The Random Person's Book Club discussion

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What are your book clubs reading?

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message 1: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:31PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 52 comments I am always interested in what other book clubs are reading.

Identity by Milan Kundera is my club's choice this month. I enjoyed this read in which the boundaries between the real and imagined are indistinguishable. I am anxious to hear the group's take on the book.

What are your clubs reading this month?


message 2: by Denise (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:32PM) (new)

Denise | 1 comments In August my Chick Lit group here read Jody Picoult's Salem Falls. A new author for me, good for fans of Alice Hoffman.


message 3: by Diane (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:34PM) (new)

Diane  (DianeDJ) Peg - my partner loves The Unbearable Lightness of Being - just had to throw that in since you mention Identity. My book club is currently reading In America by Susan Sontag. Not a light read, more of a saga, which follows a small group of Polish people as they emigrate to America. It is set in the late 1800's and was inspired by the life of the Polish actress, Helena Modrzejewska. I am enjoying it very much. Our next 2 reads are Grace Paley's The Collected Stories which we will discuss on Nov. 1, followed by Suite Francois. (We generally pick 2 books per meeting, I just happened to fall behind in the reading of In America).


message 4: by Maggie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:36PM) (new)

Maggie Lamarre | 1 comments I am reading the joy luck club by Amy Tan
I started and put it down it requires good attention to catch all the nuance of this book.
Maggie


message 5: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:36PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 52 comments Diane, I love Grace Paley's writing, I'm sure that you will enjoy her stories. In America sounds inviting,too. I will keep that book in mind for a future read.


message 6: by EJ (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:36PM) (new)

EJ Last month my book club read Terrorist by John Updike. And we are currently reading Lolita.


message 7: by Diane (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:38PM) (new)

Diane  (DianeDJ) Peg, I'll post after I read Grace Paley. In America is quite good, although dense, so the Collection was chosen purposely as a lighter read following it. My group has read many wondeful books, and I'll keep the group updated.


message 8: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:39PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 52 comments Thanks Diane.


message 9: by Diane (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:40PM) (new)

Diane  (DianeDJ) Peg, I am having SUCH a hard time finding Grace Paley...I went to 2 Borders, and 2 of my local libraries...one put me on a wait list with 3 people ahead of me, and the other had a wait list of 13. I think I may end up doing a special order through Borders. Fortunately not to discuss until Nov. 1


message 10: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:40PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 52 comments Diane,

The book is available on Amazon.com for $11.00. If you are in a hurry you can get overnight shipping.

Half.com also has the book. One vender is selling it for $7.99.

I often buy "new and used" books from private vendors on Amazon.com. I have never received a book from vendors that didn't live up to its description.

Good luck!!


message 11: by Diane (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:40PM) (new)

Diane  (DianeDJ) Thanks Peg- for once I was really "trying" to use my library card, but alas, seems like I will HAVE to buy it :)


message 12: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:40PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 52 comments I know the feeling. I often "try" to use my library card but I buy most of the books I read. I'm sure that you will not regret owning this one.


message 13: by Diane (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:41PM) (new)

Diane  (DianeDJ) Peg - Good news! I went to Borders #3 yesterday. The computer said "likely in store", it wasn't on the shelf. I asked a clerk who looked in the back for me and VOILA. I finally have the Collected Stories.


message 14: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:43PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 52 comments That's great,Diane.

My book club met last night to discuss Kundera's Identity. We had a very interesting meeting. The group was divided on their opinions of the book but those who didn't like the book do not like post modern fiction.

We are reading The Life of Pi for next month's discussion. Have any of you read it? I feel like I am the last person on the planet to read it :D


message 15: by Heidi (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:44PM) (new)

Heidi I really liked Life of Pi and discussed it with several groups. It has the kind of ending that leads to good discussion, and I found that the opinions fell pretty much along the lines of those who believe in God and who don't. Faith--separate from religion--is a running theme in the book, and even though the question at the end isn't religious, there's definitely a connection. So as long as no one in your group is particularly touchy on that subject, you should have a great meeting.

My group just picked our books for the next year, and I'm most looking forward to The Glass Castle, The Prizewinner of Defiance Ohio, and Everything Bad Is Good for You. In the spring we plan to read The Omnivore's Dilemma and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle back-to-back, since they deal with similar themes in different ways. The first is more academic, while the second is a memoir of putting the principles into action. I've read the second already, and I really liked it.


message 16: by Diane (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:44PM) (new)

Diane  (DianeDJ) Peg - you are not the last person on the planet to read Life of Pi - I am. I've had it, I swear for 2-3 years in my "to read pile"...my book club read it before I joined them. I'll be looking forward to hearing your review.

Heidi - my book club last year read The Glass Castle. It is on my Favorites shelf. It made for a great discussion!


message 17: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:45PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 52 comments To be honest,Diane, I have owned the book for a long time too. I just haven't gotten around to reading it. At least my book club will force me to read it before I buy any more books! I will definitely let you know how it goes.

The Glass Castle interests me as well. I plan to read it in the near future.


message 18: by Diane (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:55PM) (new)

Diane (DianeS) My book club read Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides last month, and everyone really enjoyed it. For this month we are reading The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter by Sharyn McCrumb.It 's the book chosen for the Northern Kentucky One Book One Community program (for info see www.NKYOneBook.org)I'm about half-way through it, and I like it so far.


message 19: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:05PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 52 comments Diane- I just finished The Glass Castle. What a book! It always amazes me when children who are raised by crazy parents are able to develop any sense of normalcy.


message 20: by Bibliovixen (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:06PM) (new)

Bibliovixen | 1 comments We just finished "Waiting for Snow in Havana" and November's book is "The Debt to Pleasure." Our January/December read will be "A Russian Diary".


message 21: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:07PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 52 comments Bibliovixen-What is your opinion of Waiting for Snow in Havana? I'm not familiar with that book.


message 22: by whichwaydidshego? (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:08PM) (new)

whichwaydidshego? (whichwaydidshego) Ours is reading both The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde and Wicked: The Life & Times of the Wicked Witch of the West in keeping with this month's holiday. Kind of fun.


message 23: by Meghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:09PM) (new)

Meghan I'm in two right now:

My (in-person) club is reading The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith.

My online club (check out the Rory Gilmore Book Club here on goodreads.com) is reading both Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.

And just to comment - Life of Pi is one of my top 10 favorite books of all time. It is a true modern fairy tale. And it makes a GREAT book club book with all the different things you can discuss.


message 24: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:09PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) I'm also in the Rory Gilmore book club here.

My "real-life" book club is reading Without You: A Memoir of Love Loss and the Musical RENT by Anthony Rapp for November. We just finished The Jane Austen Book Club for October. December is my month (the person hosting chooses the book) and I'm trying to make up my mind between Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud.

I also get involved in some of the discussions online at Barnes & Noble.com in their book club section, but this month I'm taking a break because I've had a lot of reading to do for my Lit class.


message 25: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:13PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 52 comments Sarah- I would definitely recommend Rebecca. I haven't read it in a long time but I have read it two or three times and the story never fails to amuse me.


message 26: by Diane (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:18PM) (new)

Diane  (DianeDJ) Hi Peg -

You are right - i am enjoying the Collected Stories by Grace Paley. Most of her stories are quite amusing. And to think that she is also a writer of poetry. What a talented woman.


message 27: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:23PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 52 comments Diane - I'm glad you are enjoying Grace Paley. The mention of her name makes me want to read more of her stories. Ahhh....so little time right now.


message 28: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:23PM) (new)

Sarah | 2 comments Our club is reading Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer this month. I'm hoping that our next book will be Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.


message 29: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:23PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) The Rory Gimore book club is now reading The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.


message 30: by Diane (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:25PM) (new)

Diane  (DianeDJ) Peg - I love how your wrote and said Glass Castle was in your near future and then you read it 2 weeks later. Yes, quite a book is right. Didn't you find it interesting how despite her life, she never really spoke ill of her parents? No matter how disfunctional her life may have been, at least the parents never deserted the children.


message 31: by Diane (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:25PM) (new)

Diane  (DianeDJ) Peg, so many books so little time!


message 32: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:25PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 52 comments Diane -

I do admire the author for not criticizing her parents. However, the book seems to be written in the style of a journalist. The story lies in the showing rather than the telling. The reader can only conclude that the parents were mentally ill and incapable parents. I wonder what the book would be like if Jeannette were the only living family member at the time the book was written. Maybe we would have another Mommie Dearest on our hands. Someone told me that Lori objected to the writing of the book. I'm sure that that fact alone affected the writer's style.

The parents never physically deserted their children but they deserted them emotionally.The children's mother was so self absorbed that she didn't even have the wherewithall to work so that the family could eat. And their father, ugh! I couldn't believe that he put Jeannette in the situation where she could very possibly have been raped. Ruining Lori's art project, stealing the piggy bank, etc turned my stomach. When the parents joined the kids in New York they had nothing left. They took advantage of Lori and trashed her apartment and, in spite of the fact that they lived separately from their children, they knew that they could visit them and take advantage of being offered a hot meal and a roof over the heads when they became desperate on the streets. So my question is, who parented who?

In retrospect I was a little disappointed that Jeannette didn't convey more of her personal thoughts and emotional reactions to what was happening. She was especially guarded while talking about her first marriage. While I was reading about that I wondered if there was any connection at all between Jeannette and her husband. In playing a little armchair psychology I think that Jeannette is very guarded emotionally. In lieu of her horrific childhood I wonder if she is able to form many emotional attachments. She has to have a lot of internalized rage. Regardless, it is a miracle that the children became reponsible adults. Little is told about the youngest child but I found it encouraging that she is in touch with the family and was planning to visit at the end of the story.

Even if only half of the story is true,everyone involved has a lot to tell their therapists!


message 33: by Crystal (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:25PM) (new)

Crystal Allen | 6 comments My book club just finished The Book Thief. There wasn't one of us who didn't enjoy it (which is rare). There are lots of interesting topics to discuss in this book. One of which it was the first book that I had read that was narrated by death. Another thing that interested us was that in Australia where the author is from it is marketed as an adult novel where in North America it is marketed as YA for ages 10-12. I definitely think that it is great for a youth audience but would recommend it for 12 or even 14 plus personally. While the topic is one that every child should learn about I thought the writing style would be pretty difficult for your average 10 year old to get through.

Anyways that went off topic a bit but I would definitely recommend it for a book club choice.


message 34: by Diane (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:25PM) (new)

Diane  (DianeDJ) Hi Peg -

I absolutely agree with everything you wrote about The Glass Castle, including how the parents did desert the children emotionally. In fact, when I was reading it I wanted to throw it against the wall sometimes as I was so angry. I thought the mother was so selfish and self absorbed, right up until the end when she made the father come back to her. What about how the mother let her mother's house go completely to shambles? The squalor in which they lived was so bad at times it was downright creepy.

Did she not dedicate the book to her father? (don't have it with me right now). Regarding your question on who parented who - the story opened with Jeanette cooking and burning herself and she was what, 3 year old? (again, going on memory). I was thankful that the siblings had each other throughtout their lives.


message 35: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:25PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 52 comments Diane-
I believe The Glass Castle is dedicated to Jeannette's second husband, John. I have no way of checking at the moment as my copy has been visiting several of my friends since I finished it:)

Yes, Jeannett was 3 years old when she burned herself cooking hotdogs and 6 years old when she promised Maureen that she would always take care of her. Jeannette adopted the maternal role at a very young age.

I agree that it was a blessing that the children had each other. I doubt that an only child would have survived that situation. I think that Maureen's demise can partially be attributed to the fact that she was significantly younger than her sibblings and was alone with (or without) her mom most of the time. The children definitely saved each other's lives when they decided to move away from home. I give Lori a lot of credit for mothering her sibblings so unselfishly.

I always consider the fact that a memoir is not always 100% reliable when it comes to accuracy. After all,our memories are very subjective. I did think that the scene where the piano was dragged from one end of the house to the other and out the back door was a little hard to swallow. Was there anything in The Glass Castle that you found hard to believe?


message 36: by Diane (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:26PM) (new)

Diane  (DianeDJ) What jumps out from my memory is when the mother and father were having a HUGE fight and the mother was "hanging out the window" with her dress up around her head...

I am so curious now about the dedication...I will get to a bookstore and find out.

And what about the paternal grandmother! Did she not try to molest her grandson? UGH!

One part that I found touching (maybe the only part) was when the father layed under the stars with the children in the middle of the desert.

I also remember the bridal picture in the front of the book - they appeared so "normal".


message 37: by Rebecca (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:26PM) (new)

Rebecca Peg and Diane,

The Glass Castle is one of my top five favorite books. I really had to keep reminding myself that it was a true story, that these were Jeanette's memories. The opening in which she's 3 and cooking hit me hard. When I read that my son was a little over 2 - he's 3 now. This incident immediatley drew me in. I could never imagine myself leaving my son to fend for himself like that. I have a great respect for anyone who has persevered through a childhood like that.

I live in a very rural area with only one book club I know of nearby and it meets at a time when I can't make it. Is there a website anyone knows of that lists in person book clubs. I'd love to have some fact to face conversations about these books I love so much!


message 38: by Kate (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:26PM) (new)

Kate (grapejlee) We're reading "The Road" this month. Our prior choices were "Priviledge and Scandal" (biography of Harriet Spencer), "Falling Man," and "Providence of a Sparrow." :) My favorite is still "Providence of a Sparrow" by Chris Chester, but I did enjoy "The Road" a lot this month.


message 39: by Kate (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:26PM) (new)

Kate (grapejlee) Oh! Also, this past meeting we were sitting by another book club, they were reading "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" which I forgot until I read this thread that I was going to look up. :)


message 40: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:26PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 52 comments Popper - Several years ago I logged onto Oprah's website and found a list of "Oprah's book clubs" in my area. I joined one that started out as an Oprah book club but also read books other than what Oprah listed. The group was/is quite successful but I eventually stopped going because the meeting time conflicted with my work schedule. As I recall, I had several groups to chose from at the time.

I found my current book club on the meetup web site. It is an international listing of many different types of groups. Just google meetup groups and you will be taken to the official web page.

Goodreads might be another place to start. Someone I know started a book club by contacting people on goodreads who live in her area.

Also - My daughter started a very successful book club by advertising on Craig's list. You might want to check that out as well.

Good luck!!

(Can you imagine telling your son to hold his nose while eating so that the spoiled food won't taste so bad?)


message 41: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:26PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 52 comments Diane - I think that Jeannette cherished the time when her father took her out to the desert and gave her a star. Years later she wondered if she would be able to see Venus in the urban sky.

The paternal grandmother was disgusting. From what I was able to read between the lines, I suspect that she may have been sexually abusive to Jeannette's father as well. Did anyone else sense that? The father's brother living in the basement was also incestuous with Jeanette. Since it is a fact that most sexual molesters have been sexually abused as children, I wonder if the grandmother may have contributed to his problems. In spite of the author's apparent candor, I imagine that there are still a lot of skeletons in that family's closet.


message 42: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:26PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 52 comments Kate - I am a big Murakami fan. Let me know what you think of the Wind-up Bird Chronicle:)


message 43: by Diane (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:26PM) (new)

Diane  (DianeDJ) Oh Peg, I definitely sensed that the grandmother was sexually abusive to Jeannette's father, no doubt.


message 44: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:26PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 52 comments After I recover from Jeanette's horrific childhood I would like to read Robinson's book,"Look Me in the Eye: My Life With Asperger's." Has anyone here read it? The author is the brother of Augustin Bourroughs who wrote Running With Scissors.


message 45: by Rebecca (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:26PM) (new)

Rebecca Peg

Thanks so much for the information. I'll definitely be following up on it.


message 46: by Diane (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:26PM) (new)

Diane  (DianeDJ) Popper - I hope Peg's info can help you. I joined my book club about 2 years ago, we are called "Smart Women Read Between the Lines". We all look forward to our meetings and these women are such a special part of my life now. I really hope you can find a nice group to join - or maybe you can start one up?


message 47: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:26PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 52 comments Popper - Let me know how you make out:)


message 48: by Heidi (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:27PM) (new)

Heidi Peg and Diane,

My group is reading The Glass Castle this month, and I did wonder how much of it was exaggerated, like the piano scene. I'd be interested to hear her siblings' versions of the story, especially since Jeanette was her dad's favorite. I suspect that the events would be the same but the interpretation and experiences would be very different.

I thought one very telling scene was when they were in Phoenix and their dad set the Christmas tree on fire and ruined all the presents. The author said that each of them had their own way of "retreating" at times like that, of coping with these devastating situations, and each just closed off and retreated from the situation. I suspect they had to do that a lot more than the author indicates.

Like you I got angry at the parents for their selfishness and even sometimes at the kids for not standing up for themselves more. Especially when the dad kept asking "Have I ever let you down?", when the answer is so obviously "Yes, and often."

On the other hand, it's obvious that the family loved each other very much. You can love someone without respecting them, and I suspect that's how the author feels toward her parents. I don't mean to defend or condone the parents' actions, and I agree that they were incredibly irresponsible and negligent, but it was always clear that they loved their children, had a deep emotional attachment to them. Why that didn't translate into what I would consider the natural protective/nurturing instinct I don't know, but it seems that in this family the two were very different.

I also have to say that this book reminded me a lot of some of the conditions my mother was raised in. Her mother was raised to be proper and ladylike, and she rebelled against that as much as she could. There was a time that my mother lived in a garage with no internal plumbing and their "bathroom" was a bucket. Nothing was ever cleaned--she remembers wiping a spill off of the stove and discovering that the stove was actually green, not greasy brown. They were the poor kids in the neighborhood and the family, and my mom felt that stigma.

Listening to my mother's stories and now reading this book, I wonder how a parent could allow her children to live that way. Poverty is no excuse--Jeanette's neighbors were just as poor but had some self-respect. Come to think of it, though, her parents had a great deal of pride but in different things. She doesn't say that they were part of the Beatnik movement, but a lot of their reactions to things seem to fit that category--rebel against the conformity of society and live by your own rules. They had options--they could have sold the land in Texas, bought a comfortable house, invested the rest of the money, and lived off the interest. They could have sold the diamond ring and bought food and coal. But where's the adventure in that? It would literally be selling out to live a life of conformity and mediocrity. Again I don't condone their actions, especially since they had children to feed and take care of, but I do have some appreciation for their perspective.

I don't think this is a book that is supposed to have an easy answer, a clear judgment of good or bad, right or wrong. She isn't trying to make a point or say "look how hard my life was." Stories like these are complicated, which is why they make for great book group discussions.

Sorry for going on so long--this is obviously a very thought-provoking book.


message 49: by Heidi (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:27PM) (new)

Heidi Crystal,

That's interesting that The Book Thief is marketed as an adult book in Australia. A long time ago I read an article about how in the US literature falls to the "level of incomprehensibility," and there it stays. For example, Lord of the Flies and A Separate Peace were originally taught at the college level, but each year it would get taught to younger and younger students, until it hits junior high and the students don't understand it. And there it stays. No wonder so many students can't stand those books--they weren't the original audience. I think I read A Separate Peace in the sixth grade, and I just didn't get what was so great about it.

I think it's odd that if a minor is one of the main characters, it's automatically labeled a children's book or adolescent lit. (I know that's a broad generalization, but it seems to fit.)


message 50: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:27PM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 52 comments Heidi - Just a few thoughts about your comment on The Glass Castle. First of all, I agree with everything that you stated. The family relationships are very complex and there is no easy explanation as to why the Walls' lived as they did. In my opinion the common denominator in the parents' behaviors was mental illness. The father was affected by alcoholism and sexual abuse in his past and Jeannette's mother had incredible mood swings with periods of depression that would send her to bed for days on end. She was also out of touch with reality in many respects. Neither parent could be relied upon when the other was incapacitated.


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