Monday, April 2, 2018

Tuesday, April 24, 2018 -- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

   May 22 --  New Book Club Selection by Members 
  June 26 --  The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
   July 24 --  The Bohemian Flats by Mary Relendes Ellis

We will meet at Park Grove Library at 6:30 pm for this book club discussion.  You are welcomed to join us.

In May we will choose the next cycle of books for our club. If you are interested in attending, please check in with one of the librarians at Park Grove Library to find out more information and location of meeting.

Just a special note to book club members.  Would love to hear your thoughts & opinions on the book club, whether you were at the discussion or not!  Share what you thought about the book.  There is a spot under the post for comments, you can do a few different log-in programs or do it anonymously but feel free to write your name!

Monday, March 12, 2018

March 27 House Rules by Jodi Picoult

House Rules was our book this month, with a dozen of us having a great discussion.  All of us loved it or at least liked it to some degree.  Some one said that Jodi Picoult is a good researcher for her books. Most had read a few of her books, one member has read all her books.

The author used different characters to tell the story, their perspective, and some of us even noted the font was different on each chapter.   The multi-viewpoint novel was a bit confusing for one person, but another shared, at least in this book, they stated the name above each chapter.  One member said she liked the different narratives, it gave you a broader sense of what everyone felt.

One person said at first they weren't sure about it, but when the mystery part of the book came in they wanted to know more

The story is about a young adult who has Asperger's, and one person said Jodi Picoult did a good job of showing us the inside of the brain of an austic child.  One member said that Jodi added so many components of Asperger's, this is not the norm.  Some had family members who were autistic and could relate to that part of the story.  We talked about the causes of it, what really does cause it?  A member said "why do we have to have all our shots at once."  We talked about the "other child" like Theo, the one who doesn't have autism.  "It must be extremely hard to not disadvantage the 'normal' child (per sake of conversation), giving a lasting impact.  It becomes a family issue, impacts in extreme ways."  Another member said they wanted to find out "what happened to Theo, we don't know for sure what happened."

One of the questions for the book club was about this statement Jacob said: "The concept of Asperger's is like a flavoring added to a person and although my concentration is higher than those of others, if tested everyone would have traces of this condition too."  We talked about how we do have to some degree, some of the frustrations and struggles they go through.  A lot of people have anxiety.  A simple one, which Jacob found he needed to do, was to have your money in order, facing the right direction.  Some of us could attest, we needed to do that too.

Another book club question was "Mark Maguire perceives as a "Get out of Jail Free card' (p285), whereas a defender general observes that "Vermont's decidedly crappy when it comes to psychiatric care for inmates" (p231) and Neurodiversity Nation believes "neurotypicals' are trying to 'destroy diversity' for autistic people (p321).  Who is the closest to the truth?  What kind of social provisions are made for Jacob at home, at school and in the wider community?  Are they excessive, inadequate or inappropriate?"  We had some great conversation on this. One person said we can do and should do more to help make accommodations, working to the norms; there should be a way.

Character Emma Hunt -- she is a determined advocate for her kids.  Jacob described his mother as a champion.  Made the house rule:  Clean up your messes, tell the truth, brush your teeth twice a day, don't be late for school, and take care of your brother, he's the only one you've got.

Character Jacob Hunt -- doesn't get "social aspects", super amazing at remembering facts, sees things in black and white.

Jacob doesn't have to put time into relationships, he doesn't need to.  Your heart determines so much to do, what you do, it is a blessing to be detached, 'Oh, oh well, that just the way it is." No emotional meltdown, too, is that a blessing, not to have that?  We have the ability to process, he can't chose it, so it is a disadvantage to it.  The disadvantage outweighs the "blessings."

The house rules -- take care of your brother.  Jacob knew he had to take care of his brother.  He never was asked directly, who did it.  Jacob thought Theo had done it.

We thought the book would have been so different with out the forensic component.  Again, like a member said, we missed not having a judgement, what happened?  At the end of the book, it said "Think whatever you want.  The only thing that really matters is this:  I'd do it all over again."  Jacob loved his brother Theo and house rules, take care of your brother.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng

Nine book club members joined in on the discussion of The Garden of Evening Mist by Tan Twan Eng.  We were treated to special tea for the evening by our book club leader!

The book was well-liked and created a lot of dialogue over many aspects that we were not previously aware of.  A few of us mentioned that the book was tough to get through, especially at first.  Seemed like there was a lot of jumping around in the book, one member said it would have been nice to have had years noted in the beginning of the chapters.  There were many words written in a foreign language so was a little hard.  There were little pieces that were thrown out to us at the beginning of the book and we didn't know how that fit in until the last third of the book.  One member said "he left little clues, while developing the characters"  The character development was good for the ancillary characters, their stories were woven together in one way or another.  "There was a lot of mystery around the characters, and not until the end of the novel was it revealed, piece by piece" one of our members said.  There was a lot of description in his writing someone shared:   "It might have been a little too ambitious, he put everything into the book, it might have been too much."

We talked about the depth of character development, including about Yun Ling's glove, that covered the abuse she sustained while  in camp with her captors.  The character development went so far to include the music that Emily & Magnus listened to at the end of the evening.  There were so many aspects to building the many characters in the book.

A member stated:  "It makes me humble what little I know of people in the world.  I learned a lot from this book."  I think that all of us agreed in that statement.  One member, who was a 2nd grade teacher said they studied about Japan and loved it.  We learned about Japanese gardening.  We didn't know that Japan attacked this area before Pearl Harbor.  We learned about Malay (Malaysia) and that Yun Ling was Straights Chinese.  We learned about the Boer War, about tea, about conflicts in Malaysia.  It was good to read about historical fiction in the book.

We talked about memory, survival guilt and forbidden love in this novel.  Yun Ling shared her story with us, her journey.  A member said "I felt a tremendous sense of sadness from what she suffered, made me like her more than what I did."  We learned she did things to survive, even as a snitch in the concentration camp, which was frustrating for us to read about.  She became successful in her life, becoming a judge, which she especially used to become a tribunal war judge so she could find her camp.  A member said:  "Yun Ling wanted to keep her secrets to herself, it was a constant battle for me to crack her open."

Memory was such a big part of the book.  Magnus' garden contained two statues, the Goddess of Remembering and the Goddess of Forgetting.  One member said, that her memories were so painful, she couldn't process it enough and what was taking her life, was taking her memories.  She didn't have control over her own destiny, she was always surviving, even when she lived with Aritomo, having been taken by the CT.  She felt survivor's remorse because of her sister, and the only one who survived the camp.

We discussed Aritomo's horimono on Yun Ling.  She has scars on her back, but they were changed when he did the horimono.  We wondered, did that heal her.  It was interesting to find out it was a map that Aritomo mastered, a clue to the question, maybe, about where the treasure was hidden.  One member said they wish they had more information at the end, many unanswered questions.

We thought the author did a great job, and was interested to learn he was an attorney.   A few members had read his first book A Gift of Rain, and liked it better than this book!  Many were interested to read that book. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier

A dozen members checked in at Park Grove Library to discuss The Last Runaway by Tracy  Chevalier.  As a book club, the first thing we do is go around the room, say our name and whether we liked the book or not and why.  Many said they liked it, enjoyed it and it was a light read.  Some thought the quilting part was interesting to read and some thought the religious aspects were intriguing and we discussed both further later on in discussion.  One member liked that the Underground Railroad was a part of the book, and many agreed they liked that.    One member said she was reminded of the book, "The Invention of Wings" by Sue Monk Kidd.  "It was an immigration story" one member said.

One member said it was a clash of worlds between the Quakers and the Americans.  The world was influx, their beliefs and viewpoints came up against each other.  Another stated that they didn't know much about Quakers so liked that was brought out in the book.  We talked about the language, the "Thee" and "Thou."  Was it because these were biblical words that they continued to talk like this?  Quakers are born into the faith -- it is a dying breed because of that.  We talked about the Amish, how their communities are thriving and we talked about the Shakers.  Where did the Quakers originate?  They go back to England but how did it start and when?  We discussed that it was their Quiet Time that was intriguing at their meeting.  They didn't have a minister, one thing we noted.  They sat in silence for hours, a couple of hours at least, unless someone was moved to speak.  Honor knew Quakers didn't believe in slavery, but there were conflicts within the group.  Blacks were at the meetings but they sat on different pews.

We talked about Honor.  Honor came over from Bridport, England to Faithwell, Ohio with her sister, Grace, who dies while on their journey to Ohio and Honor continues to find the man that Grace was to marry, and other Quakers in that community.  We talked about how she couldn't go back, she was so sick on the boat ride over and it wasn't for the faint of heart to come to America.  Did she think she would marry her sister's fiance, Adam?  She gets there to find out that isn't going to work to even live there, as Adam's brother also had just died and now he was helping to take care of his brother's wife, Abigail.   We felt that in England, she didn't have to make decisions like this.  She lived with her parents who helped make decisions, her religion was what it was, you believed and that helped you to make decisions.  Now she was here and what was she going to do?  One member said "I felt sorry for her and then at the end I didn't have as much respect as she questioned her beliefs."

We loved the letters, at the end of the chapter.  How many immigrants never saw their family again?  We were astonished at the time delay in the letters -- at least 3 weeks.

Honor had to believe others would be good to her, had herself in a position to trust others.  She had to take a leap of faith.  Not a lot of choices in her circumstances and she had financial constraints.  We talked about Belle, Honor seemed happiest when she was with Belle.  Belle was unusual, she wasn't a Quaker, she was a drinker and a strong woman.  She had her own business, with out a husband.  Some of us felt that Honor had a lot of conflict with her faith.  There weren't many choices in regards to love, either.

She did have an attraction to Jake and did marry him.  We weren't sure if we could believe the corn field fling!  We wondered if she would have married Donovan.  He did say he would change, work for the railroad.  She said she could see the light in him.  She had that spark with Donovan.  We felt that she seemed bolder when she was with Donovan, felt more liberated.  She didn't talk to Jack and the other Quakers like she did with Donovan.  We talked about how Donovan changed once Honor had her baby.  It was a tragic end with Belle and Donovan.

We liked the Underground Railroad woven into the story.  We like the part at the end where Mrs. Reed said -- you can't save them all.  "You jues one small link in a big chain" Mrs Reed had said.  Both Mrs. Reed and Belle encouraged Honor to go back to Jack.  Belle tried to dissuade her from acting upon Donovan.  Mrs. Reed also told Honor, loss is a part of life and it brings change.  Keep going, do what you have to do.

There was a lot of loss. Honor, her sister, her homeland; Belle, her husband (Donovan ran him off); Mrs. Reed, her husband, leaving others behind; Jack, his Dad, their farm and community.  Honor learned about resilience from Belle -- you go on and find a way to live.  Honor and Jack along with Comfort did that at the end, found their own way away from Faithwell.

The book is titled "The Last Runaway" -- we discussed who was the last runaway?  It was Honor we thought but, too, there is always going to be another runaway, maybe in reference to Mrs. Reed's comment or in reference to Virginie.

Monday, December 11, 2017

December Book Club Holiday Meeting, Tues, Dec 19 6 pm

Park Grove Library Book Club will meet for our Annual Holiday Gathering, Tuesday, Dec 19 at 6 pm.  If you are interested in joining us, you may RSVP to the email address listed to get more information.  We will have a potluck meal and a book exchange, great conversation and fun!
 Please see the invite for more information.  

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Ledger by Lloyd Holm

We will meet at Park Grove Library at 6:30 pm for this book club discussion.  You are welcomed to join us.

One of our book club members has a connection to this author! We will look forward to having that revealed at our next meeting.  I did hear some of the book club members say you can download this book for a reasonable price.

We do meet at the Park Grove Library, but in December we will be meeting off site and that location will be announced at this next book club.

Just a special note to book club members.  Would love to hear your thoughts & opinions on the book club, whether you were at the discussion or not!  Share what you thought about the book.  There is a spot under the post for comments, you can do a few different log-in programs or do it anonymously but feel free to write your name!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Oceans at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

We had a full house to discuss this interesting book, that one person very well described as 'magic realism.'  Most of the members, 18 of whom were in attendance, liked/loved the book, but there were a few that did not enjoy the book, of which one person said, " I was anxious to see what others liked about the book."  Another said she "didn't like it at first, but then couldn't put it down," but she said, "if I never read it, I wouldn't have felt bad.  "I liked it and didn't like it" another said.  One more person said in regard to her not liking it as well "Reading the book went quickly, but I didn't enjoy it.  It was well-written and I would call it magic realism, and to write in that style is incredible.  Getting that type of writing to flow so easy, as this author did, is hard.  I respect that."

Of those that liked it said, "It was a fantasy book that wouldn't fit in a box."  "The fantasy and reality were very close," one member said, "weaving modern day reality into fantasy.  He pulled me into the story."  Another said "The way it was written, I couldn't quit!"  "Loved the fantasy part of the book, very creative, reminded me of fantasy like Alice in Wonderland."  Several members listened to the audio version of the book.  One person said he had a wonderful voice, and another added "I would listen to the author read a phone book."  She had also read his other books and enjoyed them.  Someone said they were reminded of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.  Another said she thought The Shack reminded  her of these three women.  "It was pro imagination, pro library" someone said.

One person said "I like that when I'm not reading the book, I am thinking about it.  Kids have a different reality than we do, with perspective and sorting through reality."  Another said she enjoyed the part where he put on the old night gown and it reminded her of Wee Willie Winkie -- it was a like a museum in there.

We read from the book, in chapter 10,  page 112  "Oh, monsters are scared," said Lettie.  "that's why they're monsters. And as for grown-ups...."She stopped talking, rubbed her freckled nose with a finger. Then, "I'm going to tell you something important. Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside either.  Outside, they're big and thoughtless and they always know what they're doing.  Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age.  The truth is, there aren't any grown-ups.  Not one, in the whole wide world."  She thought for a moment. Then she smiled.  "Except for Granny, of course."    Summarizing, the leader said, "We try to have ourselves be adults, but we all have a child within us."

We talked about the parents of the narrator (no name was ever given in the book).  We questioned why did his parents not know that no one would show up for the birthday party?  Were they a dysfunctional family?  They weren't connecting with their kids?  Someone said, maybe the kids that were invited knew the family was different and didn't want their kids to go to the party.  "The books were the star of the party" for our narrator, someone said.  He loved that no one showed up and that he could escape to read his new books.  Parents had no empathy when his cat was killed.  The Dad, in the first part of the book made toast that was burnt and gave it to the narrator, burnt.  Later we read that Dad didn't like his toast burnt.  We questioned this and wondered what else were we lied to, what else was going on?

After the accident and death of the families renter, the narrator went with Lettie and the women.  We talked about the "hold my hand" that Lettie told the narrator.  He dropped her hand once and the monster got in his foot.  We talked about 'holding my hand.'  We tell that to those we care for, to cross the street, to be safe; we are safe when we are holding hands.  When he wasn't holding her hand, evil happened.  It was like a fall from grace - evil enters his body, evil, mystery and horror.  He brought evil back to his family, Ursula  But Ursula Monkton didn't see herself as a villain, she gave people what they wanted.

We talked about the coin in the narrator's mouth.  Ursala was already there before he even met her.  She had thrown money to his sister and their friends.  She was giving out the coins. She had come back through the hole in his foot.  Someone mentioned was that part real -- maybe he had stepped on a nail, like some of us had, or knew someone who had.  Was it infected?  What part was real?

We talked about the women at the end of the Lane.  Lettie, some felt, was like a maiden, enchanted, the new beginnings, the promise;  Mother was ripeness, fulfillment, stability (she was always making sure they had good food) and the Grandmother was the Crone, full of wisdom, repose and endings.  We found ourselves liking the women at the end of the lane.  Some felt they were like the Mythical Demeter, Persephone & Hecate.  The Crone meets our narrator at the end of the book.

We talked about the Hunger birds -- the mystical bird.  In reality, they were the critics, the judgement, the haters.  They were the cleaners, taking something out that doesn't belong, scavengers that are for balance in the world.

We questioned in our group, how much of the story was real, how much was fantasy, how much was myth, his imagination?  Was his family his struggle?  Did he go to get away and go to a decent home, a safe haven with three women?  It was at the time of the suicide victim and he was traumatized by it. Or was it his imaginary friends?  He did go back though, to visit, we read, once when his divorce, and then at this death, while he experienced trauma in his life.  We thought he was introverted, he was isolated as an adult, he didn't want to be around others at the funeral.

Was his memory altered, were things fabricated?  Every time you retell a story, from memory, it changes.  If we walked out of the library and was asked a question, we would have 18 different answers.  Memory is your lens of childhood.  The story may be told, someday in a movie, as Tom Hanks, is said to have bought the rights to the story, through Focus Features.