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.

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

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.

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

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.

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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.

[Read more…]