Thursday, December 17, 2009

In the Spirit of Christmas

Our annual Christmas meeting was held on what turned out to be the coldest night of the season. But inside of Kelly's home it was warm and cheerful as we gathered around her decorated tree, sipping at tea and munching on hors d'oeuvres both nutritious and sweet.

Eventually we got around to discussing this month's book selection, Dewey: a small-town cat who touched the world. Most of us enjoyed the book as an easy and light-hearted read for the busy month of December. A number of us commented favorably on the story and memoir combination, mixed with historical information about the small town of Spencer, Iowa. Only one of us put the book down after the first few chapters. She found the book to be 'too cheerful,' but may pick it up again at a future time.

The book sparked a lot of discussion between us about the cats in our lives, from rescued kitten stories to an anecdote about a dog who puts the cats to bed every night. And several people shared stories about the small towns where they grew up. We discovered, again, that the world is a small place, after all.

Mary did some research and located some video about the legendary Dewey. It can be seen at: For anyone who is a cat lover, this book is highly recommended.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

New Year's Reading

Diane has finished compiling the book list for the year ahead. For Deborah, who has asked, (and is welcome to meet with us), I am including the following list for the first four months of 2010:
  • Jan: Smilla's Sense of Snow, by Peter Hoeg (fiction)
  • Feb: Loving Frank, by Nancy Drew Horan (fiction/factual)
  • Mar: Out Stealing Horses, by Per Petterson (fiction)
  • Apr: Little Bee, by Chris Cleave (fiction)

We will be returning to our usual meeting schedule of the fourth Tuesday of the month, meeting at the library conference room at 6:30 p.m.

There will be more titles to come. We have a selection that also includes historical fiction and non-fiction books. Authors in the upcoming year's readings also include Geraldine Brooks, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Kathryn Stockett.

It's December!

The cold has arrived and the holidays are approaching. We are all set to meet on December 15th, (one week earlier than usual), at 6:30 p.m. for our Christmas party meeting. Kelly has graciously agreed to share her home with us for this gathering, a discussion of the book Dewey, the Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, by Vicki Myron.

We will be sharing treats, so please bring a tasty goodie, and also a book or two to exchange with others. For every book you bring to leave, you need to take one home with you. This year we should not have any books leftover.

Leftover treats? Is there such a thing?

Thursday, November 19, 2009


We met on Tuesday with no specific book to discuss, so we spent our time talking about an assortment of novels.

Our meeting this month was held for planning our book list for the next year. Ten of us met, with everyone contributing suggestions of between two and five, (or six?), book titles. As we went around the table, each person explained why they were making their suggestions, and after they finished, everyone voted on which book to include on our list. It worked out very well. As a result we have a reading list for 2010 that even includes a Christmas selection!

A benefit to this process was that so many other books were researched and presented, we learned about some great reading resources for non-book club reading.

So, thank you, those who let me know you are reading this. And, to you, who are reading now, Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Question for Readers

Maybe you've noticed that entries on this blog have been slowing down and becoming more intermittent. Maybe you haven't noticed.

That is what I would like to know. Is anyone reading this? If you are out there and periodically checking for information, would you please let me know?

I would really appreciate hearing from you. Thanks.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Autumn Advances

We expanded our meeting table once more as we welcomed one visitor and one new club member (aptly named Susan), for the discussion of: Stalking Susan, by Julie Kramer.

All of us liked the book! Cora thought we must have set a record on agreement.

We liked the story itself, the author's style of writing, the main character, and all of the references to the Minneapolis area. A few people in the group commented on the fact it was a likeable mystery. What most of us found appealing was that it managed to be a mystery about murders that didn't include graphic violence, foul language, or descriptive lovemaking.

It was fun to compare our different perceptions about the supporting characters - the newsman ranging from a stern authoritarian to a bumbling egotist, and Riley's boss more than one of us have experienced working with, a harsh business woman somewhat akin to The Devil Wears Prada.

At least one of our members is in ownership of Ms. Kramer's follow-up book, Missing Mark, with other members signing onto the libraries waiting list for the book. More about the author can be found on her web site:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Great Park Grove August Get-Together

We welcomed some new readers to our regular group last night when we met to discuss The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski.

The book was a sizeable read, for a summertime tome, and a couple of people in our group had not had a chance to finish before the meeting. Nevertheless, they did not mind our discussion which resulted in an almost unanimous opinion of 'thumbs up', with only one person expressing a dislike of the book, or a 'thumbs down.'

There was so much to talk about with this book. We mostly enjoyed the author's writing style, being so beautifully descriptive with his words, being able to draw us, as readers, into the story as if it were taking place around us. Many of us found the description and actions of the dogs to be so true to life; we were able to exchange stories of our own pets. (Even Diane's especially courageous bird, who bravely skirted around the household's cat and dog to sit with and play with her child.)

More than one of us, though, expressed disappointment with the ending. But, gradually through the discussion we came to realize the reasoning behind it. Some of the research for discussion questions led to speculations by others that the book's storyline and plot is borrowed from Shakespeare's Hamlet. Is it to be?

Monday, August 17, 2009

It Pays to Read!

Next week marks the start of the legendary ten days of fun and food at the Great Minnesota Get Together - the Minnesota State Fair!

This year the organizers have added an extra day for discounted admission tickets. And the theme for the savings is: Read and Ride Wednesday! (September 2nd).

See the State Fair web site for complete information, but the concept is that anyone who purchases an admission ticket at the fairgrounds, and shows a valid public library card, will receive a discount on the price of their ticket.

How much fun is that??

Monday, August 10, 2009

July July July

What a remarkably pleasant summer we have been having. Just right for reading a good book.

So, sorry, I was away on vacation during July's book club meeting. I missed the discussion - though I am sure it went well.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

June Reading Wrap-Up

Ahhh, you can easily tell that it's summer - our group of readers was much smaller than usual this meeting.

It couldn't have been the book that chased people off, because of the five who attended to discuss Middlesex, (by Jeffrey Eugenides), everyone found things about the novel to like. Some of us were more impressed with the opening historical content of the story, and some of us enjoyed the personal story of the narrator during the second part of the book. But, overall, the book was well received.

Our planned leader for the evening, Mary, was absent due to illness. But pages of questions were found for discussion, and we were kept engaged for the total time allowed us at the library. In fact, the librarian was knocking on the door with reminders of the earlier closing time to be sure we knew to leave.

The questions covered the gamut of material within the book - while applying them to the reading we found ourselves making insightful discoveries about the themes within the story. Central to everything was the concept of searching for identity, whether it be historically, culturally, environmentally, or biologically. Several people commented on the best part of all, that so much could be said while writing with such an enjoyable sense of humor.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May; We Meet Again

And in complete honesty I must admit that I did not attend the meeting that was held this month.

However, I have email from Diane that states: "We had a unanimous opinion on The Other Boleyn Girl. Everyone liked it and we had a great discussion led by Freda."

So, I suppose I should have made a greater effort to attend.

Coming up next is the book Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides, because summer is a great time for reading too!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

April Flowers

A small group of us met on Tuesday to discuss the book, The Florist's Daughter, by Patricia Hampl.

Opinions ranged from favorable to unfavorable. A couple of readers were disappointed, having had higher expectations set by the reputation of the book and its author. One person in the group lamented not having more of a story to the book, and others agreed that the book would be meaningful primarily to people with a great deal of interest in the city of St. Paul.

While the subject matter of the book did not bowl people over, many of us commented favorably on the writing style and prose. A few people were familiar with the author's reputation as a poet.

Patricia Hampl is currently a Regents Professor and McKnight Distinguished Professor at the University of Minnesota. She will be one of three featured speakers at a Memoir Writing Festival being held May 16th and 17th at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

More Items of Interest

Minnesota author Lorna Landvik, (whose book Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons was well received by our book reading club), will be visiting, in person, neighboring Woodbury on Saturday, April 4th.

She will be discussing her latest books: The View from Mount Joy, and Tis the Season.

Lorna's visit is co-sponsored by the Washington County-Stafford Library, in Woodbury, and she will be speaking at the Central Park Amphitheatre in Woodbury. The event is free and open to the public.

Our book club reading for April is by another Minnesota author, Patricia Hampl. Entitled The Florist's Daughter, the book is a biographical memoir of growing up in St. Paul. Annette will lead the discussion when we meet on April 28th at 6:30 p.m. in the library. See you there!

March Meeting

Many thanks to Diane, who offered the following summary of our book club meeting in March:

Eight members of the Park Grove Library Book Club met (March 24th). We were led in a discussion of Choosing Civility, P.M. Forni, by Cora. Mostly the book was well received and everyone commented that they learned some new pointers or were reminded of courtesies they had forgotten. One comment was that the book would be just right to be used in schools to teach social expectations and the importance of considering others first. Some thought the book was textbookish and was "preaching to the choir."

The author will be at the Woodbury branch of the library on April 21 at 7 p.m. The event is free but requires a ticket, which must be picked up from the library prior to the event. Several members of our club plan to attend. The event is part of a county-wide initiative sponsored by the library. More information on the One County, One Book event is available at the library web site.

Read more about the Civility Project from the author's web site at John Hopkins University.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

February Review

We were pleased to welcome two new members to our meeting on Tuesday. The ladies arrived prepared for discussion by having read our book choice for the month: The Friday Night Knitting Club, by Kate Jacobs. Some of the more ambitious readers continued on with reading the sequel, Knit Two, and brought even more information about the characters and continuation of the story. Almost everyone enjoyed the story; it was the ending where we responded differently.

We had a pleasant time exchanging our perspectives on the book, comparing the story of women meeting regularly and building friendships around knitting to our own experience of meeting regularly to read and discuss the latest in best-selling novels.

More information about the author and the knitting series of books, (as well as tips and techniques on knitting, and online discussion with others who had similar reactions to the story) can be found at:

Next on our agenda is a specially selected book for March, Choosing Civility.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Library News

February is the month for Ground Hog's Day, Presidents' Day, and Valentine's Day. It is also a good month to check into the new programs at our library, specifically regarding winter reading.

Washington County Libraries are celebrating reading with WINTER JACKETS. This is a reader-reviewer program that allows you to let others know your opinion on a book you have recently read. More information is available on the library web site. (Including how to receive your goodie package with a coffee cup filled with info, reading suggestions, and a Dunn Bros. coffee card.)

While you are there be sure to look at the new web site features. These include book letters, a bio of Lake Wobegon's favorite librarian Grace Grady, book kits, and a place to sign up for a newsletter about books.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

January Meeting

A lot of discussion was sparked by the book, The Broken Cord, by Michael Dorris. There were eight of us in attendance, and the earlier meeting time worked out fine.

The book identified one of the tragedies of our society, the impact of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Our conversation bounced around the questions of what can be done about the problem?, whose rights should be protected?, how prevalent is the problem?, and, how much of an influence is heredity in continuing the problem?

We talked about the changes the book may or may not have brought about, by bringing the issue to public attention. Many of the group remember being told to drink a glass of wine or a beer during pregnancy in order to relax, by their doctors.

Several of the group had done some online research about the author, whose own life had a tragic ending. The information posed the question on, what are the real facts in these stories, and what are we to actually believe?

On a lighter note, our February meeting will be on Tuesday, the 24th. We will be reading The Friday Night Knitting Club, by Kate Jacobs.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Some Official Business

Happy New Year!!

As we begin this new calendar year of book club meetings, we are confronted with some changes. Due to budget cuts, the library hours have been revised, and for our Tuesday nights, the building will be closing at 8:00 p.m. instead of the 8:30 p.m. we have grown accustomed to.

So, our new meeting schedule will be:
  • The fourth Tuesday of each month,
  • From 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Exceptions to this schedule might still occur, but we will have plenty of notice if that happens. Otherwise, we will be meeting on January 27th to discuss The Broken Cord, by Michael Dorris. See you then.