Bookstores across the country celebrated National Bookstore Day this weekend. I was a bookseller for 13 years. Covered Treasures in Monument, CO, McIntryes Fine Books and Bookends, Pittsboro, NC (Chapel Hill) and Market Street Books, Chapel Hill, NC. I loved those hours shelving books. I hate housecleaning but enjoyed the dusting of books and shelves to found new gems.
All of my collegues would gather round every morning when the UPS guy delivered the new boxes of books! What a joyous time digging through those boxes finding new and wonderous titles.
Indie bookstores are green -- less packaging, less transportation, and a smaller carbon footprint. By paying local taxes,they help the local government reinvest in your community. Support your neighbors and they will support you! And, along with your local libraries, indies have great reading group programs.
Every now and again, reading groups complain of divas, know-it-alls -- any words meaning "please let others speak!"
Our group tried an egg timer. Two minute maximum in the first go-around that provided all members their say. Didn't work to well -- the vocal one still interrupted members' allotted time! So, the group, san the diva, tried something else. DON'T DO THIS AT HOME!! Unless the group is friendly and can laugh with (not at) each other. The next meeting when "the vocal one" started to drone on, the rest of us pretended to fall asleep and some members started to snore! She look around for a bit and then burst out laughing. She understood the message and all was fine!
Maybe some guidelines would help the process without going to that extreme.
Guidelines for Lively Book Discussions
Respect space—Avoid “crosstalk” or talking over others.
Allow space—Some of us are more outgoing and others more reserved. If you’ve had a chance to talk, allow others time to offer their thoughts as well.
Be open—Keep an open mind, learn from others, and acknowledge there are differences in opinion. That’s what makes it interesting!
Offer new thoughts—Try not to repeat what
others have said, but offer a new perspective
Stay on the topic—Contribute to the flow of
conversation by holding your comments to the topic of the book. Though personal references can create a great discussion, as well, please keep in mind the length of a personal reference.
I have bookmarks with these guidelines printed on them. Please let me know if you need me to send you some to distribute to your members. Might help!
How have you handle divas in your group? Please share with your comments and let me know if you want some bookmarks!
Do you cherish a “classic book" that you want others to read and love, as well? Ten authors, including Ruth Rendell, Hari Kunru, Joanna Trollope, Colm Toibin, relate their favorite neglected classics for BBC Radio Open Book series.
One that comes to my mind is The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. It is considered to be among the first mystery novels and is widely regarded as one of the first (and finest) in the genre of 'sensation novels'. Collins gained enduring success with this Victorian thriller–even more success at the time that his mentor, Charles Dickens.
The novel starts with a strange midnight encounter with an artist, Walter Hartright, and a ghostly woman dressed in white. Walter tells his two pupils about the encounter and the three proceed to learn anything that can about the mystifying woman in white. They soon become involved in a quagmire of crime, violence, and international intrigue. This Victorian novel is filled with surprise and suspense! A must-read for mystery buffs and literary fiction readers.
Beginning sentence: "This is the story of what a Woman's patience can endure, and what a Man's resolution can achieve.”
What are your neglected classics?
National Reading Group Month is over. Or is it? Reading groups and book clubs celebrate the book and literary conversation all year.
One case in point, reading groups have weighed in on the Guardian's First Book Award. The award recognizes the best new literary talent, whether working in the field of fiction or non-fiction. Five UK groups from Oxford, Leeds, London, Bath, and Edinburgh help choose the 5 works in the shortlist.
The Enemy by Charlie Higson,
The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton
An Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah
The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen
A Swamp Full of Dollars by Michael Peel
Three fiction, one story short collection, and a nonfiction title. These works explore personal and world issues, identity, a little bit of satire and excellent writng -- perfect for a book group lively discussion! And fiction isn't dead despite the rumor of its demise!
The 2010 First Book Award will be announced in November. Stay tuned!
I'm going to a Halloween party tonight. With the weather, I might just stay in and glance over some of my favorite Halloween stories.
Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. I am Legend by Richard Matheson. The Haunting of the Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Something Wicked Comes This Way by Ray Bradbury.
The Heart-Shaped Box, a contemporary thriller by Joe Hill has become one of my faves. An aging rock star with an collection of spooky and morbid objects buys a haunted suit online. Enough said! Hill takes you from horror to sublime, goulish to redemption in one book. Takes your breath away. And, lots of lively discussion points for reading group.
Witchy You a Happy Halloween!
National Reading Group Month Rocks On! Reading groups, libraries, and bookstores celebrate the joy of shared reading. I've wrote about the awesome event in Nashville. Let's go across the country reviewing all the great reading group authors who discussed their books at the WNBA's chapter events. Select a few of their books for your reading group list!
Charlotte -- month-long program co-sponsor Park Road Books WNBA-Charlotte Picks of the Lists
Dallas -- Dixie Cash aka Pam Cumbie and Jeffery McClanahan (Curing the Blues with a New Pair of Shoes)
Los Angeles -- Kelly Sullivan-Walden (I Had the Strangest Dream) and Paul Ryan (The Art of Comedy), with Diana Birchall (Mrs. Darcy's Dilemma: A Sequel to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice); Dori Carter (We Are Rich) Syrie James (The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen and The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë); Estherleon Schwartz (Tears of Stone: And My Deal with God: My Life Story, Estherleon Schwartz).
Read how Syrie James' research and love of Charlotte brough her character, Charlotte, to life, compliments of bookclubgirl!
New York City -- Rosalind Reisner (Read On. . .Life Stories and Jewish American Literature, Libraries Unlimited) and Miriam Tuliao (NYPL Asst. Dir., Central Collection Dvt.), with Eva Hoffman (Appassionata); Christina Baker Kline (Bird in Hand; C.M. Mayo (The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire); Julie Metz (Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal; Roxana Robinson (Cost). bookclubgirl has a great post about the NY event written by Stephanie Selah.
San Francisco celebrated twice -- yay!
1. Tanya Egan Gibson (How to Buy a Love of Reading; 2008 WNBA Award recipient Kathi Kamen Goldmark (And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You); Christopher Gortner (The Last Queen).
2. Joan Gelfand (A Dreamer's Guide to Cities and Streams), with Allison Hoover Bartlett (The Man Who Loved Books Too Much); Meg Waite Clayton (The Wednesday Sisters, ) Charlie Haas (The Enthusiast); Mary Mackey (The Widow's War).
Seattle -- Nancy Pearl (Book Lust, More Book Lust and Book Crush), with Jamie Ford (Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet; Diane Hammond (Hannah's Dream); Stephanie Kallos (Sing Them Home; Jim Lynch (Border Songs); Garth Stein (The Art of Racing in the Rain).
Washington, D.C. -- "Washington Reads, P&P Reads," Edward P. Jones (The Known World)
I love short stories -- characters coming alive in compact narratives. There are many short story collections that makes great reading group picks and create lively conversation. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, Unaccustomed Earth and Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri -- just to name a few. One of my personal favorites is Ship Fever by Andrea Barrett! Oprah selected a short story collection, Say You're One Of Them, by Uwem Akpan. Is there an reason why short fiction is a dying genre? Will Oprah come to the rescue of the short story? Has your book club selected a short story collection? Which one and why?
In the big picture, reading groups represent the foundations of democracy! Yes, I said it! Many people across the world aren't allowed to read what they want. Even if they manage to read an unauthorized book; they won't be able to discuss with anyone else. Reading groups offer conversation without any pressure from outside, in that, members can share ideas about anything -- the book, the author, how the book opens up to member's lives, regional issues, national issues, and world issues. I love that! Self-identity and real community and cultural awareness and discourse. Who knew your group is so crucial for the nation!
I recently read about the National Reading Summit Conference in Canada. Writers, editors, librarians, booksellers, and policy-makers from other nations will speak about their countries' reading program with Canadians delegates. Canada is in the process of setting Canada's national reading program -- Becoming a reader is at the very heart of responsible citizenship!" Bravo for Canda coming on board.
Last weekend was my first time in Nashville and I was in for a ride! Authors descended on the Music City (I say, Book City) for the 21st Annual Southern Festival of Books. High force winds and a tornado warning on Friday didn’t stop me and the rest of the book lovers from going to the author readings and panels held on and around the War Memorial Plaza.
Being a reading group “groupie,” I was excited for the National Reading Group Month Signature Event. “Breakfast with Authors” – what a grand way to start a Saturday! Five authors with great discussable books chatted and joked with moderator, Nina Cardona, Nashville Public Radio, All Things Considered Host and the over 150 book club member attendees.
Here are some comments from the authors and there are no spoilers!
Marie Brenner spoke about her memoir, Apples and Oranges: My Brother and Me, Lost and Found, and how she used locations and settings to define and reflect both her brother and herself. The differences in their personalities echo their completely opposite home bases, New York City and rural Washington State. The memoir tracks their sibling rivalry and how their opposite worlds lead to an understanding, appreciation, and love for each other. Her touching and comic story makes me think of my own relationships with my family.
Inman Majors joked with the audience saying he believed every author has a little bit of ego claiming “I’ll show you what I can do!” Inman’s novel, The Millionaires, is slightly based the Butcher brothers of East Tennessee in the 1960s and 1970s. Inman revealed he likes to distance himself from his characters – forgetting himself when writing. His “Southern Great Gatsby” has a dysfunctional family, the Southern class system, politics, ambition – everything a southern book needs and a great reading group pick!
In her short story collection, Girl Trouble, Holly Goddard Jones finds a little of herself in all her many characters – even the character of a rapist. Holly commented that even the book world sometimes ignores short stories so she tried to write a novel in order to sell her collection. That didn’t worked so well --she didn’t feel passionate about the novel and the stories held up on their own! I’m so glad she stuck it out – they are wonderful!
“I know what I wanted to write about!” said Dr. Perri Klaus. The Mercy Rule tells the story of a pediatrician working with at-risk children, along with being a mother and wife, herself. Perri examines the relationship with the doctor and the mothers with at-risk families. In her novel, she explores the strange line between “the reporter and the reported,” explained Perri. With three daughters, a husband, and being a pediatrician, herself; Perri commented on how social services would see her household. That’s an interesting question that reading groups may consider discussing in relation to their households.
Kathryn Stockett remarked that she didn’t think anyone would read her work! She got scared after her debut novel, The Help, was published -- did she take too many risks when writing her book? Kathryn’s work explores the moral issues of race in the 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi. She examines the stories of the black maids who raised white children. When writing her novel, Kathryn realized the joy of getting to know her characters. With themes of race, family, and personal challenges and discovery, The Help should be an every reading group list!
Unfortunately, the breakfast ended though there were still hands raised for questions. I filed out still thinking about the authors and their books and couldn’t wait to tell my reading group what I learned.
National Reading Group Month was initiated three years by Women’s National Book Association to commemorate its 90th anniversary! National Reading Group Month celebrates the joy of shared reading and encourages more people to get involved in reading groups.