Book Club Books

I belong to a book club that met for the very first time in January 1999.  It started as a group of preschool moms looking for an evening out.  Some are avid readers, some are serious readers and some read for "recreation". See if you can guess which category I fit into?  I'll give you a few criteria for a good book is the picture on the cover, the actual size of the book (preferably trade paperback size), the finish of the book (preferably matte as opposed to glossy) and last but not least and by far the most important...number of pages.

I thought I'd share with you the books we have read as a book club in case you are looking for a recommendation (good or bad).  I will also try and give you our feedback going forward as I generally can't remember much about a book once I start on the next month's pick.  

So here's what we've read so far this year.  If you'd like to see more of the books we've read, pop over to our Book Club's blog or check out this new website Red Letter Reads "a place to go for busy readers who want to know which new books will surprise them..."

*Disclaimer:  The following reviews are my opinion only. You will probably notice a recurring theme that said reviewer did not finish the book. Nothing to do with the book or choice of book rather the inability of reviewer to focus.

a visit from the goon squad by Jennifer Egan

The 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Winner this book has been described by some as a novel and by others as a collection of short stories. Many of the 13 chapters were originally published in The New Yorker and Harper's as short stories.

Those of us who read it really enjoyed it although it was agreed that it may not be a book choice for everyone. Our hostess had read it a year previous and reread it this month. She felt it was better the second time around. All agreed it was a book that should be read over a short period of time as the stories are linked but shift back and forth in time.

Recommendation:  Yes but not for everyone.

The Beggar's Garden by Michael Christie

This is the first novel for local writer Michael Christie set in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. It is a collection of nine linked stories that follow a diverse group of characters.

At our monthly meeting we Skyped with Michael from his new home in eastern Canada. What a treat! He was so down to earth and welcomed questions and insight from our "very smart" *wink* book club.

Recommendation:  We all enjoyed it and look forward to his next novel.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

There has been much buzz about this book (now a major motion picture). I must admit at first I wasn't all that keen to read it. The thought of kids involved in a game of killing each other did not appeal to me what-so-ever. I am SO glad this book was chosen as I absolutely LOVED it!!! Everyone in the book club enjoyed it although two people only saw the movie which I understand is quite close to the book. Ratings were 7-8/10 with two rating it 10/10. (Can you guess what I rated it?)

Recommendation:  Unanimous YES

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

There are 13 separate narratives that together to make up this book.  The common thread in all the narratives being one character: Olive Kitteridge. Since all "chapters" are a separate story in itself there is a natural stopping point when reading. I enjoyed the book and would rate it a 7.5 out of 10.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to attend the meeting as I had to go to Palm Springs with 4 girlfriends.  I know, the crosses I have to bear.  :D   I was told it was well received by everyone in our book club.

Recommendation:  Yes

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

This book has won many awards in 2011 and is a national bestseller.

The group was split on this one.  It was rated between a 6-8 out of 10.  Personally I really enjoyed it and found it a quick and easy read which for me is not always the case. It is a Western set in the 1850's frontier about two brothers who make their living as killers. I found it a little bit quirky and after finishing noticed it was described as "a triumphantly dark, comic anti-western" by Telegraph in one of the reviews.  Ahhh, so that's why?!?

Recommendation:  Overall Yes

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Ruben

This book was January's selection. It was chosen to coincide with New Year's and making resolutions (if you are so inclined). It is by no means a "deep" read or has any character development or a plot of any kind for that matter. I actually chose this book (surprise, surprise) hoping it might motivate and give us that little kick start to the year.  Since most of us (including me...yikes) didn't finish the book...obviously didn't work. *sigh*

In my defense, you could get the gist of the book without having to read the entire thing.  Parts were quite humourous and we had quite a good discussion.

Recommendation:  A good beach read but wouldn't necessarily run out to buy it.

Coventry by Helen Humphreys

"On the evening of November 14, 1940, Harriet Marsh stands on the roof of Coventry Cathedral and watches as the waves of German bombers approach."

The story takes place during a single night - the night the Germans bombed Coventry.
Two women Maeve and Harriet, who met briefly over 35 years ago, are reunited unknowingly by a common bond. Ooooo...aren't you curious now?!?

Recommendation:  I missed that meeting but would give it an 8/10.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

"The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not."

We had a choice of two books this month.  The majority picked this book as it was something totally outside our genre. More fantasy with a dark spin on what one might think of your usual circus tale.

Recommendation:  Mixed reviews; split on recommendation

The Goode Life: Memoirs of Disability Rights Activist Barb Goode

Written by a local author Barb Goode and just released in May of 2011, we were all very excited to be able to meet Barb in person at our monthly meeting. Her personal experiences were inspiring and her parents were truly ahead of their time.

Barb's book can be purchased here online.

Recommendation:  A "Goode" read for parents (special needs or not)

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

"Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent as the captive of a psychopath in a remote mountain cabin, which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist, is a second narrative recounting events following her escape..."

We all found this an interesting read.  Unimaginable and at times almost unbelievable what the main character Annie went through being held captive for a year.  Yet you can never imagine what you are capable of until being placed in the same situation.

Recommendation:  I think all agreed it was a good read.