Monday, October 24, 2016

Tuesday, November 1 at 6:30 pm BOOK CLUB SPECIAL EDITION with Peter Geye

Join the Park Grove Library and the Book Club to welcome Peter Grey to our library.  We are excited to listen to what insights he can give us into this Minnesota books!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Wintering by Peter Geye Book Club of the Month Park Grove Library

We have started to shelter ourselves, bury ourselves in our home, look for our comfort foods, look for warmth, so it was appropriate that we were reading Wintering by Peter Geye.  He will be a visiting author Tuesday, November 1 at Park Grove Library 6:30 pm.  The 15 members that were at this book club meeting took to task in wondering why the book was titled Wintering?  Some felt that it was the physical change in season, the winter, the snow, the cold, and another thought was that the book title also had to do with the characters in the book, the wintering is shutting down some feelings, some memories, putting something to rest.  Someone mentioned that is the time before the glorious spring, a time to prepare. One member said:  "So much was hidden in the interior that prepares for rebirth that was happening in their lives."  The combination is physical, the winter, cold, hibernating time and yet with some relationship dynamics we do the same thing.

One member said she "liked it" and had read Safe from the Sea, another book by the author and both had similar themes: fathers/sons, secrets and bad marriages. Another said "I liked the switching back and forth, made sense to me; enjoyed how it all fit together" while another disagreed, and thought that made it confusing.   "It was a fast read" someone said.  Another shared that "his use of words painted a vivid visualization, I knew a lot from that."

Some had read the book "Lighthouse Road" which was the prequel to this story and knew a little bit more about the family history and dynamics.   One person said they were left with questions and intrigued by the family, another said, too, they liked the intertwining of the family.  I think a few of us will be going back to read Lighthouse Road.

Someone said the book "reminds us that sharing stories are healing" and "the stories are proof  of love."

One of the questions was " At the opening of the novel, Berit Lovig says that "two stories began" the day that Gus came to see her in November.  She says, "One of them was new and the other as old as this land itself."  What does she mean by this?  What is the story that is "as old as (the) land itself?"  This was a perplexing question.  We really didn't know for sure.   Was it relationships with each other, was it having to do with the land itself?  Did it have to do with Thea when she came to Gunflint?

Another good discussion question was "Why does Harry want his son, Gus, to go with him into the wilderness and why does he choose to embark on this journey as the winter season is approaching?"  One thought it was hard to go it alone, need to two to journey on something like this; another thought was that Gus was involved with Charlie's daughter so he is involved already and needs to go along for his safety, and another thought was it was a time for the two to be together.  They had been through a lot and maybe this time was for Harry and Gus.  The reason they left was because of Charlie, they wanted to have a fair "fight" out in the wilderness without Charlie managing the people in Gunflight.

We had a great discussion on Gus figuring out how to get back home, adventuring on his own, and making new maps.  We thought of how hard it was, once Harry was injured that Gus was able to make it back to Gunflint, almost losing their life at Devil's Maw.  We thought the maps faded over time, like memories in this story.  We talked about Berit waiting all those years, waiting for the right moment for Harry, how she didn't have children of her own, but she was connected to Harry's children.

One more analogy, we talked about the antlers. Why was that story in the book? What significance did it have?  Someone stated that they though it represented Harry and Gus. They couldn't lock and fight or they wouldn't be able to fight the wolves (Charlie).  But yet, that antler at the end saved them and helped open the door with the fire.

Some of us enjoyed the aspect that it was representative of Grand Marais and loved that Devil's Kettle was written into the story.  Someone brought a map of the Boundary Waters and we enjoyed looking where this might have taken place, what route the author, Peter Geye may have gone with the story.

Over all, most said they liked the book, a few weren't able to read or finish it, but overall it was a well-liked book and members are looking forward to seeing the author in a week!

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach

Please join us for this months book and discussion!

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler

SHOTGUN LOVE SONGS is the first novel for Wisconsin writer Nickolas Butler and our book club members all gave it high praise. Nine members met and discussed this book with themes of small town life, home, friendship and redemption. Our leader found insightful discussion questions through the Madison Public Library. She guided us as we dived into a deeper understanding of this novel. The first thing we did was read an interview of the author that our leader found. This was the background for our discussion.

Many people liked the characters, thought the book reminded them of their own small town experience, thought it was a male version of "chick lit," because it dealt with male friendships and one person thought it was a little sad. One member thought the ending left the story hanging. What happened to Lee?

There are some interesting points that make this a good read. The chapters are each narrated by the different characters with an initial designating their names. This gives the readers a window into each one's point of view as well as their inner thoughts. Also, Lee is based on Justin Vernon, a Wisconsin musician who made it big in the music industry yet returned home to Eau Clare to live and help that community. Though Little Wing is a fictional town, readers know that the setting is just outside of Eau Clare.

During the discussion several points were made. We thought that Beth and Lee would never have become a successful couple. Beth and Hank are right for each other and are a successful couple. When Lee dropped the bomb about his past with Beth, a life long friendship was torn apart. Yet Lee ended up being punished more than the others. The redemption for this mistake was a humorous bar scene. Kip, Ronny and Lee all return home while still young men. The draw of life long friends and of being home are huge in this story. A comment was made that even though Lee was a huge musical success, he craved being with people who had history with him and cared for him all his life. Ronny was much the same. He came back wounded and his friends, especially Hank, protected him and helped him regain his life. One member commented that it seemed inconsistent with the characters for them to abandon Ronny during the snowstorm. Others blamed alcohol on a change of behavior. Kip also returned after being a successful commodities broker in Chicago, buying and transforming the old mill.

One of the members is familiar with the Iowa Writer's Workshop. We learned that Nickolas Butler spent two years there and that is the place he wrote this book. He was homesick for his family and town. Reflections of that emotion were evident in his work.  

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie


Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Winner Mary Logue will be at Park Grove Library at 6:30 pm,  Monday, April 25 as a part of the Daytime Park Grove Book Club.  Please join the group in hearing this author speak!

From her web page she shared this information:
I would have wanted to be a writer when I was a child if I had known it was possible.  When I could only read two words: "you" and "I," I went through a wholebook and circled them. I knew reading was the key to the rest of the world. I wrote my first mystery when I was in sixth grade—it was about a mysterious trail around a pond. I continue to write about mysterious trails around Lake Pepin in my Claire Watkins mystery series. Some things never change.
Poetry, however, is the foundation of my work. I have written four books of poetry, my latest is Hand Work, which came out in 2009. This book was the result of an experiment to write a poem a day for a year. I have also published a young adult novel, Dancing with an Alien, and the Bloodwater mysteries with Pete Hautman. My non-fiction books include a biography of my grandmother, Halfway Home, and a book on Minnesota courthouses, both published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.
I was an editor at the Village Voice, Graywolf Press, and The Creative Company.  I've published articles in the Village Voice, the New York Times and the Hungry Mind Review. For many years I taught at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. Currently, I'm on faculty in the low-residency Children's Literature MFA program at Hamline University in St. Paul.
I am bi-riverbank, living on both sides of the Mississippi, with writer Pete Hautman in Minnesota and Wisconsin. And Rene and Jacques, our toy poodles.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Most of the dozen members attending the discussion The Fault in Our Stars gave this a big thumbs up -- a 4 out of 5 stars and none gave it less than 3 star rating!   Our leader was thanked for adding this to our list this year.

Although many of us felt it was a teen book, some took offense to that description because it was a book about teens but was for any age to read.  "We read deeper books as adults, this wasn't as deep; it would be good for kids, so many kids are dealing with cancer.   I can see why it touches teenagers" one member commented.  One member said "I enjoyed it, it was a good book, a teen book with good thoughts about illness, death and afterlife."

Someone said she liked it and said how she loved that "a male author 'gets' a woman's voice."  One member saw the movie first, this past summer, on break from getting treatment for breast cancer.  Another could relate to it because her husband and a friend had cancer and it was stage IV before they found out; she too had cancer.  Another said it was just good to read a variety of books, something different!  Another agreed saying it was "fresh air" from all the heavy readings lately.  He "kept the language light hearted, not too draining."

Our discussion leader had selected this book because her son had read it in middle school and had a lot of questions while reading.  A student at his middle school had cancer and died from it.  She liked reading it from a "mom" perspective.

We talked about some of the parts that were written into the book, one was the book An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten (a part of fiction for the novel).  This was a big part of the novel and many aspects were brought into the book through this.  We discussed the questions Hazel and Gus had about the mother in the novel.  What happens to her.  It was like Hazel was questioning was her own mother going to be ok if she died from cancer?  What was going to happen to her mother?  We were not happy with Peter Van Houten!  We also liked that through this, Gus and Helen were able to go to Amsterdam and even the Anne Frank House.  We talked about the part where she saw the list of names, including Ann's and below it, four Aron Frank's.  She questioned who were these other Franks?  It brought the questions:  "What's left of me when gone?  Who will remember us and what will they remember?"

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs was also written into the book and we shared discussion on our thoughts about this.  We talked about the support group at "the heart of Jesus."  "The Support Group...met every Wednesday in the basement of a stone walled Episcopal church shaped like a cross.  We all sat in a circle right in the middle of the cross, where the two boards would have met, where the heart of Jesus would have been."  We also like the reference of Indiana, as a member of our book club grew up and is from there.

We discussed our views about cancer and death, how it is viewed currently as to years ago and how it affects us at all age levels.  There were a few people who had seen the movie and now most of us at the book club, are looking forward to seeing it.  Others, too, are interested in reading more John Green book.

In Chapter 7 Peter Van Houten writes to Gus and quotes Shakespear "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/But in ourselves."  Taking that quote and using part of it for the book was fitting, but one member said "the fault wasn't in the kids, they can't be blamed."  Fitting, it wasn't their lives that was an issue, it was the cancer that affected them.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Thirteen members attended this book club event. The majority of the members LOVED the book, "read it in 24 hours" one said and another "on my top five list of anything I’ve ever read."  A few liked it but they added "I didn’t care for the chronology and how it jumped around" and "difficult to read in bursts – needed to sit down and really focus."  No one in the crowd said they didn't like it, some just liked it more than others.

A member took notes for me at this meeting and this is her post:

We talked about radios and their role in controlling the message – like the internet in other countries even today – an instrument of the political powers.  Narration moved back and forth between time and characters – some liked that style and others didn’t.  Question was asked of which character we enjoyed the most. Several were mentioned… Werner – Etienne – Jutta – Madame Manec – Marie Laure  Madame Manec asks Etienne “Don’t you want to live before you die?” We discussed this quote and what she might have meant. The rĂ©sistance was doing many things – seemingly passive things – like changing street signs, but their work was very important. Blindness was discussed. The bravery of Marie-Laure as she had eventually learned to get around in one city, then lost her father and learned a second place.  The question was asked about Werner’s bravest moment. Someone mentioned when he confronted Von Rumpel.  What moments were the bravest for other characters? For her father when he was arrested. For Volkheimer in the basement of the hotel of Bees.  Did you like the flashing forward at the end of the book to the 70s? Most people did.

On a personal note from me, the blogger:  I absolutely thought this was one of the best books I have read, and agree with one of the members, it was a top of the list, maybe top 25 books I would recommend to others.  So glad I purchased it and can share it.

The book made me think at how those who lived in Germany at that time were a part of a culture that accepted what was being said and shared as good and right.  But, then some found out it wasn't right, it wasn't good.  It must  have been very hard for those to walk that line and I'm sure there were many that felt that way.  What devastation to those affected by wars and to have a disability while living in Europe during the war so affected families.  Also loved the fact that the artifact of the arts was portrayed in this novel.  Amazing to think of that they had teams or people that would go out and search for this historical art and remove it.  At least they didn't destroy it.

Wonderful book and if you are reading this and weren't at the discussion, I think we missed a lot by not being a part of a group discussion.  Great Book, wonderful read!

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Fifteen members shared discussion of this classic favorite.  Most liked or loved it!

One member said it was interesting "how different from our current adult fiction, slower than what is written today."  It was written almost 75 years ago, written in 1943.  Some of us had read the book before (one person read it three times) and some reading it the first time!  One person said "I can't believe I am the age I am and haven't read this book.  Enjoyed it and if I had read in junior high would have loved it!  It's like Anne of Green Gables, well written, an older book."  One person said it was her favorite book when younger but she had a different perspective then.  Another person said she read it 40 years ago and remembered she couldn't "get into it."  She listened to audio this time and really enjoyed it.

One person said she loved the descriptions in the book and loved how it ended, with the tree and all the details.  Another member said "liked the slow pace, calming and peaceful.  When you live life out of necessity, you grow up so fast."  Another said: "Even though Francie was young, she was very independent."

"I discovered books can take you places," like Francie did when she was younger.  This member liked the older characters and brought in some autograph books of her mothers!

A favorite quote of one member was "Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time:  Thus is your time on earth filled with glory."  Good lesson, this member said!

One reader said she grew up very poor but she still had plenty to eat, but if you lived in the city like this, it would be hard to find food.  Another reader was concerned that Francie didn't get the love from her mother, but she was surrounded by love.

We talked about the stories that were in the book, Francie running around barefoot, turning items into money, the Christmas tree story, and about the love of learning. Back then students didn't get help when they were in poverty, now we have services that might help.

Francie grew up among the obstacles, she survived, growing against all odds.  She became a strong woman, just like the Tree that Grew in Brooklyn -- against all odds.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Little Heathens by Mildred Armstrong Kalesh

Eighteen members gathered for this special night where we also shared appetizers and desserts at a friends house.  We had an interesting discussion where almost everyone who had read the book loved it and we all had a story that could relate to what Mildred Kalesh had written.  One member said she was going to recommend it.  I ordered a book to keep for myself I loved it so much!

"Loved the arraignment of how they categorized the chapters." one said.  Another member said she loved reading the stories, it brought so many memories.  Even a member of our book club who grew up in Turkey could relate to the stories from this Iowa resident.  One member said she "loved the humor, it was a happy book and loved the recipes."

One member said "Think of the mind set of women back then and our expectations, no comparison.  Another said they "were always saving, which took a lot of energy.  So much work for one meal."  Another agreed, saying they "weren't wasting anything.  If something wasn't used in one recipe it was saved and used in another."  One member said she remembers as a child, helping her mother with the threshing bees.  She said "mother was preparing the next meal as I was doing dishes."

Some of us women recognize the work these people went through.  We lamented about how wasteful we are in our society and even our family members, running water while we brush our teeth or using one paper towel all the time and then just throwing it away!  A comment made too, was you can't miss what you didn't have.  Children also worked and helped in the family, there was no question about helping.

We liked her story that she shared about her mother being a single parent and those struggles.  They were strong back then and were full of confidence in such a hard life.  People were more physical back in that time too.  They weren't spending time in front of a tv like we are now.

This book was also a part of story telling.  We have lost that through generations.  Memories will be lost if not told.  Their lives were difficult and unique to parents before us.  The kids also had much more freedom then they have now.  The world has certainly changed.