Sunday Salon: Scenes from a Stay-cation

With the kids on spring break this week, I didn’t get a whole lot of reading done.  I reviewed one book (Shanghai Girls) and read another one (Foreign Tongue– not yet reviewed), but that was it.

I did, however, have a blast with my girls!  We couldn’t go away (dad had to work) but it’s easy to have a stay-cation when you live in the LA area!  

Along with swimming at a friend’s pool, riding bikes, seeing the Hannah Montana movie, having a sleepover, and dinner with cousins, we did some tourist-y stuff.  On Thursday we went to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, explored the shops around the Kodak Theatre and did some people watching in Hollywood, had lunch at Johnny Rockets, and had churros on Olvera Street.  Then yesterday we went to the planetarium at Griffith Park, watched my brother (an AV guy) work on a Capital One commercial downtown with the vikings (“What’s in YOUR wallet?”), and took in the sights at the Santa Monica Pier.  We had a great time, as you can see from the pictures!

Back to reality- school and work- tomorrow, but we made some nice memories..

 

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Review: Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

51a7mjkefwl_sl500_aa240_Shanghai Girls by Lisa See is the tale of two sisters.   The book opens in Shanghai in 1937, where Pearl and May are “beautiful girls” who model for an artist and whose faces appear on calendars and advertisements selling everything from soap to cigarettes.  They make money, but it all goes into supporting their expensive lifestyle.  They are sophisticated, educated girls who wear gorgeous clothing, stay out late, go to clubs, and take full advantage of their status in this cosmopolitan city.  They are blissfully ignorant of the rapidly changing political climate and the war with Japan looming on the horizon. 

At home, they are just girls, albeit girls living a privileged life, with cooks and servants and lovely furnishings.  Daughters are worthless in China except for their value as marriage material.  Pearl, however, is in love with her “beautiful girl” artist ZG, and May loves Tommy.  They’ve made a modern assumption that they will marry for love, as they do in the west, and are shocked when their father announces that their marriages have been arranged, to help the family. “Baba”, a wealthy businessman, has had a reversal of fortune.  His gambling debts are mounting and he sees no other way out but to marry off his daughters to the highest bidder. 

dsc0325824 hours later, the girls are married women.  Their new husbands, Sam and Vern (only 14!), and their family live in Los Angeles.  The plan is that the girls will tie up loose ends, take a boat to Hong Kong to meet their new husbands, then travel with them to Los Angeles.   Pearl and May, still in denial, never get on the boat for Hong Kong.  Baba is upset but thinks, “What can I do?”  Life goes on pretty much as before, with the girls adjusting their lifestyle only slightly and trying to make more money. 

But then the war breaks out.  They get caught up in the bombings but manage to escape Shanghai.   Threatened by collectors of Baba’s debt, they flee.  Leaving the city proves extremely difficult, and as they make their way out of the country, they are broken both physically and spiritually.  They finally arrive in Los Angeles after much hardship and make a life with their husbands and extended family as immigrants in Chinatown.  Pearl and May, with their love of western clothing and sensibilities, are made to wear the traditional clothing of China for the tourists and must stay within the confines of the community.   Pearl works and works, harboring little resentments against the more carefree May.  They struggle with everyday life, and nothing is as they expected it to be.   

As in Lisa See’s earlier novels, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love, there is a major misunderstanding between the main characters that threatens to destroy their relationship and propels much of what happens in the book.  May and Pearl, like all siblings, view their shared past differently.  The revelatory moment, when they each see things clearly and understand the others’ perspective, comes late in the novel.   

I’m a huge Lisa See fan and was completely swept away by Shanghai Girls. This is a book about survival and just how much a person will endure for the people they love.  It is also a captivating history lesson about the difficulties faced by our immigrant population.  The book is so rich in detail, lush in its descriptive language.  Lisa See is an expert at describing and exploring women’s relationships, making this a natural choice for a book club.  My only complaint is the cliffhanger ending.. but then, maybe that leaves the door open for a sequel.  I hope so!  

Shanghai Girls will be released on May 26th.  Many thanks to Random House for sending me an advanced readers copy.  

For more information on Lisa See, please visit her website.

Teaser Tuesdays – 4/7/09

tuesday-tMiz B and Teaser Tuesdays asks you to: Grab your current read. Let the book fall open to a random page. Share with us two (2) sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12. You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

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music-teacherMy teaser this week comes from page 66 of The Music Teacher by Barbara Hall, which I just received yesterday from Algonquin Books (haven’t started it yet).

“For me, it all started in the second grade, when the class was auditioned for the school band.  That was back in the day when there was such a thing as a music program in public schools.”

Oh, how well I can relate to this teaser!  In California, budget cuts have decimated the schools’ music and art programs.  Our school sent home a notice this week that the limited music program we had this year is now officially terminated for next year.  No music.  No art.  Lots of state testing, though!

My Very Own Ratatouille-Rodent Update

 

imagesThis is all so upsetting.  I have the exterminator here right now and he says we have roof rats getting into our attic- so we aren’t even talking about mice anymore.  I’m freaking out and feeling physically ill to think they’ve been in my kitchen, my daughter’s bedroom (where the attic access is.. there’s a small gap and he found droppings), etc.  The poor man is trying to tell me things and show me things and I said- please, I don’t want nightmares- just take care of it.  He says this is a very common problem in Southern California.  So he’s setting traps in the attic right now.  The hub’s at work and I wish he were here to talk with the guy.  

We might as well have put out the welcome mat for these rats- apparently there are all kinds of entry points and gaps and holes in the attic and garage rafters that lead to the outside.  We have a field behind our house so it’s no wonder they’re around.  And we have pet food inside the house (guinea pigs) and in the garage (dog food).  I’m not the best housekeeper ever (I try, but I live with slobs!), and my kids can be downright sneaky with food (candy wrappers under their beds, etc.) and lazy about putting things away, so the damn things hit the jackpot at our house.
 

Please send all your rat-killing thoughts our way!!  Sorry, I know some of you animal lovers will want me to do things humanely, but I just want them dead and gone.  Which just reminded me of my latest iPod acquisition- funny how the brain works:

Guest Post and Giveaway: Sheri from A Novel Menagerie says, “Yeah, I’d Praise Book Clubs!”

My book club met on Sunday and we had the great pleasure to welcome a new member, Sheri from A Novel Menagerie!  She and I met through our children last summer, who by sheer coincidence were not only in the same unit at Girl Scout camp, but in the same cabin 2 years in a row.  The chances of that are so slim- one year they went in August, the next year June, one year they were in a sampler unit, the next year a horse unit- all with hundreds of other kids.  It almost seemed that fate was pushing us together.

At first Sheri was kind of stunned that we hit it off, because she says she “never gets along with other women”.   We bonded over our children (we each have two wild preteen girls- hers are twins, mine are “Irish twins”), we both have one brother named Bill (who, by yet another coincidence, attends our church), complicated relationships with our sisters, experience with insomnia (hers, and my husbands), our OCD tendencies, and of course, BOOKS!   I showed her my blog and told her about the book blogging community.  Sheri asked a million questions.  I sent her on her way with a few extra books I had hanging around.  She went home and started her amazing new blog, A Novel Menagerie, that very day.  If you haven’t seen it, you must go check it out.  She hosts memes, challenges, contests, and reads about 5 books a week (and I’m not even exaggerating!)  She also started an online business called BookCharming.com and makes these adorable floss book marks.  She has so much drive and energy and honestly, I don’t know how she does it all!

So when she asked me about my book club, I sadly told her that it was “full”.  We had what seemed the right amount of people (12) and the club had agreed that we wouldn’t be inviting any more.  But then, in January, someone dropped out.  I mentioned it to Sheri and before the words were out of my mouth, she was saying YES!  So here she is, with impressions of her first book club meeting.  Welcome, Sheri!

Yeah, I’d Praise Book Clubs!

My constant whining about not being in a book club was more than Lisa could bear.  Month after month, the nagging became like nails scratching on a chalkboard.  She had no choice.  Find a spot for me or listen to 11 more months of “poor me.”  I think she chose wisely…yes, she is indeed a smart girl!

So, after finagling me into the book club, I immediately purchased every book on our reading list.  I was bound and determined to know each book inside and out, be ready for any question, and be worthy of the book club.  The books arrived:

The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Sarah’s Key

The Invisible Wall

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Our first meeting:  Oscar Wao.  Now, this book is a Pulitzer Prize winner.  Of course, then it must be good.  And, it was.  But, the book was somewhat of a grueling read.  It was not an easy book to get through.  As I spewed out of my mouth in the book club meeting:  

It’s like childbirth; you are not really enjoying it when you’re going through it.  But, once it’s over with you’re glad you did it.  

That’s it.  They’re giving me das boot.  No.  Wait.  Ellen agreed.  Whew!  Let me go back in time to explain.  

So, like a little Nervous Nelly, I walked down the street with Lisa to the book club meeting.  They aren’t going to like me.  I won’t fit in.  I didn’t read the Reader’s Guide questions thoroughly enough.  I wasn’t even sure how I completely felt about the book.  I walk into Ellen’s home.  Immaculate.  Oh, I am such a sub-standard mother.  Ellen would never even sit on my couches.  I’m going to have to host my meeting at Lisa’s house.  There were a few people to meet and… (can you hear the angels singing?) WINE!  I thank God Jesus was into wine!  It’s a goodie that God makes sure is around for me!  Everything looked great.  There was food, wine, the immaculate house.  I was making conversation with whoever would talk with me.  Let’s see if I can remember all of their names (whoever I forget, please forgive me):

bc-bluebirdEllen

Diane

Elaine

Sara

Lisa

Sheri (that’s me)

Orchid

Maggie

Valerie

Tammy

So, Lisa thankfully sat by me during dinner and helped me to remember who’s who, names, etc.  The meeting soon started and Orchid (and her amazingly cool hair) led the meeting.  She read aloud.  But, she read a passage that was written in partial Spanish.  When she said the passage aloud, she said it entirely in English.  <Enter my big mouth> 

bc-sunset“Do you speak Spanish?  I mean, I can read it, but not speak it.  And, well…” (God, Sheri shut up!)

Yes, she did.  And, my inappropriate outburst led into a discussion about the foreign language in the book.  (Thank God!)  The conversation continued and it seemed like we all had something to say. 

My SELF observations:

1. I am the only dumbass who didn’t know that the splotch on the cover was the face of Oscar with a wing coming out of the back of his head.

2. I am the only idiot who thought that Oscar shouldn’t have quit on Yunior when Yunior was trying to help him lose weight.  

3. I’m the only deranged person who didn’t feel sorry for Oscar.  

4. I talk too much.

5. I don’t know enough.

6. Maybe I’m the only one who thinks my thoughts are “spot-on.”  No, that’s not a maybe.  It’s a for sure!

9780312370848My GROUP observations:

1. They were lovely women who really enjoyed this opportunity to get together and discuss their love for books. 

2. These were some INTELLIGENT chicks!

3. There is a common, invisible thread that ties them together.  They appreciate this book club and each other.

4. If I bribe them with my AWESOME Key Lime Martinis, they may let me come back again.  I hope so because I’m almost done with Sarah’s Key.

5. Lisa is my friend!

If I could only talk to intelligent women about the books I read ALL DAY LONG.  It would be like Heaven.  I wonder if I should try to find a job in the book industry.  I’m turning into a one-dimensional person… BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS.  Maybe I need to be in 4 book clubs… one for every Sunday.  Yes, that might cure my itch!

Thank you to Lisa for letting me smuggle my way into the group and share my neurosis with her readers.  

Sheri is donating 2 beautiful BookCharming.com Book Marks to my 100K celebration.  The first one is the Bluebird design, and the 2nd one is Sunset.  Gorgeous, right?  She’s so flippin’ talented!  This chick has skills!!  I’m going to throw in our book club’s next selection, Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay to go along with the beautiful book marks.  Leave a comment by Friday, February 20th for a chance to win.

To read Sheri’s review of Sarah’s Key, click HERE.  I had to skim it because I haven’t read the book yet.  Hope I finish it before next month’s meeting!!

Sunday Salon

It’s finally SUNDAY!  I think a lot of us bloggers have a BBAW hangover this weekend.  So many posts to read, so many giveaways, so many awards and so much excitement!  It was a great week, put on by the tireless My Friend Amy, who did a phenomenal job putting it all together and keeping track of everything.  A round of applause for AMY!  (clap, clap, clap)

My BBAW giveaways will be ending this week too;  this one on Monday, and this one on Tuesday.  Hurry and enter if you haven’t already!

Fall has arrived here in Southern California. I used to love this time of year growing up in Michigan- back to school, sweater weather, fall colors, apple picking.  The change of seasons is more subtle in So. Cal. but when you’ve lived her awhile you start to notice small things.  We go from hot to warm, green to brown, and dry to not quite as dry, over the course of several months.  It’s still blazing hot right now, but it cools off in the evenings, and it’s chilly in the early morning.  The kids are back in school (and already have tons of homework), and by next weekend we’ll start to see pumpkins and scarecrows on porches to remind us that it’s fall, since the weather doesn’t offer much of a clue.

I’ve got so much reading lined up but it’s a challenge to find time.  My husband is in China on business, so I’ve been a “single mom” for the past week.  Things I’ve had to do without him include:

* going to Back to School night alone

* taking the girls on an overnight campout at their school (I  made the kids put the tent up, so it wasn’t that bad- it was just the carting things back and forth and the sleeping on the ground that sucked!)

* dealing with the emotions (“I miss daddy” sniff sniff)

* hauling the garbage cans to the curb and back (his job)

* feeding the dog and picking up poop (also his job)

* taking my youngest to her golf lesson (always a daddy/daughter thing)  

On the plus side, I’ve only cooked dinner once all week.  A couple nights we had leftovers, a couple nights we went out, and one night we had “breakfast for dinner”.  Oh, and I haven’t shaved my legs.  Ha!

Right now I’m reading Peony in Love by Lisa See.  I’ve wanted to read this since it came out, but was waiting for my book club to vote it in.  So far I LOVE it.  I was already a big fan after reading Snow Flower, now I’m a bigger fan.  Her writing is so lush and evocative- you get such a sense of the surroundings, you can almost smell the jasmine on the breeze.  Lisa is going to join our book club meeting in October by speaker phone and we could not be more excited!  

Next on the TBR pile is Immortal by Traci Slatton for Jennifer’s online book club at Literate Housewives (not to be confused with her regular blog, Literate Housewife). This one is somehow a cross between historical fiction and time travel.  It’s set in Florence in the 14th century, and the back cover says something about a golden boy having to make a choice between immortality and his only chance to find his true love (I’m paraphrasing wildly).  

After that, it’s on to The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff for a TLC Book Tour stop here on October 30th.  It’s about Ann Eliza Young, 19th wife of Brigham Young, prophet and leader of the Mormon church.  There’s also a parallel story about a present day murder in a polygamist family.  I can’t wait to start it.  

And last, but hopefully not least, I’ll be reading Run by Ann Patchett.  The only Patchett I’ve read is Bel Canto, which I intensely disliked, but because my friend Jill at Fizzy Thoughts liked Run so much, and then offered to send me her copy, I’m going to give it a try.  I’m also interested in Patchett’s Truth and Beauty, about her friendship with Lucy Grealy (Autobiography of a Face), so I’m going to give her a second chance, and then possibly a third.  

I’m curious- If you’ve read a book that you didn’t like at all, do you give an author another chance and read more of their work?  Or do you “fire them” forever?  

Happy Sunday!

The Last Girl on Earth Without a Cell Phone

My preteen daughter, 10 years old, going into 6th grade this September, frequently claims to be the last girl on earth without a cell phone.  This comment is generally met by a slightly sarcastic remark from me, such as  “You poor deprived child” or “That’s because it’s my goal in life to make you miserable” or “I’m sure you’re not the ONLY girl without a cell phone”.  Sometimes I even roll my eyes (and then I wonder where she gets that annoying little habit!)  She’s been bugging me for a couple of years to get her a phone, but lately this has intensified.  She claims I am overprotective.  Sometimes she declares I am the meanest mom ever.   But I do have my reasons.

She rarely uses the house phone- if she’s not calling people from home, who’s she going to call from her cell phone?  We have a rule- she can get a cell phone when she enters junior high in a year, or if we feel she needs one before then (if I’m dropping her off for long stretches at one of her activities- not the case right now) and in that case the phone would be for MY convenience and peace of mind- so that I can reach her when she’s away from me.  Which right now is hardly ever.  And texting is out.

My daughter’s two closest friends have phones, but I thought that was more the exception rather than the rule, and one of those girls has already had a “situation” with texting, where she was the victim of some bullying.  I feel my daughter is too young and immature to handle something like that.

So wasn’t I surprised, then, to find that in our Girl Scout troop, she is one of only 2 girls who do not have cell phones!  And of the 8 who do, 7 have unlimited texting (and the other one hates her phone for not having it and doesn’t understand why her mother won’t allow it!)  One girl is actually on her second phone already.  All this talk just gave my kid more fuel for the fire.

Am I really that far behind the times?  Do I cave to “peer pressure” from the girl scout group of parents and get my kid a phone?  Does a not-quite-11 year old girl really need a phone, and if so, WHY?

I’d love to hear from other moms.  Am I overprotective?  Mean?  Are you a mean mom, too?

The Sunday Salon

If a Sunday Salon is written when it’s still Saturday, is it a Saturday Salon?  Hmmm.

If you’re reading this on Sunday morning, my family and I are en route to Catalina Island, 26 miles across the sea, off the coast of Southern California, where we’ll take a golf cart around Avalon, swim and snorkel, eat, rent bikes, and relax for the day.  The last time we went, when my 10 year old was just a baby, we saw a huge pod of dolphins just off the coast- it was crazy.  There were hundreds of them, leaping and playing and pirouetting into the air.  I hope we see some wildlife on this trip, too. 

So this was an interesting week, but not the best week for reading.  I read The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer, which was spectacular!  I finished it just last night, which unfortunately was several days late for the online book club at Every Day I Write the Book, but there are tons of comments over there about it, so many in fact that I don’t really have anything new to add to the discussion.  I’ve read so many opinions of the book now I’m not sure how to review it, aside from saying I loved it.  Have you ever read so many reviews of a book that you feel like you can’t come up with something fresh to say about it?  I think that’s what happened. 

I noticed that Dewey’s Weekly Geeks were doing something interesting last week.  If I understand correctly, the Geeks were to list books that they’d read but had not reviewed yet, and ask their readers to post questions about the books for them to answer.  So I’m going to borrow the Geeky idea and give you my list.  If anyone wants to ask me a question, go for it! 

The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer

Queen of the Road by Doreen Orion

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

The Safety of Secrets by DeLaune Michel

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

I started two other books this week- The Last Queen by CW Gortner- which just came out July 29th and is fascinating historical fiction, and Shrink Rap by Robin Altman- which is filled with short, hysterical essays on parenting and child psychiatry (it’s a hoot!).  I’ve got the hysterical one in my car for “waiting” times (swim class, gymnastics) and the historical one on my nightstand for evening reading.  

Oh, I forgot to say that CARE from Care’s Online Book Club was the winner of my Queen of the Road giveaway!  Your book is on it’s way, my dear!  Enjoy!  Everyone still has time to enter the The Safety of Secrets giveaway, which will run until August 8th.  

I hope you all have a beautiful summer Sunday!

A Shaky Fish Story

Today some friends and I took our kids (4 moms, 16 kids under the age of 10) to our local movie theater, where there are free movies every Tuesday all summer.  The theater was jammed- there was not even one empty seat.  Today’s movie was Fred Claus starring Vince Vaughan.  We laughed throughout and enjoyed the chilly wintery scenes, which were effective in cooling us off on this hot July morning.  Everything was just fine, until 11:42am, when the theater started to roll.

Yes, roll!  We live in Southern California, where the earth moves regularly.  My friend and I recognized immediately that we were experiencing an earthquake, but this was a first for my 9 and 10 year old kids. As the rolling turned to jolting and the movement got a little more intense, people gasped and stood up and started to go for the aisles.  My friend Angela shouted out, “Remain calm!  Don’t panic!” several times… who wants to get trampled, right??- and for the most part people were calm.  My legs turned to jello and I was shaking because you can’t know if the quake will stop or gather strength.  Having lived through 2 major earthquakes (with major aftershocks each time), I was a little jumpy.

Everyone exited the theater safely, with no trampling and lots of nervous laughter, and immediately got on their cell phones.  I was able to get ahold of my husband right away but my friend, who’s mother lives just a few miles from the epicenter, could not get her mom on the phone.  We heard later that the cell lines collapsed pretty quickly with the overload on the system from everyone trying to make calls all at once.

My kids have told and re-told their “survivor” story to friends and relatives several times now, and the earthquake gets bigger and bigger with each retelling, like a fish story (it was THIIIISSSS BIG!)  It was a moderate quake, 5.4 on the Richter scale, but it was their first, so to them it was a whale!

Guest Post: In Praise of Book Clubs, Vol. 13

The 13th volume of In Praise of Book Clubs comes from the lovely Florinda, of the always interesting The 3 R’s: Reading, ‘Riting, and Randomness. Here she writes about how she didn’t think she was the book club “type” until she started hanging out with her sister’s book club.

Thank you to Lisa at Books on the Brain for allowing me to contribute this guest post to her “In Praise of Book Clubs” series.

I’ve always been a reader, but I shied away from book clubs for years. The whole idea of reading assigned books on a specific schedule? Not freewheeling enough for my reading-whatever-strikes-my-fancy style. I could see the point for people who didn’t read much on their own, or needed that sort of structure to get more into reading, but neither of those characteristics applied to me.

However, nearly four years ago, my sister and several of her moms’-club friends decided to get together on the side and start reading together, and I was invited to join them. I didn’t accept right away; since everyone else in the group was a stay-at-home mom with young kids, they held their first couple of meetings during the weekday, and I just wasn’t available to join them. My sister kept me informed about their book selections, though, so I could read along if I wanted to. After a few months, the group decided to switch their meetings to Friday evenings, thereby doubling as a “moms’ night out,” and I was able to become a regular participant at that point. We held our first few Friday-night meetings in public settings, but found that the distraction level was just a little too high to keep focused on the book, so we’ve been meeting in members’ homes ever since – most frequently in the home of one particular member, who is always happy to make it available if the designated meeting host needs a change of venue (that is, can’t get her family out of the house while the meeting would be taking place).

Members have come and gone over the years, and we’ve never been a very large group – and I’m still the only one who was never part of the moms’ club. We usually have about five to seven women at each meeting. My sister is our unofficial administrator, and every January she e-mails us all with a schedule of proposed meeting dates and the rotation for book picker/meeting host. After some craziness during our first couple of years involving last-minute rescheduling attempts when too many people came up with conflicts, we no longer change meeting dates unless it’s the host herself who can’t make it. This has been a really beneficial change, and now we actually do meet as planned, every six or seven weeks, although we usually skip December unless we decide to have a social. For the last year or so, we’ve invited members to bring other books they’ve read to the meetings, so they can be exchanged or passed along to another interested reader.

The host for each meeting selects the book we’ll read, and announces it at the meeting prior to hers; for example, I’m scheduled to host our July meeting, and will let everyone know my book pick at our meeting on May 30, when we’ll be discussing The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. The host may select any book she likes, even one that she has read before; after one member got burned by choosing a book she absolutely hated and refused to finish, she never picks anything for the rest of us that she hasn’t read first. We don’t have a master list or any formal guidelines, but after this length of time we have learned to keep certain group preferences in mind:

* General fiction – nothing with too many pretensions, nothing obviously genre, and nothing too frothy
* Memoirs, occasionally, but no other nonfiction
* If the book has been adapted into a movie, we may plan on seeing it during our meeting.
* Nothing too lengthy unless it moves fast – everyone’s busy, after all!

Our conversations about the books we read tend to be focused more on characters and plot points, as opposed to thematic elements or writing-style choices; after all, it’s not a literature class, it’s a conversation in someone’s living room. We have occasionally worked with suggested discussion questions, but for the most part it’s not very structured and it’s pretty subjective; we share opinions and impressions, and there’s usually a respectful give-and-take, accompanied by a fair amount of laughter. We seem to have our best discussions about the books that either everyone liked (The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini) or everyone hated (His Lovely Wife, by Elizabeth Dewberry) – assuming the haters actually finished the book, that is; if not, there’s obviously not too much to talk about. In either case, the book has generally struck a chord with us as readers, and we have more thoughts on it to share with the group.

My book club has exposed me to some books I might not have read otherwise, and it’s given me the opportunity to share some books I’ve really enjoyed with good friends. Because it’s a social thing at least as much as a reading thing, we do end up engaging in a fair amount of off-book-topic talk when we meet, but I’ve come to enjoy that aspect of it very much as well. And since we keep to a fairly relaxed schedule and format, I still have plenty of time for my own reading choices, which I now get to talk about on my blog.

Blogger Bio: Florinda has been blogging about books, pop culture, family, and whatever else comes to mind at The 3 R’s: Reading, ‘Riting, and Randomness since March 2007. She lives northwest of Los Angeles with her second husband and their 11-year-old shepherd mix, Gypsy; they’re joined part-time by his two children, ages 13 and 8, and occasionally by her son, who is in his 20’s and lives on the East Coast. When not reading, writing, or attending to family life, she’s an accountant working in the nonprofit sector.

***Would you like to share about your book club here at Books on the Brain? If so, leave a comment and I will get in touch with you about a guest post!

For previous volumes of In Praise of Book Clubs, click HERE

For more info on starting your own book club, click HERE

For fun ways to make your book club better, click HERE

For a chance to win Springtime on Mars by Susan Woodring, click HERE and leave a comment by June 6.

For a chance to win The Fires by Alan Cheuse, click HERE and leave a comment by June 6.