Empire of the Summer Moon (and a linkup)

Empire of the Summer MoonEmpire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American HistoryEmpire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S. C. Gwynne by S. C. Gwynne

I love learning about the past – it’s why I wanted one of the book club’s picks for the year to be a history book. However, it’s challenging to find a general-interest history book that isn’t too long and seems mostly doable in a month.

I’m not entirely sure I succeeded with this pick, although I enjoyed the book, in a way. It’s hard to use the word “enjoyed” with a book that has so many gruesome moments as this one does. But the way Gwynne brings the time period to life was excellent, and I learned a lot – that typically makes a book a winner for me.

I wouldn’t recommend it to non-history fans, or or anyone who is squeamish about what they read. It’s hard to get past some of the details. It also jumps around in time a bit, so anyone who wants a straight chronological retelling of events will likely be frustrated.

Overall, I’m glad I read it, and I wouldn’t have it if hadn’t been for the book club. Hopefully everyone else who read it feels the same way, and they don’t regret the reading time invested in it!


Looking ahead at next month, we’ll start our discussion of Big Little LiesBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty on June 6th. There will be a linkup for posts relating to the book on June 29th.

If you’re debating about reading Big Little Lies, it’s a long one, but it’s *very* quick to read. I read almost all of it in one day, and could have finished it completely if I hadn’t been dividing my reading time between two different books that day. Just because it’s quick though, doesn’t mean it’s completely easy — it tackles some tough issues and should give a lot to discuss. I’m looking forward to it!


If you’ve written a post about Empire of the Summer Moon, you’re welcome to add it to the linkup below.

Link-up Guidelines:

1. Share a post about the book. Entries completely unrelated to this theme or linked to your homepage may be deleted.

2. Link back to The Deliberate Reader – you can use the button below if you’d like, or just use a text link.

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3. The linkup will be open for two weeks.

4. Please visit the person’s blog who linked up directly before you and leave them a comment.

5. By linking up, you’re granting me permission to use and/or repost photographs or comments from your linked post.

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Introducing February’s Book Club Selection: The Black Count

The Black CountThis month’s book for our Facebook book club is The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte CristoThe Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss, by Tom Reiss.

What It’s About

It’s the biography of Alexandre Dumas’ father, General Alex Dumas, who was partial inspiration for the book The Count of Monte CristoThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Read more about The Black Count at Goodreads.

Why Was This Title Selected

In the expectation that it’d be a nice complement to January’s book, and I wanted one biography for the year.

Anything Else to Know About It?

It won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 2013, as well as the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award.

It’s available in print, Kindle format, or Audible.

Discussion about the book starts today, but if you want to quick get the book and join in, we’ll continue it all month. If you’re debating whether or not it’s a book you want to read, I give it two thumbs up – it’s excellent. Even if you aren’t interested in joining in the on the discussion, it’s worth reading.

What’s Coming Up in March?

The ChosenLooking ahead to next month, we’ll be reading and discussing The ChosenThe Chosen by Chaim Potok by Chaim Potok. You’ve got plenty of time to find this book and get it read before our discussion on it begins March 1. This title is not available on Kindle, but it’s the only one for the year that isn’t available in print, on Kindle, and on Audible. See all the books we’ll be reading in 2016 here.

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Introducing January’s Book Club Selection: The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo Robin Buss TranslationThe Count of Monte CristoThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas by Alexandre Dumas

What’s It About

You probably already know – it’s been around for so long, and has been adapted and retold so many times – but just in case: It’s a fictional novel following the life of Edmond Dantes, who is unjustly imprisoned because of a conspiracy by three “friends,” and what happens to him afterwards. Read more about it at Goodreads.

Why Was This Title Selected

It’s a classic, and one my in-person book club had read and enjoyed before I joined it. It’s also a novel that was originally written in something other than English, so yet another way to expand my usual reading choices. Finally, Caroline Starr Rose (an author I really like) has raved that it’s her favorite book.

Anything Else To Know About It?

It’s super long, but surprisingly readable (there is one section that drags quite a bit, but most of the book is more engaging). If you’re getting bogged down a bit in the part in Rome, don’t despair, but keep going!

I *highly* recommend the Robin Buss translation. You can get it in print, or on Kindle, but I couldn’t track down an audio version of that translation, so if you’re determined to listen to the book you’ll have to select something else. I originally started out with a different translation, and then made the switch to the Buss version. SO much more readable and enjoyable.

The 2002 movie version starring James Caviezel is supposed to be really good, and I will ask at least one question related to the movie later in the month, so if you have time to watch it after you’ve read it you may want to do that (you can rent it from Amazon, but it’s not streaming on Amazon Prime or Netflix that I could find). There are other film adaptations (including one with Richard Chamberlain from 1975), but I haven’t heard anything about those.

How’s The Discussion Going to Work?

Over in the Facebook Group, I’ll be posting at least one question each weekday. On January 27th, I’ll have a “review” post here, with my thoughts on the book, and it will include a linkup so if you’ve written a post about it, I’d love for you to add that link to the list.

I’ll mostly be taking questions from the list I shared here, but will also add some book-specific ones from LitLovers.

Week one will be introductory and overview questions (so if you haven’t quite finished the book, you should still be able to join in for some of them, although you run the risk of reading spoilers.) Week two will focus on characters and setting, and week three will be about the writing and plotting. And the last week in January we’ll wrap everything up with some concluding questions and looking beyond the book.

Am I Too Late To Join the Discussion?

Not at all – just request to join the Facebook group and I’ll get you added. The discussion will start today, and spoilers are allowed, so keep that in mind before you join, but you’re welcome to come and discuss as much as you’ve read, whenever you get to it. The discussion will continue all month. It is a long one though, so realistically you may find it challenging to get the book finished before the end of the month.

What’s Coming Up Next Month?

The Black CountTom Reiss’ biography of General Alex Dumas (the father of Alexandre Dumas), The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo. It’s available in print, ebook, or audible. Unlike this month’s pick, there are no translation issues or different versions to worry about, so things should be a bit simpler. It’s another long one though, so you may want to get started on it soon (the paperback copy is 432 pages.)

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Three years ago: December 2012 Recap

Introducing Reading Together: A Family Exploration Book Club

RTFEBCI have been *so* excited to share this news, because you know I love book clubs. Jessica (Quirky Bookworm) and I are heading up Reading Together: A Family Exploration Book Club.

What’s it all about? It’s a book club focused on children’s books to share with your family, and we specifically selected themes and titles with the intent to expand our usual reading choices.

To try and make it so everyone can participate, no matter the age of your children, we’re having three “levels” of literature to go along with each of the six themes for the year: picture books, elementary-level, and tween/teen-level (roughly). You’re welcome to join in on any or all of the books, matching them to your reading levels or interests. 🙂

As part of the fun, we’ve got six fabulous cohosts who are joining us for the discussions:

So what’s the plan? There will be a blog link-up if you want to write a post about the books, and there will be a discussion in the Reading Together: Family Exploration Book Club Facebook Group. It’s a closed group, but just request to join it and we’ll get you added.

I’ll share additional details later in the year, but if you want to join us and need to find the books for January & February’s Arctic theme. In January we’ll focus on the elementary-level book The Year of Miss AgnesThe Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill, and in February we’ll shift to Julie of the WolvesJulie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George.

There won’t be any official discussion for the picture book, but tomorrow I’ll be posting a list of possible titles to try and find at your library.

We’re really excited about this project! If you have friends who might be interested in participating, please let them know about our plans! Either share this post with them, or tell them about the RTFEBC Facebook Group, or just find us on social media with the #rtfebc hashtag.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

2016 Book Club Selections

The Deliberate Reader 2016 Book Club Picks


The Count of Monte CristoJanuary

The Count of Monte CristoThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas by Alexandre Dumas

Why did I select it? I’ve been wanting to read it for ages. It’s a classic too, and one I feel like I “should” read, plus it’s one that was originally written in a language other than English.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.


The Black CountFebruary

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte CristoThe Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss by Tom Reiss

Why did I select it? I wanted a biography for the year (not just a memoir), and thought this newer title would be interesting as a follow-up to The Count of Monte Cristo, as it looks at Dumas’ father, the apparent inspiration for the character of Edmond Dantes.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

The ChosenMarch

The ChosenThe Chosen by Chaim Potok by Chaim Potok

Why did I select it? It was a selection for my in-person book club before I started attending it, and it’s one that gotten raves from those members who were attending at the time. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to discuss it after hearing how well it worked as a discussion title!

Find the book: Print | Audible | Goodreads

Station ElevenApril

Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel by Emily St. John Mandel

Why did I select it? Fabulous reviews, emphasis of its potential as a discussion springboard, plus a desire to have one science fiction title for the year.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.


Empire of the Summer MoonMay

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American HistoryEmpire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S. C. Gwynne by S. C. Gwynne

Why did I select it? I wanted a really “discussable” history text that wasn’t over 400 pages. This one caught my eye, and I liked how it’s supposed to tell the history of the Comanche people, as well as the story of Quanah Parker. It’s also got excellent ratings on both Amazon and Goodreads.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.


Big Little LiesJune

Big Little LiesBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty by Liane Moriarty

Why did I select it? Wanted something lighter to help balance the year, but one that would still lead to good discussions. Moriarty did an outstanding job at that combo with her book What Alice Forgot, so I’m hoping for the same from this novel. It’s a long one but it should be an easy read.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.


Cuckoo's CallingJuly

The Cuckoo’s CallingThe Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike) by Robert Galbraith a.k.a. J. K. Rowling by Robert Galbraith

Why did I select it? It’s one I’ve been wanting to read for ages, I wanted a mystery for the year, and if nothing else about the book leads to conversation the fact that the author is actually J.K. Rowling writing under a pseudonym ought to do it.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Climbing the Mango TreesAugust

Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in IndiaClimbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India by Madhur Jaffrey by Madhur Jaffrey

Why did I select it? I wanted a memoir, and one with a non-US focus. Plus I am a complete fan of food memoirs, so any excuse to read another one of those is a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.


Burial RitesSeptember

Burial RitesBurial Rites by Hannah Kent by Hannah Kent

Why did I select it? I’ve been eyeing it, and then Audible included it on a list as one of their titles that has near perfect narration ratings. That seemed like an extra bonus to choosing it from my list of possible historical fiction titles. Two additional reasons: Iceland is not my usual sort of setting, and I always love reading fiction that’s been inspired by real events.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.


The Legend of Sleepy HollowOctober

The Legend of Sleepy HollowThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
by Washington Irving

Why did I select it? I wanted something that gave a bit of a nod to Halloween, but I’m too much of a reading wimp to pick a true horror story. And at just over 100 pages, this helps bring down the average page count for the year.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

And a heads-up: there are several audible versions available. I’ve linked to the cheapest one – it’s under $1, but there are others as well.


David and GoliathNovember

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling GiantsDavid and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell by Malcolm Gladwell

Why did I select it? Gladwell’s books are always thought-provoking, and at a busy time of year an easier read seems like a good fit. It also helps balance the year’s reading schedule with a final nonfiction selection.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

The HobbitDecember

The HobbitThe Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien by J. R. R. Tolkien

Why did I select it? I had to have a fantasy choice fo the year, and this is one that once again, I’ve been meaning to read for years. Literally. I’ve read the books in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy, but never this one that kind of starts it all. Or so I understand. It also should be fairly easy to read during a busy season.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first. There are also several versions available, including one that is a dramatization.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Announcing January’s Pick for the Online Book Club

In case you missed Saturday’s post, I’ve started a Facebook group for the book club I’ll be running next year. I’m taking a poll as to how you’d prefer to find out about the titles – all at once, around three months in advance, or one month at a time.

Early results look like the majority wants to know all the books at once, so unless there is a late swing in the voting, I’ll be sharing the titles for the year next month (I’m still finalizing them).

What I can share is the selection for January:

The Count of Monte CristoThe Count of Monte CristoThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas by Alexandre Dumas

The plan is that on the first Monday of the month (in this case, January 4th), I’ll put up a post about the book. Why I picked it, maybe some background info, etc. I’ll also share a list of discussion questions.

That post will officially kick off the discussion over on the Facebook group.

At the end of the month, I’ll post my review of the book, and have a linkup, so if you want to share your thoughts about the book there you’re welcome to link a post, or add a comment.

If it sounds interesting to you, join us in the Facebook group. It’s pretty quiet over there right now, but we’ll really get going with the discussion in January.

Until then, I need to get reading – this book is a long one! I’ve started listening to it and will likely flip between the audio and kindle versions. I went through all of the narrators and liked this version the best. However, if you’re not an audible member with a credit to use, you can get this version for only $1.95 if you first buy the $.99 kindle copy. That’s a great price, and the narrator isn’t bad.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Three years ago: Favorite Bibles

Some Housekeeping and News about Next Year’s Book Club

Some updates:

My planned post on our literary advent plans (obviously) didn’t happen this week. Fingers crossed that it’ll be ready to go on Monday. Life sometimes gets in the way of blogging. 😉

BookedThumbnailI’ve set up a Facebook Group for the book club I’ll be running next year. It’s a brand-new page, so not much going on there yet, but if you are at all interested in joining in with the discussion, please head over and ask to join. It’s a closed group so you can’t see any posts if you’re not a member.

While I plan on most of the actual discussion taking place over there (apologies to those who don’t use Facebook, but this is going to be the easiest way for me to have it be a conversation), there will be a post each month here about it. If you’re not on Facebook, I’d love to still have you join in the book talk in the comments, or through linking up your own post on the book.

Facebook PollAlso related to that upcoming book club: would you rather know all of the book choices right now, or wait and get one a month? I’ll be putting up a poll on the Facebook group, but wanted to check here as well so no matter how you’ll be participating with us you get a vote.

Finally, a side note if you have Facebook-related hesitations. If you have a Facebook account and just don’t like using the main site, if you have a smart phone, you can download a Groups App, and keep up with us that way. I haven’t tried it yet as the app isn’t available for my current phone, but as of next week that’s what I’ll be using (new phone on the way! Woot!) I hear great things about the app, which is available for Apple & Android phones.

Cooking the Book: ANZAC Biscuits

The Road from CoorainThis isn’t my usual Cooking the Book post – instead of being inspired by a cookbook, and trying a recipe from that title, this time I’m inspired by a memoir, and sharing the recipe I made to go along with our book club discussion of that memoir.

The Road from CoorainThe Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway is about Jill Ker Conway’s Australian childhood. We read it for our book club’s annual tea party, so we tried to get tea party appropriate dishes to bring to the meeting.

I immediately thought about ANZAC biscuits, remembering a college roommate’s description of the cookies. Oatmeal, coconut – they sounded perfect to accompany tea.

And they were. While my version isn’t completely Australian (the golden syrup I used is the English version), the recipe is otherwise similar to ones I found on a couple of Australian websites. The final recipe I used comes from The King Arthur Flour Cookie CompanionThe King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion: The Essential Cookie Cookbook (and can be found on their website).

ANZAC biscuits and tea

How I made ANZAC Biscuits

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) salted butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 tablespoons boiling water

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets.

2) Mix together the oats, flour, sugar, salt, and coconut.

3) Combine the butter and syrup in a saucepan and heat until the butter has melted and the mixture is bubbling.

4) In a medium-sized bowl, combine the baking soda and boiling water, then stir in the butter mixture. Make sure there is space in the bowl because it will bubble up quite a bit.

5) Stir the butter mixture into the dry ingredients.

6) Drop the dough, by teaspoonfuls, onto the baking sheets. Leave space between them as they’ll spread.

7) Bake for 13 to 15 minutes; the cookies are supposed to be dark brown and crispy-crunchy, not light brown and chewy.

They’re very easy to make, although watch the baking time – I was making these with all three kids around, and right when I needed to pull them from the oven I couldn’t because baby needs trump overbaking cookies. And so they were overbaked, and not as tasty as they would have been. Sorry book club friends – I really can bake tasty things, I just always seem to run into trouble when I’m making things for our meetings.

See all the Cooking the Book reviews and recipes I’ve shared.

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Book Club Choices for 2015

2015 Book Club Selections

Parnassus on WheelsJanuary
Parnassus On WheelsParnassus On Wheels by Christopher Morley by Christopher Morley

Why did we pick it? Anne recommends it, and it fits the requirements for a January book (short and easy-to-read! There’s not much reading time post holiday craziness before our early-in-the-month meeting).

A Prayer for Owen MeanyFebruary
A Prayer for Owen MeanyA Prayer for Owen Meany: A Novel by John Irving by John Irving

Why did we pick it? It’s a modern classic. And February is a good month to fit in a long book like this one.

The Road from CoorainMarch (tea party)
The Road from CoorainThe Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway by Jill Ker Conway
(I’ll be facilitating this discussion)

Why did we pick it? Because I pushed for it a tiny bit, both because I think it’s a great book, and because I think one memoir or biography a year is good for our reading mix.

Friday the Rabbi Slept LateApril
Friday the Rabbi Slept LateFriday the Rabbi Slept Late by Harry Kemelman by Harry Kemelman

Why did we pick it? To round out the type of fiction selected for the year, and because a previous Kemelman pick was a popular one. That was before my time with the group, so I’m excited to try one by him.

HeidiMay
HeidiHeidi by Johanna Spyri by Johanna Spyri

Why did we pick it? May is bring your little reader month, and this seemed like a good fit for the kids and grownups.

SeabiscuitJune (picnic)
Seabiscuit: An American LegendSeabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand by Laura Hillenbrand
(I’ll be facilitating this discussion)

Why did we pick it? Because I pushed for it a bit – I’ve been holding off on reading this one on the assumption that it would be a good book club choice. I loved Hillenbrand’s book Unbroken, but think this will be a better fit for our group. Plus June is a good time to read a longer book.

PossessionJuly
PossessionPossession by A.S. Byatt by A. S. Byatt

Why did we pick it? It’s on a lot of lists for great books, including The Well-Educated MindThe Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had by Susan Wise Bauer, and it helps provide variety to our selection for the year.

Princess BrideAugust (book & a movie)
The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High AdventureThe Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman by William Goldman

Why did we pick it? It’s been on our list of books to consider for ages, and it finally is getting its chance. Plus the movie is fun too.

Northanger AbbeySeptember (dinner party)
Northanger AbbeyNorthanger Abbey by Jane Austen by Jane Austen

Why did we pick it? We’ve read every other book by Austen, so why not complete them all?

When You Reach MeRules of CivilityThe Great Bridge

October (book flight at retreat)
When You Reach MeWhen You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead by Rebecca Stead
Rules of Civility: A NovelRules of Civility: A Novel by Amor Towles by Amor Towles
The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn BridgeThe Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge by David McCullough by David McCullough

Why did we pick them? We are going for a theme of “New York” for the book flight, and wanted a young adult, fiction, and nonfiction pick. I loved When You Reach Me and encouraged it to be picked. The Great Bridge is another one I read and loved, and also felt like it was a good choice especially since last year’s Eiffel’s Tower was pretty popular. Rules of Civility fit the theme, and gave further variety to the time periods being featured in the flight.

A Good Man is Hard to FindNovember
A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other StoriesA Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor by Flannery O’Connor

Why did we pick it? Variety – we haven’t read any short stories for awhile, and we’ve never read anything by O’Connor.

84 Charing Cross RoadDecember (Christmas party)
84, Charing Cross Road84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff by Helene Hanff
(I’ll be facilitating this discussion.)

Why did we pick it? I pushed for it a bit because I love it. We always try for something light and easy in December, both because reading time is limited for most of us, and because the December meeting and party don’t lend themself to much discussion time. I think this will be a perfect way to end the year, with a fun epistolary title.

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Choosing Books – Another #31BookPics

choosing booksLast weekend was our book club’s retreat. It was fun and relaxing and also very productive – we picked all of the books we’ll read next year!

We had spreadsheet with options, and there was voting and a couple of painful acknowledgments that no, we couldn’t read allthebooks, nor could we pick 500+ page works every month.

It still seems like next year has a subtheme going of “the year of long books” – we’ve got a handful that are definitely upping our average page count.

Check out more #31BookPics at The Quirky Bookworm’s linkup!