The Rory Gilmore Book Club discussion

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Nominations & Voting > January's selection is...

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message 1: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
Atonement by Ian McEwan was the winner by a large margin. Congratulations to all who selected it.

We will begin discussions on the 7th, giving a week lead.

For those of you that have already read it, do you have any recommendations on a classic that would couple well with it? Obviously if you find one from our list, so much the better! Anyone with ideas, chime in!

Happy reading!


message 2: by Alison, the guru of grace (last edited Dec 31, 2007 02:54AM) (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
With themes of "love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness"...there are lots of books on the list that would qualify. Off the top of my head, I'm thinking of A Separate Peace, Night, The Diary of Anne Frank...lots! War and Peace, anyone?? Haha.


message 3: by Sera (last edited Dec 31, 2007 06:57AM) (new)

Sera A Tree Grows in Brooklyn?

Since I read Atonement a number of years ago, I'll have to dust it off and give it a go over. I'm very happy that this book was selected. As I had written previously, this was the book that my book club in Indiana read and then never asked me to make another selection again. Most people didn't finish it. Therefore, I can't wait to see how the members of this group view this book.


message 4: by Erin (new)

Erin | 47 comments I think A Separate Peace would definitely couple nicely with it. I am in the middle of Atonement right now and the guilt theme is woven throughout both novels. Could be perfect!


message 5: by Dottie (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 698 comments I think either A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or A Separate Peace would work -- I might personally lean toward A Tree Grows In Brooklyn as it would allow comparison of the two protaganists -- young females. ATGIB was written and set in a quieter time in history and that alone makes it similar to the setting in which the young girl in Atonement lived. Could make for some interesting discussion points.


message 6: by Alison, the guru of grace (last edited Dec 31, 2007 11:57AM) (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
I was thinking of ATGIB also, because it seemed to get a lot of votes. But, I didn't know anything about the plot.

I've read Atonement also, and I think this group will really dig it. :)


message 7: by Sarah (last edited Dec 31, 2007 12:59PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Either A Separate Peace or A Tree Grows in Brooklyn appeal to me. Although I already own A Separate Peace so I might lean that way. But I like the idea of two female protaganists, though, so I'd also like ATGIB. Or what about To Kill A Mockingbird?


message 8: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany Since I didn't vote this month I don't know if my preference counts, but I'd like to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I've been wanting to read that for a while and it would be nice to do it with the group. =)


message 9: by Erin (new)

Erin | 47 comments I love A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but I am not sure it piggybacks on Atonement. ATGIB is a young girl's coming of age story; Atonement actually focuses on the perspectives of a few characters (Briony Tallis (13 years old) Robbie Turner (young male in his 20s) among them).

I think the thematic nature of A Separate Peace and Atonement will work nicely. I have already read both that and ATGIB so either way I am good, but if we are looking for similar works, I would go with A Separate Peace.


message 10: by Dottie (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 698 comments Well -- in spite of the female protagonists theory and my earlier comments, I'm reversing myself to say that I think A Separate Peace may well be the better companion book for Atonement.

Hey, if I've learned nothing else in 63 plus years, it's that I'm allowed to change my mind. I'm assuming you all learned that far earlier than I did though, am I correct?


message 11: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
I'd really be interested in finding something not from this century in the classics genre, but obviously I'll go with the group.


message 12: by Dottie (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 698 comments Are there others on Rory's list which would fill that criteria, Michelle?


message 13: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
I dunno. I've not read Atonement.


message 14: by Arctic (last edited Dec 31, 2007 04:30PM) (new)

Arctic | 571 comments heh...that's my problem too here!

if it's between Brooklyn and Peace (also both unread), I lean towards Brooklyn because I already have a copy.

Otherwise by title alone, Crime and Punishment seems appropriate, though having read a bit of that already I think it'd be very different.

the previews of Atonement remind me of the Jane Austen films, though that too could be way off base. But the little I've read about Atonement do make it seem very relationship-centric. Emma and Sense and Sensibility are both on Rory's List.

Wikipedia says this: Atonement contains intertextual references to a number of other literary works including Henry James' The Golden Bowl, Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, and Shakespeare's The Tempest and Twelfth Night.


message 15: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) I do know that there is a quote from Northanger Abbey on the first page of Atonement...from what I know of Atonement I wouldn't think Emma or Sense & Sensibility would be appropriate, though. Maybe Vanity Fair? It deals with issues of class, love, and war.


message 16: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments I've read Atonement and A Separate Peace, and I am currently reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I think ASP would work well with Atonement. ATGIB would also be a good choice from what I can tell so far. Both options would allow for comparison and contrast of the perspectives and experiences of the main characters.


message 17: by Mary (new)

Mary | 29 comments I would love to read some Austen. I have only just started Atonement so I don't really know much about it yet, but the inclusion of that quote on the first page from [Book: Northanger Abbey] (which I also haven't read, btw) makes me think that might be a good pick. The quote is about a misunderstanding between characters that gets blown way out of proportion and I think that's a central plot point in Atonement as well.
I did get excited about ATGIB and ASP also, though, and went out and bought them, so I'm fine with whatever. I haven't read either one of those since high school.


message 18: by Mary (new)

Mary | 29 comments Oops. Sorry. I tried and failed to link Northanger Abbey. Still getting the hang of this whole intraweb business. :)


message 19: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments Northanger Abbey
There you go, Mary!


message 20: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Mary, it looks like you did it right. The only thing I can think of is that maybe you weren't supoosed to capitalize the B in book.


message 21: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
No, I think Mary put a space between the colon and the title. I was trying to figure it out, too.


message 22: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 571 comments yes, it was the space.

I've been reading reviews of Atonement online and wanted to suggest some more possibilities:

"McEwan modeled Atonement on the work of "Elizabeth Bowen's The Heat of the Day, with a dash of Rosamund Lehmann of Dusty Answer, and a sprinkling of Virginia Woolf" (McEwan, Begley 56)."

The Gaurdian in particular had an interesting review. "It is as if Mellors from Lady Chatterley's Lover has gatecrashed the exquisitely rendered world of Mrs Dalloway. Or as if the contents of McEwan's stories had been explicitly daubed on the walls of Brideshead."


message 23: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) I always but a space between the colon and the title. Atonement.




message 24: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Stirrat | 201 comments I hate to say it, but actually, I think Wuthering Heights would be perfect as well. Comparing Cathy's self analysis and relationship with Heathcliff would go very well with Briony's in relationship to Robbie.

But of course, I think that option is out.

Mrs. Dalloway, then would be my suggestion. There is a lot of Woolfe in McEwan's voice and at one point a discussion comparing Briony as a writer to Woolfe. I think a focus too much on matching the big themes might end up in us losing too much of Atonement.

Of course, Mrs. D is from this century. But it doesn't really get more classic than Woolfe.


message 25: by Robbie (last edited Jan 01, 2008 11:32AM) (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments But, what if I'm afraid of Virginia Woolf? ;)


message 26: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 571 comments I admit, I'm a little afraid of Virginia Woolf, too. :)

so far I like the Northanger Abbey, Mrs. Dalloway, and Vanity Fair suggestions best.

Sarah, you're right, the book code appears to be case-sensitive. never would have bet on that. good to know though.


message 27: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
Courtney, I'm writhing in agony on my cold, hard wood floors at the thought of Wuthering Heights! Pure torture, that. For me, I mean.

I like the idea of Mrs. Dalloway. I'd say let's do Brideshead Revisited, but then again that's a more recent book. I suppose I'll have to cave on that point! I'd enjoy either of these, if for no other reason than that I already own them and have wanted to read them for some time!


message 28: by Alison, the guru of grace (last edited Jan 01, 2008 04:05PM) (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Vanity Fair is long. It took me a whole summer to read it. Or was that Middlemarch? They're both long, but good! I almost bought ATGIB and ASP today, too! I decided to wait and see, though. :)

I have tried to read Mrs. Dalloway so many times. It's a little difficult to grasp (for me), but I would love to read it with this group holding my hand. But then we would have to read the wonderful "The Hours"...the possibilities are endless. :)


message 29: by Dottie (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 698 comments Alison -- that was my first thought when Mrs. Dalloway came up in connection with Atonement -- we'd have to read three books!

You could always read Mrs. Dalloway by re-reading The Hours and going back and forth with Mrs. D. locating the sections in Cunningham's book which echo Woolf's book -- I did that when my original online group Constant Reader (we moved here to goodreads a while back) read The Hours on the Reading List and Mrs. Dalloway on Classics Corner in one month and had a dual discussion all month long of the two books -- it was great fun.

But that isn't helping choose a classic for this month, sorry.


message 30: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Dottie: If it wasn't for The Hours, I would have never become interested in Mrs. Dalloway. I bought it years ago, but, as I said, it was difficult for me. I guess I, too, am afraid of Ms. Woolf, after all.

Mrs. D & The Hours in conjunction sounds like a great book club month. Lucky you!


message 31: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
I read A Room of One's Own and LOVED it. Ever since then I've wanted to read some of her other works - her fiction, but I suppose I haven't been brave enough!


message 32: by Dottie (last edited Jan 01, 2008 04:32PM) (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 698 comments Well -- it isn't on Rory's list -- or is it? --but what if A Room of One's Own would be the "classic" this time? It is about women being given more freedom and space for their own lives -- regarding the arts, including writing -- right? That might fit in with our little Briony in Atonement who began writing young and forcing the family to watch and pay attention to her efforts. And the settings are in sync though maybe not the time periods so much but that would add discussion points rather than make it less interesting.

Just a passing thought there.


message 33: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Sorry, if I'm suppose to start a new thread, but are nominating a classic to vote on or just taking suggestions with the most suggestions for one book winning? Just wondering--although can the classic be one with a happier theme? Atonement is rather depressing.


message 34: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (last edited Jan 01, 2008 09:42PM) (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
We usually just decide on a second book rather than voting, but I really agree that I don't want to do two depressing books at once. So maybe we should pick something that contrasts rather than compares. What say you?


message 35: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
A Separate Peace and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn seem like interesting choices to me. Now for those who've read it: which one is less depressing? LOL.

Michele, I was wondering which books got the biggest number of votes after Atonement? Who knows if one of them can be a good match for this month's reading -- added to the fact that we know a lot of people in this group actually want to read it. Just my two cents.


message 36: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
Honestly, no other book was anywhere close, and there was a group of them a ways after...

Usually it isn't quite so hard to select a second.

Besides the Jane Austen novels, Pygmalion seems to be one of the few non-depressing classics. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is in there. There's always Poe. Heh-heh!

Okay I just looked, and in that group of books that scored really close together at a very distant second, only two were classics: Jane Eyre and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Jane seems more fun to me as it is (so I hear) less depressing, but there you have it.

Not that we have to select from those two. Just thought I'd throw that out there. Any opinions on any or all of the titles mentioned here? Do others feel like Meghan and I do, that having to downer books would make for an intense month? Or maybe you all are just VERY happy people!!


message 37: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments I may be an odd-ball, but I don't recall Atonement being that much of a downer. After all, atonement means reconcilliation or making amends (dictionary.com).


message 38: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments Oh, as for Dini's question, I would say ASP is more depressing than ATGIB


message 39: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 571 comments Nothing like a gothic romance to brighten things up..heh. But yeah I agree two very serious and/or depressing books might be a bit much. though as traditional classics go, I can't think of many that are especially rich in the lightheartedness department, other than maybe Austen. I also think this is a problem that will keep coming up with each book selection.



message 40: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 571 comments more thoughts: if you're looking for contrast, The Count of Monte Cristo might actually be a decent choice and it's not that gloomy. it's a fun read, just a bit long.

In Atonement you have a look at the repercussions of an act of innocent carelessness and the grief and guilt this causes the wrongdoer. In Monte Cristo it's sort of the flipside - seen from the wronged person's perspective, and concerning their elaborate quest for vengeance.

Atonement's message seems to be that no matter what is done, nothing can be done to make things right again, whereas Monte Cristo's is more about successfully overcoming circumstances when things go horribly wrong. similar but different. though even Monte Cristo is somewhat scarred for life by events but yeah i digress.

just thinking.

I can see exactly how Wuthering Heights would also be a good match...ugh. I really hope Atonement isn't too similar to it. /WHhate


message 41: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
Well, since I nominated it and it was first in my voting, I'm all for The Count of Monte Cristo!! Love you for that, Heather! Also love your "/WHhate" sign-off. Made me laugh! Is that going to be your new online name? Hee!


message 42: by Erin (new)

Erin | 47 comments Atonement is not like Wuthering Heights. Maybe some similar themes, but other than that, no worries!


message 43: by Sera (new)

Sera Heather, nice analysis! I'm up for anything, but The Counte of Monte Cristo sounds good. So if selected, then this month's theme would be: Choices & Their Consequences?


message 44: by Alison, the guru of grace (last edited Jan 02, 2008 07:39AM) (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Maybe we should take nominations thus far, and start a vote? Just a suggestion. Atonement covers so many different themes, it could technically be paired with just about anything.


message 45: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments I think that's a great idea, Alison. I was considering suggesting it. Great minds!


message 46: by Sera (new)

Sera I was going to vote for TCOMC, but I just came back from the book store and that book was long with very tiny type. I think that Vanity Fair may actually be shorter - wow.


message 47: by Sarah (last edited Jan 02, 2008 10:29AM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) I'd vote for Northanger Abbey. It's specifically referenced in Atonement, several members said they were in the mood for some Austen, and Austen is not depressing at all. And it's way shorter than The Count of Monte Cristo. Also, from what I know so far of Atonement, the following themes seem like they'd make for good discussion (from wikipedia):

The dangers of believing life is the same as fiction.
The maturation of the young into sceptical adulthood, the loss of imagination, innocence and good faith.
Things are not what they seem at first.


message 48: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Is Northanger on Rory's list? I just skimmed it, and I may have missed it. It's a long list.

In regard to Sarah's post above...now I'm thinking of The Catcher in the Rye! Just thought I'd complicate things more.


message 49: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) I don't think it is, but A Christmas Carol wasn't either, and neither was The Time Machine.


message 50: by Alison, the guru of grace (last edited Jan 02, 2008 10:28AM) (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Oh. I didn't realize a Christmas Carol wasn't. It's fine with me. I'm going to see if Michelle wants to call for a vote...(sending message)

By the way, can you "search" the list? Without having to skim it every time?


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