjoyed reading some of the documents more than I did others. My least favorite were the descriptions of the movements recorded by cameras. My very favorite by far were taken from AIDAN's core.
This book is the second I've read this fall that features a sentient Artificial Intelligence. (The first being The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow.) In both books the AI is the best aspect of the entire book, but AIDAN is definitely my favorite of the two.
Illuminae ends with a killer set-up for the next book. I'll definitely be back for more.
I definitely wouldn't have read this book if it hadn't been a book club pick, and I'm glad that I did because it's very worthwhile.
Brene Brown is aI definitely wouldn't have read this book if it hadn't been a book club pick, and I'm glad that I did because it's very worthwhile.
Brene Brown is a shame and vulnerability researcher, and she does a get job explaining how devastating shame can be and how necessary vulnerability is. Anyone in any type of circumstance could benefit from reading Daring Greatly.
I was worried that we wouldn't be able to be vulnerable enough to discuss this book to the fullest in book club, but I think it went pretty well, in the end.
Oh, also, because I am a huge nerd, I found the appendix where Brene Brown wrote about her research process to be absolutely fascinating....more
The Language of Flowers was the book club pick for August. I listened to most of it on my flight from Salt Lake to Baltimore on 1.5 speed.
I thought I The Language of Flowers was the book club pick for August. I listened to most of it on my flight from Salt Lake to Baltimore on 1.5 speed.
I thought I liked this book pretty well while I was listening to it. It was definitely engaging, and I wanted to know what was going to happen next. But then I got to book club and all I could do was complain about it, so maybe I didn't like it that much after all?
I had a really hard time getting over Victoria's pregnancy because I just felt like Grant should have known better and been more careful with her. And then there was the whole baby thing, and I started to wonder if the babies and abandoned babies of adult fiction are one of the reasons that I don't really read that much adult fiction. I think that as a young mother it's maybe too close to home?
However, I did love everything in the book that had to do with flowers, and I was happy to see Victoria finally come home....more
We read The Disappearing Spoon for book club, and it turned out to be such a fun night. With so many crazy stories, everyone was able to latch on toWe read The Disappearing Spoon for book club, and it turned out to be such a fun night. With so many crazy stories, everyone was able to latch on to something. Sam Kean's book overflows with stories related to the periodic table. I really enjoyed many of them.
A couple of things made this book a little bit difficult. First, there are about a million names to remember. Names of all the scientists. Names of all the elements. Names of scientific equipment and laws. It gets a little overwhelming. As I was listening to it, I often said, "Well, I'm really enjoying this book. I just wish that I could remember more of the information."
The book reminded me a little of Bill Bryson's Home, another book that I absolutely adored. The rambling, full of so much information style is very similar.
I did very much enjoy hearing about so many Nobel prize winners. The chapters on war and the elements involved in the weapons of WWI and WWII really stuck with me. In part, because I had some background in this area, but also because they are intriguing, if also a bit depressing, moments from history.
Listening to The Disappearing Spoon inspired me to read Radioactive! by Winifred Conkling. I picked up the book at BEA and was planning on reading it closer to its publication date in January of 2016, but I ended up reading most of it before book club. It was a great addendum to the book club assignment....more
Daniel James Brown tells the story of the winning oarsmen in the 1936 Olympics. Everything about it is incredibly interesting to me.
1. The time period: Brown goes back in time and gives us the biography of Joe Rantz. His life during the Depression would have made this book readable on its own.
2. The rowing: I love reading about racing sports. I know some people found the technicalities of rowing to be a bit much, but I loved it all. I love reading about George Pocock, the craftsman of the boats. I loved reading about the workouts and the construction of the team. I love learning about Joe's fellow oarsmen. I loved hearing all the details of all the races.
3. Nazi Germany: I thought the quick chapters in Nazi Germany really set the stage for the final race. I have seen some of Leni Riefenstahl's footage of the 1936 Olympics and learning a little about her background was very interesting.
4. Edward Herrmann: I listened to the audio version of this book, and it is narrated by the late Edward Herrmann, which was a real treat.
This book made me so nostalgic for the way that sports used to be. None of the champion oarsmen had ever rowed before their first day of tryouts at the University of Washington. Three years late they were at the Olympics. Now sport seems to be so full of scandal, and I, for one, kind of feel jaded by it all. The Boys in the Boat is all about the amateur athlete, and I loved that.
There are two types of people in our book club: those who love Brandon Sanderson and those who have never read anything by him. So the members of theThere are two types of people in our book club: those who love Brandon Sanderson and those who have never read anything by him. So the members of the former category decided to rectify that situation by picking this book for discussion. (I belonged to the latter group.)
I feel like Warbreaker might not have been the best introduction to Sanderson. Overall, I felt like the book was really interesting but unnecessarily long. It didn't help that I had to read it in four days.
However, I can see that this book did have the great world-building and really interesting magic systems that everyone loves about Sanderson....more
Ken Jennings's Maphead was a fun book club pick. Maphead chronicles all that is weird and wonderful about maps and the people who love them. It gave Ken Jennings's Maphead was a fun book club pick. Maphead chronicles all that is weird and wonderful about maps and the people who love them. It gave our book club lots to discuss:
- The state of geography education. - Our own interest in maps and geography as children and adults. - Geocaching - Map Collections - The National Geographic Geography Bee - Fantastical maps and imaginary countries
While I was reading the book, I felt like I should be taking a geography quiz. It would be awesome if one was included with the book. When I mentioned this to my book club my fellow members whipped out their iPads and opened the National Geographic Society's GeoBee app. Now, I am kind of obsessed with the GeoBee game. I'm thinking about studying up so I can make it past level 11....more
This book club pick was certainly worth reading. It gives lots of insight into the situation in Pakistan. Malala is a brave, smart, and inspiring younThis book club pick was certainly worth reading. It gives lots of insight into the situation in Pakistan. Malala is a brave, smart, and inspiring young woman. I was very impressed with her tight-knit, supportive family, as well....more
I read Counting by 7s for a book club. And, I think it just wasn't my thing.
Counting by 7s is a story about a diverse group of characters that somehowI read Counting by 7s for a book club. And, I think it just wasn't my thing.
Counting by 7s is a story about a diverse group of characters that somehow make a family. One of my main problems with the book had to do with the fact that I'm getting a little tired of reading about super-special, super-smart kids.
The other big, big problem in the book is the ending when we find out that a certain character was, in fact, very rich, when she had been living in poverty for years. The money was so unexpected. It felt like, since money was the only way to make the story have a happy ending, that's what the author did, never mind how unrealistic.
Most everyone in the book club enjoyed the book, however. I was definitely in the minority....more
The Rent Collector has a very interesting setting. It takes place in the largest dump in Cambodia. In this dump live many people who make their livingThe Rent Collector has a very interesting setting. It takes place in the largest dump in Cambodia. In this dump live many people who make their living salvaging items from the garbage.
Parts of the book were less believable than others, but I enjoyed learning about this kind of life. As always, the book was greatly enriched by the discussion....more
Like all of Malcolm Gladwell's books, this one tells the reader a whole bunch of things he or she already intuitively knows while providing a lot of rLike all of Malcolm Gladwell's books, this one tells the reader a whole bunch of things he or she already intuitively knows while providing a lot of really interesting stories as supporting evidence.
I always find Gladwell's books to be really entertaining. The stories are interesting and the narration on the audio version, done by Gladwell himself, is fabulous. Even if the premise of this one--that what is typically seen as a weakness can really be a strength--is not particularly life-altering it's still a fun ride.
A Tale Dark Grimm was the book club pick for July. Unfortunately, I wasn't crazy about this one. It's a mash-up of a several fairy tales. It stars HanA Tale Dark Grimm was the book club pick for July. Unfortunately, I wasn't crazy about this one. It's a mash-up of a several fairy tales. It stars Hansel and Gretel. The fairy tales are, as the title states, dark and grim. There's a lot of blood and a fair amount of violence for a middle grade book. The narrator often speaks directly to the reader in a manner that reminded me of Lemony Snicket--don't keep reading all these terrible things are going to happen. ...more
The Remains of the Day was Rachel's book club pick for September. It's the story of Stevens, a butler from the grand age of butlerdom. Now, as StevensThe Remains of the Day was Rachel's book club pick for September. It's the story of Stevens, a butler from the grand age of butlerdom. Now, as Stevens nears the end of his career and so much has changed in England, he looks back on his life and contemplates his years of service.
Kazuo Ishiguro's book is beautifully written. I especially loved the mirroring of momentous events in Stevens' life--[spoiler: when his father died and Miss Keaton got engaged]. I thought the book made for a really great discussion. I always love an unreliable narrator, and I enjoyed talking about Lord Darlington. As seen through Stevens' eyes Lord Darlington is a rather sympathetic character who made some huge mistakes and trusted the wrong people, but it was interesting to think about whether or not Lord Darlington deserved our sympathy.
Other interesting discussion points included: Race War Dignity Service Regrets Lies...more
In this dystopic future Nat and her brother Sam have come to Hawaii to "celebrate" their parents' final week of life. Choosing one's death date is common in Nat's world where the old can live very long lives and become more and more depressed as they age; thus, corporations have arisen to usher the elderly to their deaths.
In a world full of dystopia stories, I really think that Lydia Millet's is special. I loved the journal format. Nat imagines she's writing to someone off in space; someone that has escaped or is unaware of the earth's problems. Nat has the soul of an artist (although art really isn't a thing anymore), and I loved her lyrical descriptions. Equally well done was the futuristic language with new slang and Nat's pokes at her parents' more old-fashioned sayings. The other benefit to having Nat tell the story is that she is as unaware of some of the more sinister aspects of her world as the reader, and I loved how the world was revealed one puzzle piece at a time. It's not clear right away how sinister the corporations might be or how the population may be controlled with pharma.
I can think of a whole list of subjects covered in this book that would make for a really interesting discussion: pharma and self-medication, global warming, family, "going native" and its implications, the models that predict the future, the corporations that rule the world.
There's a quiet, slowness about this story that really appealed to me. It's devoid of any heady infatuations or soul mates who suddenly make the main character see the world with fresh eyes. Nat's journey is a slow one and of her own making. Pills and Starships is more about a future family when families are at the point of dying away. (They call Nat and Sam's generation the last generation.) There is a sense of melancholy to the whole book (Nat's parents are about to die) but it is mingled with the hope and irrepressible optimism of the young.
The audio version, read by Mozhan Marno, is very well done.
We read 1776 for book club. It was a small crew that day, but we had a great discussion.
1776 is definitely worth reading. However, I find military hisWe read 1776 for book club. It was a small crew that day, but we had a great discussion.
1776 is definitely worth reading. However, I find military history a bit tedious, and the audio version (sorry Mr. McCullough) was pretty dull. Luckily, I had a lot of packing and cleaning to help me get through it. Or was it the other way around? I also think it's a little odd how the book only covers one year when the Revolutionary War was so long.
1776 gives a fuller picture of George Washington, who can seem like a more of a legend than a person. The story of Henry Knox and his journey with the canons is unbelievable. There are several remarkable retreats and the crossing of the Delaware is always a big hit. It was also fun to read about the taking of Boston because it reminded me of my trip to Boston with Jill, Kristen, and Nicole. Jill had just finished 1776 and she had Nicole take us to Beacon Hill so that we could see where the Americans dragged their canons in the dead of night.
Also, during the book club I could not stop mentioning the Stuff You Missed in History Podcast. This was me: "Oh, the Hessians. The Stuff You Missed in History girls just did a podcast on the Hessians." "Oh, the Boston Massacre. The Stuff You Missed in History girls just did a podcast on that topic too."...more