Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Book Club Year in Review

Our 2009 book club books...

April--Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Group Rating: 5 hearts, we loved it (and Rosie)! It definitely had its sad moments, but a great ending!

May--The Shack by William Young

Group Rating: 3 hearts, we liked it. This book gave us a new perspective on many things. It was Mary's favorite!

June--A Lucky Child by Thomas Buergenthal

Group Rating: 3 hearts, we liked it. We wish it hadn't ended so abruptly though.

July--The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan

Group Rating: 4 hearts, we really liked it. Greenie was a very interesting character (remember the fart sack)!

August--The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Group Rating: 3 hearts, we liked it. It was a favorite as well as a least favorite among group members.

September--Through the Window by Diane Fanning

Group Rating: 2 hearts, we thought it was just okay. It detailed some very gruesome crimes.

October--A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

Group Rating: 5 hearts, we loved it! As a whole, the group really related to her funny childhood.

November--Hurry Down Sunshine by Michael Greenberg

Group Rating: 3 hearts, we liked it. It was an interesting look at mental illness.

December--Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Group Rating: 5 hearts, we loved it! I think this was the overall favorite book. It was written in such a way that the reader felt she was actually experiencing things as Alice herself.

Books not chosen:

Eden Close by Anita Shreve
The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski (on 2010 BCS list)
Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin (on 2010 BCS list)
Good Grief by Lolly Winston

Prairie Tale by Melissa Gilbert
The Girls from Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff (on 2010 BCS list)
Testimony by Anita Shreve

Lust to Kill by Robert Scott
Father of the Year by Glenn Puit

Casting Off by Nicole Dickson
By the Time You Read This by Lola Gaye

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See (on 2010 BCS list)
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

It was a wonderful 1st year for our club! Looking forward to 2010...beginning with In the Woods!

Thoughts for Thursday

Do you write in your books? make notes? highlight things?

The only type of books I write in or highlight are textbooks (my current favorite textbook is featured at left--I guess texts aren't really favorites, but it's the one I currently read from most). I keep my novels clean and new-looking. I never make dog ears or bend the cover either. Do you?

See other thoughts at BTT.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wednesday Wish List

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground. In the streets below, a slew of ordinary lives become extraordinary in bestselling novelist Colum McCann’s stunningly intricate portrait of a city and its people.

Let the Great World Spin is the critically acclaimed author’s most ambitious novel yet: a dazzlingly rich vision of the pain, loveliness, mystery, and promise of New York City in the 1970s.

This book is the 2009 National Book Award Winner for fiction. I'm going to replace one of the award-winning books on my 100 books list with this one.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays (started on Should Be Reading) asks you to:

Grab your current read (or a book on your shelf that you've read or been wanting to read). Let the book fall open to a random page. Share two (or a few) teaser sentences from that page. Don't forget to share the title and author of the book in case someone is teased into reading. Please avoid spoilers!

I've posted my teaser below. Post yours in the comment section if you'd like to share as well!

She was not one that would have disturbed the house much on her own account. Every object she saw, the moment she crossed the threshold, appeared to delight her; and every circumstance that took place about her: except the preparing for the burial, and the presence of the mourners.

from Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Monday, December 28, 2009

Movie Mondays

Everything is Illuminated

Book, 2002 by Jonathan Safran Foer

With only a yellowing photograph in hand, a young man -- also named Jonathan Safran Foer -- sets out to find the woman who may or may not have saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Accompanied by an old man haunted by memories of the war, an amorous dog named Sammy Davis, Junior, Junior, and the unforgettable Alex, a young Ukrainian translator who speaks in a sublimely butchered English, Jonathan is led on a quixotic journey over a devastated landscape and into an unexpected past.

Movie, 2005 directed by Liev Schreiber

Features: Elijah Wood, Eugene Hütz

Tagline: Leave Normal Behind.

Watch the trailer:

Have you read the book or seen the movie?

I haven't read or seen it. I hadn't even heard of it until we picked one of his other books (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) as a possible book club selection next year. I've read that he's a "love him or hate him" type author. He uses visual writing and stream of consciousness.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday Survey

Has anyone started reading In the Woods?

5=I love it!
4=I really like it.
3=I like it.
2=It's just okay.
1=I don't like it.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Saturday Spotlight

Today's author is Diane Setterfield.

1. She was born August 22, 1964 in the United Kingdom.
2. She attended Bristol University where she studied French Literature.
3. She has taught in various universities in England and France.
4. She used to run her own business teaching French to people planning to move to France.
5. She is married to an accountant and they have 4 cats.
6. The Thirteenth Tale, a gothic suspense novel, is her first book; only 1 week after publication, the novel became #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.

7. She is currently working on her second book.

Have you read The Thirteenth Tale?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Feature Fridays

Today's holiday classic is How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1957) by Dr. Seuss.

"The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season! / Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason." Dr. Seuss's small-hearted Grinch ranks right up there with Scrooge when it comes to the crankiest, scowling holiday grumps of all time. For 53 years, the Grinch has lived in a cave on the side of a mountain, looming above the Whos in Whoville. The noisy holiday preparations and infernal singing of the happy little citizens below annoy him to no end. The Grinch decides this frivolous merriment must stop. His "wonderful, awful" idea is to don a Santa outfit, strap heavy antlers on his poor, quivering dog Max, construct a makeshift sleigh, head down to Whoville, and strip the chafingly cheerful Whos of their Yuletide glee once and for all.

Looking quite out of place and very disturbing in his makeshift Santa get-up, the Grinch slithers down chimneys with empty bags and stealing the Whos' presents, their food, even the logs from their humble Who-fires. He takes the ramshackle sleigh to Mt. Crumpit to dump it and waits to hear the sobs of the Whos when they wake up and discover the trappings of Christmas have disappeared. Imagine the Whos' dismay when they discover the evil-doings of Grinch in his anti-Santa guise. But what is that sound? It's not sobbing, but singing! Children simultaneously adore and fear this triumphant, twisted Seussian testimonial to the undaunted cheerfulness of the Whos, the transcendent nature of joy, and of course, the growth potential of a heart that's two sizes too small.

Did you know? He wrote his books mostly in anapestic tetrameter.

Have you read this holiday classic? Did you see the 2000 live-action film starring Jim Carrey? Are you a Dr. Seuss fan?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thoughts for Thursday

Are you giving any books as Christmas gifts this year? Are there any you're hoping to get?

I've hinted to Brad that I want a copy of Atul Gawande's Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science. He bought me a copy of one of his other books, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance, when I started my rotations.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wednesday Wish List

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

Holidays on Ice is a collection of three previously published stories matched with three newer ones, all, of course, on a Christmas theme. David Sedaris's darkly playful humor is another common thread through the book, worming its way through "Seasons Greetings to Our Friends and Family!!!" a chipper suburban Christmas letter that spirals dizzily out of control, and "Front Row Center with Thaddeus Bristol," a vicious theatrical review of children's Christmas pageants. As always, Sedaris's best work is his sharply observed nonfiction, notably in "Dinah, the Christmas Whore," the tale of a memorable Christmas during which the young Sedaris learns to see his family in a new light. Worth the price of the book alone is the hilarious "SantaLand Diaries," Sedaris's chronicle of his time working as an elf at Macy's, covering everything from the preliminary group lectures ("You are not a dancer. If you were a real dancer you wouldn't be here. You're an elf and you're going to wear panties like an elf.") to the perils of inter-elf flirtation. Along the way, he paints a funny and sad portrait of the way the countless parents who pass through SantaLand are too busy creating an Experience to really pay attention to their children. In a sly way, it carries a holiday message all its own. Read it aloud to the adults after the kids have gone to bed.

I haven't read anything by him yet...One of his books is on our list of possibles for book club this year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Winter Challenge

It's a new season...time for a new reading challenge! This time I've chosen to read a few books by the same author, Malcolm Gladwell.

#1 The Tipping Point

What is it about?

It's a book about change. In particular, it's a book that presents a new way of understanding why change so often happens as quickly and as unexpectedly as it does. For example, why did crime drop so dramatically in New York City in the mid-1990's? How does a novel written by an unknown author end up as national bestseller? Why do teens smoke in greater and greater numbers, when every single person in the country knows that cigarettes kill? Why is word-of-mouth so powerful? What makes TV shows like Sesame Street so good at teaching kids how to read? I think the answer to all those questions is the same. It's that ideas and behavior and messages and products sometimes behave just like outbreaks of infectious disease. They are social epidemics. The Tipping Point is an examination of the social epidemics that surround us.

#2 Blink

What is it about?

It's a book about rapid cognition, about the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye. When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions. Well, Blink is a book about those two seconds, because I think those instant conclusions that we reach are really powerful and really important and, occasionally, really good.

You could also say that it's a book about intuition, except that I don't like that word. In fact it never appears in Blink. Intuition strikes me as a concept we use to describe emotional reactions, gut feelings--thoughts and impressions that don't seem entirely rational. But I think that what goes on in that first two seconds is perfectly rational. It's thinking--its just thinking that moves a little faster and operates a little more mysteriously than the kind of deliberate, conscious decision-making that we usually associate with "thinking." In Blink I'm trying to understand those two seconds. What is going on inside our heads when we engage in rapid cognition? When are snap judgments good and when are they not? What kinds of things can we do to make our powers of rapid cognition better?

#3 Outliers

What is an outlier?

"Outlier" is a scientific term to describe things or phenomena that lie outside normal experience. In the summer, in Paris, we expect most days to be somewhere between warm and very hot. But imagine if you had a day in the middle of August where the temperature fell below freezing. That day would be outlier. And while we have a very good understanding of why summer days in Paris are warm or hot, we know a good deal less about why a summer day in Paris might be freezing cold. In this book I'm interested in people who are outliers—in men and women who, for one reason or another, are so accomplished and so extraordinary and so outside of ordinary experience that they are as puzzling to the rest of us as a cold day in August.

#4 What the Dog Saw

From the Press Release

Malcolm Gladwell's new book, What the Dog Saw, presents nineteen brilliantly researched and provocative essays that exhibit the curiosity his readers love, each with a graceful narrative that leads to a thought-provoking analysis. The explorations here delve into subjects as varied as why some people choke while others panic; how changes meant to make a situation safer — like childproof lids on medicine — don't help because people often compensate with more reckless behavior; and the idea that genius is inextricably tied up with precocity.

All of the above info comes from his website.

I've been wanting to read his books for awhile. I hope I can finish them all this winter. My brother has read and loved them all.

Will you participate in the Winter Challenge? You can choose 1, 2, 3 or all 4 of them, whatever you think you can finish. Let me know if you're joining in! The challenge runs through March 20th.

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays (started on Should Be Reading) asks you to:

Grab your current read (or a book on your shelf that you've read or been wanting to read). Let the book fall open to a random page. Share two (or a few) teaser sentences from that page. Don't forget to share the title and author of the book in case someone is teased into reading. Please avoid spoilers!

I've posted my teaser below. Post yours in the comment section if you'd like to share as well!

Scrooge asked the question, because he didn't know whether a ghost so transparent might find himself in a condition to take a chair; and felt that in the event of its being impossible, it might involve the necessity of an embarrassing explanation. But the ghost sat down on the opposite side of the fireplace, as if he were quite used to it.

from A Christmas Carol, Stave 1: Marley's Ghost by Charles Dickens

Read it for free at Page by Page Books.

You can also read it in email installments from Daily Lit:
Nothing goes better with the holiday season than Charles Dickens' short story A Christmas Carol. It gives us great characters, drama, and a reminder of what the spirit of the holidays is about. We hope you'll join our Big Read of this classic always, completely free.
Everything is now free from Daily Lit!

Find other holiday reads at Daily Lit.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fall Challenge Wrap-Up

So, the Fall Challenge is over...did you finish your 3 books? I completed 2 out of 3. I was able to get through A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve (2 hearts--just okay) and Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox (4 hearts--really liked it). I didn't get to Gone With the Wind...I knew I should have read that one first! I'll have to try again some other time.

The Winter Challenge starts tomorrow. I'll post the details in the morning!

Movie Mondays

Skipping Christmas/Christmas With the Kranks

Book, 2001 by John Grisham

Luther and Nora Krank are fed up with the chaos of Christmas. The endless shopping lists, the frenzied dashes through the mall, the hassle of decorating the tree... where has all the joy gone? This year, celebrating seems like too much effort. With their only child off in Peru, they decide that just this once, they'll skip the holidays. They spend their Christmas budget on a Caribbean cruise set to sail on December 25, and happily settle in for a restful holiday season free of rooftop snowmen and festive parties.

But the Kranks soon learn that their vacation from Christmas isn't much of a vacation at all, and that skipping the holidays has consequences they didn't bargain for...

A modern Christmas classic, Skipping Christmas is a charming and hilarious look at the mayhem and madness that have become ingrained in our holiday tradition.

Movie, 2004 directed by Joe Roth

Features: Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd

Tagline: Their Christmas will turn the town upside down!

It received mostly negative reviews, but the film was a box office success.

Have you read it or seen the movie?

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