Book Club

The After Party – Morning Book Break – March 2017

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Morning Book Break Discussion on My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Rating: My Name Is Lucy Barton received ratings between minus, minus, minus 1.0 (member sarcasm) and 4.5 with an average rating of 2.28.  This is the lowest combined rating for a book discussed in Morning Book Break in the last four years.

Review:  Unfortunately, due to the weather conditions and snow cover at the time of the meeting, many members were unable to join us for club. Some members were snowed in; nevertheless, many members did email the facilitator their comments and ratings. Hooray for participation from home!  These comments/ratings were read aloud at the end of club during the critiquing session time.  The members who were able to attend really enjoyed the in-depth discussion; they felt the discussion shed new light on the novel and elevated the reading experience.  The discussion was thought-provoking and one member commented that each member present seemed to uncover a hidden element in the story that other members had not formerly discovered.  My Name Is Lucy Barton is a novel that leaves so many things unsaid, leaving readers desiring to meet in clubs to piece together the story.  Nancy Pearl, librarian and author of Book Lust, says My Name Is Lucy Barton is the perfect book club read, as it is a novel that lends itself to discuss what is not written on the page.  Discussions will center on what is unsaid and clubs will enjoy working together to fill in the gaps.

Discussion Highlights:

Several members commented on how much they hated the book—this cannot be understated.

  • Members stated that the writing was flat, vague, and too bare bones.
  • Members did not like filling-in-the-blanks regarding specifics about the characters.  Members felt they were left in the dark about many things in the novel.
  • Members were frustrated and wished the author wrote more about the characters and their relationship to other another.
  • Many members could not relate to the characters and didn’t care about the characters.
  • Some members thought the book needed more character development.
  • Some members thought the author demanded a lot from the reader, and they really did not want to work that hard to understand what was not written on the page.

Several members liked the book and three members thought the novel was exquisite.

  • They enjoyed the cadence and the poetic language of the novel.
  • They liked Strout’s skillful use of dialogue and her use of stream-of-consciousness like writing.
  • Members liked the raw, emotional, and very real relationship between Lucy and her mother.
  • Members enjoy books when authors’ require readers to fill-in-the-blanks and piece together the storyline.
  • Members enjoyed the shared gossip between mother and daughter and felt this to be so very real. The gossip portrayed in the novel is the odd love language between mother and daughter and provides comfort to daughter during her hospitalization.
  • Members like the “ruthless” aspect of Lucy which allowed her to overcome such a tragic beginning. (A father possibly suffering from PTSD and a mother with a possibly abusive past.)(Lucy suffers possible sexual abuse.)
  • Members love the fact that Lucy as a child becomes a reader and later in life becomes a writer.

Members liked the metafictional aspects of the book.

  • One member thought the take away message of the book was that we can overcome much, but some mistakes cannot be repaired—we only have one story(life).
  • One member like the symbolism of the marble statue on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Lucy visits the statue again and again as it reminds her of the love/hate relationships she has with her parents and siblings—Lucy saw how really unhealthy her family was, but also “how our roots were twisted so tenaciously around one another’s hearts.”
  • Members liked that the author’s writing allows the reader to engage at a variety of levels.

Resources:

2:20-3:50 and 7:45-8:28 Elizabeth Strout discusses choice of first person narration and risks involved.

27:20-29:34 and 34:42-36:31 Elizabeth Strout answers the following questions:

“Your writing, at times, sounds mystical. Is that something you aim for?”

“Is Lucy or are any of your other characters, based in reality?”

“Was fiction writing always your aspiration, or were you drawn to other forms of literature at first?”

Read-a-Likes:

The facilitator thought Alice Munro’s writing to be very similar to Elizabeth Strout’s writing. An interesting note:  Kimberly Farr is the reader for both audiobooks—Dear Life: Stories and My Name is Lucy Barton.  Kimberly Farr excels in bringing the characters to life.

For other books by Elizabeth Strout in our collection, please click here.

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We also own the mini-series Olive Kitteridge, based on Strout’s popular novel.

My Name is Lucy Barton

Book Club

The After Party – Books and Bagels – March 2017

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Books and Bagels Discussion on The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

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Rating: The Golden Son received ratings between 3.5 and 5.0 with an average rating of 4.02.  This is a very high average for this club.

Review:  Members thoroughly enjoyed this novel and it was very favorably received.  They loved Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s extensive research about the education of medical doctors in the United States and the challenges presented.  Members enjoyed the author’s exploration of the panchayat system, an Indian tradition of settling disputes within a community.  Members are life-long learners and view discovery into novels with historical and cultural perspectives from other countries as an exciting quest.  They found the panchayat system intriguing and they appreciated Gowda’s coverage.

Discussion Highlights:

  • Members appreciated the exploration of internships and residency in the medical profession. It was interesting to see the evolution of a trained physician.
  • Members were interested in arranged marriages, dowry, and bride burning discussed within the novel.
  • Members liked Gowda’s use of metaphors such as; the dispute of the mango tree and the clay as a metaphor for life.
  • Members really liked the vignettes presented throughout the novel showing the panchayat system and the arbitration process.
  • Many members’ only negative comments were about the ending.
  • Several members found the ending to be contrived, but not completely like a Hollywood ending.  It was more realistic that one of the main characters, Anil, did not end up with the other main character, Leena.
  • A few members thought the ending needed to be tighter.
  • Members found this to be an easy, enjoyable read without many literary devices and sometimes this is a nice break.  They enjoyed the dialogue between characters and found it to be realistic.
  • Three members had read Gowda’s first novel, Secret Daughter, and they commented that her second novel The Golden Son contained an improved writing style.

Resources:

Read Gowda’s inspiration for The Golden Son:
http://www.shilpigowda.com/tgs-behind-the-book/

Gowda is interviewed by Liza Fromer about The Golden Son:

Read-a-Likes:

Book Club, RA Programs

The After Party – Morning Book Break – Feb. 2017

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Morning Book Break Discussion on Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Rating: Secret Daughter received ratings between 3.5 and 5.0 with an average rating of 4.06.

Review: Most members were delighted to read a book for club that they really enjoyed. The last three books for club, while interesting, informative, and producing lively discussion, did not generate as much favor as Secret Daughter. Members enjoyed an excellent, easy read. Many members have established life-long learning as a core value, so they felt they benefited from the historical and cultural perspective the novel offered.

Discussion Highlights:

  • Members like Gowda’s style of writing. They liked her use of descriptive language and felt they were transported to both the slums of Mumbai and the lavish, elite neighborhoods of Mumbai. Gowda uses effective sensory language.
  • Most members felt the dual-narration was easy to follow, a few members stated this is definitely not their prefer style of storytelling.
  • Members enjoyed learning about Indian culture.
  • One member listened to the audiobook and highly recommends it, she loved the accents.
  • Several members simply could not put the book down and they read the book in one day. One member stated, “I enjoyed every page.”
  • Members thought Asha, Somer, Kavita and the other women in the novel were fully-fleshed out characters. The members thought the male characters needed further development, particularly Vijay.
  • The members gave their opinions on the main underlying theme the author tried to address: “How much of our life is destined for us—by our gender, our economic class, or the culture we’re born into? How much is within our power to change?” (p.2 paperback edition—The Story Behind The Book—A+ Author Insights, Extras, & More…)
  • Dialogue also included conversations about many weighty topics:
    • Adoption
    • Infertility
    • Motherhood/Women’s roles
    • Gender inequality in other countries/Female infanticide
    • Identity/Belonging Issues
    • Nature/Nurture Debate
    • Migration/Immigration/Assimilation
    • Cultural differences between US and India
    • Relaxation techniques/Yoga/Meditation

Resources:

Read-a-Likes:

Further explore the Mumbai slums
by reading the narrative nonfiction,
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope
in a Mumbai Undercity
by Katherine Boo.
The Pulitzer Prize winning author,
after three-years of research and investigation,
tells a moving story of triumph and tragedy.

Displays

January Displays

Every month, Reader’s Advisory puts out different displays in the area surrounding our desk.  For us, it’s a fun way to tie in the materials we love to the specific month or season!  Anything that is on the cubes can be checked out, just like anything else in the library!

For the month of January, there are several different exciting displays to choose from.

“Library Reads,” located on the left book cube, is a “Best of” display for 2016.  These books were picked by librarians as the best loved reads of the year.  If you can’t grab a list from the display, you can visit http://libraryreads.org/favorite-favorites-2016-libraryreads/.

“A Blizzard of Books,” located on the center book cube, is a display of fiction with winter themes.  No matter the genre, if you’re looking for books that match the season, look no further.

“The Best Music of 2016,” located on the CD display cube, is music from this year that has been consistently popular, or that merits a listen.  Come check out some tunes you may have missed!

“Best Books of 2016,” located on our corner display, are selections from the GoodReads Choice Awards for 2016, including winners and nominees.  Every year this list is voted on by readers, for readers.  If you want more information, take home a bookmark or visit https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-books-2016.  Check out the accompanying Billboard slideshow!

The fiction and nonfiction film walls are about a fresh start in the new year.  Fiction focuses on uplifting films that will warm your heart and give you some laughs, and nonfiction focuses on improving your mind, body, and outlook.

Our Teen display this month is “Chill Out with a Good Book,” suggested reads for the winter season.

Check out the slideshow below for photos of each of these displays.
We encourage you to come in and check out these displays for yourself; you can always take something home!

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Make Mine

Make Mine… a Gentle Read

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Those who are drawn to gentle reads are often looking for a good story with wholesome characters.  Relationships and character development are the important factors and the pace is usually slower.  These stories are not devoid of problems to solve or difficult situations to face, but the response is upbeat and constructive. Characters can be colorful, but generally maintain positive values.

If you think you would enjoy these vintage-feeling but eminently readable tales, the following authors tend to write in this genre:

Mitch Albom
Lynn Austin
Maeve Binchy
Olive Ann Burns
Elizabeth Cadell
Jennifer Chiaverini
Sandra Dallas
Barbara Delinsky
Harriet Doerr
Clyde Edgerton
Richard Paul Evans
Fannie Flagg
Benedict and Nancy Freedman
Ernest J. Gaines
Elizabeth Gaskell
Kaye Gibbons
Philip Gulley
Garrison Keillor
Sue Monk Kidd
Lorna Landvik
Alexander McCall Smith
Debbie Macomber
Annette Mahon
Charles Martin
Joan Medlicott
Rosamund Pilcher
James Michael Pratt
Jeanne Ray
Miss Read
Ann B. Ross
Rebeca Seitz
Nicholas Sparks
Mary Stewart
Adriana Trigiani
Nancy Turner
Rebecca Wells
Eudora Welty
P.G. Wodehouse
Make Mine

Make Mine…Cozy Mystery

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A subgenre of crime fiction and mystery, cozy mysteries are for those readers who like the puzzle deciphering aspect of solving a crime, but not necessarily violence, profanity, or sex, which can be present in grittier mysteries and thrillers.

This genre is extremely popular in series, with readers being able to follow one amateur sleuth’s adventures over a long period of time.  The sleuth themselves is often an educated woman, and they tend to solve crimes in small, close-knit communities.

If cozies appeal to you, the following authors tend to write in this popular genre:

Catherine Aird
Susan Wittig Albert
Nancy Atherton
Robert Barnard
Stephanie Barron
M.C. Beaton
Laurien Berenson
Rhys Bowen
Lillian Jackson Braun
Simon Brett
Emily Brightwell
Rita Mae Brown
Laura Childs
Jill Churchill
Mary Daheim
Diane Mott Davidson
Aaron Elkins
Joanne Fluke
Anthea Fraser
Dorothy Gilman
Carolyn Hart
Joan Hess
Georgette Heyer
Sharon Kahn
Laurie R. King
Kate Kingsbury
Alexander McCall Smith
Sharyn McCrumb
Charlotte MacLeod
Tamar Myers
Katherine Hall Page
Elizabeth Peters
Ellis Peters
Nancy Pickard
Dorothy Sayers
Make Mine

Make Mine…Inspirational and Biblical Fiction

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If you enjoy tales of people overcoming obstacles to find happiness and fulfillment, whether these people are assisted by a higher power or not, then you might like Inspirational Fiction.

Sometimes known as Christian Fiction, this genre nonetheless does not have to have religious overtones.  In Biblical fiction, Biblical characters are used as the main focus, and the stories are often retellings of what is contained in the Bible from a perspective of faith, but anyone can enjoy the stories of their lives.

If you want to read some of these tales of inspiration, the following authors tend to write in these genres:

Tamera Alexander
ReShonda Tate Billingsley
Terri Blackstock
Wanda E. Brunstetter
Melody Carlson
Vannetta Chapman
Mindy Starns Clark
Amy Clipston
Lori Copeland
Ted Dekker
Richard Paul Evans
Joseph Girzone
Andrew Greeley
Philip Gulley
Robin Jones Gunn
Rene Gutteridge
Robin Lee Hatcher
Kristen Heitzmann
Liz Curtis Higgs
J. Lynne Hinton
Angela Elwell Hunt
Denise Hunter
Neta Jackson
Jan Karon
Karen Kingsbury
Jane Kirkpatrick
Tim LaHaye
Maureen Lang
Beverly Lewis
Susan Meissner
Janette Oke
Catherine Palmer
Tracie Peterson
Francine Rivers
Gayle Roper
Lisa Samson
Gary Smalley
Penelope Stokes
Ann Tatlock
Brock and Bodie Thoene
Donna VanLiere
Dan Walsh
Susan May Warren
Jan Watson
Lori Wick
Lisa Wingate
Geoffrey Wood
Make Mine

Make Mine…a Western

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Though some may say its heyday has past, the Western genre is still alive and well, spinning tales of cowboys and gunfighters, Native Americans and marshals, and the other rough and tumble characters that populated the old West.

If you’re hankering for some historical adventure where the good guys win, the following authors tend to write in this genre:

Johnny D. Boggs
Frank Bonham
Terrell L. Bowers
Max Brand
Willa Cather
Don Coldsmith
Loren D. Estleman
Zane Grey
Tony Hillerman
Steve Hockensmith
Elmer Kelton
Louis L’Amour
Al and Joanna Lacy
Elmore Leonard
Larry McMurtry
Nelson Nye
Wayne D. Overholser
Lewis B. Patten
Robert B. Parker
Charles Portis
Dana Fuller Ross
Jack Schaefer
Glendon Fred Swarthout
Dale L. Walker
Richard S. Wheeler
Make Mine

Make Mine…Science Fiction

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Like its sister genre fantasy, science fiction falls in the broader genre known as speculative fiction.  Unlike fantasy, science fiction deals with the impact actual or imagined science has on society, oftentimes set in the future.  A knowledge of scientific principles isn’t required to enjoy science fiction, but an speculative, open mind can be a great help.

If science fiction intrigues you, the following authors tend to write in this genre:

Douglas Adams
Isaac Asimov
Ray Bradbury
Ben Bova
Lois McMaster Bujold
Orson Scott Card
C.J. Cherryh
Arthur C. Clarke
James S.A. Corey
Phillip K. Dick
Cory Doctorow
Harlan Ellison
Carol Emshwiller
Phillip Jose Farmer
William Gibson
Peter F. Hamilton
Harry Harrison
Robert A. Heinlein
Frank Herbert
James Patrick Kelly
Nancy Kress
Ursula K. Le Guin
Fritz Leiber
Stanislaw Lem
Larry Niven
Frederik Pohl
Kim Stanley Robinson
John Scalzi
Robert Silverberg
E.E. Smith
Jules Verne
H.G. Wells
Gene Wolfe
Book Club

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

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Books and Bagels and Morning Book Break Book Discussions on The Book of Unknown Americans

Rating: In Books and Bagels, most members rated the book between a 3.0 and 4.0, with the median score of 3.5.

In Morning Book Break, this book received ratings from 2.0 to 5.0, with the median score of 3.75.

Review: The discussion in Books and Bagels was multi-faceted. Several members really enjoyed the novel and plan to read additional material by Cristina Henriquez. Some members felt the novel was lacking in many aspects.

In Morning Book Break, members mostly appreciated the content (pertaining to the immigrant experience), but thought the prose was lacking.

Both groups thought Suburban Mosaic accomplished its mission by selecting this novel as the adult title for the 2015-2016 Book of the Year.  The Suburban Mosaic’s mission is to foster cultural understanding through literature.

Discussion Highlights – Morning Book Break:

  • Several members thought the novel would be a wonderful addition to high school or possibly middle school curriculum.
  • The club discussed US immigration and assimilation throughout their lifetimes.
  • Many members disliked the disjointed structure and felt these stories and characters to be underdeveloped.

Discussion Highlights – Books and Bagels

  • Many members were disappointed with the structure of the novel. They found the prose to be better suited to a young adult reader.
  • All members found it an extremely easy, fast read.
  • Some members felt they learned a lot about the current immigration experience, while other members thought the book did not add any new information to their repertoire of knowledge about immigration.

Resources: http://www.cristinahenriquez.com/

http://www.suburbanmosaicbooks.org/suburban-mosaic-book-of-the-year-past-selections#2015

Read-a-Likes:

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