Monday, November 5, 2012

Book Club

Before the end of the school year last May, I was asked by a fabulous former co-worker of mine to join the neighborhood book club for the upcoming fall.  I screamed and hugged her while shouting in her ear that I had always wanted to join a book club.

Not the sort of thing that usually makes women jump up and down with joy, but what can I say?  I'm a nerd at heart.

But in all honesty, I always figured that people didn't think to invite me into their book club because I am a coach and therefore couldn't possibly be a rabid reader?!

Or maybe that's just my own insecurities.

Regardless, I'm three months into the book club and I am absolutely LOVING it because not only is it a fun night with great food, wine and women that I enjoy being around....but it has also forced me to pick up books that I would never choose on my own.  

Quite frankly, I've surprised myself by having found the time to get these monstrous books read and digested but then again, Craig and I did spend about two days in the hospital plus a weekend of "bed rest" for him so I did have time to sit around and get caught up on reading.  

I've still got a stack sitting on my nightstand and bookcase that I'm ready to devour this winter.  What is it about cold weather that makes me want to curl up with a good book?

But this is my quick and completely biased review of what I've been reading this fall.

Book Club selection #1: Anything by John Irving

This one was long and complicated but I'll try to boil it down for you in a few quick points.
- Father and mother have two sons that die in a car crash which devastates them both.  A few years later they decide to have another child, a daughter against the wishes of the mother.
- When the daughter is four years old, the father hires a young man from his alma mater to be his writing assistant for the summer.  He chooses a boy who looks eerily like one of his dead sons.
- The mother has a summer affair with the boy before running away from the family and leaving the daughter with her philandering husband.
- The boy will never go on to marry because of his intense obsession with the mother.
- Years later the daughter has grown and she is a world famous author who forms a friendship (kind of) with her mother's teenage (now grown) lover.

And that's kind of where I got bored.

Apparently John Irving is a favorite of many of the women in Book Club.  Unfortunately, I cannot share their same enthusiasm.  None of the characters in this book were the least bit redeeming.  They were shallow, unrepentant and morally repulsive....and John Irving is a tedious writer.  Too tedious for my taste.  Sure, you can vividly picture the scene in your head and almost feel the emotions radiating off the page but if you don't particularly care about the people and how they are reacting to their own poor life decisions.......well, all the descriptive words in the world aren't going to hold my attention.  I plodded through the novel but I had to force myself to read for an hour a night just to get through the dang thing.  I'm nothing if not a dedicated (or is it stubborn?) student.

Book Club Selection #2

- Boy falls in love with girl who happens to be the daughter of famous authors who have developed an entire book series on "Amazing Amy."
- Boy's mother becomes stricken with cancer and boy moves girl from New York City to Missouri to help care for his mother.
- Girl disappears on their fifth anniversary leaving no trace.
- Boy is implicated in the murder but maintains his innocence despite a mountain of circumstantial evidence.

And that's all I can tell you because anything more would give away MAJOR plot lines.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into with this author.  Although the book was deliciously salacious and had plot twists and turns at every moment.........I also felt like I was in a schizophrenic nightmare the entire time.  If you ever have wondered what goes on inside the head of a sociopath, this is the book for you.  It was a little jarring and creepy but very good.  It's like all the best crime shows on ID....on steroids.

Book Club Selection #3

It's set in Berlin (one of my favorite cities) during the end of World War II.  The city is full of women because all the able-bodied men are off fighting the Fuhrer's war.  Sigrid is a young woman living with her bossy mother-in-law while working as a stenographer all the while trying to ignore the loss and devastation around her.  But she's got a secret lover.....who has secrets of his own.

I cannot recommend this book to you enough.  Oh my goodness.  It might be almost 400 pages, but I read it in two days over this weekend.  Granted, I am a total World War II nerd (complete with a trip to Berlin AND a concentration camp) but it was compelling, heart wrenching and moving all at the same time.  I cried and worried and had to take mental breaks.  I'm not going to lie.  It's some heavy stuff.  But good.  Powerful.  Cleansing in a way, I suppose.  Delicious and captivating for sure.  This is a good one for the Christmas holidays - not because it's uplifting or anything of the sorts, but because it's cold and dark and foreboding.  Great for a cold winter's night.

Birthday gift from a friend

A young woman leaves a halfway house of sorts, having been a ward of the state for her entire life.  She has only one great talent - the knowledge of an old Victorian flower language which she then uses to help out a local flower shop.  By working in this shop she reconnects with her past and then is thrust into an uncertain future.

This was another one that I read in only a few short days.  It's an easy read but one that will touch your heart.  Not going to lie - I cried at the end of this book as well.  

So there you go.  What I've been up to lately.  All in all, I've been pretty pleased with the Book Club suggestions and looking forward to even more new books!


Anonymous said...

thank you for the book reviews! I need some new material and the only one of those I have read is Gone Girl!

annajanine said...

Awesome! Can't wait to try those last two. Has your group considered Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See? LOVE IT and its SHORT. Also, Redeeming Love? A common crush of ladies' book clubs :). Easy read, but good food for thought and heartwarming, Christian read.