2012 Book Club Reading List (and some for 2013)

Norwegian Wood

You might recall this post, where I asked your opinion on which books to pitch at my book club’s yearly selection meeting. The book that I most wanted to read, was also the book that I feared would get overlooked because of its content, its overly depressing nature… the fact that it’s about yet another school shooting. Well, I was right. It didn’t go over well. There were some who wanted to read it, but when it came down to it, We Need to Talk About Kevin was voted out. I think I stared off in space in disbelief.  Oh, that was the wine.

My second pitch was The Sense of an Ending, but another member pitched it right before me. That left me with Lamb, which would have been a fabulous choice for discussion, but as soon as I mentioned that it involved an older man and a young girl, I saw the eyes looks elsewhere. Good lord! I just about lost it. Not because I was mad. Certainly not, but because it seems as if anything somewhat controversial gets shot down.

In my head, I was dying. I had about five other books in front of me so in a last ditch effort to get a book chosen, I pitched Norwegian Wood and it made it in. Now THAT surprised me. I haven’t read NW myself but if it’s like Murakami’s other books these folks are in for a wild ride. Plus, it’s sexually charged. Well, that’s what folks tell me.

We picked twelve books but we had books for this year already chosen so there is some overlap into 2013. Here is the list:

2012 Book Club Reading List

Jan – The Lost City of Z by David Grann [review] (chosen last year)

Feb – The Surrendered by Chang-Rae Lee (chosen last year)

Mar – The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds (my pick from last year)

Apr – The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan

May – The Girl Who Fell From The Sky by Heidi Durrow

Jun – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (my 4th time reading it)

Jul – The Moon and Sixpence by Somerset Maugham

Aug – Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Sep – The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

Oct – The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Nov – The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

Dec – The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

2013 Book Club Reading List (to be continued)

Jan – Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Feb – The Submission by Amy Waldman

Mar – Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) by George Orwell (my 4th time reading it)

At first, I felt so-so about the list. I went home and tried to decipher my chicken scratch (apparently, the chicken was on crack) and it just looked okay to me. Now that I have the official list, I am liking it more. It’s varied and balanced from what I can tell and should, for the most part, generate plenty of discussion.

Now, if I could just pull myself out of the reading rut I’ve found myself in, I’d be thrilled to pieces!

Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Anticipation

Oprah's Book Club

Oprah announces her book club pick today (as if you didn’t know). I think this is about the only time that I watch Oprah. I used to love her show but there was one show where she blasted a major hotel chain for not allowing her to bring her dogs with her. I could see how a dog lover could take offense to that, but she claimed that she was Oprah, and therefore, the hotel should have made an exception. Ever since that episode, I have been lukewarm over Oprah.

BUT…

The books that are chosen for her book club are usually discussion-worthy. Some might say depressing, but I think all of them have been pretty good picks for the most part. So, what’s she going to pick today? Some say she is going to pick this…

Freedom

I don’t know. There’s been a lot of buzz over this book, and supposedly, someone leaked a photo of this cover with the Oprah seal on it, but I don’t know. She wasn’t too pleased with Franzen’s previous statements about her show and after all, she IS Oprah (don’t you forget it). What do you think? You think she is willing to go down that path again?

If you think she is going to pick another book, then which one? I am horrible as guessing these things but it would be fun to see what you think.

UPDATE: Yep! She picked Freedom! It’s already posted on her website.

I’m Guest Posting Today!

Today, I am guest posting over at Booking Mama for Julie’s Book Club Exchange series. If you haven’t stopped by to check out the series, please do so! You can view the post here. Thanks Julie!

Review: Things I Want My Daughters To Know

After a couple of power outages (insert snicker here) I finally managed to finish Things I Want My Daughters To Know by Elizabeth Noble. Barbara, who is dying of cancer decides to write letters to each of her daughters. These letters are shared with them after her death along with one of her journals. As you can imagine, these letters tell of her love for them, what she hopes they achieve in life and also a secret that she had been carrying with her for quite some time.

First off, there are many daughters to speak of. I was a bit distracted by the number of daughters. There are four of them. Jennifer is married to Stephen and it not happy with her marriage. She is uptight and prissy. Lisa is a bit more fluid. She is dating Andy, a really nice guy and she’s not sure where the relationship is going or if she even wants one with him. Amanda is the “wild child”. Always moving, always off to another country. I really liked Amanda. She meets Ed and we get to see a softer side to her. Hannah is the baby of the family at sixteen years of age and she is the product of Barbara’s second marriage to Mark. I don’t feel that Hannah’s character really came through for me. She seemed very one dimensional and flat. However, I adored Mark, Barbara’s second husband. He seemed almost too good to be true but a great guy to have in the family.

My main problem with this book is that I really did not like Barbara. I didn’t hate her, but I didn’t like her. Her letters were a bit on the shallow side and her decision to share her secret in that way… I did not approve of it. I “get” that parents can be flawed. I’m a parent and I am in no way perfect. Not even close, but the letters were not affectionate to me. Not really. They sort of made me feel as if Barbara was a bit of a coward. Writing letters about stuff that probably should have been shared in person.

At the end, I was left wondering whose story this was. I felt that Noble tried to give the characters equal time but in doing so, I never got to hear any one character’s voice to its fullest. I also felt the end was a bit rushed. As if tying up all the loose ends was an issue. I really would have liked to have heard this story through Mark’s voice. He was truly the anchor in all of this.

As for a book club pick, I could see this being discussed by a book club. There are lots of issues to debate and question and the development of some of the sisters was quite good and I wanted to know more about them.

I received this book from Jennifer over at Book Club Girl as part of her online radio show with the author which can be heard here. The copy of the book that I received has a reading guide in the back of it which has some really good questions and includes insight from the author. If you’ve read the book, let me know what you thought of it.

Joshua Henkin On Reading Groups

Each month novelist and creative writing professor Joshua Henkin shares behind-the-scenes stories about his visits with book clubs — in person, over the phone and online with Reading Group Guides, an online resource for reading groups.

Click here for his December post.

Click here for his January post.

Be sure to check back each month to read the rest of the series! I think it’s wonderful that Mr. Henkin makes himself available to book clubs like this. No matter how good the writer, a reader always has questions so having him available is a definite plus!

Mr. Henkin’s latest book is Matrimony which I really enjoyed. You can read more about Mr. Henkin and Matrimony here.

A Novel About Mathematics

I was catching-up on all my bookish research and came across this little gem over at Book Group Buzz, The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa. When I read the article, it reminded me a lot of that T.V show from the seventies, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father. Now, I was too young to watch this show when it first came out (ahem) so I watched it in repeats…yeah, that’s right.

Anyway, click here for the Book Group Buzz article. It comes out in February and I am adding it to my TBR list right now. Doesn’t it sound good? I love the cover too. Cherry blossoms against a blue sky with some mathematical symbols thrown in. This is the same author who wrote The Diving Pool: Three Novellas which also looks very interesting.

If You Could Choose One…

Each January, my book group gets together to pick our reading list for the entire year. It’s a difficult task and I know for a fact that some of us have been known to get all worked up over what to suggest, etc. We makes lists, we take notes and then when the evening arrives, we are not 100% confident that the group will like what we’ve brought. There’s nothing worse than the group shooting one of your suggestions down.

I remember pitching The Road by Cormac McCarthy back in 2007. I think I read two sentences and almost everyone said that it was too dark and depressing. I, of course, read it on my own and am still in awe of it. Several of the members have since read it on their own and agree. Was it my delivery then? Did I not SELL it? It would have been a great discussion book don’t you think?

However, this year…all of my suggestions were selected (The Meaning of Night, Mister Pip, and Banker to the Poor). All were well received too. Whew! I don’t think I pitched them any differently than I do any other book. I think I was just lucky!

My group meets on January 22nd and my hands are already sweatin’. As you can see from the graphic above, I already have some titles in mind. That graphic does not truly illustrate my complete list as there are too many to list and if I really think about it, I can easily come up with at least a dozen to pitch.

Here’s where you come in. If you could choose one book to pitch, what would it be and why? We are a varied group and read a lot of different genres but we haven’t been too interested in “bubblegum” lit (my term) or romance novels. It’s also been awhile since we’ve read a classic.
You think you can help me with this? Sometimes it’s harder to come up with just one!
(Note: the format is all screwy on this post and I haven’t a clue why!)
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