Tuesday, October 26, 2010

December 2010

We are going to skip November, and meet at Leslie's in December for a Christmas gathering and discussion of North and South, which has nothing to do with the Civil War and which is incredibly long and difficult to find in edited form. The best news is that this will give us time to read the book and watch the movie.

Natalie's choice: North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell.

Holly says: I find it interesting and appropriate the title of this book was changed from Margaret Hale to North and South.  There is such a distinction between the two worlds, North and South—Margaret seems to much the observer of those worlds to warrant the title.  My opinion, anyway.  I have to admit, however, I thought I was picking up a civil war novel, and was completely surprised to be reading about the north and south of England. See what happens when you don’t know your British novelists! [...and you didn't read Natalie's post ;-D]
I was completely taken in from the start of this tale, it includes so much of what I love to read about—women’s rights, religion, class conflict, and PASSION!
I often wonder about living during a time when supposition and assumption seems to form so many of life’s dealings... it makes me want to scream!

Sue says: I had limited reading time for a while and at 10 pages at a time it was difficult to get in the flow of the story.  But I read the last half in one sitting and really loved it.  The descriptions of the class strains and working conditions were very interesting, and the character of Margaret was a tough gal.  This was a great novel.

Monday, October 25, 2010

October 2010

Sue's choice was Buster Midnight's Cafe by Sandra Dallas and we gave it 3 1/2 stars.  We lunched at Granato's in downtown Salt Lake City at 1391 S 300 W.  We were joined by Linda, our new member, and now our group is up to seven fun girls.  We missed meeting with Karen and Holly today but had a great discussion about the nature of friendship and how far you stand by your friends when they make wrong choices.  We decided that we have each other's backs no matter what.  A comforting thought.

Sue says: I loved this book. The narrator is hilarious and I could hear her talking while reading and just imagine her. The story is so interesting, but the characters are great. (Liked it just as well the second time-love the voice of Effa Commander and the comments of Whippy Bird; also love the friendship that endures their whole lives) 

Karen says: Sue declared we needed some lighter reading in our book club this month, and Buster Midnight's Cafe fit the bill perfecty. Fun characters and an interesting story line. And who in the world could come up with people named: Whippy Bird and Effa Commander?

Current roster: Natalie, Alison, Leslie, Holly, Sue, Karen, and Linda 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

September 2010

Holly picked her book in remembrance of 9/11. We read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer and gave it 3 1/2 stars. We lunched at the downtown Paradise Bakery at 615 E 400 S.

Holly says: After finishing Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, I stand by my initial impression. What the ..!? [You need to read the book to get this inside joke.] It’s interesting that the author wrote about 9/11 from the point of view of a child. An anxious, troubled, disturbed child named Oskar, bringing an unusual perspective to such a destructive event. Safran Foer is one of the more controversial novelists of the past decade, not for the content of his writing, but rather for its unconventional style and the extremely polarized responses this style has elicited from readers. For that reason alone, I recommend reading it. I agree with Alison, the style resembles, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time— I like The Curious Incident... much better!

Karen says: It was good to read this book over the September 11th weekend, it helped me remember, and made me mourn again for not only those involved, but also for my children who have only known a post-9/11 world.

Monday, August 30, 2010

August 2010

Alison had The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin on her to-read list and when Sue and Leslie attended BYU's Women's Conference in May and heard about the book, Leslie turned to Sue and said, "I'm going to choose that for book club next time it's my turn!" So she did. We had lunch at Les Madeleines in downtown Salt Lake City at 216 E 500 S and gave the book a solid 4 stars.

It generated a lively discussion as we each shared our responses to the idea of the book.

Alison says: This has been a truly life-changing book for me. I've been thinking about happiness for several years, and this book was a perfect way for me to now seriously consider what I can do to be more happy. As Gretchen Rubin says, "Each person's happiness project will be unique, but it's the rare person who can't benefit from starting one." I'll be working on my own happiness project for years to come!

Sue says: I found this fascinating. It is filled with totally awesome quotes and really great ideas as Gretchen spent a year working on different topics each month and keeping resolutions. This book is definitely a catalyst for change and is very easy to read. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to think purposefully about becoming even more happy. Her blog post.

Holly says: This is a magnificent book. This is one of those books that can change your life if you let it. If…you let it! It took me a long time to read this book, because I wanted it to change my life. The idea of being happier, who in their right mind would turn that down? The book breaks down the author’s project by month, although, you are encouraged to do what’s right for you. The author’s plan seemed logical to me, so I adopted it. I took on my happiness plan for the first month with gusto, the second month with interest, the third month with yearning, and the forth month, well, I didn’t take it on at all—I just read. I really want to have a Happiness Project of my own. I’m just so busy being happy; it’s hard to keep up the determination to be happier. For now, The Happiness Project has given me lots to think about, and I vow that someday, I WILL be happier. For now, I’m settling for just plain happy! :-D

Friday, July 30, 2010

July 2010

Alison's turn to choose gave us Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron by Jasper Fforde. We gave it 3 1/2 stars.  Lunch was at Gourmandise in downtown Salt Lake City at 250 S 300 E.

Leslie says: I love Fforde's style, humor, and wit. This book did not disappoint. There is definite benefit in at least reading the jacket cover before trying to dive in, because otherwise it might take a lot longer to get into this world. Can't wait for the second installment! 

Alison says: 3 1/2 stars! Jasper Fforde has the most amazing mind! I'm looking forward to discussing this book with the "book lunch girls" in a couple of weeks. I'm also looking forward to reading the sequels.

Natalie says: This book definitely grew on me. I didn't like it very much in the beginning - I felt like Fforde was just trying to be clever, and that there were a lot of references I wasn't getting. It was hard to figure out at first. I really like how he brought everything together at the end, though, and I will read the next book in the series when it comes out.

Sue says: Totally lived up to my expectations of Mr. Fforde's quirky characters and interesting world view. It was hard at the beginning to really understand and insert myself into his chromatically-controlled society, but once I started to feel a part of his world and understand its norms, my understanding was tipped upside down. Just what I expect from books. Very fun.

Karen says: This was my first time reading Jasper Fforde, what an incredible imagination! It took me awhile to get into his world, but by the end I was enjoying the characters and story. I'm looking forward to this month's book lunch to discuss it. 

Holly Says: As a satire of planned economies and repressive governments, Shades of Grey’s subject matter reminds me of so much of what I’ve read—Hunger Games, 1984, Fahrenheit 451.  If you combined two children’s books, Phantom Tollbooth by Norton and You are Special by Lucado, creating something more adultish, this could be it.  Looking for a clever book on the evils of societies power over their populations through inane regulations—you found one!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June 2010

This was Karen's first time to choose, and she had us read I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. We gave it 4 stars.  We had a great lunch at The Cheesecake Factory in Murray.

Alison says: I really liked the first part of this coming-of-age novel, written by the same woman who wrote The Hundred and One Dalmatians. I liked the last part of the book as well. I got bogged down in the middle, though, getting a somewhat frantic, even slapstick feeling when I'd try to read a bit before falling asleep at night. I will admit that my work situation, which was somewhat frantic with long, long days, may have contributed to that, and if I'd had the time and energy to read more of the book at a sitting, I may have enjoyed it more. Overall, I did like it, especially the eccentric characters.

Sue says:  I loved Cassandra's journal and her perceptions of the people around her. This is a lovely coming-of-age book as she deals with her first love and her quirky family. Very nice.

Holly says: I Capture the Castle was first published in 1948. And its story is told through Cassandra’s journal entries, an exercise she has undertaken in order to teach herself to write.  Hey, that’s the reason I started my blog—writing practice! By the time Cassandra has “captured the castle” she had captured my heart too!  I really enjoyed this book.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

May 2010

Natalie chose Slob by Ellen Potter. We gave it 4 1/2 stars.  We lunched at Tony Caputo's in downtown Salt Lake City at 314 W 300 W and looked longingly at the lovely handmade chocolates.

Alison says: I absolutely adored this book! I'm not sure what words to use to describe it. I'll try these: Touching. Poignant. Heart-breaking. Heart-warming. Insightful. Wonderful. 

Karen says:  What an incredible read! I read this book in one sitting. The story of Owen is stirring and inspiring. I think it will be a great discussion at book club. 

Sue says: I really liked this story of a young man who learns how that revenge is not always the best policy, that looks can be deceiving, and that it is possible to recover from deep pain and loss. Great story.  

Friday, April 30, 2010

April 2010

Karen joined our group and now we were up to 6 members.  Sue chose "Jane Austen Ruined My Life" by Beth Pattillo and we gave it 3 1/2 stars.  We lunched at The Olive Garden in Murray.

"Emma packs up what few worldly possessions she has left and heads to England on a quest to find the missing letters of Jane Austen. Locating the elusive letters, however, isn't as straightforward as Emma hoped. The owner of the letters proves coy about her prize possessions, sending Emma on a series of Austen-related tasks that bring her closer and closer to the truth, but the sudden reappearance of Emma's first love makes everything more complicated. In the end, Emma learns that doing the right thing has very little to do with other people's expectations and everything to do with her own beliefs."

Leslie says: How wonderful it is when historical figures leave us with very little to go on regarding their personal lives! Speculating about Jane Austen's love life is almost as fun as reading her books. This is a fun, almost plausible story about what might have been, with a little DaVinci Code flavor thrown in. 

Karen says: 3 1/2 stars. What a fun read! It sucked me in right from the beginning, though it was a bit predictable, it is an enjoyable story for Austen fans. Made me want to go back a reread a few Austen classics.

Holly says: I liked this book.  It was my first Jane-Austen-fan-book, and it was a fun little read.  I zoomed right through it.  It won’t win any literary awards. But if you’re looking to read a little romance, and don’t want to take on anything complicated...you might enjoy it.   

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

March 2010

Holly chose "A Northern Light" by Jennifer Donnelly and we gave it 4 1/2 stars.  We had a delightful lunch at the Beehive Tea Room in downtown Salt Lake City at 12 W Broadway.

Leslie says: A delightful read.
My thoughts at the end were regarding the author's summary of the actual trial. She said that people in the courtroom wept as they heard the letters read aloud. I thought about how tragic it is that under similar circumstances, those letters probably wouldn't inspire weeping today. In a world where someone shoots another man in the face four times because he got lawn mower clippings blown on his clothing as he walked down the street, we are absolutely desensitized to this kind of murder. In comparison it seems almost gentle. So sad to not be moved to tears by this woman's horrible fate. I think it is a very good thing to be reminded of different times, in the context of a novel that helps us really connect with the characters and feel more for them than we might if we read the story in the newspaper.

Sue says: This book is based on a true murder case in New York that was then novelized in "An American Tragedy" by Theodore Dreiser. I read that book several years ago and it was very interesting as Dreiser delved into modern ideas of psychology to explain Chester Gillette's actions. This book tells the story of a teenage girl working at the resort where they stayed and how the life of Grace Brown, the deceased girlfriend, intersects with hers. It is a powerful story of women and their emergence as writers and includes many fun literary references. Mattie struggles to resolve the divide she sees between having words and having love. She repeatedly comes face-to-face with real-life examples of having to choose and it scares her. It finally scares her into actions that she will regret and some she will prize.
Quotes I liked: "She wasn't what he wanted; he wanted Daisy. But he couldn't have Daisy, so he finally took what was offered. Like we all do."
"I know it is a bad thing to break a promise, but I think now that it is a worse thing to let a promise break you."
"Jane Austen ruins you for farm boys and loggers."

Sunday, February 28, 2010

February 2010-our first anniversary

Leslie chose "When You Reach Me" by Rebecca Stead and we gave it a sold 4 stars.  We had breakfast, instead of lunch, at Ruth's Diner up Emigration Canyon.  It was snowy and cold but the food was great.

Leslie says: My favorite part of this book came after I finished (devoured) it. I turned it over, hoping for more, and here's what I read on the back cover: ". . . an intriguing look at how global warming is affecting the arctic regions . . . "

And I was like, "HUH????" Because there was a couple of allusions to the future when the earth needs a dome, but what the heck?? What kind of distracted, not-paying-attention-person gets THAT out of it?

And then (after an embarrassingly long time) I realized that review was for Stead's first book.

My second epiphany was when it occurred to me that maybe I'm not a very thorough reader, and even though I knew who the future person was about halfway through, I should probably read a little more for comprehension. Or at least not start in the middle of a page and read selected sentences.

So thanks, Rebecca, for an amazing book that addressed not only the issue of global warming, but helped me become a more careful reader. I congratulate you on your Newbery award.

Alison says: One of the most unique children's books I've ever read, When You Reach Me is required reading for time travel aficionados, fans (of all ages) of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, and grown-ups who loved Harriet the Spy, The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and The Westing Game as young girls. (I belong to each of those categories.) It's also great for those - unlike me - who see the late 1970s as "history."

Saturday, January 30, 2010

January 2010

Alison chose "Lost and Found" by Carolyn Parkhurst because she loves the TV show "The Amazing Race" and it's written as a fictional race.  We gave it 4 stars and had lunch at Noodles & Co. in Murray.
"What do a suburban mom and her troubled daughter, two recently divorced brothers, a pair of former child stars, born-again Christian newlyweds, and a couple of young millionaires have in common? They have all been selected to compete on Lost and Found, a daring new reality TV show. In teams of two, they will race across the globe--from Egypt to Japan, from Sweden to England--to battle for a million-dollar prize. They must decipher encrypted clues, recover mysterious artifacts, and outwit their opponents to stay in play. What starts as a lark turns deadly serious as the number of players is whittled down, temptations beckon, and the bonds between partners strain and unravel. Before long the question is not only who will capture the final prize, but at what cost."