Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron (May 19, 1941-June 26, 2012) was a playwright, screenwriter and novelist besides writing the book we just read for Book Club, "I Feel Bad About My Neck."  She grew up in a family of screenwriters and attached her name to many movies that most us know:  "Silkwood," "When Harry Met Sally," "Sleepless in Seattle," "You've Got Mail," and even "Julie and Julia."  She wrote, directed and produced many movies over her years on earth.  Our group, who are all women, laughed when we shared our thoughts about her book, which was published in 2006.  She has been nominated and has won many prestigious awards, but winning our hearts through her laughter with this book was a big hit with us.

We all loved the book.  One person said "she takes every day situations that aren't the greatest and makes them into a story, which made me laugh."

Nora said her mother taught her a very fundamental lesson of humor, which is "if you slip on a banana peel, people laugh at you, but if you tell people you slipped on a banana peel, it's your joke. You are the hero of the joke because you're telling the story."

She did tell a good story and we all laughed.  Great book for our evening out as friends.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio by Peg Kehret

With only six of us in attendance (Thanksgiving maybe threw some people off we wondered?) there was mutual agreement we all loved the book. 

In my opinion, I loved the book.  It was one I would have NEVER GRABBED OFF THE SHELF.  But guess what?  I am pretty glad that someone in our group knew Peg Kehret and recommended it, because it made me think about how polio affected people so many years ago.  I have seen stories of the iron lung where polio patients stay in to help them breath, but Peg Kehret description of what she went through made it very real.  She also shared a story about a boy Tommie, who was in one of these iron lungs.

We talked about since 1979, the western hemisphere has been without a polio case, but how countries in the middle east are being affected.  November 30, 2013 NBCNews posted an article about 13 children having polio in Syria.

Martha  Ann Lillard, now 65 is quoted in the article
"If my mother would have had the opportunity to give me the vaccine, she would have done that,” says Lillard, who was a kindergartner in 1953 when she woke up with a sore throat that quickly progressed to something much worse — a life-threatening infection with polio virus. “To let somebody go through what I went through and what other children went through. What if people had to do that again? It would be just unbelievable.”

Published by WHO organization in the middle of November 

"Seven countries and territories are holding mass polio vaccination campaigns with further extensive campaigns planned for December targeting 22 million children. In a joint resolution all countries of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region have declared polio eradication to be an emergency and called on Pakistan to urgently access and vaccinate all of its children to stem the international spread of its viruses."

Seven countries will work to immunize children through WHO and Unicef in December.  What an undertaking this must be, but to read what Peg wrote in this book, it would quickly become a fear not only in the Middle East, but world wide.

We reflected on what we had for immunization years ago.  One person said the whole area was immunized.  They had three different times of immunization.  I found some Minnesota history at the MN Dept of Health.  The first Salk vaccination was May 20, 1955 to 1st and 2nd graders, only 112,000 given to students in Mpls, St. Paul, Duluth and Rochester.  This site also shows data charts about the virus which is interesting.

We talked about how children at that time, were treated differently then we do now.  They were told about their diagnosis, and like Peg, were very, very scared.  Parents weren't there with their children because of how contagious it was. Peg's parents were wonderful to connect with the girls in Peg's room.  Sad that they were so far from home and didn't get visitors often, but that is how times were.  We also talked about when Peg got back home someone commented about how their hair looked so bad, and Peg's thoughts were far from how her hair looked.  Life's perspective had changed.

We liked Dr. Bevis.  In the Epilogue of the Anniversary edition, published 10 years after her book, she shared that she was able to get in touch with Dr. Bevis.  We felt that Dr. Bevis believing that Peg will walk again gave her the hope to drive her to walk again.

In the anniversary edition of the book, Peg Kehret has written "More About Polio."  She shared that March of Dimes started in 1938 by then President Franklin Roosevelt to combat polio.

Life has changed our world as many people died and were affected by polio.  Having this eradicated disease return is a scary prospect that many who suffered years ago and to this day with Post-polio syndrome hoped never to hear of again.

Great book, would highly recommend it!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

October's book was perfect for Halloween, a story about witches, both in old colonial times and more recently in 1991.  It was a story about subtle witches, using their "craft" for good purpose, more so to using it in healing.  Most of us, 11 out of 12 liked and enjoyed the novel, to different degrees.  One person said they just couldn't get into it, and struggled reading it.

The book, going back and forth through time periods stretching hundreds of years on US soil, illustrated the connections between Mother/Daughter and then lineage through time. ***see the end of article***  Some liked the character development and could definitely see this book as a movie.  Some of us didn't know the Salem Witch time period so wanted to delve more into that after reading this book, some liked the history of the book.  Some members wished the book would have been "scarier."

Our leader shared with us that the book is published in 20 some countries.  We talk about the mother/daughter relationships in the book, and how women have been perceived over the centuries.  We talk about the women's influence as midwives.  What has changed for us women in these 300 plus years, included the right to vote.

We talked about being a preservationist like Sam, or a historian like Connie.  Both are important, and some of us were more inclined like Sam, wanting to preserve history, but some said you can't save it all!  We agreed they complimented each other in this novel, glad she weaved that part into the storyline.

We had quite a discussion about Arlo.  In Ch 2, Connie talks about how she came to have Arlo with her at Harvard.  Some noted this with interest, while others, just flew over that information.  At the end of the book, the last chapter, we see an older couple sitting and observing a dog, sitting by a tombstone, which is revealed to have started with the letter "D."  Someone thought that maybe Deliverance came back as a dog, and someone else suggested, that the dog was the same dog through the years for the family lineage, and the tombstone, marked "D" for dog.  Fun that she wove that part into the storyline.

One question in the discussion was whether Christianity is contradictory or complementary to magic in this story.  In this story it is complementary, but we don't think it has been in the realm of Christianity.  You choose, someone said, what side.  Another said it was fascinating to read that the witches in this book found it important to have that connection with God.

We also talked about magic -- what does it mean?  It can mean many different things, there is magic that is spiritual, magic that is dark, magic that is fairy tale and optimistic, like a leprechen.  We even recognized we have the Magical Kingdom, so there is "magic" in the real world!

I found this story to be an easy quick read, one I personally did not want to put down.  The "witches" of the colonial days used their gift for healing, obtaining herbs to help along with their spells.   Having the book weave around Connie working on her doctoral dissertation while at Harvard and going back to her mother's family home near Salem is enticing, leaving us to wonder how these two worlds will combine.  We find out when she finds a key in a Bible.  Like someone said at book club, I can easily see this as an interesting movie.  Someday. 

Thanks to one of our members, here is the lineage
Deliverance & Nathaniel Dale, dates mentioned 1681-1692
Mercy & Jedediah  Lamson, 1715-1763
Prudence & Josiah  Bartlett, 1741-1798
Patience (Patty) 1747
Sophia & Lemuel
Grace & Leo Goodwin
Constance  Goodwin

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

A lucky dozen met for this month's book club at the library and ten of those dozen loved the book.  Many of us commented we loved the historical information about Chicago's World Fair in 1893 and all the research that went into the book.  We enjoyed reading about Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair's construction and others that worked with him.  We didn't so much like the part of the murders of  H. H. Holmes, but liked the contrast of the good and evil, and the facts of Holmes' life.  We really marveled at the research Erik Larson had done for this book, noting that he was a reporter and a good investigator.  We are looking forward to this coming out in a movie with Leonardo DiCarprio playing the "serial killer."

Someone said it read like a novel and I think many of us would agree with that.  Although some parts were very dark, it was interesting to contemplate how far we have come.  Women disappeared off the face of the earth, at that time, and no one questioned it.  People believed what others said without checking it.

We loved the World's Fair facts and what came out of the fair:  AC current, Cracker Jax, Shredded Wheat, Juicy Fruit, Dishwasher, Spray paint, Papst Blue Ribbon and the Pledge of Allegiance and Columbus Day, something that still affects all Americans.  We loved the Midway and Side Show that came from this and that the Ferris Wheel was first introduced here.

The Gilded Age was the late 19th century, filled with greed, guile, corruption in modern America, was someone's comment.  Personally, I would love to be in that time period with all the changes.  But it was a dirty time, with lots of coal heating the area, steam engines, dust from horses and chimneys in homes.  The White City, the Worlds Fair had buildings in white, it was clean where outside the Fair, that wasn't the case.  It was also illuminated with lights unlike again, outside the fair.  Disney's father, Elias Disney, may have influenced his son's future thoughts & plans that we still enjoy to this day.

We noted there were many dignitaries that visited the Fair.  The fact that Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley was an interesting part of history.  The fair was exhibition of extravagance, the biggest, the brightest, the gloriest both from the architects standpoint and from the venues for experimentation.  It even had an influence on better working conditions and better wages, even the creation of unions.

That Holmes arrived in Chicago for this Fair and built his "castle" with all its deviant rooms was horrible.  In the book, we read that Mudgett (Holmes given name) "claimed to have gone to Chicago in Nov 1985 and there to have acquired his "portion" of bodies (for medical research).  Unable to find a job, he placed his portion in storage and left for Minneapolis until May, 1986, when he left for New York."  When I read that I wondered what he may have done while in Minnesota.  He did travel quite a bit and did he leave behind any other murders?

Looking on a map of Chicago, you can see the Museum of Science and Industry, which was housed in the former Palace of Fine Arts from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition (World's Fair) and view Jackson Park along the shores of Lake Michigan.  You can also see 63rd Street from Englewood, which is where Holmes had his hotel.  They were interconnected, forever with their place in history:  The World's Fair and H.H. Holmes.  It is fitting that Erik Larson wrote a book about both.

To learn more about the World's Fair click HERE

Monday, September 9, 2013

Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis was our August Book.  When we start our discussion, we share our name and whether we like the book or not.  This book was pretty split in opinion of "liked" and "not sure."  One person was in the "did not like" category.  Someone shared that Hattie wanted hope and in this book, they didn't see much hope.  Another said, "Hattie survived, that was the hope."  We need to remember the good times.  Someone stated  "It was like reading short stories," about each of the 'tribes.'  "Excellent writing, grabbed me instantly.  It propelled me forward to see if something good happens."  "Didn't think I'd like it, it was depressing, but liked how written.  Don't know why it had such dysfunctional lives."

Our leader had a handout that shared the timeline of the twelve tribes (Hattie's eleven children and her granddaughter).  She asked our favorite character and why.  I think most of us liked Hattie, and a comment was she did the very best she could with not a lot to go on.  She was building emotional protection around herself after losing her twins.  She tried to meet her children's physical needs.  She went on the "dole," didn't want to, but she didn't want her kids to go hungry.  She developed a softness to be sympathetic, which she did at the end with her granddaughter.  She wasn't when her own children were young.  Floyd, when he encountered problems, called Hattie for comfort and peace.  We didn't see that with the other children.  Did she do this so that she felt she was preparing them for the world because the world won't love you.  Someone said they couldn't hate her, she had so much disappointment in her life.

In the beginning of the book, we noted that August stroked the fire before he went to work, so he tried to be a good husband at first.  Maybe life was too painful for him.  When Hattie leaves, August tries to do right.  Didn't she know he was heartbroken, too?  He was good with the children, gave hugs.  We felt the affairs didn't mean much, that he never felt like leaving.  She had, though.  We liked, at the end, that he found the Lord.

We talked a bit about some of their children.  We felt that there was a lot of dysfunction in the children and mental illness.  We talked about migration, broken up families, disconnection.  At the end of the book, Hattie had her house that she had tried so hard to get and would share it with her granddaughter.

 Click HERE for the Amazon link for the book.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind by Ann B. Ross, July 23, 2013

Loved it.  This described what many of the book club members stated as we went around the room sharing our opinion of a like or didn't like the book club selection this month.  Someone said they "didn't expect it to be so good.  It was a light read, and want to know more."  Another person said "it was a fun read."  Another member was reading it where other people were and she was laughing out loud, so she had to explain why! Another person said "perfect summer read, kind of like a Fannie Flagg book."  Someone did say they thought that it was a "little over the top stereo-type," and another said Miss Julia didn't speak her mind enough with Ledbetter."

Reading Guide Q1  Miss Julia remarks to Deputy Bates, "Don't you know it's always the wife's fault if a man strays? There's always something the wife's doing, or not doing, that pushes a man over the brink. That's just the way it is."  We discussed this comment and some stated it is society prejudice.  "They all knew about it but her."  "Her remark reflected her fear, she knew these people."  "She seemed self-confident."  "If you say it first, it won't have a hurt to it."

Q2  How well does Miss Julia know herself? Is she a reliable narrator?  We wondered what time period this book was representing.  There were mention of cell phones in it.  We noted it was written in '99.  Miss Julia was married 44 years.   "Story line good, author did a good job with the narrative.  Sure of herself, with a good idea of right and wrong.  Was not self-confident during her marriage."

Q3  What does Julia learn about her late husband as a result of his death? "Were her friends really friends or were some there for financial standing?  They never did tell her.  Lillian was her best friend; she spoke her mind, too."

Discussed the kidnapping incident "She let him (Little Lloyd) go with Vern, and that seemed out of character.  She was starting to be concerned, but knew that immediately all her problems will be solved.  'I don't have any right to him, he does' is what she thought.  She didn't have any experience with kids.  He was a man and had authority.  She remembered the muffler of Vern's car, so thought that Hazel was with Vern when she left so was safe."  Miss Julia really did like Little Lloyd and wanted to watch him grow up.

We had quite a discussion about how religion played a part in Miss Julia's life.  We felt she was looking for counsel, honesty, strength and guidance.  Instead she was set up with Dr. Fowler, psychiatrist.  Pastors Vern and Ledbetter were both out to get money from the women.

We felt that Little Lloyd was a very smart young man.  He knew that crumbled Winn-Dixie bag was important.  He left it behind when Vern took him.  He knew Vern wasn't good.  We wondered if Vern really did do something to Wesley Lloyd; did he have something to do with his death?

Great story and we all decided it would be a great movie, even picking out the actress.  Some are ready to read the next books in the series.

A group shot with our special librarian Deb, who helped guide us in these recent years.  She will be missed.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant June 25, 2012

Book Club Selection May 28, 2013

This is some of our Park Grove Library Book Club members at Yo-Joe's in Cottage Grove.  When we pick out our books for the year, we run a little longer then normal, and the library closes at 8 pm, so it is nice to meet off-site.  It was also good to get a treat!   Following is the post for our book club selection until October, 2014. 
July 23               
Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind by Ann B. Ross
August 27
Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
September 24
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
October 22
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
November 19
Small Steps:  The Year I Got Polio by Peg Kehret 
December 17
I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron
January 28. 2014
Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese
February 25
40 Rules of Love by Elif Shafak
March 25
Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
April 22
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
May 27 
Amanda Knox:  Waiting To Be Heard, A Memoir
June 24
And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
July 22
The Unlikely Pilmgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
August 26
Book Selection for following year
September 23
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Kruger
October 28
Maya’s Notebook by Isabelle Allende

***There are corrections coming, will wait to confirm at our next meeting to see what months are changed.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

The April 23 Book Club meeting will feature The Buddha in the Attic.  Please feel free to join us!

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus was our March, 2013 Book Club discussion.  It appeared that most of those at book club didn't like the book and wouldn't recommend it, but some of us loved it immensely.

One person who said she didn't like the book said that she "trudged through" the book and felt it was scattered.  Another said she questioned what the characters are doing and how are they going to get involved.  Another said Bailey ties everything together but we don't find out about it until the end.  Someone said they felt that the character development never connected together.  One person said they would love to see a movie as she couldn't see it in her head.

Of those that liked it, they said that initially it was hard getting into the book.  "The more I got into it, the more I found I really liked it and her style of writing."  "It drew me in as I got going into it."  Another person said they read it awhile ago and re-read it again closer now to book club discussion.  She said it was so much better reading it a second time.  Another loved the circus tents that were different rooms, you could really feel like you were there, experiencing what they were feeling and seeing.  Another person couldn't be there, but she absolutely loved this book and felt it was a cross between Cirque du Soleil and a Stephen King novel.  We agreed it definitely fit the category of fantasy.

We enjoyed the night aspect of the book, that they met at midnight for dinner, along with the black and white theme.  We felt the romance between Celia and Marco had characteristics of Shakespeare books, like Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet.  The book used non-linear time line which made it confusing, you had to make sure you read the dates and times in front of the chapters.  Some felt there were too many flash backs.  We wondered could she have written it differently or through another perspective?  We thought it interesting that in the book, the twins and Bailey aged but not the rest of the circus performers.  We liked how it traveled and would just show up.  We liked the rêveurs and other outside characters like Herr the clock maker. 

"In the chapter titled:  The Wizard in the Tree, Barcelona, November 1894 I noted that "Secrets have power," Widget begins.  "And that power diminishes when they are shared, so they are best kept and kept well.  Sharing secrets, real secrets, important ones, with even one other person, will change them.  Writing them down is worse, because who can tell how many eyes might see them inscribed on paper, no matter how careful you might be with it.  So it's really best to keep your secrets when you have them, for their own good, as well as yours."  I like that in the book.  There were many secrets among the characters at this Circus and there are many secrets in magic.  Secrets create an intrigue, and I believe this book fit that well.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James

Some love it, some are not too sure what all the excitement E L James has brought out in the Fifty Shades Trilogy.  Fifty Shades of Grey is our February 2013 read.  Our February discussion of Fifty Shades of Grey also brought out communication via email.  Received this before the book club meeting: 
"I thought it was a relationship book not an S & M book. It amazes me that the series is on the best seller lists. Why do people want to read about the subjugation of one person to another without resolve? I found the book to be poorly written with little or no character or plot development. There are too many unanswered questions left hanging. What motivated these two main characters? Why did he not want to be "touched" and why was she so easily drawn into this arrangement? These are major questions. I found the book to be a series of trysts but leading nowhere. The writing reminded me of MAD LIBS; fill in the verb, adjective, adverb. The sentence structure the same over and over; ending sentences with a description word rather than altering the phrase and clauses. Also word choice for her was dull. How many times can she fall off the precipice or say "oh, my?" 
Since I had not finished the book, I chose to not attend.  I received this information from a fellow Book Club member:  "A few of us seemed to think that Ana had a lot of control. I didn’t see it that way. In the discussion, someone said that at one point he hit her with a belt – enough to draw blood and she didn’t like it."  
I hope that any of my fellow Book Club members would feel comfortable to say what they felt in the comments.   I was able to complete the book, because I wanted to see if Christian Grey truly found a relationship or if Ana.  It was not a book I really would recommend because I found it disturbing that a woman would even consider such a proposition from anyone.  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

World Book Night Deadline Friday, January 25

"World Book Night is an annual celebration dedicated to spreading the love of reading, person to person.  Each year on April 23, tens of thousands of people go out into their communities and give half a million free World Book Night paperbacks to light and non-readers.  In 2012, World Book Night was celebrated in the U.S., the UK, Ireland, and Germany."

World Book Night Web Site (click here) stated this in their first paragraph about what they are about.  You have an opportunity to join in this amazing evening, April 23, by sharing in passing out books, free books, to a community you think would love to read.

Check out the web site to see how to sign up.  The deadline was January 23, now extended to January 25 (I believe because they didn't have their web site up for a few days).  Choose what books you may want to give away, share with them who you would give them to (no book club or family/friends) and why you would want to do this.  Easy Peasy.

I have submitted my request and will see if it is granted.  Please share if you have entered your request.  There will be publicity when this happens so watch for it in local papers.  Good luck and enjoy! 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Rez Life by David Treuer

Rez Life by David Treuer was our January 2013 Park Grove Library Book Club selection.  Those of us that were there had a lively discussion about our views we have seen in our life regarding Native Americans.  We shared that some of us had been to Indian Reservations in Northern Minnesota when they were younger and what they had seen, and another member who had been to several pow-wows.  Someone had family in Washington State that were Native American and their experiences with that.  Another member found out she has some Native American history and is exploring that. At Book Club, someone said Rez Life was "hard to read, and parts I didn't want to put down."  Someone said it was "hard to follow, jumps around different time periods." Although we felt there was a lot of material and it was hard to read, we felt that it was interesting.  Someone, who wasn't there, said "hope we're not quizzed on this," because of all the information that is in the book.  She told me she loved the book, and all the stories that were written in the book!

One member of Book Club wrote:  "I now feel I have an understanding of so many loose ends about our native population and the problems. The USA policy as dealing with Indians is appalling. Over and over again the US tried to exterminate, assimilate or make them go away. Imagine if the Indians were able to make money for themselves with their natural resources of land, oil and gas, minerals, timber, etc before the government took that away from most of the tribes. Imagine if there were never Indian schools designed to break up families and culture. Imagine if the Indians had not been cheated into moving into big cities for jobs that never materialized. Luckily some of the tribes are making money and using it wisely with gaming. I will look at their casinos with news eyes after this book."

These Are A Few of Our Favorite Things

Our December Book Club had us meeting at Gingers for our Holiday Party, sharing appetizers and treats, beverages and storytelling.  We talked about the beginning of the book club, in July 2007, and that some are still members of that start, which will be starting it's 6th year next summer.  On this blog, we are fortunate, that we can look back to see what was read.  Some members mentioned they liked some books, and a comment was heard, "Didn't we read that in book club?"  There continues to be new members joining our group, bringing new thoughts, new shared likes and stretching our ability to open our mind to new books to read, some we thought we would never enjoy.  We may not like a book, we don't always agree, but we agree to common civility of our discussion, and to our pleasure, humor and laughter!

Thank you to Diane, I am copying the list that she sent out with the list of everyone's favorites that they have read recently. 

The Paris Wife, Paula McLain 
The Murderer’s Daughter, Randy Susan Meyers              
View from Delphi, Jonathon O’Dell
One Thousand White Women, Jim Fergus
Sarah’s Key, Tatiana de Rosnay                 
Trickster’s Point, William Kent Krueger  
Holiday Inn, Kevin Kling
In the Shadow of the Angel, Kathryn Blair
The Tomten, Astrid Lindgren
The  Cape Ann, Faith Sullivan
Iron Lake, William Kent Krueger
Ellen Foster:  A Cure For Dreams
Secret Keepers, Kate Morton
The Roundhouse, Louise Erdich
Botany of Desire, Michael Pollen
Pearl of China, Anchee Min
Life of Pi, Yann Martell
Pot Luck Club series, Linda Evans Shepherd
The Hotflash Club series, Nancy Thayer
50 Shades of Grey series, E.L. James
Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz
Istanbul: Snow, Orhan Pamuk
Running the Rift, Naomi Benaron
Light mystery series, Louise Penny
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud
Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck

Book Club members -- please share any other comments or thought you have about some of your favorite books you have recently read or any other suggestions for books you think others might enjoy!  These listed were members that were at the December book club.  We missed many others that weren't able to attend that evening, so hope they will share their thoughts with us.