Thursday, December 24, 2009

USA Today Book of the Year

USA Today names "The Help" as Book of the Year:
Why are we naming Kathryn Stockett's The Help USA TODAY's Book of the Year? Well, you can't stop reading until you've devoured the last word. Its characters jump off the page and into your heart. Most of all, The Help celebrates how kindness can forge bonds between women divided by race. And how can anyone resist the story of a debut novel — rejected by nearly 60 literary agents — that, through word of mouth, has sold more than 1 million copies in hardcover?

Source: Book of the Year: 'The Help' needed no assistance

Friday, December 18, 2009

Announcing our next six books

The votes are in! Now we need to decide the order in which we'll read them:

The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larsson

The Happiness Project
by Gretchen Rubin

The Help
by Kathryn Stockett

Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town
by Nick Reding

Sacred Hearts
by Sarah Dunant

Monday, December 14, 2009

hits & misses

These are the books we read in 2009. In reviewing the year, we discussed which books were our favorite and our least favorite. Here are the results:
  • Eat, Pray, Love
  • The Appeal :(
  • Infidel ♥ ♥
  • The Senator's Wife ♥ ♥
  • A Three Dog Life
  • Out Stealing Horses
  • Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen
  • Wonderful Tonight :( :( :( :(
  • The Tortilla Curtain :( :(
  • Loving Frank ♥
  • Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World ♥

Video promo for The Happiness Project

Friday, December 11, 2009

The nominees are...

We'll select our next five books from the following list this Sunday at our holiday gathering:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Internal Affairs by Connie Dial

The Island by Victoria Hislop

The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows
of Josephine B
by Sandra Gulland

The Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards

Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town by Nick Reding

Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal by Julie Metz

Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant

The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Saturday, November 21, 2009

crazy love

We had a great discussion about the role of libraries in our lives and in our community when we met last night to discuss DEWEY - The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World. We also talked about our relationships with our cats and dogs. What we didn't talk about was the interesting relationships that sometimes develop between cats and other animals.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

15 paperback favorites for book groups

Since we're in the process of finding books to suggest for future BBC selections, this list of paperback favorites from Powell's is worth a look:
  • The Outlander by Gil Adamson
  • Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  • Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
  • The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  • The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore
  • In the Woods by Tana French
  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
  • What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng by Dave Eggers
  • A Mercy by Toni Morrison

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Fall Indie Film Series - Part Two

Monday & Tuesday
1 pm & 7 pm
Regal Cinemas Placerville Stadium 8
337 Placerville Drive, Placerville

Click on film title to view trailer

November 9 & 10 - The September Issue
Starring: Anna Wintour, Grace Coddington & André Leon Talley

November 16 & 17 - Adam
Starring: Hugh Dancy, Rose Byrne & Peter Gallagher

November 30 & December 1 - Cold Souls
Starring: Paul Giamatti, David Strathairn & Emily Watson

December 7 & 8 - It Might Get Loud
Starring: The Edge, Jimmy Page & Jack White

Note: The film series rack cards (with the ticket discount) are available at these Main Street shops: Winterhill, Violets Are Blue and the Winesmith.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Mark your calendar

Sunday, December 13th at 2 p.m.

Our newest member, Kathy Perin has kindly offered to host our holiday gathering. We'll review the books we've read this past year and select our next books. Also, don't forget to bring a wrapped book for the Holiday Book Exchange. See you there!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Our next book - Dewey - The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World

“DEWEY is charming, lovely, and moving. It’s about life and death and small-town values and, above all, love.”
—Peter Gethers, author of The Cat Who Went to Paris

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ten Coolest Bookstores in America

Oh, boy! Another list to peruse.

This time it's a list of the 10 Coolest Bookstores in the U.S.

So far, I've been to five of the ten:

City Lights

Powell’s Books

Kepler’s Books

Tattered Cover Bookstore

The Homer Bookstore (love this bookstore!)

Have plans to visit Strand Bookstore in NYC in a couple weeks. Excited!

Have you been to any of these cool bookstores? Know of one that should be added to this list?

Video - Book Club Dirty Little Secret #1

Cute video for National Reading Group Month:

What an innovative way to get the word out to book clubs about a new book!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Great Group Reads

It's time for the annual October celebration of reading groups, National Reading Group Month sponsored by the Women's National Book Association. One of the books we've recently read is on WNBA's list of Great Groups Reads 2009:
  • Appassionata by Eva Hoffman
  • The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist
  • The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë by Syrie James
  • The House on Fortune Street by Margot Livesey
  • Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal by Julie Metz
  • While I'm Falling by Laura Moriarty
  • Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
  • Cost by Roxana Robinson
  • Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie

Our next book - Loving Frank

Loving Frank is one of those novels that takes over your life. It’s mesmerizing and fascinating–filled with complex characters, deep passions, tactile descriptions of astonishing architecture, and the colorful immediacy of daily life a hundred years ago–all gathered into a story that unfolds with riveting urgency.”
–Lauren Belfer, author of City of Light

“This graceful, assured first novel tells the remarkable story of the long-lived affair between Frank Lloyd Wright, a passionate and impossible figure, and Mamah Cheney, a married woman whom Wright beguiled and led beyond the restraint of convention. It is engrossing, provocative reading.”
—Scott Turow

“It takes great courage to write a novel about historical people, and in particular to give voice to someone as mythic as Frank Lloyd Wright. This beautifully written novel about Mamah Cheney and Frank Lloyd Wright’s love affair is vivid and intelligent, unsentimental and compassionate.”
—Jane Hamilton

“I admire this novel, adore this novel, for so many reasons: The intelligence and lyricism of the prose. The attention to period detail. The epic proportions of this most fascinating love story. Mamah Cheney has been in my head and heart and soul since reading this book; I doubt she’ll ever leave.”
–Elizabeth Berg

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fall-Winter Reading Group Picks

Here's the long awaited Fall/Winter 2010 Top Ten Reading Group picks from IndieBound:

1. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel by Jamie Ford

"In 1986, Henry Lee happens upon the Panama Hotel in Seattle, where discoveries in the basement bring back haunting memories of the 1940s. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet tells of family pride, innocence, young love, jazz clubs, and internment. This novel will delight all ages -- it's good for reading aloud and great for discussions." --Barbara Theroux, Fact & Fiction, Missoula, MT

2. Mudbound: A Novel by Hillary Jordan

"Set in 1940s Mississippi, Mudbound tells the story of how World War II becomes a catalyst for change for those living on a Delta farm. Racism weighs heavily in the story, but Jordan's respect for the complexities of the character's lives, and her pragmatic honesty, build empathy and hope in the reader. This winner of the Bellwether Prize will become a book group favorite." --Dianne Patrick, Snowbound Books, Marquette, MI

3. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

"The book discussion we had about Elizabeth Strout's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher in a little town in Maine, was one of the best we ever had. The reading group members were incredibly passionate about their love of the book and their love (and hatred) of Olive. We laughed and cried, and one member called us afterward and asked what we were going to read to get us that riled up again!" --Deb McDonald, Garden District Book Shop, New Orleans, LA

4. Still Alice: A Novel by Lisa Genova

"Still Alice tells the story of a 50-year-old Harvard psychology and linguistics professor in the year following diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's disease. Her struggles with the effect on her work life, and her family's attempts to cope, are compelling and entirely believable. Genova's doctorate in neuroscience lets information flow naturally as part of a tender story, perfect for book groups." --Carla Jimenez, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL

5. The Gift of Rain: A Novel by Tan Twan Eng

"This is a coming-of-age book set in one of the worst times and places to come of age -- Panang, an island off the Malay Peninsula, just before the start of WWII. Sixteen-year-old Philip Hutton is torn between destiny and duty, but how do you choose when duty to country, family, friends, and mentor conflict? This is a lyrical, thought-provoking novel filled with many layers of loss and love." --Ann Carlson, Harborwalk Books, Georgetown, SC

6. The Help: A Novel by Kathryn Stockett

"We've been telling our customers who are members of book groups to read this story of race-ridden, 1960s Jackson, Mississippi. Unforgettable characters live out a story that makes you rage against intolerance as you step into the lives of three Southern women who are committed to creating change." --Gail Wetta, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, IL

7. The Well and the Mine: A Novel by Gin Phillips

"Young Tess Moore watches as someone throws a baby into a well. This starts a remarkable adventure through 1930s Alabama, in which two girls try to find out whose baby died and the Moore family just tries to survive. This has been our favorite this year and elicited a great discussion on class, race, and family." --Mary McHale, Fox Tale Books, New Durham, NH

8. The Lace Reader: A Novel by Brunonia Barry

"The Lace Reader is a suspenseful intense read that thoughtfully mixes New England history and lore with the present. This is a one-sitting, must-discuss-afterward type of book!" --Angela Rodman, Third Street Books, McMinnville, OR

9. The Outlander: A Novel by Gil Adamson

"The Canadian Rockies, described with intensity, are the stage for an outlaw heroine's improbable ride from vengeance, both her own and that of her victim's kin. Thrilling in the way an imaginative page-turner should be, the story is nonetheless hooked upon the barbs of real events and real personalities." --Neil Strandberg, Tattered Cover Bookstore, Denver, CO

10. The Housekeeper and the Professor: A Novel by Yoko Ogawa

"A young, single mother is dispatched by her agency as the tenth housekeeper to try to meet the unusual demands of tending house for a mathematics professor who's suffered a serious brain injury. She not only manages to meet the challenge, but she discovers a beautiful new world for herself and her son through their unique relationship with this extraordinary man. A very tender and absolutely delightful story!" --Linda Findlay, University Book Store, Seattle, WA

For more reading group picks click here. (scroll down)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Author Chris Bohjalian on book clubs

I am asked all the time whether serious books — the sorts of books a reading group is likely to read — are in serious trouble. And that is almost always the way the question is phrased. Serious books . . . serious trouble.

Sometimes, the prophets will trot out the specifics of gloom and doom: The end of leisure, and the way the Internet and the VCR have commandeered what little time a person has left to read; the statistics that show the paltry numbers of adults who ever buy books; or the figures that suggest the vast majority of us haven't the slightest idea what the insides of our local libraries looks like.

Yet the current renaissance in reading groups seems to me to be a wondrous indication that serious books are not in serious trouble at all. Book groups have reminded us all of a fact we try and teach our preschool and elementary school children all the time, but as grownups we all too often tend to forget: Reading is meant to be fun. It is capable of evoking from us the same conversational enthusiasm as movies and music and stage plays, if we only give the notion a chance.

See also: "The Book Club Hustlers" at The Daily Beast.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Top picks for reading groups

Here's the Spring/Summer 2009 top ten list of suggested titles for book clubs from IndieBound (formerly BookSense):

1. People of the Book: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks

"Geraldine Brooks uses the Sarajevo Haggadah as the centerpiece for another brilliant historical novel. The history of the beautifully illustrated book is the basis for a journey through multiple eras, portraying the trials and travails of European Jews through the centuries. A must for lovers of books and great fiction." --Bill Cusumano, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI

2. The White Tiger: A Novel by Aravind Adiga

"Balram Halwai, living in contemporary India, is a man with aspirations and dreams he fears will never be realized considering his current position as a chauffeur and servant of the wealthy in a society with an absurdly large gap between rich and poor. As he takes it upon himself to rise above the muck in a series of unethical and criminal actions, The White Tiger will challenge your concepts of right and wrong and make you feel guilty for laughing along the way." --Jon Stich, DIESEL, A Bookstore, Oakland, CA

3. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

"By the third page of this wonderful epistolary novel of the island of Guernsey during the German occupation, I was captivated by its characters, especially the charming, self-effacing author, Juliet Ashton, and her emerging friendship, conducted by post, with the recently liberated islanders. The whole novel is an homage to books and bibliophiles, and a moving reflection on the horrors of war." --Cheryl McKeon, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA

4. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, Alison Anderson (trans.)

"This novel of two remarkable characters, set in an elegant Paris apartment building, is wonderfully written and translated! I loved the philosophical discussions and artistic descriptions -- my reading group talked about this book for hours." --Mary K. Cowen, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, IL

5. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

"Set in the Connecticut suburbs of 1955, Revolutionary Road portrays the essential, continuing, now exacerbated American dilemma: How a young person might well live in America without conforming to the tedium of upward mobility and suburban family life. Nothing I have ever been told could have prepared me for this book's brilliance." --Richard Howorth, Square Books, Oxford, MS

6. City of Thieves: A Novel by David Benioff

"During the siege of Leningrad in WWII, two young men are sent on an improbable errand. The horror of war is only heightened by the lightness with which Benioff handles their evolving friendship and the grim task that evolves from their mission. Great characters and authentic historical background make this a surprisingly winning novel." --Russ Lawrence, Chapter One Book Store, Hamilton, MT

7. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

"Sarah's Key is the story of Sarah, a 12-year-old girl swept up by the police in the Vel D'Hiv roundup in occupied France, and of journalist Julia Jarmond, who is writing about the event 60 years later. This hauntingly powerful story will remain with you long after the last page is turned." --Linda Walonen, Bay Books, San Ramon, CA

8. The God of War: A Novel by Marisa Silver

"Twelve-year-old Ares Ramirez lives in a trailer on the desolate shores of California's Salton Sea, where he tries to take care of his handicapped brother. Silver is a gifted writer whose story of a young man struggling with the burden of responsibility takes us to places both in the landscape and in the heart that enrich us as readers and make us grateful for such storytellers." --Marian Nielsen, Orinda Books, Orinda, CA

9. Couch by Benjamin Parzybok

"Couch follows the quirky journey of Thom, Erik, and Tree as they venture into the unknown at the behest of a magical, orange couch, which has its own plan for their previously boring lives. Parzybok's colorful characters, striking humor, and eccentric magical realism offer up an adventuresome read." --Christian Crider, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL

10. The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel by Garth Stein

"Sometimes, if you are very lucky, fate gives you a special friend. Denny's friend Enzo will stand by him through some of the best and worst times of his life, his faith in Denny bone deep. Enzo is a dog, a dog with a very old soul. Denny is a race driver with natural talent, but sometimes life gets in the way of natural talent, and the road can have sharp bends. Suffused with humor, love, pain, and valor, this should be one of the year's best books!" --Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books, Sunriver, OR

Click here for the rest of the list.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Our next book - The Tortilla Curtain

"Succeeds in stealing the front page news and bringing it home to the great American tradition of the social novel."
—The Boston Globe

"A compelling story of myopic misunderstanding and mutual tragedy."
—Chicago Tribune

"Boyle is still America's most imaginative contemporary novelist."

"The Tortilla Curtain qualifies as that rarest of artistic achievements--a truly necessary book."
—The San Diego Union-Tribune

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fall Indie Film Series

Monday & Tuesday
1 pm & 7 pm
Regal Cinemas Placerville Stadium 8
337 Placerville Drive, Placerville

Click on film title to view trailer

Sept. 14 & 15 - Away We Go
Sept. 21 & 22 - Brothers Bloom
Sept. 28 & 29 - Food Inc.
Oct. 5 & 6 - Cheri
Oct. 12 & 13 - Moon
Oct. 19 & 20 - Hurt Locker

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What's your favorite?

In thinking about the songs and times revisited in "Wonderful Tonight," what's your favorite George Harrison or Eric Clapton song?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Coming up this Friday: Wonderful Tonight

A trivia question to get us psyched and ready for our gathering this Friday at Carolyn's.

Who was best man at George Harrison and Pattie Boyd's wedding?

A. Ringo
B. Eric Clapton
C. Brian Epstein
D. Ravi Shankar
E. Paul

Best sixties outfit wins a prize!

[Answer: E. Paul McCartney.]

Friday, July 31, 2009

Book Club 101: Five Reading Tips

Shelley Blanton-Stroud offers these tips to help uncage discussion about books at book club gatherings. First, though, is to actually read the book:
  1. Look for places in the book where you are confused. Write down and bring questions about these passages to your group.
  2. Look for places in the book where you love the way the author writes. Write down a favorite passage or two to share and discuss. Ask yourself why you love this.
  3. Look for places in the book where you dislike the way the author writes. Write down one or two of these spots to share and discuss. Ask yourself why you hate this. What is the author trying to do? Why doesn't it work for you?
  4. Look for places in the book where it connects to another book your group has read, or a book you have read that you would like to recommend to the group.
  5. Look for places in the book where it connects to something happening in the real world today and sheds light on it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Next BBC meeting is Friday, August 21st

Are you ready for those early days of Rock and Roll?

We’ll be celebrating old Beatles tunes and a little Clapton while we discuss Wonderful Tonight at my house on Friday the 21st. Mark your calendar. Should be fun.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fall-Winter schedule

Our up-coming schedule:

Sept. @ Barbara's "The Tortilla Curtain"
Oct. @ Priscilla's "Loving Frank"
Nov. @ Sherry's "Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World"
Jan. @ Lynn's "Bitter is the New Black"
Feb. @ Christi's "This I Believe"
Mar. @ Kimberly's "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society"

Monday, July 13, 2009

The votes are in!

Here are the next six books we'll be reading:

Loving Frank
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
Bitter is the New Black
This I Believe
The Tortilla Curtain

All of these titles are available at the library. And all, except for "Bitter is the New Black," are also available in CD/audible format.

Two of our selections made the Top Book Group Favorites of 2008 list at Reading Group Choices.

A big thanks to everyone who provided suggestions.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Our next book - Out Stealing Horses

Hope to see everyone when we meet to discuss "Out Stealing Horses" by Per Petterson on June 26th at Priscilla's house. We'll also be selecting our next six books at this gathering.

"He is watching the news. I don’t know when I last watched the news. I did not bring a television set out here with me, and I regret it sometimes when the evenings get long, but my idea was that living alone you can soon get stuck to those flickering images and to the chair you will sit on far into the night, and then time merely passes as you let others do the moving. I do not want that. I will keep myself company."

~ Per Petterson, Out Stealing Horses

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Coming up this Friday: A Three Dog Life

See you at Christi's house at 7 p.m.

"It's easy now - it's middle-aged lady, nobody's looking, nobody notices. I go without lipstick if I feel like it, and I always wear my comfy clothes. It's a life with fewer distractions, but should something beautiful show up, a middle-aged woman is free to stare."
— Abigail Thomas (A Three Dog Life)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Coming up this Friday: The Senator's Wife

"Do you remember when everyone thought Bush Sr. had a mistress too?" he asks in the course of a Clinton era conversation. "But she was rumored to be someone wealthy and Waspy, of course... The problem here is the goddamn Democrats, who sleep down, you see. They love that white trash... And white trash loves publicity, so the Democrats are the ones who get into all the trouble. As opposed to the Republicans. They sleep up... Up, where all is Episcopalian and quiet as death itself, and no one ever has to hear a thing about it."
— Sue Miller (The Senator's Wife)

Friday, February 20, 2009

We're five years old!

Champagne flowed and we (all nine of us!) toasted to five years of neighborly book reading camaraderie.

We also discussed "The Appeal" by John Grisham. Overall, the book was favorably received, although everyone wished the ending would have been different.

Next up, "Infidel" at Jina's house on March 20th. See you there.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Our Top Three Books in 2008


Water for Elephants
by Sara Gruen


Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin

and a tie between


A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini



There's a (Slight) Chance I Might Be Going to Hell
by Laurie Notaro

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Great audiobook giveaways

You can enter to win both of these audiobooks at Rhapsody in Books:

By Ben Sherwood, read by the author
[Contest ends at midnight, January 22.]

By Eric Weiner, read by the author
[Contest ends at midnight, January 24.]

Good luck!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Review - I See You Everywhere

Barbara Stromberg's capsule review of "I See You Everywhere" by Julia Glass:
"I enjoyed the colorful picture the author painted with words as she alternated between the sisters who are the focus of the book. I felt she was even handed in the voice she gave each sister but the ending took me by surprise. Perhaps because I identified with one sister more than the other I failed to pay as much attention to the details of the other's life. I felt it reinforced that sibling rivalry is a waste of time we will come to regret if we indulge in it."

Julia Glass is the author of "Three Junes."

Happy New Year!

We will have our January BBC meeting at my house on Friday, January 16th. We will be discussing “Eat, Pray, Love”. I hope everyone can attend.

I’d like to introduce you to the newest member of our household, “Houston”. Houston is a Christmas present from my daughter and son-in-law. I guess they thought our house was too quiet once they moved out ! Houston is an American Bull Dog puppy (21.4 pounds this last Monday). He was 11 weeks old Wednesday! You might want to stop by and meet Houston before he stops being my lapdog!

I hope to see you all in a couple of weeks (or before that evening). Please let me know if you can’t attend on 1/16.