VABOOK 2010 Awesome Reading Group Panel

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I'm home from the whirlwind of the Virginia Festival of the Book (VABOOK). What an exciting and fun time! I met so many authors, reading group members, book bloggers. people working in the book business and loving it! What a great weekend. Here is my post on the awesome panel I have the pleasure of moderating. More VABOOK posts later -- maybe some author posts!!

Thursday night, I invited my reading group choices panelists to dinner to talk about the panel on Friday and to get acquainted with each other. Masha Hamilton (31 Hours), Sheila Curran (Everyone She Loved), Mary Sharratt (Daughters of the Witching Hill), and Laura Brodie (The Widow's Season)chatted the evening away. I was happy that they got along so well. Masha, Sheila, and Mary are alumni of the reading group choices panels from previous years. Laura fit right in! 

The panel was great (I thought!) I counted over 75 attendees. Each writer summarized their books, read a little, and made reference to ideas and themes in their work that reading groups could engage in their discussion. Here is a brief summary of the panelists' ideas and thoughts from and of their books.

Masha's 31 Hours ideas include spirituality, isolation, disconnection, motherhood, terrorism. Discussion points, such as, should we give moral guideleines -- attend a formalized church when kids are young to help ground them in some sense of right and wrong? Or, let them find answers on the own?   

Friends, family, death, grief, control, hope, love are centered in Shelia's Everyone She Loved. One main question the book asks is "If we could, we would control our kids' lives, after we are dead, in order to protect them?" 

History doesn't give the whole story, usually. Do we every hear the voices and feelings of those involved? In Daughters of the Witching Hill, Mary embodies the women accused of witchcraft in 1612 and lets them tell their story. Mary pointed to many great converstion starters: history, social issues, class system, womens' lives in that period, motherhood, forgiveness, and womens' bonds in terrible times.

Laura spoke on her dissertation on widows in literature as the inspiration for The Widow's Season. Ghosts, widows, hope, the aftermath and psychology of grief,  and the enduring cycle of life are great discussion topics for reading groups.

I had an excellent time -- they were a thrill to moderate. These authors and their books are awesome! Bring them to your next book club meeting and select them for your reading list.

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It was such a pleasure being

It was such a pleasure being part of your panel, Barbara, and joining such a great group of writers!

Thanks for the round-up,

Thanks for the round-up, Barbara! So great to hear about it - ALMOST as good as being there myself.