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Friday Finds 1/29

Friday Finds! What did your find in the bookstore, in the library, on your TBR stack, talking with friends this week!

I found 3 gems this week! Reading groups and book club should find lots of conversation starters with these books -- history, women's lives, love, betrayal, secrets, passionate sometime violent love, intimacy, loss, spirituality.


Hester: The Missing Years of the Scarlet Letter by Paula Reed







Hotel IrisHotel Iris by Yoko Ogawa








Journal KeeperThe Journal Keeper by Phyllis Theroux








MizB of Should Be Reading hosts this weekly event!

Barbara's picture

Booking Through Thursday -- Twisty Endings

Booking Through ThursdayDo you have a favorite book that has a twist at the end? That is the question today from Booking Through Thursday.

Shutter IslandOne of my favorites is Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane. The twist is unbelievable. Posted the hardcover image because it shows the mood and character of the book! I believe Lehane writes literary fiction with a mystery/thriller incorporated in the story. Great characterization, good action, excellent themes (Mystic River -- family theme, for sure!) Reading groups should try one of Lehane's books -- you will be quite surprised the number of discussion ideas. I met Dennis Lehane 4 years ago at a library show. He is funny, dry, intelligent, and very Boston!

On February 19, Shutter Island, the movie, will been released. We will see if the movie does this incredible book justice.

The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian is another favorite. Check it out -- really great conversation starters for book clubs.

Do you have a favorite twisty?

Barbara's picture

Emma and her Men

Do you see the first episode of Emma (Masterpiece Classic) on Sunday night? Some Janeites didn't like it so much -- not enough actual Austen prose, costumes not really period-appropriate, etc. 

Jane Austen pixI'm not an expert on Jane Austen or a movie critic. I loved it! Jane Austen's works have so much great discussion points for reading groups -- class, women's lives, equality, family, manners, and irony in writing.

Masterpiece Classic has a nifty quiz to discover which bachelor from Emma is for you. I'll take it, if you take it and we'll compare!

Did you see the show on Sunday and will you watch the rest of the series? Who is your dream man of Emma Woodhouse's world -- Mr. Knightley, Mr. Churchhill, Mr. Elton, Mr. Martin?


Barbara's picture

How a Reading Group Can Help a Writer

Love BookYou love a book, relate to the characters, and the book discussion was lively! You tell your friends, family, and sometimes, strangers in the grocery line -- a word-of-mouth campaign! How can you and your reading group help to spread the word, further? Sara Backer, author of American Fuji, counts the ways in her blog!

As Sara says, "Writing is a difficult profession and success is haphazard. Spreading the word about a good book is a way to give back to the person whose writing reached you."

Please read Sara's words of wisdom and help those writers you love! Oh, and read her book -- it's great! (Word-of-mouth!)



Barbara's picture

Teaser Tuesday 1/26 Bloodroot

My teaser for Tuesday, January 26 comes from Bloodroot by Amy Greene. great reading group/book club pick!

I didn't say anything, but I hated the thought of Clint in a dead boy's clothes. I wondered which ones belonged to Louise's son.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
    BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

What is your teaser for today? Do tell!



Barbara's picture

NBCC Award Finalists -- Good Discussible Books?

Does the National Book Critics Circle select great reading group picks? You decide!

The National Book Critics Circle Awards nominees were announced on Saturday. Elizabeth Strout, 2008 finalist and author of Olive Kitteridge, announced the fiction finalists:

Bonnie Jo Campbell, American Salvage Marlon James, The Book of Night Women
Michelle Huneven, Blame
Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall
Jayne Anne Phillips, Lark and Termite

Lit by Mary KarrAnd, hurray for Mary Carr! One of my favorite books is still The Liar's Club by Mary Carr. In 1995, Carr turned the literary world upside down with her memoir, The Liar's Club, -- creating a new level for that genre. Now, Carr has been selected as a NBCC finalist for her new autobiography, Lit. I haven't read Lit yet, but it is now on the top of my TBR stack!

Congratulations to all finalists.

The National Book Critics Circle Award Ceremony will be held on March 11. 

Barbara's picture

Great Resources to Enhance Discussion

Reading groups and books club have always known that discussing books allows thems to share their joy of reading and to discover what others think and feel about the book. The mere fact that everyone sees a different idea, theme, and/or personal relationship with the book, is the whole concept of getting together.

Ann Donald of Times Live hits the nail on the head about reading and then discussing books.

Donald wrote an excellent article about how literary criticism and different reading organizations can enhance a book group discussion and lend more thoughts on the values of the book. You don't have to agree with the critic but there is always thoughts the critic brings up that are creative and informed.

Another resource Donald included is  BBC World Book Club to help understand the ideas behind a book. Each show has an author interview and you can email questions to author before hand! Kiran Desai, John Boyd, James Ellroy, and Lionel Shriver have been some previous guest authors! These shows are recorded as podcasts so you don't have to listen live.

I find bookclubgirl to be a great resource to listen to authors and discover gems. Book groups can learn from all sources to enlight their discussion.

What's your favorite choice for finding more info about an author and their book?

Barbara's picture

Friday Finds 1/22

friday findsFriday is Findsday! What books did you find this week? Old or new, fiction or nonfiction, adult or children's -- anything goes. I'm always searching for new reading group appropriate titles and here are a few of my discoveries this week.



MizB of Should Be Reading hosts this weekly event.  

Tell me the gems you have discovered this week!

Barbara's picture

World War II, Paris, and The Art World

I love historical fiction. Sara Houghteling’s sweeping debut novel, Pictures at an Exhibition, draws on the real-life stories of France’s pre-eminent art-dealing familes and the forgotten biography of the only French woman to work as a double agent inside the Nazis’ looted art stronghold. The novel tells the story of a son’s quest to recover his family’s lost masterpieces, looted by the Nazis during the occupation. Artists and their world, romance, secrets, betrayal, historical background -- sounds like a reading group/book club pick! 

Praise for Pictures at an Exhibition

“Houghteling’s vivid descriptions of paintings and their power add to the allure of this impressive debut novel.”–Michael Leber, Booklist

“Exciting . . . Houghteling has immersed herself in the history of the period, and her love of these paintings shines through.”–Kirkus Reviews

“Houghteling received a Fulbright to study paintings that went missing during the war, and the detail shines through in this first novel, which effectively depicts the new reality for Jews in postwar Europe.” –Amy Ford, Library Journal

Chapter One
First paragraph

"In the twilight of my life, I began to question if my childhood was a time of almost absurd languor, or if the violence that would strike us later had lurked there all along. I revisited certain of these memories, determined to find the hidden vein of savagery within them: the sticky hand, the scattered nuts, the gap- toothed girl grasping a firecracker, a cap floating on the Seine, flayed legs swinging between a pair of crutches, the tailor and his mouthful of pins. Some of these were immediately ominous, while others only later revealed themselves as such. However, whether or not another boy living my life would agree, I cannot say."

Now, that's a teaser! Paperback release, February 2010.

Do you like historical fiction? Can you pick a favorite?


Barbara's picture

Teaser Tuesday 1/19 Every Day in Tuscany

I love Frances Mayes'  (Under the Tuscany Sun) description of Italian life so I was jazzed that she wrote another one coming out in March. A celebration of her two-decades-long love affair with Tuscany.

My teaser today is the first two sentences of her new book. 

In winter-cold blue light, the bells of Cortona ring louder. The cold iron clapper hitting the frozen bell produces clear, shocked, hard gongs that reverberate in the heads of us frozen ones in the piazza, ringing in our skulls and down to our heels, striking the paving stones. -- Every Day in Tuscany by Frances Mayes, March 2010

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
    BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

What's yours today?

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