Friday, March 28, 2014

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Fourteen members attending the discussion of this months book.  Spring, after winter, sends us searching for the first sign of spring, any sign of life on branches or in the ground.  The Language of Flowers was good to read at this time because it opened our eyes to the awe of flowers and message it brings.  It was a hard book to read, however, because of the heartbreaking life that Victoria had through her years as a child and then as a young mother.

Nine people liked the book, one did not enjoy it at all, one person didn't read it yet and there were three people that were in the middle, not really liking, not really disliking it.  One person said, "it didn't go in the way I thought it would."  "Didn't flow for me" another comment.  One person said " I tried tried to understand what Victoria had gone through, but my life is so different from hers."  One person shared that their heart went out to the girl, she felt sorry for her and was glad she had the flowers in her life, something she could do.

"I think a book is good when it makes me think when I am done with it."  The discussion we had did just that.  Many of us didn't know about the use of flowers used to convey a message.  During the Victorian age emotions and feelings weren't "spoken," often.  Flowers would be used to communicate what you wanted to say.

The novel was written with two story lines, one of Victoria at current time, another during her earlier years.  Consensus of the group was that we liked that part, not having it too much at one time.  The "bits" of information that were tossed out from her earlier up-bringing were then compared with the current life.  The story line was so heavy, that having it shorter was easier to "take in."

Victoria, through Elizabeth, learned about flowers and that continued to help her with life and a job.  We liked that her business name was "Message."  The "Iris," in this book under the Victorian Language is message, and that is what Victoria gave out to help spread her business information.  As in the book with Grant, we found there are different meanings for flowers.  The "Iris" also means, faith, hope and wisdom.  While reading this book, I think we found that there was hope for Victoria, others had faith in her (Elizabeth, Renata, Grant) and she had wisdom (although she thought she might not have any).  "She could love and be loved" someone said.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne

 We read and discussed the Washington County Library One County, One Book for 2014 -- "The  World's Strongest Librarian:  A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family."  Every year for several years, Washington County has chosen a book for a "County Wide Read."  One of our members asked what is the criteria for selection.  Our library liaison shared with us that they have three key county library employees look over books, which uses the Legacy Fund monies to support the purchases and program.  This year they selected a book that had faith, disability, sport, and reading entertainment in an inspiring way.

As flexible as we (Park Grove Library Book Club members) are, we were able to slide this one in this month, and with 10 of us attending the book club, we had a very lively discussion.  It was a well-liked book by most (one person said it wasn't her favorite, but she pointed out some very good characteristics about the book that she liked).  Having 9 out of 10 people enjoying the book was good.  It was about a LIBRARIAN.  My own personal opinion when I first looked at it was that it was going to be slow and BORING.  I loved it and would recommend it for anyone to read, far from boring!  It had me engaged immediately in the book, the introduction shared stories that a librarian would share.  Josh shared:  "The purpose of libraries -- to organize and provide information -- hasn't changed.  They're billed as the Poor Man's University."  "Libraries have shaped and linked all the disparate threads of my life.  The books.  The weights.  The tics.  The harm I've caused myself and others.  Even the very fact that I'm alive.  How I handle my Tourette's.  Everything I know about my identity can be traced back to the boy whose parents took him to a library in New Mexico even before he was born." It was personal stories of Josh's Librarian experiences that helped make this entertaining!

Our first discussion question  was "Do you remember your first trip to the library?  Do you read more or less now than you did as a child?  Why?"  Oh the memories we dragged up.  Many members shared memories of their first trips to the libraries, some influenced by their parents' love of reading.  Many talked about a "Book Mobile" with books lined on both sides.  Personally, I can remember the smell of that small town library my mother took me to when I was first able to read and have my very own library card.  Our leader asked "Was there a book or character in a book that infatuated you as much as Charlotte's Web and Fern did Josh?"  Many comments about favorite books, and we also wondered about our own children.  Will they continue to love going to the library and reading books as we had?  One member has had a list of the books she has read for many, many years, and she reads a lot of books!  We were envious of her ability to have had the endurance to start young and keep track.

When we first shared whether we liked the book or not, people mentioned they liked the different threads that came together in the book, his life experiences were unique and individual.  He shares about his Morman Faith, his Tourette's disease, his commitment to exercise with weights and then his own family, both the one he was born into and the one he created.  Someone said "it sounded so authentic with the emotions" and "enjoyed his sense of humor."

Someone commented: "What struck with me was his strength of character.  I admired how accepting his parents and the Morman community were for just the way he was."  We also admired him as an author and his story.  It gave us a perspective of how Tourette's affects him, how hard it is to work in a library (someone said they had great pity for librarians) and about the Morman faith. We commented on the end of the book when he is doing the Highland Games, an ancient Scottish event, and he catches himself talking out loud.  He pauses and recognizes that he was saying "oh please, oh please, help me, help me, help me."  A prayer to a higher power.  We felt that wrapped up a large part of the book.  Strength, Faith and the Power of Family, a Memoir of Tourette's by the World's Strongest Librarian Josh Hanagarne, a well-loved book.