Monday, December 29, 2008

Payback in Kind

Through the wonders of the internets, this lowly book club blog was found by someone at the publishers of Margaret Atwood's new book - who very kindly has sent us signed copies of the book for our members! Isn't that just the most amazing thing you've ever heard? I can't wait to distribute everyone's books! Thank you, Julie at Anansi Publishers! This is such a nice gift!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Wondrous Book Club

Oh, wow - finally 7 books into our club we've hit a book everyone liked! You might call it lazy, but when I'm looking for a solid, I go straight to the Pulitzer Prize winners, baby. This month we read Junot Díaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. As always, we had a rousing discussion about the book, marvelling about the story-telling, the history, the incredible writing style of Junot Díaz, the parts that, you know, made us laugh and the parts that made us cry.

I wrote a longish review over on Bookish and D writes a brief one on DeBordian Perruque.

The next book we'll read for mid-January is Margaret Atwood's Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth. From Publisher's Weekly:
...a weird but wonderful mélange of personal reminiscences, literary walkabout, moral preachment, timely political argument, economic history and theological query, all bound together with wry wit and careful though casual-seeming research. Every debt comes with a date on which payment is due, Atwood observes on this conversational stroll, from the homely and familiar notion of fairness and notion of equivalent values in Kingsley's Water Babies to the thornier connection between debt and sin, memory and redemption in Aeschylus's Eumenides.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Homage to Catalonia

Our November selection was Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell. We had a great discussion, learned a lot about the Spanish Civil War, disagreed over whether or not the book made us fall asleep and even admired some images of Spanish propaganda posters. We did all agree that his description of getting shot in the neck was priceless. I've already returned my copy to the library as I write this, but, as I recall, he wrote something like, "The experience of being shot is an interesting one and worth going into a little bit..."

The December book (coming soon!) is Junot Diaz's The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Willful Readers

The book club meeting to discuss Willful Creatures, by Aimee Bender, was so much fun. The very charming hosts informed me that the six participants cleaned off something like 5 bottles of wine and a couple of beers, but it wasn't just this book club's patent drunkenness that fueled the good conversation - oh no. Our little crowd was almost evenly split between those who loved it and those who felt suicidal after reading. It was interesting listening to why folks felt they way they did and which stories appealed or upset the most. Turns out charming hosts don't read silently, to themselves, like animals, but aloud, 18th century-style. They recommend listening to Bender with the ears - so if you want to hear the author herself, here you go.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Next up!

The next book we read will be Willful Creatures by Aimee Bender. It's suggested by G. I'm really excited because Bender's An Invisible Sign of My Own is one of my personal faves.

The October selection is The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. Book clubbers with busy scheds might want to get a headstart because it's rather long. It won the Pulitzer this year, so... it's probably pretty good.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1

Oh boy! We had our biggest turn-out yet at the book club meeting to discuss The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1 - including a special type of member little-seen at book clubs across the nation (from what I understand): men.

Those who think graphic novels are little more than adventure comics might be surprised by The League's copious literary references. Turns out so were about half of the attendees, for whom the (sometimes) obscure references passed right by (myself included). So, there was a lot of talk about 18th and 19th century British literature and influence, and the changes that have occurred across gender, cultural and racial lines, and how various people experienced reading a parody of some of those issues today. Once again, despite whether people liked or disliked the book, we had a really terrific conversation and (at least I) learned a lot.

Naturally, we also spent an obligatory amount of time talking about how terrible the Sean Connery movie was.

More than one person showed up with notes and lists of references - it's an interesting graphic novel because it can been read on a lot of different levels - it can be read at face value - an adventure, or it can be a real jumping-off point to learn/explore other (mostly) British literature, or it can be scoured for clues and references.

Read D's review on his website, DeBordian Perruque, or my review on Bookish.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

League of Extraordinary Readers

Our last meeting, to discuss Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, involved a spirited conversation about religion, politics and gender roles around the world. I wrote my own review of the book on my regular book blog, but I won't put them here because they are not representative of everyone's views. But do check it out for link what Hirsi Ali's doing now and to view the video she made with Theo van Gogh. The book club is turning out just the way I'd hoped - a time and place where nice people can discuss, for example, what it means to be a conservative in Holland vs. the US, whilst drinking some fine wine and having a great time!

The next book is nominated by C.: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1 by Alan Moore. Member's who haven't had time to read our multi-hundred page selections thus far might be able to squeeze in this graphic novel!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Name that book club!

Feel free to suggest names for the book club - so far there are just a few ideas.

K suggests The Foul Weather Readers (because both times we've met so far the weather has been awful, and so have the books! But, we still managed to have a lot of fun!)

G suggested Fantastic Four (if I recall correctly) because so far we've had a (fantastic) group of four gals.

Oh, I also have another esoteric idea if we can agree on a common author - turns out in the 19th c, groups of women called themselves Janeites, after Jane Austen. So, I thought maybe we could be the Sedarisites or the Atwoodites, or something like that...

Leave your ideas in comments!

The next book is Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and we'll meet on June 27th! From Amazon: Readers with an eye on European politics will recognize Ali as the Somali-born member of the Dutch parliament who faced death threats after collaborating on a film about domestic violence against Muslim women with controversial director Theo van Gogh (who was himself assassinated). Even before then, her attacks on Islamic culture as "brutal, bigoted, [and] fixated on controlling women" had generated much controversy. In this suspenseful account of her life and her internal struggle with her Muslim faith, she discusses how these views were shaped by her experiences amid the political chaos of Somalia and other African nations, where she was subjected to genital mutilation and later forced into an unwanted marriage. While in transit to her husband in Canada, she decided to seek asylum in the Netherlands, where she marveled at the polite policemen and government bureaucrats.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Running with Scissors

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs was largely panned by all in attendance at the latest book club meeting. Despite high hopes and not a bad review out there, for the most part we found the book dull, terribly written, and kind of whiny.

Your thoughts?

Friday, April 25, 2008


Twilight was the first book we discussed at our newly created book club. It's by Stephanie Meyer, and a YA book. Most agreed that the book was terribly in many ways - misogyonist, melodramatic, silly, poorly written, even boring - and yet, most of us went on to read the second and even the third book of the series. Why this strange hold over us?

Me? I broke free!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Welcome to the (as yet unnamed) book club blog site! Thanks to the powers of the internets, this site will provide not only a forum for those lucky members of the elite, intellectual, stimulating, wine-guzzling book club but, indeed, just about anyone who's interested.