Tag: book club

Parents Moving and Other Happy News

Sorry again for a week in between posts. It was one of those weeks that just flew by. I’ve been busy and happy and more than a little bit tired (the Olympics threw off my sleep schedule badly). Anyway, I’ve been having a lot of fun working on my youtube channel and movie blog. I am almost at 1,000 subscribers so if you aren’t subscribed help me out! 🙂 I have particularly enjoyed doing podcasts with friends. My friend Tom and I are almost finished reviewing all the Star Trek movies (that’s 13).  The last one will be this week.

I also posted my Disney Canon video of Hunchback of Notre Dame and my friend Christine felt really differently. We did a podcast and talked about our differences. I’m really proud of it and how it came out. It shows to the internet you can disagree without being disagreeable.

On non-youtube front there has been lots of stuff going on. The biggest news is my parents have officially moved to Utah. There was definitely a time when this would have annoyed me, having my parents so close. But now I’m actually really excited about it. It’s nice to have them close by so I can drop by and visit and have support when I need it. I’ve also enjoyed being close to Sam and Madeline my siblings who will now be living close to me. I went to movie screenings with both of them last week (went with Madeline to Kubo and the Two Strings– fabulous. And Sam to Morgan– not good). I’m really excited for the years to come and having all of that family support!

Other fun development is I’ve started entertaining a little bit more. I had people from my new singles ward who all live by me come over to watch the Closing Ceremonies of the Olympics. I got Trader Joes appetizers from all over the world! I was having so much fun I didn’t even take a picture. 🙂

I also went to my blogger book club last week where we read the graphic novel One Dead Spy which was very charming history book for kids. Then yesterday I had 4 of my friends over for my smaller book club where we talked about The Martian. The ladies all seemed to like it even if it did have a little more bad language than they are used too.  It was so much fun because I had freeze dried ice cream and tang for the treats! Perfect for your astronauts!

So that’s what has been going on. I’m very busy at work creating a game day campaign and my channel and blogging takes up most of my free time but I love doing what I’m doing.

What do you guys have going on in your life? Anything exciting? Let me know. 🙂

Also if you have any ideas for a regular series I could do on this blog let me know. I was doing the Teaser Tuesday book reviews but they didn’t seem to get much attention, so I stopped.  I could review books or music. Something simple I could do each week.

Recent Book Club Books

Hi!  I’ve had a bit of a writing block lately for this blog but I was thinking about the books I’ve read in book club and realized I haven’t updated any of you on my thoughts.

These mini-reviews are from my goodreads account and I’d love if you followed me there if you have an account.  Have you read any of the books we’ve read for book club.  The best were Animal Farm and Winter’s Tale (although not big hits with the club.  Oh well!).  I’d love to hear your thoughts either in the comments section or on the goodreads review.

Are you in a book club? What have you been reading?   Next up for book club is Bram Stoker’s Dracula which I have never read.  It should be out of my comfort zone which is the whole point of book club right?

My favorite book I’ve read this year is Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella so I included that review down below as well.

Happy reading!
Wonder by  RJ Palacio
WonderWonder by R.J. Palacio
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I thought it was ok. A good message for kids and competently written. Was a little too corny and predictable to be a favorite and I didnt think the different narrators was necessary but it’s harmless and fine

Dune- Frank Herbert
Dune (Dune Chronicles, #1)Dune by Frank Herbert
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I tried to read it but I kept falling asleep. No characters were engaging and the story didn’t go anywhere. It felt like Phantom Menace in book form. Honestly, all I remember is lots of talk about spices and trade. ZZZZZZZZ

Waiting for Normal- Leslie Connor

Waiting for NormalWaiting for Normal by Leslie Connor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Was much better than I expected it to be. I liked that the lead girl wasn’t a genius book nerd like so many of these types of stories. I liked that everything wasn’t too depressing (more abandonment not sexual or physical abuse). I liked the ending and the dialogue was very good.

There are a lot of books like this that I think are better. It made me think of Because of Winn Dixie which I think is a little bit stronger

Animal Farm- George Orwell
Animal FarmAnimal Farm by George Orwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a political science grad how can I not like this book? It’s very pessimistic though- kind of a warning of what could happen if the human race stops caring about each other’s well being but instead cares only for the power that others can give them.

This last read-through I was struck by how it comments on how easily we are manipulated. How Napoleon would say one thing, have one rule, and then talk his way out of said rule. Make the animals believe he hadn’t even had the rule in the first place. I think that happens in modern times a lot.

Not in the Script by Amy Finnigan
Not in the Script (If Only . . . #3)Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Felt like an episode of Beverly Hills 90210 but not nearly campy enough to be fun like that show was. The writer isn’t bad but I didn’t like the different perspectives and had little interest in the story of a bunch of TV stars

Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin
Winter's TaleWinter’s Tale by Mark Helprin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Everyone else I know hated this book and thought it was boring but I enjoyed it. I liked the romance and the unique setting. It was kind of like a magical version of Downton Abbey with time travel thrown in. I love time travel in books and Peter and Beverly were such an endearing couple.

I felt often like I was reading a Dickens or Bronte. The kind of book you never get these days with details about the house, clothes, city and everything else. I really felt like Helprin had a way with words and enjoyed how he wrote both elegant and passionate dialogue.

I can see why others find it boring but to me it was original and different and a pleasant surprise.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Out of the EasyOut of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There are things I liked about this book. It has an engaging narrator and the story was surprising (if falling into underworld/mafia cliches on occasion).

My main problem was I didn’t think the author went far enough. For a story about a girl raised in a brothel it is remarkably tame and unrealistic. Not that you have to share everything but you’d think these women had any other job. Never was there talk about syphilis or the range of early death and disease such a trade brought about. It was all a little too starched and perfect. Plus, all the prostitutes are kind of the cliched hooker with the heart of gold we’ve seen a million times.

The likelihood for severe abuse on a girl like Josie with a mother she had would have been extremely high. It seemed highly unlikely she could make it out so unscathed. Just the whole thing felt a little bit too much like Cinderella fairytale than a gritty portrayal like the author was going for.

There was something about the characters I struggled to relate too. They clearly have a different lifestyle and upbringing than I do but I didn’t feel emotionally connected enough until the end to Josie or any of the characters.

Sometimes I think in books authors will make their characters readers as a way to quickly ascribe a whole range of traits. Intelligent, dreamer, idealist etc. In this case I needed a little more character development than just those typically reader traits. The 2 love interests are also very bland and predictable.

It’s not a terrible book by any means. I did think the story was pretty good and the lead character fairly engaging and the feel of New Orleans is nicely done.

Girl on the Train

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Like a lame episode of Law and Order or CSI. Didn’t like any of the characters. Big reveal is obvious. Red Herrings lame. And I am so tired of books with different narrators. Just pick one! (seriously this is like the 5th book this year I’ve read with different narrators).

I’ve seen a lot of people compare this book to Gone Girl and I haven’t read the book but I really don’t see why. I’m not the biggest fan of the movie but to me it was much more carefully structured and unique than this incredibly generic mystery story.

Also the way it dealt with alcoholism felt very Lifetime Original Movieish.

Finding Audrey  by Sophie Kinsella (not for book club but my favorite book of the year)
Finding AudreyFinding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book so much! I can’t think of when I’ve laughed so hard. The interactions between Mom and Frank, Frank and Audrey, Audrey and Mom and everyone else were perfect. It actually felt like a real family but it was still very funny.
I also loved how it handled mental illness in a nuanced way that also felt real. The way it handled therapy, healing, anxiety, panic everything was perfect.
I loved the characters and story and voice.
It does have a fair amount of swears including F words several times.

To View all my reviews click on this link

Utah Book Month Week 1

Hey guys!  The month of August is Utah Book Month and there are going to be bloggers all over the state posting this month.  I don’t consider myself a ‘book blogger’ but I do appreciate what they have to offer.

utah book monthSince the beginning of the year I’ve been delighted to be in a book club hosted by Suey’s Books blog.  What’s inspired me the most about going to club meetings is how much these women read!  After discussing the book for book club we go around in a circle and talk about the other books we’ve read that month.  I typically have a goal of 2 books a month but they put that to shame!

Like check out Suey’s book list for July! http://sueysbooks.blogspot.com/2015/07/july-2015-reading-recap.html
The Duff by Kody Keplinger: Bianca is hurting, so she uses Wesley as her distraction.

Animal Farm by George Orwell: What happens when animals take over the farm and become human like? Nothing too good, that’s for sure.

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner: A rebel and a soldier team up to solve the mystery of their world and stop a war.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare: Tessa is wanted by an evil Master for her shape shifting powers and the rest of the Shadow Hunters must thwart this plan.

Elevated by Elana Johnson: What happens when you get stuck in a elevator with the guy you’ve been avoiding for months? A massive catharsis that’s what!

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch: Spring has taken over Winter and all the Winterians want is their kingdom back and their young king on the throne once again.

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang: A young Chinese American boy comes to terms with his heritage with the help of an old ancient legend.

And that’s on a month with a lot of travel!

It has really encouraged me to step it up a notch and at our last meeting I had read the assigned book plus 2 other books!  Right now I am finishing up Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella and LOVING IT!!  I’ve loved Sophie for years but this is her first for young readers.  I love the characters and it is so funny.  I don’t know when I’ve laughed so much reading a book.

finding audrey

It’s about a middle school girl who has some mental health issues (handled so well in story) and her family.  She has 2 brothers and her brother Frank dreams of being a grand champion in a video game, which drives the Mother crazy.  She is a neurotic and convinced of anything she reads in the Daily Mirror especially when she reads ‘5 Ways to Know Your Child is Addicted to Video Games”.

 

Anyway, I am trying to do better and read more and that is because of the influence of the book club, so thanks girls!

What are you reading?  Any recommendations?

Nora Ephron: I Feel Bad About My Neck

noraephronus

Any friend of the blog knows I love Nora Ephron.  If I could write like anyone it would be her.  She had a way of finding humor in the everyday female experience. Something as little as getting coffee, watching a movie or baking a cake could be witty and full of heart.

She unfortunately passed away in 2012 but in addition to her many movies (directing and writing) she wrote several delightful books of essays including the 2006 I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman.  This is not an important book but I kind of love it and it was our choice for book club this month.

Unfortunately nobody that had read the book was able to attend so I am going to share with all you what I would have shared with all of them.  Let me set the scene to start (I always try to make everything pretty but tried especially to honor the uber-classy Miss Ephron.

I wanted to do something really beautiful and decadent worthy of Nora so I made this russian cream
I wanted to do something really beautiful and decadent worthy of Nora so I made this russian cream

To make the Russian Cream you simply mix 2 cups sugar with 2 packets unflavored gelatin.  4 cups cream.  Heat till hot but not boiling.  Cool down and mix in 4 cups sour cream.  Put in molds.  Let set in fridge overnight.  Unmold and serve with fruit. It’s an easy recipe but it looks beautiful.

We had a pretty pink spread
We had a pretty pink spread
I found these beautiful peonies and I couldn't resist
I found these beautiful peonies and I couldn’t resist

So now you feel like you are at book club. Let me tell you about it.

One of my favorite essays Nora says:

What I Wish I’d Known”

People have only one way to be.

Buy, don’t rent.

Never marry a man you wouldn’t want to be divorced from.

Don’t cover a couch with anything that isn’t more or less beige.

Don’t buy anything that is 100% wool even if it seems to be very soft and not particularly itchy when you try it on in the store.

You can’t be friends with people who call after 11 p.m.

Block everyone on your instant mail.

The world’s greatest babysitter burns out after two and a half years.

You never know.

The last four years of psychoanalysis are a waste of money.

The plane is not going to crash.

Anything you think is wrong with your body at the age of thirty-five you will be nostalgic for at the age of forty- five.

Write everything down.

Keep a journal.

Take more pictures.

The empty nest is underrated….

Here was my version of

What I Wish I Had Known by Rachel Wagner

Travel more when you are young

People will not be real with you a lot of the time

Privacy is overrated

A $100 couch is just as comfortable as a $1000 couch.

Do not select the appliance package when you buy your house

Leaving singles ward sucks. Be ready.

A plate of spaghetti will change your life

The dream job is coming

DVR is a game changer

Date more in college

Panic attacks are the scariest moments of your life

Mr Sunshine is still hiding at 33.

Can never own too many maxi dresses

Aside from the basics most of what you learn in school you will never use

Good choice not going into debt

Look up open water swimming in 2001 not 2011

Paying dues will take you ten years

You are a leader. Stop resenting it and embrace it.

Nora and Cooking

Another essay I love is called Serial Monogamy:  A Memoir.  It is actually all about her relationship with cooking and food.  Throughout her life and marriages Nora had adventures in food.  At 16 her mother gave her The Gourmet Cookbook, then the Flavor of France, Julia Child, Michael Fields, Craig Claiborne, Lee Lun’s Chinese recipes, Marcella Hazan, Martha Stewart and Nigella Lawson.  Cooking took her through changes in career, 3 marriages and her children.  She even has internal dialogues with the chefs. It reminds me of the rat in Ratatouiee that has conversations with Chef Gusteau

She ends the section in a very sweet way “I especially like making her roast beef dinner, which is very much like my mother’s except for the yorkshire pudding.  My mother didn’t serve yorkshire pudding, although there is  recipe for it in The Gourmet Cookbook.  My mother served potato pancakes instead.  I serve yorkshire pudding and potato pancakes.  Why not?  You only live once”

I love that.  You only live once so make two starches at dinner.  It’s a lovely little essay.

Nora on Parenting

My favorite essay is on parenting.  Even though I am not a parent I am a child of parents and I find it very moving. She starts out saying “I gave birth to my children, which was not that long ago, when there was almost no such thing as parenting as we know it today”

“Back in the day where there were merely parents, as opposed to people engaged in parenting, being a parent was fairly straight forward.  You didn’t need a book and if you owned one it was by Dr.  Spock, a pediatrician and you rarely looked at i unless your child a had a fever…back in those days no one believed that you could turn your child into a different human being from the one he started out being…”

“All this changed around the time I had children. You can blame the women’s movement for it-one of the bedrock tentes fo the women’s movement was that because so many women were entering the workforce men and women should share in the raising of children; thus the gender neutral word parenting and the necessity of elevating child rearing to something more than the endless hours of quantity time it actually consists of.

Conversely, you can blame the backlash against the women’s movement- lost of women didn’t feel like entering the workforce or even sharing the raising of children with their husbands, but they felt guilty about this, so they were compelled to elevate full time parenthood to a sacrament”

She goes on to talk about the pressure people feel molding their children into these ivy league perfect people and then they grow up.  I LOVE the ending and I hope my parents feel a little bit of this when we are all back with all our idiosyncrasies and choices:

“Meanwhile, every so often, your children come to visit.  They are, amazingly, completely charming people.  You can’t believe you’re lucky enough to know them.  They make you laugh.  They make you proud.  You love them madly.  They survived you.  You survived them.  It crosses your mind that on some level, you spent hours and days and months and years without laying a glove on them, but don’t dwell.   There’s no point. It’s over.

Except for the worrying.

The worrying is forever”

I tear up whenever I read that.  The worrying is forever. I can picture my parents worrying about me and it makes me feel loved and I’m grateful for that love.

In Conclusion

Some of the essays are quite humorous.  There is one about her scandalous non-affair with President Kennedy and another about her life in an epic apartment in New York.  They aren’t all equally great but I love them.

It is the perfect summer book.  Light, heart felt and beautiful.  I don’t want to oversell it but I love it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts if any of you have read it since I didn’t get to talk much about it this morning.

nora-ephron-quote

 

 

Update on Book Club

images

This is quick post but I thought I would let you all know where the book list was at for my book club.  We are currently on book 35 which is a miracle in the world of book clubs.  The members have changed over the years and I’m the only one who has read all 35 books but I don’t have any problems with that.  Its been a pleasure to have a reason to read all of these books and I look forward to more books to come!

Most of the books I have read before and I don’t mind that at all.  Rereading books is like visiting an old friend and I love sharing them with new friends.   The reason I started with books I’ve read is because I was in a book club years ago where we went off a supposed ‘contemporary classics’ list and almost every book I hated.  Like not just disliked.  Truly hated.  (I always tried to be postive and find something I liked but some months it was hard- Catch 22 I know has its fans but I thought it was cynical and depressing).

It just wasn’t worth my time to read these terrible books so when I started my club  I decided someone in the club has to have read the book. Most of the time that person ends up being me but not always.  I’m always up for suggestions as long as the group is up for it.  Aside from the having read rule, I also try to keep the books pretty squeaky clean (I tried to venture a little outside that box once and it didn’t go over super well, so we stay PG in general).

Also, I usually pick a book that is around 200 pages or we give more time to read a longer book (for example, when we read Rebecca early this year we had 2 months because it took us all longer.  The benefit of having a small group is you can communicate and make changes when needed).

And I’m always looking for new members.

If you haven’t come out please do.  Our next choice is to read any Jane Austen book.  I read Pride and Prejudice and thoroughly enjoyed it.  We will meet July 13th 10 am at Kneaders in Draper.  I know it will be worth your time if you come.

What books have you enjoyed in your book club?  Have any of you lasted longer than 35 books for a club?  My aunt has a club that has been going for a decade.  That is an amazing accomplishment because people move and get busy.  I’ve found I have to be in near constant recruitment but to me it is worth it.  I really love it.

So here’s what we’ve read in 35 books

Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy
My Life in France by Julia Child
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
The River Between Us by Richard Peck
Charms for the Easy Life by Kaye Gibbons
Marriage and the Choice Made in Eden by Beverely Campbell
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Hunger Games vol. 1 by Suzanne Collins
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle  by Avi
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel
Life as we knew it by Susan Beth Pfeffer
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
Book Theif by Markus Zusak
Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Call of the Wild by Jack London
The Chosen by Chiam Potok
No 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis
Prizewinner of Defiance Ohio by Terry Ryan
Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson
Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Mama’s Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes
The Gift by Lois Lowry
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Jane Austen book (I read Pride and Prejudice)

Macbeth

Our bookclub book this month is Macbeth by William Shakespeare.  Kind of funny to go from Sophie Kinsella to Shakespeare but I guess that says a lot about my eclectic reading taste more than anything else!  I’ve really enjoyed reading and listening to it again this month.  I hope the language doesn’t seem too daunting for some.  I love it!

MacbethMacbeth by William Shakespeare

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day. To the last syllable of recorded time, and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle, life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”

Who could not like such poetry? What a ghastly and ghoulish tale full of murder, revenge, uprising, ghosts, witches and the madness of the human mind. It is without a doubt one of the greatest of Shakespeare’s works and one of the most unique, having elements of Hamlet, King Lear and Othello but still remaining a singular work.

I hadn’t read it for many years but what struck me this time is the theme of time. Macbeth learns his future, as many of us would wish to do, and then is compelled to make that future his own at any cost. How many of us would do the same? How many of us dream of a grand life and don’t realize that what we have at the moment is already as grand as we are meant to be?

I think most of us if given the opportunity for our dream life would make certain sacrifices that we would later regret. Hopefully not as dramatic as Macbeth but still I think we’d be lying if we didn’t admit to at least be tempted to do almost anything to get where we knew for sure we could get.

I also find the madness of Lady Macbeth very interesting.  How can we go from being so sure of something to being completely controlled and mad from anguish from it?  In a tail of witches and ghosts it is perhaps the twisting of the human brain that is the most terrifying of all?  They say all of Shakespeare’s tragic characters have fatal flaws.  No doubt Macbeth’s is the ability to be controlled and Lady Macbeth is the ability to control.  Can we not all also see ourselves in both flaws?

Makes you think right?

What would you do for the sure thing? for prophesied glory? What frailties would manifest themselves in you in such a moment? Those are  the questions of Macbeth.

PS. No surprise that I bring even Macbeth back to work and career ambitions…
View all my reviews

25 Books

I’ve mentioned my book club several times on this blog but today I have an exciting announcement.  Tomorrow marks our 25th book we have read together!  Now I have been the only one that has read all 25 books and the club members have changed sometimes monthly but somehow I have pushed through and we are currently going strong.  I am proud of our club and its success. 🙂

We even had one meeting where nobody came but I didn’t let it dissuade me because at least it kept me reading.  Ironically the month nobody came was a book I hated.  I’ve only disliked 2 out of the 25 books.  That said, most of the selections are one’s I’ve read and have a love affair with.  I admit my book club is a bit of a publicity stunt to push my favorite books and gab with my friends but as they are genuinely great reads nobody has minded much 🙂 (I always ask for other suggestions and we have done what others want such as Hunger Games or A Tree Grows in Brooklyn).

You will also notice very few fantasy/teen lit books because that isn’t my favorite genre.  Again, open to reading them but if it is left up to me I am less likely to chose those books.

Over the years I’ve noticed that it is best to pick books that are around 200 pages and aren’t super challenging.  It depends on the month and how busy everyone is.  We have ventured into a few classics and read Jane Eyre before the movie came out.  That was fun.

Certain books are better for inviting discussion but a good leader can pull questions and get the girls chatting about almost any book.  Some are just easier than others.  The Help is still one of the best discussions I think we have had and best turn outs.  Other popular choices were Scarlet Pimpernell, The Hiding Place, A Girl Named Zippy, Screwtape Letters, Prizewinner of Defiance Ohio, The Chosen etc.   We also had a great discussion with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which I hated and everyone else loved.  I think I stood my ground pretty well! 🙂

I also loved My Life in France not only because it is one of the most divine books ever written but because of the fun party I threw around the book.  To me, it was the most fun I’ve had at book club.

Another favorite of mine was the Book Thief even though nobody else in book club got through it that month. (I must admit I was so looking forward to talking about that book.  It’s so different and  unique.  Sigh…).  Will have to pick it again sometime.  Would love to read it again.

Obviously I love reading books over and over again (I’m that way with most anything in my life. Maybe that’s why I’m good at accounting.  Same thing over and over again).

I feel strongly that at least someone in book club must have read the book for it to be selected.  As the leader I am not going to give my friends a book to read without someone I trust endorsing it.  Unless it was written by the prophet- no way :).

Its interesting because sometimes I will read a book and not be that into it until book club.  Then after the discussion I am excited and interested in reading it again.  I saw this most clearly in Call of the Wild.  Not being a dog person, I just didn’t get it but once we discussed it I had a renewed respect for London’s writing.

In the end, I am really grateful for book club and the social and literary benefits it gives me each month.  I really look forward it and am thankful to every person who has attended a meeting or read a book.  If you haven’t come out but have thought about it, please do.  We try to pick fun, or at least inspirational books that will leave you uplifted and happy.  (I’ve been in some book clubs where all the books seemed to be such downers! Who has time for that?).  I already have about 6 books I’m dying for my friends to read and look forward to rereading myself.

I would love to someday convince a man to come to book club.  I’d love to get that perspective but I can see why they wouldn’t want to come.  Still, it would be really interesting.  Maybe I will just have to marry a reader. (which of course is my plan anyway!).

So, thanks for 25 great books.  Here they are:

Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy
My Life in France by Julia Child
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
The River Between Us by Richard Peck
Charms for the Easy Life by Kaye Gibbons
Marriage and the Choice Made in Eden by Beverely Campbell
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Hunger Games vol. 1 by Suzanne Collins
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle  by Avi
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel
Life as we knew it by Susan Beth Pfeffer
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
Book Theif by Markus Zusak
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Call of the Wild by Jack London
The Chosen by Chiam Potok
No 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis
Prizewinner of Defiance Ohio by Terry Ryan
Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson  

Update on Book Club

I haven’t mentioned my book club on this blog for some time.  I thought it’d be nice to give you an update.   Its been just over a year since I started the book club and at first it was difficult to find recruits.  Even now, each month there are 2 or 3 new people who test out the club, with a few of them sticking around.  I don’t think we’ve had the same formation of girls repeat a month in the entire year.  While this can be a bit of a problem in promotion and making sure everyone knows the club details, (especially those that do not check facebook or join the facebook group!), I’ve learned to appreciate the organic nature of the club and the different perspectives we continually have.

This month we even had our first member join via skype!  Emily was injured with a hurt back and didn’t feel she could take the drive (she drives the longest to get to my house), so we set her up on skype.  It wasn’t quite the same as having her there but a close second.  I was glad to get her perspective.   At least we know the method works for future ill or away members.

Over the course of this year we have read:

Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

My Life in France by Julia Child

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

The River Between Us by Richard Peck

Charms for the Easy Life by Kaye Gibbons

Marriage and the Choice Made in Eden by Beverely Campbell

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Hunger Games vol. 1 by Suzanne Collins

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle  by Avi

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel (that is this month’s choice).

Not a bad list if I don’t say so myself!  I think there is a good variety with everything from spiritual non-fiction, to young adult, to the classics.   I’ve enjoyed reading every book (except for one- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn- but you can’t have a home run each time at bat!).  However, as fun as the reading has been its the camaraderie and discussion which I’ve truly enjoyed.

Is there anything better than bonding over books?  I believe in talking about a book, whether in favor of it or not, you share a part of your soul- what moves and intrigues you, what inspires you to be better.  Over the course of these 14 books I have learned much more from my fellow club-mates than I could have ever grasped from the book alone.   Along the way I have come to realize new things about myself and my personality (as I have chronicled in several posts like this one)

More than anything else, I’ve had a lot of fun.  This year has proven to be one of the hardest of my life and what a comfort and joy it has been to know at the first of the month is book club- one evening when I can step away from my problems and just talk books (although, I still talk about my health more than I should).  It is nice to have a break and something to look forward to each month.  A time to socialize and share.  Its a small thing but I’m really grateful to have had it in my life.  So, thanks girls for coming!  I am so fortunate to have such great friends.

I have to stop writing because everything is spinning.  That still happens when I look at something for a long time.  Recovery is going as expected but it still feels slow.  No driving yet.  😦    Thanks everyone for the rides.

Also, we are continually on the hunt for new members so if you’d like to join let me know!

A Celebration of Julia Child

Tonight was such a fun night.  It was book club night and we read My Life in France by Julia Child.  I had read this book once before and I LOVE IT! Rereading it was a joy in every regard.  Naturally I had heard of Julia Child before this book but I had no idea how remarkable she really was.

At the ripe old age of 34 she married her husband Paul who was an artist and foreign diplomat.  Paul had spent years abroad before their marriage and already had a love for different cultures and food.  As luck would have it their first assignment was the embassy in Paris, France.  Growing up in Pasadena, CA Julia had never experienced anything beyond the bland food of the 1950’s-mostly prepared quickly by hired cooks.  However, everything changed on her first day in France when Paul took Julia to a restaurant in Rouen where she ate an unforgettable meal of oysters, sole meuniere, coffee and wine.  She had never tasted such rich and complex flavors and immediately fell in love with french food.  Bucking the trend of other women (even the french women) that surrounded her, she dived into the markets and recipes of France.

Eventually with the encouragement of her husband Julia enrolled and graduated at the famous cooking school, Le Cordon Bleu.   While gaining her culinary education she also met life-long friends and collaborators Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck with whom she started a cooking school called Ecole Des Trois Gourmandes.  Realizing her knack for teaching and explaining french recipes to American housewives Julia and her friends spent nearly a decade writing her masterpiece aptly titled Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  This is a book that inspired scores of women to embrace cooking and plan bold, exotic meals.  After  the books publication Julia started one of the first televised cooking shows called The French Chef, which became an immediate hit and ran for over 10 years.  Now Julia’s entire Cambridge, Mass kitchen can be seen at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.  Her books are still best sellers and My Life in France was adapted in the movie Julie and Julia (the Julia part is so much better than the Julie.  Meryl Streep totally gets Julia! Btw- I hate the book Julie and Julia).

While I appreciate Julia’s contribution to cooking, I am more impressed with her indomitable will.  I am awed that in her late 30’s she dared to start a whole new life.  She found her passion and had the courage to embrace it.  I relate because I have also had a moment where I needed to change my life and like her the change was hard but so worth it!  Now I am undergoing another change with my fitness challenge.  It’s nice to know I can look to Julia for inspiration!

My Life in France is also a beautiful depiction of a marriage between Julia and Paul.  They are an amazing couple-passionate, adventurous,  and unfailingly devoted to one another.  Julia was not only introduced to french cooking (and taught to enjoy food) by Paul but encouraged in every other aspect of her new career.  As a talented artist and photographer Paul sacrificed much to allow Julia to pursue her dream.  As Emily mentioned in book club Julia’s dream became Paul’s dream.  I may not know much about marriage but isn’t that the idea?

It is a great book!  Read it!

On a related note we had a great book club today.  I love entertaining and making things look beautiful for my friends. I love planning menus, arranging table settings and gathering interesting people.  To me a perfect evening is 5-6 friends, a good meal and a leisurely conversation.  People always thank me for all the hard work but it truly is a joy.  I just love it.  For tonight I did a little French spread in honor of Julia.  It was a simple but delicious with 2 kinds of pate (my first time with pate- yummy!), goat cheese, brie, various crackers, strawberries and french cookies.  Then several people brought “food memory” desserts including a delicious arroz con leche and tiramisu (thanks girls).  It was a wonderful night of sharing, chatting and delicious food.  Perfect.

I also made pins with the badge Julia’s cooking school.  This was a badge she wore throughout her cooking show and other public appearances.  I told the girls wearing this pin would “bring out your inner-Julia in the kitchen!”  They were very easy to make so if any of you want one let me know!  Thanks to everyone who came and made it a great night!