Tag Archives: reading list

Book Group Reading List 2017-18

Well, it appears that I totally skipped the 2016-17 list. If anyone is interested, let me know and I’ll unearth it and post it. The books we read are always interesting, but I won’t pretend they’re always light-hearted or fun.

October 2016: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. I guess it tells you a lot about my reading habits that several of my book group found this to be a dark read, and I did not. Horror and psychological thrillers give me a decent tolerance for the dark side.

November 2016: Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan. The group was mostly positive on this one, a tale of family secrets that twist and bind and separate two sisters who immigrate from Ireland to the U.S..

December 2016: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. It’s been a long time since a book split the group this strongly. Some vehemently disliked it for the violence inherent in the story of an immigrant Dominican family. Others fell in love with the wild and provocative writing style. I came down on the “love it” side. I thought the writing was refreshing, unique, evocative and beautiful. Absolutely too depressing of a story for our December read, though. We try to avoid that.

January 2018: Killer of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. This is a hard book to read, because it takes an unflinching look at American settlers and their despicable treatment of Native Americans, in a particular time and place. Hard to “like,” but more people should read this.

February 2018: Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple. Spoiler–I’ve already read this. Devoured it. Really liked it, because I could relate so strongly to the main character. Although who the hell names their child Timby?

March 2018: Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo. Among other accolades, Huffington Post lauded this as Best Feminist Book of the Year. But you all know HuffPost are boogerheads, right? This is the story of a marriage, set in Nigeria. I’m looking forward to learning more about a culture I’m currently ignorant of.

April 2018: Eyes Wide Open: Overcoming Obstacles and Recognizing Opportunities in a World That Can’t See Clearly by Isaac Lidsky. The memoir of a man losing his sight to a blinding disease. I have trepidations about this one. Not sure why.

May 2018: The Nix by Nathan Hill. This one fascinates me. A man encounters his mother, Faye,  decades after she abandoned her family. From Amazon, “The media paints Faye as a radical hippie with a sordid past, but as far as Samuel knows, his mother was an ordinary girl who married her high-school sweetheart. Which version of his mother is true?” High expectations for this one.

June 2018: Celia Garth by Gwen Bristow. An historical novel about a dressmaker who spies for the rebel cause in Revolutionary-era Charleston. I like a good historical. I like a good spy story. I love strong female characters. High hopes.

July 2018: 11-22-63 by Stephen King. Disclaimer: I did NOT submit this proposal to the book group, but I was happy to see it and voted for it. I already know it’s one of my favorites. Looking forward to the chance to re-read it and discuss it with other smart, funny women.

August 2018: Born a Crime: Stories for a South African Childhood by  Trevor Noah. Memoir by the new(ish) host of the Daily Show. He’s funny, smart and articulate on TV, so here’s hoping that transfers to the written page.

In September we have The Choosing, which is a potluck dinner where we talk about all the proposed books for the following year, and then we vote. This year Jennifer read the proposed titles and their descriptions, and she was so hilarious that I would like to nominate her to do it every year.

If you’ve read any of these, what did you think?

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No! More!

That’s right.

No more new books coming into this household. Not headed for my to-read piles.

Piles. Who am I kidding? I have an entire bookcase of to-be-read books, plus a pile in my office, a pile in my bedroom, and a smaller pile of books I just received for Christmas.

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So. A moratorium on books. I will not buy new books, not even ebooks, until I have diminished the piles stacked around my house–and reviewed them.

Of course, this new rule excludes books that are given to me as gifts (Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and there’s a new Bujold out, for crying out loud), books that are lent to me, books written by my friends (admittedly, I have a very broad definition of friend), and books that I might purchase for other people. (You do know if I gift you a book, chances are good that I read it first, right?)

Any bets on how long I’ll last?

Or how long it will take me to make a significant dent in this collection?

How do YOU deal with an out-of-control reading pile?

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The 2015/16 Book Group Reading List

New and improved! Now with more fiber! And extra cleaning power!

I’m in a mood.

These are the titles we’ve selected for this year. I’ve decided to note my preconceptions about the books, then I’ll come back after reading them to see how reality matches up with expectations.

October              Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty (Can’t wait to read this. Sounds quirky and fun. I don’t know how a crematory works, but I will after I read this.)

November          The Readaholics and the Falcon Fiasco: A Book Club Mystery by Laura DiSilverio  (I’ve already read this, and I’m eager to see what the rest of the group thinks. Crossing my fingers that we might be able to get the author to join us for our discussion.)

December          Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral by Mary Doria Russell   (I’m actually fairly neutral about this one. Not opposed to a Western. I suspect it will either be well done or over done.

January               Living with a Wild God by Barbara Ehrenreich (I think I would read anything she writes. There was some discussion about whether or not to read it in December, but some people thought it would be anti-spiritual. I disagreed, but I don’t really care when we read it.)

February             Death by Food Pyramid: How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Have Ruined Our Health by Denise Minger  (My initial reaction was: Yawn. I feel like this is a subject I already read a lot about, and people are constantly talking about, and I get enough of it outside of book group.)

March                 Mink River by Brian Doyle  (I voted no on this book, simply because it’s not very available (the library has 0 copies and the paperback is $18) and whoever wrote the book description should be taken out and flogged. It’s just a list of words, items that we’ll encounter in this fictional small town. I lived in a small town. They really aren’t that interesting. One of our members said she didn’t want to limit the books by what was available. I countered that I didn’t want to have to purchase all the books on the list. Since I know who recommended it, I suspect the writing will be beautiful.)

April                    We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh  (Neutral. Must be popular, because the wait for hard copies or ecopies at the library is hella long. Family drama. The American Dream.)

May                    Lila: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson   (This one intrigues me–homeless girl meets and marries a minister– but only 1 copy at the library and not out in paperback. Yes, ease of acquiring the book matters to me. But this one I’m willing to work to get my hands on.)

June                    The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (Set in England between the world wars, it could be interesting. My great-grandparents ran a boarding house, although I never heard many stories about that. Color me curious.)

July                     Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth  (Hard to get and I completely don’t care. Saw a little of the TV series based on this book and fell in love with it. When I saw this on the list of books, it was the first one I knew I was going to vote for.)

August                All We Had: A Novel by Annie Weatherwax   (Sneaky me, I’ve read this one already. I hope it will prompt some good discussion with the group. The storyline itself is not unfamiliar, but it’s not set in the 1950s or in a dysfunctional southern family. Sometimes I think there’s an unwritten rule that coming of age stories must be set in the 50s or 60s. Did we stop having seminal experiences that defined our transition from children to adults? Or are the bygone years tinted with the amber patina of nostalgia?)

September         The Choosing   For those new to this part of my life, over the summer the members of our book group submit possible books for the coming year. Prior to the September meeting, a list is sent out with title, author and description for each book. The meeting is a lot of fun; we eat (it’s a potluck), talk about the books, and vote.

And can anyone tell me why we have to append “: A Novel” to so many titles now? Is the general reading public really too stupid to figure that out?

Have you read any of the books on this list? Do you want to? Do you think I’m on target or way off base on any of these?

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What is the Book Group Reading? (Oct. 2013-Aug. 2014)

I’m pretty excited about this year’s line up. Some stuff that sounds interesting on its own, while other titles are things I would never have read without the impetus of book group.

So, has anyone read any of these? What did you think?

October:  The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin
November:   Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler
December:   The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
January:   Beyond Belief: The Secret Life of Women in Extreme Religions by Susan Tive  and Cami Ostmen
February:   The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
March:   The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud
April:   Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld
May:   Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
June:   Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
July:   When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman’s Journey from War to Peace by Le Ly Hayslip with Jay Wurts
August:   Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Woman’s Prison by Piper Kerman

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