Tag: book clubs

Book Club, Favorite Books and a Party

So today was a great day! I’ve mentioned my book club many times on this blog but today was not only a meeting but a celebration of 5 years and 40 books.

I had a lot of fun picking up different items for the decor, designing the cake (executed by Cakes by Socorro out of Provo), getting favors and reading the book.  It was a lot of fun and all the work was well worth it.  It’s very satisfying to see something in your head executed and to give your friends an experience gift. I had a blast not just today but for many weeks, so it was well worth it.

A lot of people have asked me for advice on starting a book club.  Every group of friends is different (mine is an electic mix of people that are really only connected through me so if I want it, I have to do it)

Just for fun I also made 2 videos about books- one is My Favorite Books You’ve Heard Of and the next is My Favorite Books You Haven’t Heard Of.  What do you think?  Have you or have you not heard of the one’s I mention in either video.  Like or dislike them?

 

Even if you don’t ever look at youtube if you could subscribe to my channel I’d really appreciate it.  I’m working hard to make them more professional and learning a lot.

Book Thief Final Discussion

So this week is the final week for our Book Thief read along.  Check out Sueys books and Kami’s Library

Parts 7- conclusion
“I am haunted by humans.”
I must admit there are tears in my eyes.  I love these characters so much that even on a 5th read through I ache for them.  As I’ve said many times before it is an earned cry.  It is a cry because I care.    The whole theme of The Book Thief is encompassed when Death says the human race can be “so ugly and so glorious,”.  That is this book and what a book!

1. How did you feel when Max had to leave the Hubermanns? What did you expect would happen to him?

Nervous. For sure he was done for and nervous for all involved.  I kept waiting for Liesel to see him in the marches or that Death would tell me another prediction.  When she finally see’s him it is one of the most brutal and sweet scenes of the whole book.  5th time and still made me cry.

2. Why do you think Liesel ran out to Max when they finally did cross paths, even after she had seen what happened to Hans earlier in the book?

True love.  Real friendship.  Love overcoming hate.  Its a perfect moment of so many emotions and yet how could she have not?  There is a limit to how far any human being can be pushed.
3. What did you think of Death spoiling the ending a couple chapters before it actually happened? Did the warning make it easier to handle?

Ugh.  Its so sad.  I cry just thinking about it.  It reminded me of a eulogy at the beginning of a funeral.  Its kind of a summary of the life and then the rest of the service is the meat, the details, the stuff that really matters to creating a meaningful life.

4. Which death impacted you the most?

Ugh.  How do you pick.  Liesel grabbing Hans accordion and weeping over Rosa’s body.  Her kissing Rudy.  My heart breaks.  I guess Rudy but even smaller characters like the Holtzapfels  or Randolph the mysterious soldier are so tragic.  That’s how rich this book is.  You feel deeply for a barely mentioned character.  Its all mankind that’s death impacts me the most.
5. How did your view of Ilsa Herman change over the course of the book?

Ilsa is such a complex character.  Its like she refuses to allow all the pain to confront her and just focuses on one.  I think Zusak does this because he wants to show that the loss of humanity is real and each individual life should be grieved.  Also its interesting that the library is Ilsa’s.  She is a weak human being but she still has power in words like the word shaker

6. The power of words is such a big theme throughout the book. Which instances of powerful words stuck out to you? Or, which quotes from the book stuck out to you?

I already shared some.  A theme of the book is that we are all book thieves.  We all take the words of an author and make them our own.  Make them part of our lives.  That is what the word shaker teaches us that throwing words are the only thing that defeats evil. It also creates evil which is the scary part of the book and why only death could be the narrator.

I love the quote “I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”

word shaker
7. In this post Markus Zusak says:
In many ways I felt that the book is about Liesel’s different kind of loves – for Hans, for Rosa, for Rudy and Max, and for books and living in general.
Which of those loves resonated with you most?

I think friendship did.  I guess this is the love that I have the most of in my life. Friendship has saved me time and again.   It is the only love in our lives that is chosen aside from maybe marriage which is perhaps the greatest friendship.  To be someone’s friend is not required or expected where to support a spouse is.  To be a friend takes the ultimate love.  You see this time and again in the story.  Rudy and Liesel.  Liesel and Hans.  Hans and Rosa. Liesel and Max,  Rosa and Liesel.  Ilsa and Liesel.  Max and Hans.  etc.

I love the words of Death:

A DEFINITION NOT FOUND
IN THE DICTIONARY
Not leaving: an act of trust and love,
often deciphered by children

To be a friend is the greatest gift we can give someone and that trust is priceless.

8. Thoughts on Liesel and Death finally meeting?

It felt kind of like God and mankind meeting.  Like a judgement day where someone is admitted into heaven.

9. If this was your first time reading The Book Thief, is it what you expected?
If it was a reread, what did you notice this time around?

I noticed this reread the poetry of the book more than ever before.  I tend to skim books and skip sections of details.  This time I just read.  In many ways the book is an epic poem like Iliad or Odyssey.  Writing such as this is so sublime:

“It amazes me what humans can do, even when streams are flowing down their faces and they stagger on”

Another

“Usually we walk around constantly believing ourselves. “I’m okay” we say. “I’m alright”. But sometimes the truth arrives on you and you can’t get it off. That’s when you realize that sometimes it isn’t even an answer–it’s a question. Even now, I wonder how much of my life is convinced.”

10. Will you see the movie?

Yes.  I’m skeptical but was very pleased with the trailer.  I look forward to seeing it.  Should we get a group of Utahans and all go?

This is really cool. Book Thief mind map
This is really cool. Book Thief mind map

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)

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!

Thoroughly Uncool

aliceteapartysmall

I like to think of myself as a fun person- as a social person that people enjoy being around and for the most part I am. However, as I get older it seems to get harder to make friends and form groups?  Does anyone else find this to be the case? I don’t know if it is because I have such great friends and do not feel the need to make new ones or if other people are too busy, or perhaps I’m not as agreeable as I used to be? It’s funny because I think my skills as a host have only improved as I’ve gotten older- and yet there seems to be less to host!

What brought all of these thoughts up is I have been trying to organize small groups for our church ladies organization called Enrichment.  These groups are supposed to focus on a variety of topics and help all the women in the congregation feel included.  In past wards I have had success in gathering girls for book clubs, cooking groups, and movie nights, but not in this ward.  It is like pulling teeth to get anyone to come to anything.  Yesterday we had book club and I picked a Jane Austen- Persuasion (so good!)- and I am embarrassed to say nobody came except for my roommate.  A bunch of people had said they could come on Sunday but then nobody showed.   Only 2 called with excuses (one had a flooded basement and another had a bad flu).  On a side note- whatever happened to the notion of RSVP’ing.  I grew up in Maryland where a little of that Southern hospitality creeped into the culture.  If you said you were going to be somewhere, you better be in a hospital if you don’t show up.  At least a call explaining why you can’t come should be common courtesy.

Don’t worry- I wasn’t devastated or anything merely disappointed that I couldn’t talk about the book and that my pretty tea party went unappreciated. Boo hoo!  Thankfully Megan had read the book for her book club last month and so I called and we had a good discussion.  Plus, my cute nieces and sisters are coming into town so we will have a tea party together! (In fact, on Saturday we are going to the Princess Festival in Lindon- how fun will that be!).  The whole family is arriving tomorrow, and I can’t wait.  It has only been a couple months since I saw them but it feels longer.  Baby Nelle is crawling and pulling herself up already! Wow!

I am not intending this posting to engender pity- I have great friends, and I have a full life.  I am merely puzzled by my recent inability to attract new friends.  It isn’t just with Enrichment but the few times I have had parties the turnout is low.  I used to be able to always attract a crowd. Weird, hah? I’ve even offered to have a party up at the rental homes with a hot tub and pool table, but nobody has taken me up on it.  What do you all think?  Is there an age where movie nights and game parties are passe?

This is a funny entry on SWPL that applies to the need to host dinner parties.  Enjoy!

Though many would have you believe that white people come of age at Summer Camp, it’s simply not the truth. Immediately following graduation but prior to renovating a house, white people take their first step from childhood to maturity by hosting a successful dinner party.

It is imperative that white people know how to host a good dinner party as they will be expected to do it well into retirement.

At the most basic level, these simple gatherings involve 3-6 couples getting together at a single house or apartment, having dinner and talking for 5-6 hours. Though it might seem basic these events are some of the most stressful situations in all of white culture.

Hosts are expected to deliver a magical evening. The food must be home made with fresh, organic ingredients, the music must be just right (ambient, new, but not too loud), and the decorations inside the house should be subtle but elegant. The ultimate goal is to do a better job than the couple at the last dinner party while attempting to make everyone jealous and sort of dislike you.

The dinner party is the opportunity for white people to be judged on their taste in food, wine, furniture, art, interior design, music, and books. Outside of dictatorships and a few murder trials, there might not be a more rigorous judgment process in the modern world. Everything must be perfect. One copy of US Weekly, a McDonalds wrapper, a book by John Grisham, a Third Eye Blind CD, or an Old School DVD can undo months and maybe even years of work.

Even before guests arrive the pressure on the host is immense and it does not let up once people begin to arrive. While eating, drinking, and conversation are expected to fill up 5-6 hours, sometimes it’s just not enough. In order to fill the silence, white people will often turn to board games (Cranium!) or Wii Bowling. This lets everyone have fun together without having to really talk to each other, which is usually more fun anyways.

It is strongly encouraged to bring a gift to these dinner parties, usually either wine or some kind of dessert. If you are able to bring a particularly rare dish from your culture, you will be the star of the party. To seal the deal, be sure to explain as much as you possibly can about the dish: history, availability, and the proper way to eat it. Every white person at the party will be taking mental notes and will be in your debt for introducing them to something new and authentic. If a white person says they have eaten the dish before, it is best to respond by saying “you ate a watered down version. They don’t even sell this to white people, it’s that intense. Even I had to show ID.”

The entire party will universally acknowledge you as the top guests, even the hosts will appreciate you for bringing diversity to the table in both food and person form.

25 Things About Myself

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

I know these kind of things are lame but I actually like doing them.

1. I love to travel and if I had a ton of money I would vacation as much as possible.
2. I have 4 nieces and a step nephew who are the cutest ever.
3. The rest of my family dislikes tv but for some reason I love it. Favorite shows are How I Met Your Mother, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, The Simpsons, and 24.
4. I have whole sections of the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s memorized. It is my favorite movie.
5. I have a collection of Madame Alexander dolls. I got my first when I was 8 or 9 and now have 13.
6. I am an NPR junkie and love Car Talk, Radio West, This American Life and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.
7. I have a phobia of most animals and birds. I don’t like being licked, touched, pecked at or any of the other behaviors of animals. It’s weird but true.
8. There is nothing I love more than a Broadway musical. Les Mis is my favorite and it is the only show I have seen twice on Broadway. Amazing.
9. I sometimes do crazy things like go on a singles cruise to Mexico by myself. I like the challenge of it.
10. One of my favorite things is having a good conversation with an old, devoted friend. Best in person, but the phone is great too.
11. I love book clubs and even started going to one in September that I found out about on Craigslist. It’s been great.
12. Reading is another passion of mine. All types of books. Currently I am enjoying the Confessions of a Shopaholic books by Sophie Kinsella. They are surprisingly good.
13. My favorite names for a boy and a girl have always been Christian and Lili.
14. One of my goals in life is to someday live by the ocean. Hopefully Hawaii but I will take any ocean.
15. I went to college with my mom pregnant. My mom had the baby after my first summer term of BYU.
16. I love to swim. Give me a good pool and I am happy.
17. My current Hollywood crush is on Jeffrey Dean Morgan; although, Hugh Jackman always makes me dizzy.
18. I love politics and find it interesting to look at all sides of issues.
19. I hate mingling at a party. I seem to never know what to say.
20. I hate fake cheese
21. I have a birthmark on the top of my head that is bright red. I guess that’s another reason why I won’t ever shave my head!
22. I never went to prom in high school. My junior year I was actually on the planning committee but I got appendicitis and had to miss it. Senior year we had moved to California.
23. My current favorite food is greek yogurt with fruit and honey. I love it and I normally don’t like yogurt.
24.I love entertaining and enjoy the process of planning a menu and inviting friends.
25. I don’t like driving and honestly I am not very good at it.

So, that’s 25 things. 🙂

Simple Pleasures

President Joseph F. Smith said that seeking “to do well those things which God ordained to be the common lot of all man-kind, is the truest greatness. To be a successful father or a successful mother is greater than to be a successful general or a successful statesman.”

This is one of my favorite quotes because it reminds me that there is nobility in the small, simple acts of life.  There is a part of me that wants to be bold, brave and make an impact on the world.  I just have to remember that often that impact is felt by the simple and not the grand gestures.  The people that I most admire are the ones that lived quiet lives filled with love and service- grandparents, friends, parents etc.

I was thinking about some of the small activities that give me great joy.  I’d love for all of you to share some of your favorites as well.  These are in no particular order:

1. Reading a good book

2. Lazy conversations with friends and family- phone is great but in person even better.

3. A funny joke or story shared with a friend

4. Comics- Calvin and Hobbes, Dilbert and Peanuts are my favorite

5. Hugs from my nieces/nephew and siblings.

6. Morning scriptures and prayer

7. The mountains when they are clear and beautiful/The Ocean

8. The satisfaction of completing a task or job

9. Dinner/lunch with friends

10. Watching a good movie

11. Book clubs

12. NPR- especially Car Talk, Wait Wait and This American Life

13. Holidays

14. The comfort and security of being around loved ones

15. Fresh cut flowers- lilis and orchids are my favorite

16. Great music of all kinds

17. Cooking for myself or others

18. Singing particularly with my voice lessons

19. Shopping and finding a bargain

20. Finding the perfect gift for a friend or family member

So, I could go on and on.  The point is that I have much in my life to be grateful for and many happy, simple things that I can focus on doing well each day.