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message 1: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Okay, wasn't sure where I should put this. But my book club "secretary" gave this website to us and I thought it was kind of cool.

Don't have enough to read over the holidays - well this just might help. A librarian in Connecticut asked people in the UConn Law Community to pass along the last great book they read. You can see the list at: Their entire popular reading collection can be found at:

Apparently a lot of the books our club has read is on this list, which we felt was kind of cool. Anyway, Happy Reading 2008!

message 2: by Freya (new)

Freya | 19 comments The last great book I read was "Life as we Knew It" by Susan Beth Pheffer. I also recently read Little Women and enjoyed it.

message 3: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
A "great" book. That's a pretty big thing. I don't know what the last one was - I mean I'd have to think about what I read when - but I just glanced up at my shelves and saw Rebecca. That is an outstanding read.

message 4: by Beth (new)

Beth | 173 comments I love Rebecca, too. I am reading "The Pillars of the Earth" now, and loving it! I had not heard of this book before getting on Goodreads, which was weird to me, as I usually pride myself on being in the know regarding all things literary. I just read Dave Eggers' "What is the What", which comes pretty darn close to being great. I try not to throw that word around too much.

message 5: by Beth (new)

Beth | 173 comments I see that "The Corrections" is on their November list. I would certainly consider this a great book. I would definitely consider "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" one of the great books. Funny, but I probably couldn't tell you what it's about in a paragraph. You just need to read it. I think one word to sum it up would be "dream-like". There seems to be so much lurking beneath the surface of that book; I could read it over and over and never solve the mystery. I have it on my I-Pod, and I often click on a random passage and listen to it to fall asleep.

message 6: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Stirrat | 201 comments I just finished re-reading 1984. Definitely, definitely great.

message 7: by Megan (new)

Megan | 118 comments For those who enjoy kiddie lit check out "A Mango Shaped Space". Let's just say I was in tears by the end.

message 8: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
When will we start nominating for January? Just curious (and excited of course). The first is obviously on a Tuesday (a little more than two weeks away).

message 9: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Oh Beth, you just made my day. Pillars of the Earth just misses being my very favorite book of all time because I read Little Women first. heh But I love hearing that someone new has discover the joy that Ken Follett created. YAY!

message 10: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Well, if you ever read any of my comments you know I love Pillars of the Earth, Little Women, and Shogun. I also thought the Alchemist was a life-changing read. Life of Pi to me is one of the great modern fairytales. I just love the way he weaves the story into a fable-like manner. But I also enjoyed The Secret Life of Bees and Ahab's Wife or the Stargazer. Oh, and for non-fiction, Freakonomics. Seriously, it's not boring AT ALL, especially if you dig learning new things. I liked the section on how your name can effect whether or not you get a job interview. Oh, and while it wasn't a recent read, The Know-It-All (also non-fiction) was SUPERB. It was about this writer's quest to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. It was fascinating and funny. A.J. Jacobs (the author) has a new one out, which I have but haven't read yet, A Year of Living Biblically. It's about how he tried to live for an entire year adhereing strictly to the tennents of the Old Testament (he's Jewish). He's fun and a little educational.

message 11: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 571 comments AJ Jacobs' books sound fascinating. Thanks for mentioning them.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Pillars of the Earth have both been on my to-read list for awhile. I really need to make time for them. I've also heard great things about A Mango Shaped Space.

The last great book I read was Vonnegut's Mother Night, which gets its title from Goethe's Faust and follows the life of a former Nazi propagandist (fictional). Really delves deeply into good vs evil philosophy. I've been trying to read through all of Vonnegut's novels this year in his memory. Mother Night has so far been my favorite, though they're all exceptionally good. I also really like Cat's Cradle.

message 12: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
Alison et al, the nominations thread is up.

message 13: by Cody (new)

Cody Wilshire (codywilshire) | 85 comments The last great book I read was 'The Pillars Of The Earth' by Ken Follett. My fiance had been bugging me to read it forever, and we found his copy in one of his boxes, so I read it, in less then five days (it's almost 1,000 pages lol). I barely slept but OMG, it was amazing. It was so good. I just, got completely sucked in to it. I didn't think I'd like it as much as I did. But I became a total teeny bopper about it. Gah, I still can't get over how great it was!

message 14: by Meghan (new)

Meghan DEE!!!!!!!! (yes, this ocassion requires many many exclamation points!!!!!)

I'm so excited and happy. Sigh. Another fan for this super, super, awesome book. You just made my Tuesday.

message 15: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Thanks for these recommendations. I will have to look into Pillars & Mother Night, and others.

message 16: by Arielle (new)

Arielle | 120 comments I almost got TPOTE at a used bookstore on a whim (before I read all of this) and I passed it up. So now I Have to go back and get it. You guys are all giving it such rave reviews, I can't wait to read it!

message 17: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) My favorite of all time is East of Eden by John Steinbeck. I wish it was on our Rory list, there is just so much to discuss about it.

I'm gonna have to break down and get Pillars of the Earth. I hate buying Oprah books right after she announces them.

But if anyone wants to give it to me for Christmas, you can get my address from Meghan. Heh.

message 18: by Sera (new)

Sera Sarah, East of Eden is my favorite of all time as well. I wish that it was on our list, too, because it really does have everything. Did you ever see the miniseries with Jane Seymour as the mother?

I bought TPOTE a few weeks ago, and I can't wait to read it - it is going to be fabulous, I'm sure.

I just finished The Alchemist - it's a quick read, but filled with so much meaning. I loved this book so much that I phoned a friend of mine this morning, and she said that was going to go out to immediately to get it, instead of ordering it online. Has anyone else read this gem? Meghan or Emily, I thought that one of you said that you had. Let me know your thoughts if you did.

message 19: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) I read The Alchemist last month and loved it.

message 20: by Beth (new)

Beth | 173 comments TPOTE is great, I am reading it now. The characters are so engaging, especially Prior Philip and Aliena. And, what nasty villains! The plot absolutely whizzes along. My mother would have loved this book, if she were still with us. It makes me want to go to England and take a cathedral tour.

message 21: by Beth (new)

Beth | 173 comments I have to say, it's funny, because a co-worker of mine bought me this book after seeing it on Oprah. She is NOT a reader, and she has bought me books before that I ended up dropping into the Goodwill box without even reading. I'm sure you guys know what I'm talking about - when a non-reader buys you a book, you just kind of grit your teeth and thank them. But, I have been humbled, because this is one of the best things I've read in a while.

message 22: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Sarah - Just want to say, forget Oprah. Seriously. I'm in a quandry over it. I LOVE this book so much so I'm thrilled that so many more people will be exposed to it because of her. But I'm pissed about it too because now you won't know if people like it because Oprah said to or if they truly got it (excluding the people in this group). And then there will be the people who will say "oh I'll never read it now because she picked it." It's a double-edged sword. sigh.

And now I HAVE to read the sequel. I have to know if it's worthy of being part of all that is good about TPOTE. I don't have time. argh. Anyone know how to stop time, clone myself, or make it so I can read in my sleep?!

message 23: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Sera - for me, I read the Alchemist at a time in my life where I was at a crossroads. I just found this story to be extremely inspiring. My belief that everything happens for a reason is the moral of the story too, which I loved. I thought the ending was the absolute best. But it was truly the journey that made this story so rich and fascinating and well, lovely. And I think that is what life is really about. I think we get so caught up on how we're suppose to end up that we forget to focus on what's happening right now.

Oh, and I sailed on that passageway and got to see both shores, which was kind of cool.

message 24: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Beth! I have to say that the Gothic period is my all time favorite architectural period. I found that what they accomplished without technology, the steel i-beam, and all that we use nowadays, was incredible. They pushed the limits of what was humanly possible (without the i-beam, architecture could build no higher). And although his cathedral was simple and nothing as glorious as say Notre Dame, it would still have been breathtaking for his accomplishments.

But my favorite reason for liking this book is that Follett entrances you by his characters. You become invested in their lives and whether or you like them or agree with them, you can't wait to find out what happens next.

Oh and don't you just love how you can actually follow how a choice effects not just one character but several throughout their lives? I love that because we so rarely get to see that.

message 25: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Oprah's seal of approval is great in that it gets people to read. And I wouldn't NOT read a book just because she recommended it. East of Eden is on her list as well. But I feel silly buying a book right after she's announced it as her pick. I don't know why I care but I do. I think I'll wait until she picks her next book before reading this one. But I will read it, I promise. Just as soon as you read East of Eden. :)

message 26: by Beth (new)

Beth | 173 comments Yes, Meghan, I am glad that I recently got a book on medieval architecture, so I know the basic characteristics of the Gothic style and what all those terms mean that Follett uses. The accomplishments of that time are incredible, I agree, especially considering the physical hardships they endured just to live a basic life.

message 27: by Cody (new)

Cody Wilshire (codywilshire) | 85 comments MEGHAN! I even posted a comment on your profile about it! *squeals*

Have you read the sequel yet? GAH! I'm worried the sequel won't be as good and it scares me hahaha.

message 28: by Cody (new)

Cody Wilshire (codywilshire) | 85 comments The Alchemist is a great book, I love it, it's on my top ten favorites list for sure. My mom used to read it to me when I was younger but then I finally really read it, read it, and devoured it, and just thought about everything I was reading, a few years ago. It's powerful and moving in it's simplicity.

message 29: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
Most of the best books I've read I've picked up on my own randomly... no recommendations, no reviews, no class assignments (shockingly). That's how it was with The Alchemist, Jane Eyre, Rebecca, Pride & Prejudice, and even To Kill a Mockingbird to name a few. That's not to say that I haven't appreciated and enjoyed books the other way as well... Which is why it seems I am going to HAVE to get a copy of Pillars of the Earth. I love our group!

I'm not big on Oprah books, and have even not read books for that very reason. Lame I suppose, but ugh. Now I don't pay attention, so it can't bother me... except those damn stickers. (Sorry, but it's just funnier with an actual swear word there.) Great big "O's" everywhere. Gah!

But as with the rest of you, I'm so glad she's gotten such a huge amount of the population reading that previously wouldn't have been - and even more so I'm impressed since she's been selecting classics.

message 30: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 571 comments ok, gotta jump on the Pillars of the Earth bandwagon too. i was interested before but now i'm definitely buying it.

The Alchemist, sadly, was not one of my favorites though. it was recommended to me when it first came out by one of the staff at a local bookstore. He was cute so I bought it blind. I think maybe I just picked it up at the wrong point in my life. It wasn't awful, it just didn't do anything for me. Has anyone read any of Coehlo's other books? The Zahir: A Novel of Obsession (P.S.) comes to mind...

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

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
A couple months ago I read his latest, The Witch of Portobello. It was really different. I liked it, but I think it's not for everyone. I'm careful who I recommend it to. But it is a really fascinating journey of faith, hope, and love.

With that book, the cover was so stunning to me, I had to get it. I mean, I knew the author, but I could seriously just look at it. The colors and the lines are rich and elegant. It was kinda cool seeing a guy with it sticking out of his bag at the airport the other day. Not a book I'd think most guys would like.

message 32: by Sera (new)

Sera The Alchemist was my first Coehlo book, but I noticed from the list in the back of the book that he writes all about different types of themes, ranging from forgiveness to faith. The Alchemist is supposed to be his book about wisdom. I surprised that Oprah hasn't selected one of Coehlo's books yet.

Speaking of which...Oprah goes through stages in which I really enjoy the books that she selects or I don't. Early on, I sheepishly admit that I selected a number of Oprah books based on the seal, and I'm happy that I did then, because I wouldn't have discovered such gems as Gap Creek and Fall on Your Knees. However, The Corrections fell very short for me and the whole Frey thing really turned me off, because she let Jane Q. Public change her feelings about how she felt about this book. Oprah went from publicly defending Frey on Larry King to having him on her show so that she could go off on him. I found the whole thing to be unnecessary and off-putting. Nevertheless, I think that guys are more turned off by buying books with the Oprah seal than women so do you think that although the author gains many female readers that she loses male readers because of the seal?

I can't wait to read The Pillars of the Earth. I have a beautiful non-seal copy just sitting there waiting for me. There are some other things that I may read first, and I still need to finish my Dickens' Christmas Books.

message 33: by Sera (new)

Sera Meghan, very cool note about sailing the passageway - thank you for sharing.

message 34: by Meghan (last edited Dec 19, 2007 06:32AM) (new)

Meghan Sigh. I love our group too. Mainly because you are all so interesting and I love reading what you have to say. But also because I tend to agree with you, which is always fun (for me at least). ha!

Anyhoo, I like that with the classics they put a removable tag so that you didn't have to have the Oprah seal on it. I wish they did that with all the books. It's about as bad as when they make the cover for the movie that's just being released.

But I've read books because of her. But her book club was better in the beginning...when it was about reading. Now it feels like it's more about selling books and dropping names.

But Follett is celebrating like a 10 year anniversary of this book which may be why Oprah chose it. The publishers must have been pushing big time for it.

And Sarah, I bet I'll read East of Eden before you read Pillars. And no fair because your book's bigger. I say if I read EOE, you need to read Shogun.

message 35: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Deal, Meghan.

I hear what you're saying about the movie covers. I wanted to get No Country for Old Men and they only had the movie cover in stock. It makes me feel like I'm not a serious reader, I guess, to buy a book just because Oprah suggests it or because there is a movie coming out. Although, I must admit, I do like to read the book before I see the movie, so that is actually what prompted me to buy both No Country and Atonement.

message 36: by Sera (new)

Sera Eck - movie covers. I agree that this gives the book a cheesy feel.

message 37: by Arielle (new)

Arielle | 120 comments With the movie covers, I always wonder if they edited the book to go along with the movie, or if it's the real deal. So usually I pass them by just in case. I'm the same way about reading the book first, then watching the movie...which is why I want to read Atonement. This group is so great, I think I need to start taking notes on the discussions so I know which books to grab!

message 38: by alicia (new)

alicia grant (shesha34) It's been a long time since I read a great book.Little Women will always be my favorite.I tend to read more recent stuff and while not considered literary or great are fun just the same.I do want to read Pillars of the Earth now.I did read a really good book recently Piecec of My Sister's Life by Elizabeth Joy Arnold.I am going to try and read some classic great reads next year.

message 39: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Alicia, I agree that reading just for fun is great! I do that too. And, reading fluff is better than not reading at all!

But as far as getting into the classics goes, I really want to encourage you in that. I decided to give classics a try two years ago and now I can't get enough of them. I think you'll find that they can be fun too! Barnes & Noble is great for classics. Their B&N editions only cost $4.95 and I think they have really fantastic footnotes and endnotes.

message 40: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Arielle - That's exactly what goes through my mind! I mean you just don't know. I've actually read the original version and a movie cover version and while I couldn't point out anything specific, it just felt different.

message 41: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Alicia - classics are good. I try to read a few each year. This club will really help in that department since we're picking a classic and contemporary every month. I was surprisingly pleased to find I really enjoyed Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

But I do suggest that there are far too many books out there to read. So if you do find one you're not enjoying, put it away. I've done the "read it 'cause it's a classic so you can say you've read it" and I really got nothing from it other than I hated it (Wuthering Heights. eck. By the end, I wanted to push Heathcliff into the moors myself!)

The hardest part about reading is that there were so many great books written BUT it never stops. So all these great books keep coming out. I feel like Lucille Ball at the factory. I can't stop the belt and I'm falling behind! heh

message 42: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 571 comments ^^^good advice and so true. Love the Lucille Ball analogy :).

message 43: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
I'm going to get back to this group on Wuthering Heights. And The Great Gatsby, for that matter. When I get the chance.

message 44: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Well, I HATED Dickens and I now can say I thoroughly enjoyed ACC. So I will give Wuthering Heights another chance (far into the future though). For me though, it's the language. And the fact that Bronte knew nothing about the lives that she wrote about so it's so inaccurate. I'm no English Lit major, but I've read a lot about it and they all say she didn't know what she was writing about (in the sense of how servants would talk and such) so that is why it seems "off". But maybe if I had people help explain certain parts I could enjoy it more. Maybe if I got a different printing too.

I cannot speak more highly about the PJ Lynch illustrated version of ACC. It really made the story so much more enjoyable.

message 45: by Shaindel (new)

Shaindel | 54 comments Hi, Meghan,

I'm an English prof and just *had* to comment on Wuthering Heights. Omg, it's my favorite novel in the English language (tied with Middlemarch by George Eliot). My dog is even named Emily Jane after Emily Bronte. It helps a LOT to understand the Bronte sisters to understand their work. I mean, their lives were grim. GRIM. The reason they all died so young is b/c their father was a parson, and back then graveyards were all next to churches, so they'd been drinking water contaminated by rotting bodies their whole lives. ICK.

And once, Emily Bronte was bitten by a rabid dog and didn't want to "alarm" her family, so she cauterized the wound *herself* with an iron she heated up in their fireplace. THAT'S that kind of woman who writes Wuthering Heights.

If you think about it, there is a REAL understanding of abusive relationships in that novel that most women NOW need to understand. I mean, Heathcliff hangs Isabella's puppies and she'll do ANYTHING to get him to love her. He beats her for not being Catherine. WOW.

There really is an immense amount of complexity there. And people from different cultures read it differently. Japanese students (a lot of the time) admire Isabella b/c she isn't histrionic. Her husband beats her, she's faithful, she takes it. They totally "get" her, whereas stereotypical American students LOVE Catherine who freaks out, hits her husband, etc.

I once didn't even get a professorship (I think) b/c one of the profs on the search committee tried to insist that Branwell (the Brontes' brother) really wrote Wuthering Heights. I FREAKED out (b/c she was a young, female professor), and I thought if SHE isn't a feminist, who would be? ARGH!

Well, I hope this helps (or else just that you don't think I'm crazy).

Happy holidays,

message 46: by Alison, the guru of grace (last edited Dec 23, 2007 08:07PM) (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Thanks, Shaindel. Wuthering Heights is dear to my heart as I read and enjoyed it at the very impressionable age of fourteen (before I was old, and hard...haha). You defended it much more brilliantly than I could have. It's still one of my favorites, too.

message 47: by Erica (new)

Erica Poole | 199 comments Wow, I miss you guys! I haven't been nearly as active as I would like! But I have to jump in here and say, THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE! I didn't see that anywhere, and I am surprised (although I did have to skim, my eyes are pooped!). My mom just moved in with me in the beginning of the week, hence the lack of activity here, but the good news is I can finally get her to read it!

Also, Meghan, I just bought Freakonomics! I have had it on my Amazon list for a bit with no luck and FINALLY ran across it at my favorite book store! I cannot wait to get into it! Whoo hoo!

Take care all, and Happy Holidays! Or not, whatever you do!

message 48: by Shaindel (new)

Shaindel | 54 comments You're welcome, Alison! I'm glad you appreciated it and didn't just think, "Wow, Lady, let it go!" :-)

message 49: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Stirrat | 201 comments Shaindel

I love your comments!! I love Wuthering Heights and would love to hear more! (Not missing school, no, not at all!) Middlemarch is probably my favorite (or at least top 5) novel of all time, so now I am dying to know your thoughts on Elliot!

message 50: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Stirrat | 201 comments Allison, we should start a club. I read Wuthering Heights when I was 14 as well. My teacher literally let me ignore her lecture and read my book because it was Wuthering Heights. I was beginning to think maybe I misjudged it because I read it too young, but I feel a little bit better now. Have you thought about re-reading it?

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