Guest Post: In Praise of Book Clubs, Volume 20

WOW!  This is the 20th installment of In Praise of Book Clubs!  I can hardly believe it!  Today we hear from Laverne at the very fun Redhead Fangirl blog, which you must check out if you like comics or graphic novels.  Here she talks about her Adult Book Discussion group at the Ewing Branch Library, where she is the reference librarian.  

While I was attending library school and working full time, I was drafted to be the book club coordinator in 2005.  We host a once a month adult book discussion, and this group has been one of the most rewarding parts of my very busy reference librarian schedule.   

Our book club reads fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, poetry and short stories.   I love the diversity of the styles we read, and the group is extremely democratic on bringing suggestions to the table.  We only ask that the title be available through our library system, so it promotes our collections and there is no expense for any patron.

We have a group of regular patrons, but always have an influx of new participants.   The group is led by a now retired Corrections Officer, who told me he only knew of one other guard who was a reader in all his years working in corrections.    There are several current and retired teachers who bring witty classroom stories to the table. 

One of our favorite yearly discussions is the “Short Stories for a Short Month”, where every February we read 4 or 5 short stories.   I make copies for the entire group, and then we share our thoughts and feelings.    It has turned us on to T.C. Boyle, Jeffrey Archer,  and more– many times we like a short story enough to want to read more by that author.

The biggest hits of this year are the nonfiction The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, the memoir Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, and Skinny Dip by Carl Hiassan.   This fall I’m looking forward to our discussions of the Benjamin Black (John Banville) mystery Christine Falls and the historical fiction novel People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.   I saw her speak at ALA, and thought she was so wise and funny that it even propelled me to read historical fiction- usually my least favorite genre. 

Mostly it has allowed a deeper connection with patrons through years of telling our stories and tidbits in the book group.  Some patrons have gotten ill, or moved, and we miss them.  But I’m always recruiting new readers to tell their stories by reading the stories of others.   

Redhead Fangirl 

(A librarian, redhead  and fangirl’s commentary on comics, graphic novels, and libraries)

Blogger Bio:  Laverne loves graphic novels and writes at the popular Redhead Fangirl blog.  She is a reference librarian in New Jersey, where she lives with her husband, cat, and turtle.  You might find her there playing guitar or WiiFit or drinking Irish beers. 

***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

Review: The Heartbreak Diet by Thorina Rose

The Heartbreak Diet: A story of family, fidelity, and starting over by Thorina Rose is like a comic book for adults.  However, there are no action heroes here:  no laser beams or men in capes; just the brave heroine, Thorina, who puts the worst part of her life on display in an honest, heartbreaking, and hopeful manner.  

Thorina finds out her husband X does more with his running partner than run.  She handles the discovery of his adultery with such dignity and class, even going so far as to meet the other woman, Vivienne- who is younger with glowing skin, bigger breasts, and an unencumbered lifestyle.  Thorina’s husband, a cruel selfish bastard, wants to try a polyamorous relationship (yuck) and they go through gutwrenching counseling sessions, but ultimately, he leaves Thorina and their two young sons (who later tell her, “Vivienne’s really nice!  It’s kind of like having another mom!” OUCH).  Thorina’s friends prop her up and keep her sane, and she eventually comes to terms with the end of her marriage.  

Ok, so the story isn’t very original, but the execution of it certainly is.  I really liked Thorina.  I laughed through her revenge fantasies and was completely charmed by the frankness of the writing and the freshness of the illustrations.  The Heartbreak Diet is a quick read. I read it in under an hour.  It was my first foray into the world of graphic novels, and I enjoyed it immensely.  This book would make a great gift for anyone who is on their own Heartbreak Diet, forgetting to eat lunch due to major distractions in their lives.  I would highly recommend it.

The Sunday Salon

Sunday has arrived!! Here’s hoping that you all have a relaxing day.

My week has been crazy and I haven’t been able to do much reading.  Oh, I have tried to wind down with a book at bedtime, but I find myself nodding off after 10 pages or so.  I did get a solid hour of reading in at my daughter’s gymnastics practice this week, but beyond that I haven’t had a good chunk of time to sit with a book and get lost in it.  Maybe today.

 I’m posting a couple pics from our vacation to Pennsylvania.  My kids have been bored and grumpy this week since we got back to our routine because they haven’t had a gaggle of kids around to traipse through the woods with, a thunderstorm to get caught in, or a lake to jump in.  My youngest daughter’s sad comment this week was, “There’s too much cement in California, Mom.”  She has a point.  

The books keep arriving at the door even if I haven’t had much time to read them.  This was my haul this week from UPS, FedEx, and the mailman:  

The Heartbreak Diet: A Story of Family, Fidelity, and Starting Over by Thorina Rose from Chronicle Books.  It’s a hardcover graphic novel (my first) that I requested from an ad in Shelf Awareness back in May.  I wanted to see what all the fuss was about with graphic novels.  I’ll let you know.

Netochka Nezvanova by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, a Penguin Classic that I requested months ago. This is a slim volume and apparently I have 6 weeks to read it or the Book Police will be after me.

Inglorious by Joanna Kavenna from Picador and LibraryThing’s early reviewers program.  This one came out a year ago but was just recently released in paperback.

The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer from Harper Perennial and Every Day I Write the Book Blog.  This is the July online book club selection over at EDIWTB.

Queen of the Road by Doreen Orion- two copies- one from the author and one from the publisher, Broadway Books- so I will be giving one away!  This book is everywhere right now-and since one of my favorite people loved it, I am really excited to read it!  Watch for the giveaway post later today or tomorrow.

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner from Ballantine Books and Dorothy Thompson at Pump Up Your Book Promotion.  I will be doing a virtual book tour stop for this one in August.

The Safety of Secrets by DeLaune Michel from Over the River Publications- the 2nd copy I’ve received from them, so I’ll be giving it away!  Look for the giveaway post Tuesday.  We also may have a Q & A from the author if I could just finish the book and get a few questions to her!  That is my goal for today.

And finally- an unbound galley of The Forbidden Daughter by Shobhan Bantwal from the author (coming out in August) that arrived in a ripped and bent thin white envelope.  Apparently they ran out of ARCs but even though the envelope was a mess, the galley is in good shape (one munched corner, but beyond that it’s ok).  I don’t recall requesting this, but I guess I did.  I’ve never received a book this way and it will be a challenge to read it like this, but hopefully it will be worth it!

I just noticed that the two covers I added to this post show only half of the woman’s face.  Huh.  Weird.  I thought I was being all random with the covers but they are oddly one-eyed and similar.  Maybe the other eye is on the spine.  I’ll have to check.

Well, I guess I better go read now!!  The kids are still sleeping so I might be able to string two sentences together before being interrupted.

If you’re like me and need to find more time for reading, check out these tips from Books on the Nightstand.  Have a great week!  ~Lisa