LDS Ladies Book Club discussion

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Closed Threads > "Ella Minnow Pea" by Mark Dunn

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message 1: by Heather (new)

Heather | 83 comments Hey all, I came across a book some of you might enjoy. This is a short, clean read - It's even suitable for older teens. If you like language and wordplay then you will really like it but the story is great too. There are lots of layers to this book so it's fun to discuss too.

message 2: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cclblue) | 9 comments Do you mean by Mark Dunn? That's what I found when I searched it here on goodreads...

message 3: by Heather (new)

Heather | 83 comments Yes, sorry, I have been reading a book by Mark Haddon as well as this book by Mark Dunn. I got confused :)

message 4: by Melissa (new)

Melissa (mejojac) | 11 comments I really enjoyed this book! Loved how creative the author became towards the end :)

message 5: by Heather (new)

Heather | 83 comments I totally agree Melissa! I can't imagine going without one letter much less most of the alphabet. I love how he creatively used the letters available and how he made up some fun new words as well. So creative!

message 6: by Meredith (new)

Meredith | 16 comments Thanks for the suggestion. I just finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and loved the unique storytelling through letters, and I'm excited to read something else using that format.

message 7: by Heather (new)

Heather | 83 comments Lady Susan is a book that recently came to my attention via Kathy from this group. I had never heard of it before but I am now anxious to read it since it is by Jane Austen and is another book in letters. It is supposed to be a short, easy read.

message 8: by Nikki (new)

Nikki | 18 comments Is Ella Minnow Pea a good book for discussion in a book group? I might have to keep it in mind for our next year's reading list.

message 9: by Heather (new)

Heather | 83 comments I just reread it with my book club and we really enjoyed discussing it. You can find sample discussion questions online to see if it's something you'd be interested in discussing. We liked discussing both the wordplay element as well as the dystopian themes and we all felt that it was a great discussion.

message 10: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cclblue) | 9 comments I just finished Ella Minnow Pea. Wow, that must have taken some work to write. Is Mark Dunn LDS? Just curious. I like the book for it's cleverness. Dunn makes some strong points too. I kept getting frustrated when families were broken up over leaving the island. What could be more important than keeping a family together? I was okay with Ella's role and the choices she made. Definitely food for thought (and discussion) in that book.

message 11: by Heather (new)

Heather | 83 comments Cheryl, if you want to know more about Mark Dunn and how he wrote this book there is a good interview at

I too liked the creative way in which Ella and other islanders tried to work against the council. In addition to tearing apart families, I was particularly thoughtful over how tyranny tore apart the community through fear and inability to communicate freely. I'm glad that he wrote this in a lighter satirical tone but still gave me plenty of 'meat' to chew on and think about. I came away very grateful for small liberties.

message 12: by Doniel (new)

Doniel (wolfewing) | 1 comments Thank you ladies so much. I have recently been tasked with establishing the ward book club and I pretty much only read juvenile fiction. It's my favorite because it stays clean. :) I am so paranoid about choosing a book that is not "appropriate," whatever that means, that I keep putting it off. Keep posting PLEASE, our ward book club depends on it! :)

message 13: by Meredith (new)

Meredith | 16 comments Doniel wrote: "Thank you ladies so much. I have recently been tasked with establishing the ward book club and I pretty much only read juvenile fiction. It's my favorite because it stays clean. :) I am so paranoid..."

Doniel...I might be able to help a bit with your choices for your bookclub. A few friends and I have started compiling brief reviews of what profanity, sexual content, violence, etc is in the books we're reading. We're posting them on a site for everyone to access so readers can easily see what's in a book they want to read. It's called

You could peruse the site and probably find adult (as well as young adult) fiction that would be appropriate for your bookclub, but also allow you to branch out to other genres without fear of reading something you didn't expect! It's already saved me from starting a book only to put it down when it contained things I found inappropriate. To me, one of the best parts is that the site reviews EVERYTHING that people are reading rather than being a limited list of what someone considers "clean reading."

If you check it out and find it useful, please start posting your own reviews to help others! (This plea goes to everyone reading this post, actually.) If you're in charge of the bookclub, you're probably an avid reader and we could definitely use all the help we can get putting up more reviews. So many books, so little time:) Hope this helps.

message 14: by Julianne (new)

Julianne | 9 comments The Ward Book Club, huh? I have a few titles to suggest.
1. These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner
2. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
3. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
4. The Boy In The Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
5. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
6. At Home In Mitford by Jan Karon

All these are pretty much clean and without swear words or sex scenes. Another I will recommend is:
7. The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas
The Persian Pickle Club has one swear word, but when you come to it, you probably won't be offended.

My ward ladies have wanted to read more by Jan Karon and Nancy E. Turner. Some LOVED The No. 1 Ladies'..., but not everyone. It has at least eight sequels. There is no sequel to The Guernsey Literary... Unfortunately, Mary Ann Shaffer died before the book was published. It's probably my favorite on this list!

message 15: by Julianne (last edited May 02, 2010 09:38PM) (new)

Julianne | 9 comments Whoever started the "Book X-Ray Blog", thanks! I like it!

message 16: by Meredith (new)

Meredith | 16 comments I'm so glad you like it, Julianne! Feel free to tell other book lovers about it and please start sending us your own reviews. The more people reviewing, the better and more helpful it will be.

message 17: by Annie (new)

Annie | 10 comments This sounds good. But what I want to know is how you managed to get ward book clubs going! I, too, was tasked with starting one for our Relief Society. We tried 3 times over two years and couldn't get anyone to show up more than once. Every month we would have two or three people show, but always a different group of people and as a rule, no one had read the book or read very far into it and so couldn't really add to the discussion. The best one we ever had was when we read Pride and Prejudice, but I think the main reason anyone came was because we were going to watch the latest movie version after the discussion (the Keira Knightly). I even tried to get them discussion books in a ward goodreads group, but no-go there either! I'm jealous!

message 18: by Meredith (new)

Meredith | 16 comments hi annie...i personally find the best attendance and interaction/discussion are with books people have already read (i know, it sounds like it defeats the purpose of the book club:). perhaps that was why pride and prejudice was a success; most women have already read it and enjoyed it. consider using popular classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, Jane Eyre, The Great Gatsby, and even Harry Potter:) also, i've noticed that shorter books tend to be more popular, perhaps because they are a smaller commitment.

lastly, you can try having sisters suggest books and then put them to a vote, choosing the top vote getters, and hope that people will come and want to read what they suggested. hope this helps! what other suggestions are out there?

message 19: by Annie (new)

Annie | 10 comments Yeah, those are all good suggestions and I did all of them, to no avail--we tried Harry Potter the month after the last book came out. Thought I'd get a good reaction to that one. 3 people showed up. Oh, well. I'm moving this weekend and its no longer my problem! :)

message 20: by Mishqueen (new)

Mishqueen | 1 comments Julianne wrote: "I have a few titles to suggest.
3. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
7. The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas
The Persian Pickle Club has one swear word, but when you come to it, you probably won't be offended. "

Thanks for the suggestions, Julianne! We all need more ideas. In case anyone wants to know more specifics, the Life of Pi his a high level of graphic violence, and the one swear word in Persian Pickle Club is the F word. Please take these things into consideration so you understand Julianne's reviews fully (1,4, & 5 are as she described, and I haven't read 2 or 6)

message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

Julianne wrote: "The Ward Book Club, huh? I have a few titles to suggest.
1. These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner
2. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
3. The Life of Pi by Yann Mar..."

We read These Is My Words in our book club. I think it's important to mention there was more than one member who was really upset by the rape in the book. They were afraid to say so in the book club itself, but they talked about it afterward. If you are looking for squeaky clean - this may not be it.

message 22: by Heather (last edited Aug 05, 2010 04:17PM) (new)

Heather | 83 comments Our ward book club had several interesting discussions over some good non-fiction books. We read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver and I attended this discussion. There is no vulgar language but it could excite various political leanings depending on the group. We also read The Last Lecture. This was a little too sad for me at the time so I chose not to read it or attend the meeting but the discussion leader said that they had a very good discussion about what's important in life. Finally, we read Three Cups of Tea. There is a youth version of this book available that is not as descriptive of the privations or degradations faced by the villagers. By mistake, this is the version that I read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I compared notes with others and it didn't appear that I missed anything important. This book too generated a very interesting discussion of the themes involved. Also, the second and third book are pretty short books so they are quick reads despite dealing with 'heavier' subjects.

message 23: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Hi all! I noticed this discussion about ward book clubs--I tried a different approach that has been really successful: Book Swap.

We meet once a month, and everyone brings 1-4 books that they own and are willing to lend out (I know some don't like to lend). Then we go in a circle, and give a 1 minute description of each book we brought (yes, we use a timer). Then, at the end, all the books are placed on a table, and we"check out" the books from eachother (I have a 3-ring folder with a sheet for each person participating, and if you take a book, you sign it out on the owner's sheet)

This has been great for many reasons:
1. I, personally, have a hard time with book clubs, especially in the ward--there are cats fights, upset discussions, talking behind backs, etc. Besides, I hate showing up and only a few of us have actually finished the book.
2. I read fast, and I can check out 4-5 books a month, where my friend, who takes two months to finish a book, can read at her own speed.
3. All the books that are brought are by my ward friends, who I trust to recommend a great book.

So anyway, we rotate who hosts every month. I have really enjoyed this, and I have found that it's much more easy going and laid back. Just a thought!


message 24: by Heather (new)

Heather | 83 comments Melissa, Thanks for such a great idea! Our book club has fizzled with the return of monthly RS meetings but I think I know some friends in and out of my ward that would really enjoy this sort of stress free get together where we can talk books and enjoy each others' company.

Thanks for passing this along!

message 25: by Melissa (new)


BOOK GIVEAWAY-- 4 copies of "Ella, Minnow, Pea"!

4 lucky readers will win a hardbound copy of the NY Times bestseller "Ella, Minnow, Pea" by Mark Dunn!


Publisher's Note: Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living happily on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. Nollop was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the immortal pangram,* “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Now Ella finds herself acting to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of the island’s Council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet as they fall from a memorial statue of Nevin Nollop. As the letters progressively drop from the statue they also disappear from the novel. The result is both a hilarious and moving story of one girl’s fight for freedom of expression, as well as a linguistic tour de force sure to delight word lovers everywhere. *pangram: a sentence or phrase that includes all the letters of the alphabet

**Squeaky Clean Reads recommend this book as a squeaky clean read for 12+! (different ages will be able to enjoy it at different levels)

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