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.

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.

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!

The Secret Keeper

The Secret KeeperThe Secret Keeper: A NovelThe Secret Keeper: A Novel by Kate Morton by Kate Morton

If you’ve read Morton’s books before, you’ll find this fits her pattern. The narrative alternates between contemporary and historical events. There’s a bit of a mystery, and maybe a bit of romance in at least one of the time periods. The main character is appealing, and the descriptions are detailed and even magical at times.

If that sounds like a complaint, it’s not. I’ve enjoyed all of Morton’s books, and don’t mind that she has found a formula that works for her and sticks with it. She can weave a captivating tale and I like trying to guess how all of the pieces fit together.

While it took me ages to finish this book, that’s not because I didn’t enjoy it – I did! It just wasn’t fitting in with the reading mood I was in, and I wouldn’t have picked it when I did except for it being March’s book club pick. It does make a wonderful book club choice – plenty to discuss in a compelling narrative.

Morton’s writing has improved over each of the books I’ve read by her – the pacing is better, and although I still think the overall word count is a bit padded, it’s smooth and easy to read.

Publisher’s Description:
The new novel from the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Distant Hours is a spellbinding mix of mystery, thievery, murder, and enduring love.

During a party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the road and sees her mother speak to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy.

Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to the family farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by questions she has not thought about for decades. From pre-WWII England through the Blitz, to the fifties and beyond, discover the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined.

The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams, the lengths people go to fulfill them, and the consequences they can have. It is a story of lovers, friends, dreamers, and schemers told—in Morton’s signature style—against a backdrop of events that changed the world.

Book Details

Title: The Secret Keeper: A NovelThe Secret Keeper: A Novel by Kate Morton
Author: Kate Morton
Category: Fiction
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

If you’re interested in Morton, I’ve also reviewed her books The Distant Hours and The Forgotten Garden

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

Book Review: The Homemade Pantry

Homemade PantryThe Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start MakingThe Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making by Alana Chernila by Alana Chernila.

Last week I wrote about Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, and lamented that the book wasn’t what I wanted it to be. When I read it, I didn’t realize that I wanted it to be The Homemade Pantry, which is a fabulous guide to taking foods that you’d normally buy, and making them at home.

If you already make most of your own food and rarely buy anything processed, the book may not give you lots of new information. I found the level of cooking and baking expertise fit well for my skills and interest level, as did most of the included recipes. I do a lot of cooking and baking, and I’m no kitchen novice, but I do still purchase many things that I could make at home.

One of my favorite aspects of the book is the encouraging tone. It all seems quite manageable, and she has me thinking seriously about tackling some new projects. There are stories to accompany what seemed like every recipe, and the pictures are lovely and plentiful.

[Read more…]

Book Review: The Old Curiosity Shop

Old Curiosity ShopThe Old Curiosity ShopThe Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens by Charles Dickens

My book club’s pick for January, and I only finished reading the book in May. Any urgency I felt to finish the book vanished when I knew I’d never manage before the meetup, and I read a summary of the plot events to see what happened with the story. I was still determined to finish the book, but found it was hard to get myself motivated to actually do the reading.

I’m amazed when I consider the book as it was published – a serial, and Dickens’ didn’t write the entire book in advance and then simply publish it a couple of chapters at a time; instead he published it almost as he wrote it, and so events that take place later in the story have to work with events that have already been written. My mind boggles at the plotting difficulties such a publishing schedule causes. [Read more…]

Book Review: The Annotated Secret Garden

Annotated Secret GardenThe Annotated Secret GardenThe Annotated Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

This was a re-read for book club, for our annual children’s literature selection. Of course I’ll love the book – I included it as one of my favorite children’s literature classics.

And I liked it, but I didn’t love it as much as I remembered. There were an awful lot of gushings over the wonders of nature and Magic and all the rest that seemed so repetitive.

The book is a classic, and there are lots of editions available. I own a copy of it, but also borrowed this edition from the library, and am so glad I did. The illustrations and images are lovely, and add quite a bit to the book. The brief author biography included was also very interesting. The annotations were inconsistent – the ones that were included were generally good, although there were a number of terms or references in the text that surprised me to not find annotated, as something more obvious or commonly known was annotated elsewhere. Some of this was also because I’d so recently read The Annotated Sense and SensibilityThe Annotated Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, and those annotations were so well done, that this book’s annotations suffered in comparison.

The summary version: Find this book for the illustrations, not the annotations. And be prepared to skim some of the passages unless you want to read about nature! and Magic! and the healing properties of both! But overall, I wonder if you have to first read this as a child to love it, because rereading it as an adult? It’s lost some of it’s luster. Sadness.

[Read more…]

Book Review: Bread and Wine

Bread and WineBread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with RecipesBread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist

I loved this book.

I had no real expectations going in to it – I recognized Niequist’s name as having authored some other books, but hadn’t read anything by her. Maybe that was a good thing, because it let me be completely blown away by discovering an author I love.

Cookbook/memoir mish-mash books are some of my favorites: A Homemade Life, My Berlin KitchenMy Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (with recipes) by Luisa Weiss, Ruth Reichel’s memoirs, I love them. Niequist’s is another glorious celebration of the power of food and memory.

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Book Review: Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express: A Hercule Poirot MysteryMurder on the Orient ExpressMurder on the Orient Express: A Hercule Poirot Mystery by Agatha Christie

Another book club pick, and my very first Christie. Considering my love for mysteries, I’m not entirely sure why I’ve never read any of her books before.*

While it took me a few pages to get into the story, once I did I was hooked. I liked Poirot’s character, and I liked the methodical approach to his investigation.

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Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyBook Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

April’s pick for my book club, so I was clearly impatient. I originally read the book in 2009 and was eager to reread it and see if I still liked it as much as I had back then.

I may have even loved it more, as this time around I was able to pace myself a bit better and wasn’t wondering how certain events would resolve.
[Read more…]

Book Review: Sense and Sensibility

Sense and SensibilitySense and SensibilityBook Review: The Annotated Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

I’ve already confessed that Sense and Sensibility was my first time reading Austen, and that it had me all but kicking myself for waiting so long to read her. So, this review won’t contain any big surprises – I loved the book! [Read more…]