Book Club, reader's advisory

The After Party – Morning Book Break and Books and Bagels – March 2020

Morning Book Break and Books and Bagels Book Discussion Groups on
Lessons From Lucy: The Simple Joys of An Old, Happy Dog by Dave Barry

Ratings:
The Books and Bagels Book Discussion Group members rated the book with a range between a 4.5 and 5.0.  Additionally, one member gave the book a 3.5. The average of the ratings was 4.73.  One member said, “I don’t see how you can give the book anything but a 5.00.”

The Morning Book Break Book Discussion Group rated the book between a 3.0 and 4.50. Additionally, two members gave the book a minus 1.0 and another member rated the book at 1.0. The average of the ratings was 3.80.

Review:

Discussion Highlights:
Members overwhelmingly enjoyed this book, and thanked the facilitator for this selection.  They were grateful to read material that made them laugh. Discussion usually ends around 11:15 a.m. but, most members stayed past noon to discuss the most important theme of the book—our pets and the joys they bring into our lives.  Members shared photos of their beloved pets.  It was an upbeat feel good discussion!

Positive Comments:
Many members had read Dave Barry’s work before and they were happy to discuss his writing style and humor.  The clubs spent some time answering the question, “How would you define a sense of humor?” Members have already recommended this book to others and will continue to do so.  One member is recommending the book to friends to help them lighten their load. Two members said their husbands heard them laughing and they inquired as to what they were reading.  Both husbands said, “May I have the book to read when you are done?”

All the members agree we need more humor in our lives.  Members agree that laughter is such a good tonic for our souls.  Almost all the members laughed throughout the book.  One member said she laughed on every single page. 

Members enjoyed this fast, easy read.  They thought Dave Barry provided excellent descriptions.   Most agreed his stories were hilarious.  

Some members without pets thought they learned a lot about the joys of pet ownership in this book. The group discussed all the lessons and attributes we can learn from pets such as: loyalty, unconditional love, comforting others, etc.  One member said her cat taught her patience and to keep it simple.  She stated that human nature always seems to complicate things, but that is not necessary.  Animals teach us to keep things simple.

One member thought the last chapter did not fit, but on later reflection, decided that the last chapter actually includes all the lessons from the previous chapters.

Everyone agreed the life lessons contained are important, but hard to maintain.  One member thought the theme of the book was to not be so judgmental.  One member stated that she did not read the book for the life lessons; rather she appreciated the book for its humor.  One member said every chapter taught her about love.

Several members agreed that Dave Barry’s work is not worthy of the next Pulitzer Prize, but his work is a valuable and important part of our ethos—and we need more of his humor in our lives.  Members who have read Dave Barry for decades are sad that he is aging and wonder if someone else can take his mantle.

Negative Comments:
(Spoiler Alerts)
The ending shocked members and some did not think this chapter fit well with the rest of the book.  Members felt the book was so uplifting until the end, which disappointed some members.  Several members skipped the last chapter because they did not know what was ahead and they wanted to leave the book on a high note.  One member was relieved to hear at club that Lucy did not die in the last chapter. 

One member thought Dave Barry’s best work is as a columnist.

Three members did not care for Dave Barry’s humor.  They did not find him funny. 

One member thought the premise of learning things from Lucy was a cute idea, but this book has already been written, multiple times.

Resources:

For books and audiobooks in our collection by Dave Barry, please click here.

You can visit Dave Barry’s website here.

Dave Barry did an excellent job of explaining the activities he participates in for fun during the book, but if you wanted a visual of these activities, please check-out the videos below:

The World Famous Lawn Rangers in Amazing Arcola:

The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Stephen King,
Dave Barry, and The Rock Bottom Remainders
(The band is introduced and begins playing at 34:00):

Rafael Pi Roman interviews Dave Barry about his book Lessons From Lucy
(included in interview are adorable photos and footage of Lucy):

Book Club, reader's advisory

The After Party – Books and Bagels and Morning Book Break – December 2019

Morning Book Break and Books and Bagels Book Discussion Groups on
The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Ratings:
The Books and Bagels Book Discussion Group members rated the book between a 3.0 and 5.0. The average of the ratings was 3.81.  

The Morning Book Break Book Discussion Group rated the book between a -1.0 and 5.0. The average of the ratings was 3.13.

Review:
Susan Orlean is known for her top-notch research skills and the ability to weave together disparate threads into an informative, interesting, narrative nonfiction book.  She covered many topics in The Library Book; from the history of LA library system and its many departments, the building of the Central Library, the account of LA Central Library fire and the mystery surrounding the fire.  Orlean also covered the concept of a book having a soul and how the burning of books destroys a culture’s very existence and history.

Discussion Highlights:
The groups discussed the role of libraries throughout our lives. We discussed the various roles that libraries and books play in the health of a community.  We discussed the history of libraries and the various departments.  We discuss new ideas and initiatives for libraries of the future. 

In chapter 5, Orlean writes that books “take on a kind of human vitality.”  The groups attempted to answer the following question: What roles do books play in our lives and do we anthropomorphize them?  We discussed wrestling with the idea of giving books away.  Additionally, we discussed a fire’s impact on a culture and its ideas.

Positive Comments:
Many members loved the book and they have already recommended it to friends. Some members enjoyed the structure of the book and felt like the author created interest by weaving together threads of each storyline throughout the book.  Members who liked the book found it educational and informative.  They commend the author for her tremendous research.

The facilitator thought of the book as a great tribute to the good work libraries do each day. Susan Orlean says, “All the things that are wrong in the world seem conquered by a library’s simple unspoken promise: Here I am, please tell me your story; here is my story, please listen.” “This is why I wanted to write this book, to tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine, and houw that feels marvelous and execeptional.”

“It <the library> declares that all these stories matter, and so does every effort to create something that connects us to one another, and to our past and to what is still to come.”

Negative Comments:
Facilitator Preface: Some members enjoy nonfiction books, but most members like fiction books better and rarely read nonfiction books.

Many members disliked that author went back and forth in time.  They felt this led to a disconnected read and it made the reading more difficult.  Many members like stories told in a linear fashion.  They felt the story was choppy due to the back and forth structure.

All the members are strong advocates for libraries and love libraries. They were disappointed that they did not love the book because they want to promote libraries. They had high hopes for the book. They did not care about the LA Library and many thought if they story was about Chicago they might have been more engaged.  Many members said the story just didn’t grab them.  They didn’t care about solving the arson or about Harry Peak.  They didn’t like the pace or the structure.  Members thought the book was too comprehensive and the author tried to cover too many people. One member said if she had to take a quiz on the book, she would flunk.

Resources:

For books and audiobooks in our collection by Susan Orlean, please click here.

Listen to the dynamic interviews below to discover how Susan Orlean came to write
The Library Book.

Susan Orlean kicks off her tour with an interview with David Ulin at the LA Central Library.

For photos of the Central Library, please take a look at the Central Library website.  The Art and Architecture of the Central Library is magnificent.

Read-a-Likes:

reader's advisory, Slideshows

Book Lover’s Day 2018 Wrap-Up

October 18th was Book Lover’s Day 2018!  This is our annual program to share books that we as a department have loved over the past year and have a pleasant luncheon while enjoying fiction and nonfiction titles.  This year’s theme was Book Lovers in Paradise.

We had a full house again this year; every seat was filled!

If you were unable to join us, or want a refresher on what books were spoken about, below you will find the slide show from Book Lover’s Day 2018 as well as an alphabetical book list by author of the titles presented.  Click on any of the titles in the book list to see them in our catalog.

Please feel free to ask questions or reserve a book via the comments!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A Colorful Way of Living: How to Be More, Create More, Do More
the Vera Bradley Way
 
by Barbara Bradley Baekgaard
(Inspirational Non-Fiction)

Snap by Belinda Bauer
(Suspense Fiction)

The Immortalists  by Chloe Benjamin
(Literary Fiction)

The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin
(Historical Fiction)

The Wife by Alafair Burke
(Psychological Suspense)

 The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland
(Contemporary Romance)

My Lady’s Choosing by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris
(Interactive Romance)

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser
(Frontier Life Non-Fiction)

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
(Alternate History/Horror)

The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King
(Biography)

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
(Alternate History/Science Fiction)

A Criminal Defense by William L. Myers, Jr.
(Legal Thriller)

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
(Family Drama)

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
(Historical Fiction)

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage
(Horror/Thriller)

Book Club, reader's advisory

After Dinner Mints – The Dish on Just Desserts – April 2018

after-dinner-mints

Just Desserts Book Discussion Group talks about
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

For April’s meeting, we read Dr. Kalanithi’s memoir, which was published posthumously in 2016.

Dr. Kalanithi was an American neurosurgeon and first time writer. The book is about his life and battling stage IV metastatic lung cancer. Paul graduated with degrees in English literature, biology, history, and medicine. He graduated from Yale Medical School.

In the memoir, he discusses meeting his wife, who is also a physician. The topic of residency and the many hours of taking care of patients, surgery and declaring a specialty were also touched on.

The irony of the situation was that Paul postponed his life in order to live as a doctor with all the pulls on his time. When he found out that he had advanced lung cancer, and treatment was no longer working, he had to learn how to die. Instead of asking the question “why me”, he learned to ask “why not me?” Paul also would ask the question what makes a life truly well lived.

We had a very lively discussion about life, death, last wishes, and how to honor loved ones. It is a hard subject to bring up with your loved ones. How wonderful to feel so loved and protected, that your own loved ones would want to deal with your desires for end of life decisions.

That way, you could both live in the moment and spend your remaining time making memories and just living!

Our book for May is 1984 by George Orwell!

When Breath Becomes Air

Book Club, reader's advisory

The After Party – Morning Book Break – February 2018

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Morning Book Break Book Discussion on
The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore

Ratings:
The book received ratings between a 4.0 and 5.0+. One member gave the book a 2.75. The average of the ratings was 4.59.

Review:
Many members have stated they are not nonfiction readers and with that in mind, they enjoyed this nonfiction read. The members felt this narrative nonfiction read was written in a very accessible way and they thought this could be required reading for high school students. The members applauded Kate Moore for bringing the personal stories of each radium girl to life. The members thought the author helped the reader to experience all the emotions of these young girls—from exuberant joy to deep sorrow and anger.  Members are lifelong learners, so they really engage with writing that brings them new information.  Many members could not put the book down; they were entranced. The members felt rage and anger at the corporate greed and legal dysfunction.  Members were inspired by the strength of these women in the face of corporate giants. Members relayed other disasters where the disadvantaged get a raw deal; i.e. Flint, MI (lead in water), Chernobyl (nuclear disaster), St. Louis, MO (nuclear waste site),US tobacco companies: Phillip Morris,etc.

Many members made positive comments regarding the photos included in the book. Members found themselves looking at the photos while reading and thinking of the girls. In an interview, the author stated she posted the girls’ photos around the room while writing this book.  Kate Moore said this: “Every time I talk about the women, I tell myself: do it for them. Make it good, communicate their story, because they deserve this. They do feel like friends to me. When my husband and I had a glass of prosecco after I typed THE END on my first draft, before either of us drank a drop we first turned to the wall on which their pictures were pinned and raised our glasses to them.”

7

“This is the memorial statue to the Radium Girls, which stands in Ottawa, Illinois. At Christmas time, locals drape the statue with a red homemade knitted scarf, to keep her warm in winter.  The statue is dedicated not only to the Ottawa dial-painters, but also to ‘dial-painters who suffered all over the United States … in recognition of the tremendous perseverance, dedication and sense of justice the Radium Girls exhibited in their fight’. May they rest in peace.”

Discussion Highlights:

  • The group traced the emotional trajectory of the Radium Girls—from their initial excitement about their jobs to the realization that their exposure to radium was killing them.
  • Discussion about the horrible suffering the girls endured and their tenacity as they sought to find out what was causing their individual medical issues.
  • Discussion about the persistent pursuit of the Radium Girls to get medical care and legal justice.
  • Discussed the different responses between the United States Radium Corporation and the Radium Dial Company and whether or not they understood the hazards of radium. The group further discussed the reactions of the companies even after they realized that radium was proven poisonous.
  • Discussion about modern companies who have behaved ruthlessly and how the Radium Girls’ story is still relevant today.
  • Discussed why this story hasn’t been widely explored even though it takes 1,500 years for the effects of radium to wear off and parts of the towns in which the girls worked remains poisonous to this day. Members were shocked to learn clean-up was still taking place in 2015.
  • The members discussed how the girls were inspirational and brave. Members praised the girls for the work they did to help future generations.
  • Members discussed the gender issues contained within the non-fiction book.  We discussed whether or not, considering the time period, did their gender help or hinder them?
  • Radium has changed the world in positive ways, so has its uses been worth the sacrifice?
  • Discussion of other discoveries which have led to tragedy.
  • In an interview the author, Kate Moore stated: “And for me, what was compelling about the story was what these women suffered. And it was very much that they had done this remarkable thing, standing up against these incredibly powerful corporations, standing up against the face of their communities, battling for justice, even though they knew that they themselves were going to die. They didn’t lie down and take it quietly. They stood up and they fought for justice. And I just thought they were so extraordinary, and it was wrong that we don’t know their names and no one has ever traced their stories before—the individual tragedies that they feel. I think it’s really important to put a human face and a human experience behind the history that we see. Even the headlines we see today when we read about environmental damage or scandals. I think it’s only when you know that this was the person’s name, this is what their hopes were, that were then thwarted by what happened to them, this is how their families suffered. I think it’s only then that you can truly appreciate what the human tragedy is, and so that’s why I wanted to write it in the way I have done, because I want the women, the girls themselves, to be remembered.”

Members were asked whether or not author accomplished her purpose in writing Radium Girls.  Overall, members felt that Kate Moore definitely did justice to the girls’ personal journeys.  Members were impressed by her extensive research and attention to all the intimate details of each girl’s life.  

Surprisingly, members were not confused by the sheer overwhelming number of girls portrayed in the nonfiction narrative. Facilitator wondered if a historical fiction novel with a compressed time-line and compressed characters would have had more wide appeal among the general public, thereby bringing the Radium Girls story to the attention of even more people.  Several members hope this nonfiction narrative will be made into a movie, so that a wider audience can learn about the girls and have further exposure to the serious nature of environmental issues which can be dealt with for the good of all humanity.

Resources:

Local bookstore owner Becky Anderson interviews Kate Moore.

The Poisoner’s Handbook: Killer Chemistry, a documentary which provides a fascinating look into early forensic science based on the non-fiction book: The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum. The Radium portion of the DVD is particular appropriate to the discussion of Radium Girls.

In the early twentieth century, the average American medicine cabinet was a would-be poisoner’s treasure chest. There was radioactive radium in health tonics, thallium in depilatory creams, and morphine in teething medicine and potassium cyanide in cleaning supplies. While the tools of the murderer’s trade multiplied as the pace of industrial innovation increased, the scientific knowledge (and the political will) to detect and prevent the crimes lagged behind.

Kate Moore discusses her book with Anne McTiernan at Seattle Town Hall

Kate Moore’s website: http://www.kate-moore.com/writing/4583697052

Website devoted to The Radium Girls (the website literally glows): http://www.theradiumgirls.com/

Read-a-Likes:

The Radium Girls

Book Club

After Dinner Mints – The Dish on Just Desserts – May 2017

after-dinner-mints

Just Desserts Discussion Group talks about
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That
Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

by Ed Catmull

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This month’s book is Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull, a non-fiction pick. Dr. Catmull holds Bachelor of Science degrees in computer science and physics, and a PhD. in computer science. Throughout his illustrious career, he has made huge contributions to the computer graphics field. Ed is a co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and is currently President of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

The book outlines seven core principles for a creative culture in the workplace. They are as follows:

  1. Quality is the best business plan. It is the standard that you aim for.
  2. Failure isn’t a necessary evil. Failure is a necessary risk of any creative endeavor.
  3. People are more important than ideas. Improving ideas starts with the team.
  4. Prepare for the unknown. There will always be problems. Enable your employees to solve them and move on.
  5. The goal isn’t to make things better, it is to make better things.
  6. Everyone should be able to talk to anyone in the company. Proper channels just aren’t efficient.
  7. Honest, candid feedback leads to better ideas and a better work culture.

If you enjoy Pixar films, Dr. Catmull reveals the processes behind some of their biggest blockbusters. Pixar films has two mantras- that story is king and to trust the process.

Currently, Pixar Animation releases three films every two years. Two films are brand new ideas and one is a sequel to a previous film, like Toy Story or Cars.

The group really liked this book! The audiobook is a real treat to listen to. While discussing the book, the group agreed that we would all love to work at Pixar with Ed and his creative team.

There is no read-alike bookmark for Creativity, Inc. because it is a one-of-a-kind read!

Book Club

The After Party – Books & Bagels and Morning Book Break – May 2017

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Books and Bagels and Morning Book Break Book Discussions on
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

Rating: In Books and Bagels, the book received ratings between 4.0 and 5.0+. The average of the ratings was 4.43. Three members gave the book a 5+.  This book received an unusually high rating as compared to past books selected for club.

In Morning Book Break, the book received ratings between a 0 and 5.0+.  The average of the ratings was 4.72. This was also an unusually high rating.

Review: 

Morning Book Break: Members found the book very informative, but the information presented was depressing. Most members would rather not focus on end-of-life issues and most members could only digest the book in small chunks. In spite of this fact, members found the book to be exceptionally well-written and inspiring.  Several members thought it should be a book everyone in the medical profession should read. One member thought this selection was the most valuable read since she has been attending book club.  Members would definitely encourage others to read the book. Members have noticed that Atul Gawande has been on several network news shows and members are glad to be informed about current topics/events.

Books and Bagels: Members overwhelming would and have recommended this book to others. Many members are now going to purchase this book to give to loved ones and also, to give to several doctors. Members believe this is a foundational book, which should be read by every medical professional prior to graduation. Members found the book to be a necessary, important read. One member said, “Definitely, have a tissue box ready if you decide to read.”  Discussion centered on what worked and didn’t work in end life experiences. Members spent time sharing personal preparations. One member pointed out that Atul Gawande is listed in Fortune’s May 1, 2017 issue on p. 46 in the article 34 Leaders Who Are Changing Health Care. Members are excited to read about current information and they feel up-to-date.

Discussion Highlights:

  • Conversation about the personal narratives and anecdotal stories shared by the author
  • Members found the stories to be fruitful and provided helpful insights apart from the facts, figures, and statistics
  • Complexities of medical education and insufficiencies regarding medical training for death, grief, and end-of-life decisions
  • Effectiveness of Doctor Styles: Paternalistic, Informative, and Interpretive
  • Evolution of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospice and what matters most in the end
  • Striking a balance between hope and reality
  • Dr. Gawande’s personal story of his father’s terminal illness
  • Healthcare costs and potential remedies/medical funding/quality-of-life issues/death with dignity
  • How traditions/spirituality influence the concept of being mortal
  • Shared tips/strategies for effectively dealing with mortality—what is involved in a “good death”
  • Aging in the US and abroad
  • Tension between safety and independent living/joyful existence
  • Combating the “Three Plagues of Nursing Home Existence: Boredom, Loneliness, and Helplessness”

Resources:

For other books by Atul Gawande in our collection, please click here.

We also own the Frontline DVD Being Mortal; the film explores the interactions between doctors and patients approaching the end of life.

Jacket (5)

Atul Gawande recommends doctors begin to talk about the inevitability of death with terminally ill patients and he recommends a good place to start is with the use of the “Serious Illness Conversation Guide.” He wrote the guide at the following link to find out what terminally ill patients understand about their condition and what their goals are as the end nears.

http://www.talkaboutwhatmatters.org/documents/Providers/Serious-Illness-Guide.pdf

Read-a-Likes:

Being Mortal

Book Club, RA Programs

After Dinner Mints: The Dish on Just Desserts – January 2017

after-dinner-mints

Just Desserts Discussion Group talks about
Give & Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success
by Adam Grant

Our author Adam Grant is the youngest tenured professor at the Wharton School of Business. He is also one of Business Week’s favorite professors and one of Fortune’s 40 under 40. Adam Grant is the best-selling author of Give and Take and his newest book; Originals- How Non-Conformists Move the World. He has a PhD in organizational psychology.

Our book this month deals with success in business and in life.  Most of us think success is about hard work, perseverance and luck. That equation overlooks the impact of our interactions with others. People are either: givers, takers or matchers. Matchers achieve the most success in life, followed by givers with takers in last place.

Adam Grant’s “code of honor”- the traits that inspire trust and not competition in the work place are: show up, work hard, be kind, and always take the high road.

This book shares personal stories, but also many success stories. As a group, we learned about the creation of Craigslist and Freecycle. The author strongly believes in paying favors forward.

80% of all Americans now work in service industries.  We need to be able to work independently and interdependently!

If you are interested in this topic, check out the book and the author’s website www.giveandtake.com.  On the website, there is a free quiz available to find out your Giver Quotient. There are also videos to watch of Adam Grant giving several speeches on the topic. He is a wonderful public speaker!

We had a great discussion and we expect to see more great things from Adam Grant in the future!

give-and-take

Book Club, RA Programs

The After Party -Books and Bagels and Morning Book Break – Jan. 2017

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Books and Bagels and Morning Book Break Discussions on Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

Rating: In Books and Bagels, the book received ratings between 2.5 and 3.5. The average of the ratings was 3.2.  Three members declined to rate the book, citing that it would be unfair to rate as they disliked the book so much they could not finish it.

In Morning Book Break, the book received ratings between -1.0 and 5.0.  The average of the ratings was 1.97. About six members gave the book a zero and stated that they disliked the book and were unable to finish reading the book.

Review: Almost all members would not have chosen this book to read on their own. The Books and Bagels members, on the whole, were grateful to learn about new technologies and new communication tools that have emerged in our modern era.

How people meet their mates across different periods is a significant theme of Modern Romance therefore; last month, the members were asked to come prepared to share one of the following stories:

  • How did you and your significant other meet?
  • How did your parents or grandparents meet?
  • Share an interesting story about how a couple you know met.
  • Of course, members were also given the option to opt out.

The members were told that these shared stories would allow us to compare and contrast how people found their mates in the past and the present. Several members in Morning Book Break suggested bringing in wedding photos or photos of themselves as young singles and all members took this suggestion to heart and arrived with a photo to share. These stories and photos were well-received and this segment of the discussion was very popular.

At the end of our discussion time, members were asked to critique the book and answer the follow question:

  • Did Modern Romance help dispel the social stigma of online dating? If you were in your 20’s or 30’s would you use it as a tool?

The discussions in both groups were lively, fruitful, and interesting. Normally, the discussions end around 11 am, in both groups, the discussion lasted until almost noon.

Discussion Highlights—Books and Bagels

  • Several members did not care for the book, so they skimmed the contents or did not finish the book.
  • Most members found the comedian’s use of foul language to be off-putting, irritating, and a distraction to the contents of the book.
  • Some members questioned the methodology of the research studies conducted and they discovered that the statistics within the book did not add up.
  • Much discussion centered on how cell phone usage, specifically texting, has not only changed the dating scene, but ordinary, everyday conversations in general.
  • There was a great deal of discussion about the use of the internet and how googling has allowed us to search for the best which opens up endless options and yet, our lives are more complex and not necessarily happier.

Discussion Highlights—Morning Book Break

  • Most members did not care for Ansari’s humor. They found the humor to be boorish, insulting, and disrespectful. Some members found him to be humorous and a few enjoy his stand-up comedy routines.
  • Many members expressed concern for younger generation and their future; this brave new world seems to have lost the art of lively conversation. Many members were glad that they had been born in an earlier generation.  One member stated that colleges are now offering courses in conversation skills, indeed, a lost art.
  • Several members were not able to finish reading the book and those that did found it to be redundant and repetitive.
  • A few members shared that the information about romance in Japan, Buenos Aires, and France was interesting and informative.
  • A few members discussed the book with younger people over the holidays and found the information to spark lively and interesting conversations. A few people thought having knowledge about current romantic practices was paramount in interacting with the younger generation and on that note, thought the book offered insight.

Resources:

http://azizansari.com/

Read-a-Likes:

Modern Romance.jpg

Book Club

The After Party – Morning Book Break and Books and Bagels – Dec. 2016

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Books and Bagels and Morning Book Break Book Discussions on In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder And Its Consequences by Truman Capote

Rating: In Books and Bagels, the book received ratings between 3.75 and 5.0. The average rating was 4.33.

In Morning Book Break, this book received a variety of scores between 1.0 and 4.5.  The average rating was 3.27.

Review: The nonfiction novel was selected as part of a two-month combination study, along with the historical fiction novel, The Swans of Fifth Avenue.  Following our group discussion, the members were asked to respond by giving their usual critique and also, respond to the following:

  • Did you find reading The Swans of Fifth Avenue prior to reading In Cold Blood profitable?
  • If members had previously read In Cold Blood, they were asked to compare and contrast their previous reading with this current reading.

Most members relayed that Truman Capote was indeed, a truly gifted writer.  Most members would not have selected this nonfiction true crime book, but they were happy that it was a book club selection. The discussion, as always, was dynamic, insightful, and elevated the individual reading of the book.

Discussion Highlights—both groups

  • Several members read In Cold Blood as teenagers and remember being quite frightened; however, rereading the books as adults, they found the text enlightening, interesting, and disturbing. Members felt over the course of their lifetimes, they have been desensitized to the portrayal of crimes. After all, today’s media constantly televises murder, terror, and violence.
  • Most members found Capote’s writing to be superb, but found the read to be very slow going. Reading all the details at times was cumbersome and boring.

Discussion Highlights—Books and Bagels

  • Most members found last month’s read, The Swans of Fifth Avenue to be a disappointing read, but found the information gleaned about Capote to be very useful in understanding Capote’s characterization of Perry Smith. Some members did not like the characterization of Truman Capote in The Swans of Fifth Avenue, but the information was useful.
  • There was much discussion about Dick and Perry’s senseless crime. Members searched for reasons the crime was committed. In Cold Blood was a psychological investigation into the minds of these cold-blooded killers. Truman Capote amazingly achieved sympathy and compassion for these murderers.
  • One member read the book straight though and found the story compelling and the writing masterful.
  • Several members believe that In Cold Blood was an excellent springboard leading to a discussion about capital punishment.
  • One member had read In Cold Blood in Esquire magazine in its original publication format, four installments. She commented that when she read it the first time, she did not realize the significance of the work.

Discussion Highlights—Morning Book Break

  • Several members thought In Cold Blood was disturbing, but were thrilled it was chosen as a book discussion read. They thought the work was ground-breaking for 1965.  The back and forth sections between the Clutters and the murders was innovative.
  • Several members were reminded of the Palatine Brown’s Chicken murders and the Richard Speck murders.
  • Overall, the group was not sympathetic to the killers.
  • Many members found the book moved too slowly, but all agreed Truman crafted well-developed characters and the readers felt transported to Holcomb, Kansas circa 1959.
  • Many members felt the book dragged, but thought reading the combination of the two books to be an excellent choice. This combination aided in the understanding of the author, his writing, and his exploration into Perry Smith’s character.
  • Several members have recommended The Swans of Fifth Avenue to their friends.
  • There was a fair amount of discussion surrounding the terminology: literary non-fiction, creative nonfiction, nonfiction novel, true crime book, violent fiction novel (as related to In Cold Blood).

Resources:

http://www.litlovers.com/reading-guides/14-non-fiction/476-in-cold-blood-capote?start=3


Parts 2-4 are also available on YouTube.

Films Available for Check-Out:

Read-a-Likes:

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