Ultimate Popsugar Reading Challenge discussion

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2018 Challenge - General > The Stranger Beside Me Group Read

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message 1: by Tara (new)

Tara Bates | 1008 comments Hey all, a bunch of people were interested in doing a group read of The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule. What are your thoughts for when you would like to do it? I was thinking February or March but am open to whatever!


message 2: by Chinook (new)

Chinook | 731 comments Either of those months seem good to me.


message 3: by Rebekah (new)

Rebekah | 6 comments This book has been on my TBR for some time and I'm excited to read it as part of a group read! February or March is fine with me. I hope to read at least one non-fiction book each month, but I don't really care about book order :).


message 4: by Tara (new)

Tara Bates | 1008 comments Is February Lang enough for people to secure their copy? I should have mine by then (ordered it last week) but wanted to make sure anyone who wants to read with us has the opportunity!


message 5: by Ann (new)

Ann | 83 comments Sweet! I've got my copy :) Bought one, just for the challenge.


message 6: by T. (new)

T. Hampton | 128 comments Yay! I've been looking forward to this. February or March either one works for me too.


message 7: by WVrambler (new)

WVrambler | 61 comments I’ll be getting my copy from the library, so February sounds good to me!


message 8: by Rebekah (new)

Rebekah | 6 comments I have my copy ready to go!


message 9: by Jeanne (new)

Jeanne | 3 comments It's a really good read! It was my first Ann Rule book. If you're not already addicted to her writing, I bet you will be after reading this one.


message 10: by Richelle (new)

Richelle | 26 comments This sounds good!! I will have to get my book sorted, but I am happy either way :).


message 11: by Shasta (new)

Shasta | 49 comments Yes, February works for me, I’m borrowing a copy from a friend. Looking forward to it!


message 12: by Tara (new)

Tara Bates | 1008 comments Alright February it is!!!


message 13: by Tara (new)

Tara Bates | 1008 comments Ok next question; do this like other group and buddy reads where we just discuss as we read, or would you all rather have targets, like read to page xxx by each Friday and we discuss that part in an update?


message 14: by Chinook (new)

Chinook | 731 comments I’d prefer to discuss as we read because I’m hopeless at keeping to a schedule - and I don’t tend to spend more than a week reading most books or they just fall off my radar and I fail to pick them up again.


message 15: by Tara (new)

Tara Bates | 1008 comments I’d say I prefer to read through if I’m enjoying a book but I thought a schedule for discussions might be helpful a) to avoid spoilers (only discuss up to x point) and b) people who are doing this as a buddy/group read because it’s not their thing might find the schedule helpful? But I think probably would work better if it was a minimum but you could definitely read ahead. It makes no difference to me, whatever people want :)


message 16: by Nancy (new)

Nancy | 12 comments I would be interested in doing a group read of this book.


message 17: by Juliet (new)

Juliet | 17 comments I'd be interested in participating too!

I'm not used to group readings so I don't know how it usually works, if we all read and comment at our own pace, is there a chance to ruin parts of the book for those who read slower?

Like you, Tara, I think a schedule could be useful but it depends on what works best for most. I'm down for it either way!


message 18: by Christy (new)

Christy | 351 comments I'm planning on participating in this group read, and I just hope my library will be able to get it to me in time!


message 19: by Zoe (new)

Zoe | 10 comments I didn’t realize this was going to be a group read, I started it last week. I’m 2/3 finished and it’s terrific!


message 20: by Tara (new)

Tara Bates | 1008 comments It’s not an official group read, I just noticed a lot of people who were planning to read this and/or were dreading this category and thought there might be interest in a buddy/group read :)

Ok well start in February and I’ll make a schedule for whoever thinks they may need one but it’ll be totally informal and we can just chat about it as we go along? Does that seem fair enough?


message 21: by Shasta (new)

Shasta | 49 comments Sounds great, Tara, I've never done a group read, so informal sounds perfect. Then people can binge-read or take a more leisurely pace, and we'll all just have to do our best not to share spoilers with those who are following a reading schedule.


message 22: by Rebekah (new)

Rebekah | 6 comments An informal schedule sounds good! Is anyone going to try the audio copy of this book? I don't listen to a lot of audiobooks because I can rarely stay awake :), but I read that this one is pretty good!


message 23: by Carissa (new)

Carissa Hill | 14 comments Hey everyone, I would like to participate in this group read. It sounds like fun. Does this book qualify for any prompt on the ‘18 list? Just checking. Thanks.


message 24: by Tara (new)

Tara Bates | 1008 comments Yes it’s for the true crime one. It’s about Ted Bundyand Rule’s friendship with him while he was actively killing but she had no clue!


message 25: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisag311) I JUST finished this book yesterday! I'll just add my comments as other people read it next month


message 26: by Rhoda (new)

Rhoda | 30 comments Count me in. That's the one that I had scheduled for True Crime anyway.


message 27: by Erika (new)

Erika (regulusblack) | 13 comments I had no idea what this book was when I opened this thread and now I'm pretty sure I'm going to use it for the true crime prompt so thank you OP!
I'm waiting on a library copy of the audiobook so hopefully I have it by some point in February and can actually participate in the group read. It sounds really interesting.


message 28: by Tara (new)

Tara Bates | 1008 comments Ok here it is! For anyone who needs it this is the official breakdown. I'll do it to check in on Wednesdays and I'll post a question or whatever regarding the week's chapters and you can converse however you want. Feel free to read at your own pace of course but try not to spoil ahead!

Week 1 feb 1-7= chapters 1-10 (incl)
Week 2 feb 8-14 = chapters 11-23
Week 3 feb 15-21= chapters 24- 38
Week 4 feb 22-28= 39- end


message 29: by T. (new)

T. Hampton | 128 comments Tara wrote: "Ok here it is! For anyone who needs it this is the official breakdown. I'll do it to check in on Wednesdays and I'll post a question or whatever regarding the week's chapters and you can converse h..."

Great! Thank you Tara! I just picked up this book at the library (the hold came up a bit early), and I'm looking forward to this discussion.


message 30: by Chiara (new)

Chiara (chiara__smith) | 4 comments Oh I don't think I will get my copy in time!


message 31: by Chiara (new)

Chiara (chiara__smith) | 4 comments Actually looks like it is on Kindle Unlimited!


message 32: by Tara (new)

Tara Bates | 1008 comments You can join in any time! All are welcome :)


message 33: by Ann (new)

Ann | 83 comments Ready to roll! I've got my copy 😁


message 34: by Tara (new)

Tara Bates | 1008 comments Here we go!! Check in as much as you want as you read!


message 35: by Carissa (new)

Carissa Hill | 14 comments very excited to join you guys :)


message 36: by Rebekah (new)

Rebekah | 6 comments I started the book last night and I'm already feeling a little freaked out and uncomfortable! I love reading about fictional monsters, but I think this is my first true crime book. I'm glad to be doing this as part of a group read! :)


message 37: by Rhoda (new)

Rhoda | 30 comments I just finished this book. I'm a native Floridian so even though I was a child, I still remember all the media coverage each time he was up for execution. Plus, I live about 30 miles from Lake City where one of his victims was from.


message 38: by Ann (new)

Ann | 83 comments I also just started to book, and it is creepy. And we are early into the description of some of the situations, and bedrooms, and houses....oh my....


message 39: by Rebekah (new)

Rebekah | 6 comments Wow, just wow! What a beginning. I've read the first ten chapters over the last couple of days with family and we have been enthralled.

It is difficult to reconcile the fact that Ann's charming, empathic friend is a murderer, committing unbelievable horrors! I look forward to seeing how Ted's story unfolds and how the author deals with the knowledge that her friend is the suspect she's been tracking all along.


message 40: by Chiara (new)

Chiara (chiara__smith) | 4 comments Rebekah wrote: "Wow, just wow! What a beginning. I've read the first ten chapters over the last couple of days with family and we have been enthralled.

It is difficult to reconcile the fact that Ann's charming, e..."


It's crazy, isn't it?


message 41: by Juliet (new)

Juliet | 17 comments I finished the ten first chapters and... brrrrr. I'm French, born in the 90s so it's all very far from me, I know of Ted Bundy only by name. I'm discovering the story of the disappearances / murders while reading and this is the first chilling element for me. I can't imagine what it was like for people living at those places at that time.

And then there's the description of Ted Bundy as Ann's friend, followed by these horrible crime descriptions... As Rebekah and Chiara said, it's hard to reconcile these elements into one person.

I find it interesting that it is challenging for our minds. I feel like we have on some level a tendancy to stay clear of complexity, especially when it comes to people. So, I think (hope?) there's something to learn in this book, beyond the fascination for this kind of story.


message 42: by Stacey (last edited Feb 07, 2018 05:19AM) (new)

Stacey | 404 comments I'm just starting to read this today and I seem to have a different POV than most of you posting so far...maybe I'm just a lot more cynical or maybe because I know he's a serial killer I'm subconsciously looking for clues to justify how he became one or clues to the fact that he is one in general as I'm reading.

Most of you are saying it's hard to reconcile or associate both aspects of the book into one person but from the get go (I'm about 50 pages in or so - started it this morning) I have this chilling feeling that his early life success/choices were literally the perfect set up to becoming a smart killer without much chance of being caught or prosecuted harshly if he was. I think he knew before the events of this novel or very early in the events of this novel that he wanted to be or was going to be a killer and very patiently planned his life accordingly...he is after all one of the most calculated and patient people I've read about.

I'm going to go into why I got this impression below/clues that I see that are making me align him with the man the author knew:

Let me know what you guys think (am I out to lunch? reading too much into things?) & if any of you had similar thoughts!
(view spoiler)


message 43: by Juliet (new)

Juliet | 17 comments Stacey wrote: "I'm just starting to read this today and I seem to have a different POV than most of you posting so far...maybe I'm just a lot more cynical or maybe because I know he's a serial killer I'm subconsc..."

ahhh this is an interesting discussion! I'm afraid to get too much into it because there might be answers later on in the book and even if not, I don't want to make some cheap psychology guesses either, lol. I'm going to put my thoughts under spoilers too but I still haven't read beyond chapter 10 so it's safe for everyone up to that point.

(view spoiler)

About having trouble to reconcile everything, I think it comes from a place where we project ourselves in this story, in Ann's place, where we imagine Ted as one of our colleague, friend etc. He seems like someone we could know and could befriend. I mean, we can even imagine someone we know, someone that actually exists, and imagine they could have this other "life" and never have a clue. Like, what are the clues if you're in this story, not reading about it years after? I think that's the most troubling for me. I swear I'm not getting paranoid on everyone I know! It's just where my mind goes while reading this, haha.


message 44: by Stacey (new)

Stacey | 404 comments Juliet wrote: "About having trouble to reconcile everything, I think it comes from a place where we project ourselves in this story, in Ann's place, where we imagine Ted as one of our colleague, friend etc. "

That makes sense! I guess I personally rarely read books this way, almost everything I read is in the third person and fiction of one genre or another so I just tend to approach things I read from the that way-from the outside. :p I was excited for this prompt for that reason since I knew it would take me out of my usual stuff for sure!

I hope we find out more of what's going on from his point of view later in the book as well...maybe he will write her letters from prison and explain some things!?

In the meantime I'm already making some Psychology guesses of my own but I've also studied a bit of Psych. I'll put it under a spoiler just incase people want to make their own guess until they've finished reading.
(view spoiler)


message 45: by Tara (new)

Tara Bates | 1008 comments Week 1 Stranger Beside Me check in:
Chapters 1-10

How are you doing? What are your thoughts so far?

My thoughts:

First of all I didn’t realize she started writing this before he was ever known! That’s crazy to me!

How do you feel about the fact that he saved lives working at the crisis centre?

I found it interesting that he actually had legal training. I always heard he represented himself and put it off as the same narcissistic foolishness as HH Holmes and Manson but apparently he was well versed.

I don’t think these are spoilers.


message 46: by Stacey (last edited Feb 07, 2018 05:14AM) (new)

Stacey | 404 comments It's funny that you asked these questions Tara! I've already been discussing these in my last few posts here so I won't bother to repeat (check out posts 42 & 44 if you want my take on what you asked!)

I will comment though I'm now on Chapter 16 and my thoughts haven't really changed from what I originally posted!

I also went on the Goodreads page for this book to update my progress and while I was there read some reviews for the book and someone else had commented that an 8yr. old had disappeared from his paper route when he was 14 & that we don't really know if he could be responsible for that. I'm not sure where/how they found this out but if true then I think this adds another dimension to the whole crisis center thing. If he was responsible then he could have been working there out of guilt?

Perhaps though, the answer is a lot more simple. He was studying psychology at the time; maybe he just wanted some related experience in the field and that's what he could find in his area. It is a great opportunity for a student as they can study when there are no calls.


message 47: by Juliet (new)

Juliet | 17 comments The whole fact that Ann Rule is a famous true crime writer and was actually working on this case while she knew him by some pure luck (as she says, they could have worked at the crisis hotline and never met) is a complete mindf*ck.

It's weird that I did not think that much of him saving lives at the crisis centre. I guess I was too focused on his relationship with Ann (and Stephanie, and Meg). Both of Stacey guesses up here (post 42) could be valid imo. The only thing I'll add is that obviously he doesn't see everyone as a potential victim. Saving lives could be unrelated to the killings for him; there are the girls who fit the pattern for him to kill and then there's everyone else, there's the rest of his life, where he's apparently someone normal and even nice. Like there are two distincts worlds for him and they don't really connect, he doesn't have to make up for one in the other. So yeah, working at the crisis center could have just been a good opportunity? Does that make any sense?

I don't think the fact he was educated in law doesn't mean he wasn't narcissistic. But probably not foolish... The train of thought I see is "If I ever get caught, I want to be able to represent myself" in the sense of "no else could defend me better than myself". Maybe it wasn't all about defending but explaining himself too? I dunno. And gaining some useful knowledge in the mix... I don't think we should totally evacuate the plain interest in law, for it is one of the most prestigious career path in the US (and in general) and it's clearly something he was trying to achieve at one point.

On to the following chapters now...


message 48: by Tara (new)

Tara Bates | 1008 comments I feel like the psych, law, and crisis centre were all things that interested him maybe because of his murderous proclivities but not sure I think he studied them as a just in case. He doesn’t seem to have killed before he started/did those things.


message 49: by Chinook (new)

Chinook | 731 comments I think the saving lives/killing other lives doesn’t surprise me because of all the Holocaust reading I’ve done. A lot of SS members seemed to help an individual here and there, while simultaneously participating actively in genocide. I think those sorts of incidents suggests that human beings may be wired to be able to do both those things at once.


message 50: by Shasta (new)

Shasta | 49 comments Hi all, I don't have my copy of the book yet -- should get it mid-month, at which time I'll join in -- but I'm following along and enjoying everyone's comments.
Just curious, have any of you seen the television show The Fall? It's a fictional british crime drama that follows a serial killer in Ireland, and part of what makes the show so intense and chilling is that the killer is a seemingly loving husband and father who works as a grief counselor and volunteers for a phone crisis line (not a spoiler since we know who the killer is from the get-go in the show).
It definitely makes me think of Ted -- maybe partially inspired by him? It really does up the fear ante when the "monster" is someone so trusted and involved in helping vulnerable people. Anyway, The Fall is a great show (I love Gillian Anderson!) and I highly recommend it . If you want to read more about it, here's a good link: https://www.wired.com/2015/01/the-fal...
Here's a great quote from the article that totally applies to Ted: "Consider the stunned reaction we so often see from the friends and acquaintances of people accused of terrible crimes: "But he seemed so normal." As though the appearance of normalcy were a protective talisman, like garlic or a cross. On a fundamental level, we want to believe that people are knowable, that our friends and neighbors and even lovers are who we think they are, that they could never secretly be capable of terrible things. We tell ourselves this because we have to, because how else can you live?"


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