Discussible Choices: What Are You Reading? April 2013

Congratulations to Betty and the The Dover Road Book Club for winning the random drawings for this month’s Discussible Book Choice!

“Waiting for Snow in Havana by Carlos Eire – This is a biography of a boy who was born in Cuba and lived during the Castro take over. It is at times funny and heartbreaking as he makes his way to the USA. Mr. Eire lived in Charlottesville, and taught for years at UVa.”

Betty, The Dover Road Book Club, Charlottesville, VA

We enjoy hearing from book club members who share with everyone the book choices that made for lively discussions.. Please let us know what about the book contributed to your great discussion – you may win a book-related prize for every member of your reading group!

More Discussible Book Choices

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was the source of a great group discussion ranging from research, patient rights, civil rights, personal stories, etc. Everyone in the group enjoyed the book. It was well-written and wonderfully researched. If your group hasn't read it, I recommend you do so.”

Marcia, Good Reads, Ackley, IA

“We loved Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, because we learned something new about French history and the impacts felt today.”

Kathleen, B & B Club, Milwaukee, WI

“Our favorite read so far this year was Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James. On a scale of 1 - 5 (5 being the highest), the book received from 2 - 20+++ with most of the members giving it well above the usual rating. The discussion was lively and "hot" to say the least. Everybody's walking around looking for their own Christian Grey, has read all three of the books and can't wait for the 4th. Several non-members were invited, and before the night was over we had three new members!”

Ann, Final Word Literary Guild - Rocky Mount Chapter, Princeville, NC

“We all liked Pretty Birds by Scott Simon, a most unusual occurrence; there are always one or two who don't like a read we've chosen. There is so much in the book to talk about. So many events constantly taking place in a war-torn country that we had no knowledge of. A real learning experience.”

Suzanne, SaddleBrooke's Fourth Tuesday Book Club, Tucson, AZ

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. Excellent discussion book on WWII and Soviet work camps that took Lithuanians out of their homes in 1941. This novel looks at the horror through a 15 year old girl's observations and her will to survive. It is a compelling read, and our book club loved it! We always like to learn new facts from this era and had not heard of the Lithuanian's people's plight at the hands of Stalin's Soviet police.”

Kathleen, B & B Club, Milwaukee, WI

“Our March 2013 read was The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent. This isn't our first historical fiction read, but this did generate quite a bit of discussion due to the dark nature of the book.”

Vivian, CTC Mall Book Group, Charleston, WV

“This month we read The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. An historical novel set in the early 1800's in SW Australia, the themes of child loss, trust/betrayal, selfish love and the impact of keeping secrets are timeless topics for great discussion.”

Margery, Tuesdays at 7, Kissimmee, FL

Dearie, The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz gave us a lot to talk about. Julia was a woman ‘ahead of her time’ who had multiple careers...from spy to TV's first celebrity cook.”

Margery, Tuesdays at 7, Kissimmee, FL

“Favorite books in 2012 - 1. The Witness by Nora Roberts 2. An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff 3. Defending Jacob by William Landay 4. Dreams of Joy by Lisa See”

Arlene, Sophisticated Ladies Bookclub, Dumfries, VA

“Great discussible book that has characters you can like and admire. We loved discussing the strength in the female protagonist, Enza. All LOVED the writing from the very first sentence!”

Janet, JTLO Book Club, Fort Lauderdale, FL

“We enjoyed reading the book Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy. Even though there were A LOT of characters, we enjoyed the theme of a community being a family. Everyone could relate to at least one character in the book. A great read!”

Amy, Senior Adult Afternoon Book Discussion, Proctorville, OH

“One of our favorite discussions centered around The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy. It was such an interesting read, and we loved the setting. We had a lively discussion, and our discussion leader made some snacks as described in the novel and also provided some chocolate! All in all a mighty fine book club meeting!”

Miriam, Drop Everything and Read This, Madisonville, LA

“We liked The Best of Times by Penny Vincenzi, because we like "ripples" – what happens if you're not there or here – interesting concept. We wished the author had spent more time on some characters and less on others, but overall, very good.”

Libby, The Minoa Book Club, Minoa, NY

“We loved Night Road by Kristin Hannah. We all have teenagers, and the story was very powerful. After telling my children about it at the dinner table, my kids thought the book should be High School required reading.”

Dani, Glen Rock Readers, Glen Rock, NY

Last Train to Paradise by Les Standiford is our most discussible book for this far in 2012. It was fascinating, well-written and close-to-home for all of us. The author really did a great job of bringing the challenges, weather, and workers to life in the extraordinary book.”

Cheryl, Palm Beaches Book CLub, West Palm Beach, FL

“A wonderful book for book club discussion is Elizabeth Berg's The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted. It's a book of short stories, all about woman and their relationship to their friends, to their husbands and families, and to themselves. Each story is a discussion in itself, and there's a great guide at the back of the book.”

Barbara, Dames with Wine and Proses, Plano, TX

Language of Flowers

Kathleen, B & B Club, Milwaukee, WI

“We read at least one short story collection a year.  Among those that we've enjoyed the most are: The Shell Collector by Anthony Doerr; Burning Bright by Ron Rash; Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout; The Hill Road by Patrick O'Keeffe; Runaway by Alice Munro; The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri; Ship Fever, and Servants of the Map by Andrea Barrett; and A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (a sort of hybrid of short stories posing as a novel?).  Many groups are reluctant to take on short stories because they prefer the experience of longer immersion in a novel, but we've found there to be great rewards in reading short stories, which are more like reading poetry in their immediacy and impact.  Most story collections have a common theme throughout that is expressed differently or in different styles in the individual stories, and this can sometimes help with discussion and give the stories great cumulative power. ”

Lynn, Sandy's Couples, Seattle, WA

“We recently read Night Road  by Kristen Hannah.  For once everyone in the group finished it and could really relate to the book.  We had a great discussion regarding the characters, and what we would have done in the situation.”

Lori, The Book Club Divas, Coral Springs, FL

“We meet once a month. We have more than 25 members and a very good turnout.  This month we are doing The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.”

Connie, The Poe Group, Mt Pleasant, SC

“We just finished reading and discussing Bound by Sally Gunning.  It was one of the best books we've come across in quite awhile.  We were also graced by a telephone chat with the author.  She took us through Alices journey from child to indentured servant and on.  It was a beautiful book and Ms. Gunning was terrific with our group, so full of insight and humor!!!  Can't wait for her next book!”

Kathy, Seekonk Book Discussion Group, Seekonk, MA

“A few of our recent, most enjoyable discussions were thanks to: (1) The Irresistible Henry House by Lisa Grunwald. Did one feel sorry for, irritated by, or attracted to Henry? (2) The Wives of Henry Oades by Joanna Moran. What would YOU do if you were in that situation? How would the story be the same/different a century later? (3) The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. How does one reconcile ‘that's just how things were done in those days.’ Egad!”

Amy, Come Togethers, East Amherst, NY

“One book we loved for a March read is Yeats is Dead. It's a mystery written by 15 Irish writers, such as Roddy Doyle and Frank McCourt, where they each take chapter and continue the story. It's an interesting premise and highlights some terrific Irish writers!”

Mo, Booktini, Raynham, MA

Burning Bright, by Ron Rash was an excellent collection of short stories set in Appalachia between the Civil War and the present.  We found plenty to discuss in recurring themes that resonated beyond the specific geographic setting.”

Lynne, Couples, Seattle, WA

“We are reading Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Malliard, it is set almost entirely in Ireland.”

Diane, 7 at 7, Cedar Rapids, IA  

“We read Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy.  It was a pure delight and very Irish!”

Cecelia, Pearl Chapter One Book Club, Pearl, MS  

“We are reading Are You Somebody? by Nuala O'Faolain this month.”

Mari, SF Books, Food & Wine, San Francisco, CA

“As we were discussing Mudbound, we came to look upon it as a predecessor to The Help.  It was set in the time period immediately following WWII, and focused on the shock with its consequences of black soldiers returning from WWII where they were treated as people and then coming back to the Mississippi Delta where they were treated less well than a dog. The focus on the obedient southern wife who accepted all sorts of hardship until she had to stand up for herself.  The characters who were noble amidst their misdeeds and acknowledging that who are we to judge anyone else.  Truly a page turner!”

Pesha, The Boca Country Club Book Club, Boca Raton, FL

“We began 2012 with The Shack. A couple of the members had never heard of it before, and when one member suggested it, they were intrigued. Although some of us had already read it, we had not discussed it and didn't mind re-reading it to do so. The idea of God as an African-American woman rose somewhat feelings of contempt from our more traditional members. At the same time, one member was so moved by the warmth she got from Papa that she felt her faith strengthen at a time she was getting to a point very much like Mack's. The discussion has been so lively that we've had to set a "special" meeting to continue.”

Rome, The Hoopster Moms et al, Raynham, MA

“Our book club won Night Road by Kristin Hannah from you. We found this book had so much to discuss. The book touched each of in so many ways. The book could have come out of the headlines of today. A lot of us said that we cried by the tragedy of what happened with these three young people and how it affected them. A book is well worth the read. Kristin Hannah knows how to pull you into her story and have it touch you some way. Thank you for the pleasure of reading this book, and we all want to thank you for choosing us to read the book.”

Diane, The Camden Library Book Club, Kingsland, GA

“Our reading group started in November 2011. We kicked off our first meeting by reading Incendiary written by Chris Cleave. This book was electric! The morals and choices of the characters in the story challenged many of those held by group members. Our discussion lasted for nearly two hours and was a "back and forth" style.  We learned a lot about group members. This book set a precedent! None of our other books have stood up to the amount of banter and discussion this book created. This is a must read!”

Sarah, The Village Book Club, Wauseon, OH

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  We had a very lively discussion around issues of liberal guilt, inequality, race and the science of cancer and cell replication.  It was very lively!  One of our best in years.”

Chris, Sycamore Moms et al Reading group, Claremont, CA

“We had a really great discussion was on The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.”

Carlee, Book Club, Bethesda, MD

“Our latest read was The Paris Wife.  Lively, controversial discussion that engendered further reading and delving into the history of the participants in this book.”

Jeri, The YaYas, Jacksonville, FL

“Our discussion on January 6 was The Shallows. What the Internet is doing to our Brain?  The first person to share stated she just read very little and couldn't even give it a rank.  The others in the group of 13 couldn't wait to talk.  And they kept going for 2 1/2 hours.  It was a non-stop discussion.  Others ranked it from 7.5-10.  We generally read historic fiction, biographies, etc.  This one was a great book for discussion.”

Carole, The Heritage Wake Forest Book Club, Wake Forest, FL

“We loved The Book Thief.”

Laura, The Boston Free Library Book Club, Boston, NY

Moloka'i by Alan Brennert was a terrific read and even greater discussible book.  We discussed for over an hour and then kept coming back to it as we visited!”

Janet, JTLO Book Club, Fort Lauderdale, FL

“We read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. The discussion about prisoner of war camps, human cruelty and survival were among the topics we discussed. Great book. Long, but riveting and well researched.”

Mary Kay, The Day Book Club, Cuyahoga Falls, OH

“Our book club was reading Saturday Wife, by Naomi Ragan. It was a very hot topic. There was so much to talk about. We also had a few women that were insulted, even though it was a satire. Our book club won Night Road by Kristin Hannah from you. We found this book had so much to discuss. The book touched each of in so many ways. The book could have come out of the headlines of today. A lot of us said that we cried by the tragedy of what happened with these three young people and how it affected them. A book well worth the read. Kristin Hannah knows how to pull you into her story and have it touch you some way. Thank you for the pleasure of reading this book, and we all want to thank you for choosing us to read the book.”

Diane, The Camden Library Book Club, Kingsland, GA

“In February we read John Irving's Last Night in Twisted River.  Much grumbling was heard, because it was 500+ pages and difficult to get into.  It proved not as bad as anticipated.  Knowledge about the log industry was enlightening, but the menu choices made us all hungry.  Insightful in relationships, secrets and a semi-autobiographical book made for a 6 on our rating scale out of 10 (10 being the best read).”

Gretchen, Northpark Book Club, Covington, LA

“Kristen Hannah, Jodi Picole, J.D Robb Series, Lisa Scottoline”

Lisa, Paperback Outlet, Warren, MI

“All of our group enjoyed Olive Kitteridge, and usually a book that everyone likes does not make for good discussion.  This book went against that trend, mostly I think because Olive was such a strong personality and each person related to her differently.  For some who found her unlikable, they could relate her to someone they knew and looked for excuses for her behavior.  Others thought she was spirited and wished they had her kind of spark, even though misdirected at times.  The setting was interesting to most, as our members generally live in a large urban area.  I live in more of a small town, so could explain how a town like Olive's affects behavior and opinions of the residents.  Our discussion was wide ranging and interesting, but because most readers enjoyed the book, it was not polarizing or acrimonious.”

Lynn, Wine, Women & Books, Clarkston, MI

“Our book club entertained a very insightful and lively discussion of The Postmistress by Susan Blake.  With several members having ties and/or memories of The Blitz, it was good to have their input.  It is a story that involves many layers - love, death, lies and questions of how we as humans can label stigmas, even to this day.  I would strongly recommend this novel to book clubs who can appreciate a well-written story that entertains history with good writing.”

Bree, Taylor Tales, Butte, MT

“We just finished a lively discussion about The Women by T.C. Boyle.  Boyle does a terrific job of taking us into Frank Lloyd Wright's world. Anyone who enjoyed Loving Frank will appreciate learning about Frank's other women. Miriam's story is can't-put-down interesting! Boyle is at the top of his form. Lots to discuss.”

Linda, Thursday Ladies Book Club, Moorpark, CA

The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. Most of the group disliked the book, but it generated a lively discussion on the current perception of typical Australian cultural values which certainly raised some heckles between various members.”

Jeniwren, Ann's Bookgroup, Greigs Flat, New South Wales, Australia

Homer and Langley by E.L. Doctorow. We had never heard of these brothers.  They led an interesting life. Doctorow used the real events to create a portrait of our society during the last century. The topics of hoarding, living off the grid and brotherly love were all discussed. Our group is made up of men and women, and this novel was a hit with all of us.”

Sandra, The Gammy Birds, Oak Park, IL

“We have enjoyed discussing a variety of mysteries from different eras, from A.C. Doyle to Robert Crais. Recently, we discussed The Dante Club, by Matthew Pearl. Although there were some literary and historical references that the members found challenging to keep track of, our discussion was enjoyable, because I think there was a lot of elements that could be related to the modern reader's experience. Probably the group's favorite has been Robert Crais's book The Watchman. We all agree that discussing books with others adds a great dimension to reading.”

Catherine, Book Club for Adults, Chillicothe, IL

“We recently read Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland.  We enjoyed discussing the time period (turn of the 20th century) and women's roles in the workplace.  This story is based on a historical figure, Clara, who worked in the Tiffany Studios and was instrumental in the design of the first Tiffany style lamps for which Tiffany is known.  The book richly details the work necessary to create such beautiful art.”

Diana, Tadlock Plantation Book Club, Raleigh, NC

“Our book club read Pictures at an Exhibition and held a speakerphone discussion with the author, Sara Houghteling. Our favorite and most enjoyable discussion topics were our discovery of the author's Jewish background and its influence on the work (especially since it wasn't clear from the book and her last name). We also enjoyed discussing the nature and motivations of the book's characters, especially since there was some mystery surrounding it.”

Rhonda, Stamford Chapter of Hadassah Book Club, Stamford, CT

“One of our most enjoyable and different discussions was on Boomsday. This book was very different from the typical book club selection. We were able to discuss ageism, father-daughter relations, political promises, and more. Very lively discussion!”

Barbara, Dames with Wine and Proses, Plano, TX

“A book our group read that created an enjoyable discussion was Room by Emma Donaghue. The story of 5-year-old Jack and his mom who were forced to live their lives in a shed that was the "room". One of our members found the subject matter "icky" and said she just hated the book.  Everyone seemed to have a comment in defense of the book to convince her she might be wrong. She did sway, but we were unable to make her bend. I think we got more insight and discussion out of this book than we have in a long time.  We found we don't all have to agree to enjoy a book.”

Dee, French River Readers, Duluth, MN

“Our group recently did the play Hasty Heart by John Patrick. The leader for the evening did a very unique thing. She asked for volunteers to read parts and then had parts read which dealt with the questions she wanted to discuss. As an example: we discussed the ethics of the doctor in the play when he decided not to tell his patient that he had only a month or so to live. All the sections of the play that dealt with that aspect were then read, and we discussed the question. The leader went through an incredible amount of work in setting it up, but what a wonderful way to discuss a play.”

Jane, Excelsior Book Club, Excelsior, MN

“Best discussion lately: Edna Ferber's So Big.”

Susannah, Books Sandwiched In, Norwalk, CT

“My reading group enjoyed this book so much. I personally loved the book and thought the story was believable and the characters seemed real, however not all of us agreed. It was great to hear different opinions as to the author’s perception.  Great discussion! And we cannot wait to see the movie together too!”

Jessica, The Readers, Thornton, CO

Sarah's Key. Shanghai Girls. Good stories, but we also learned things we had not known.”

Barbara, All Faiths Book Club, Monroe, GA

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot proved to be an unforgettable discussion. Why? We learned that one of our members had been a student nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore one year after Henrietta passed away. Her personal insights and memories made the book come alive. Each member provided heartfelt reactions to this true and heart wrenching story.”

Sara Jane, The East Williston Library Book Discussion Group at North Bellmore, East Williston, NY

“Our book club just read Left Neglected by Lisa Genova, author of Still Alice.  Everyone enjoyed the book despite some of the group thinking that they would not before they read it.  Those readers stated that based upon the subject matter that they thought the book would be depressing or possibly too "clinical" to enjoy but they were pleasantly surprised.  The book was interesting and actually uplifting instead of depressing.  None of the group had ever heard of the condition "Left Neglect" before reading this.  It made for a very interesting discussion as all of the characters were flawed as are we all in real life.”

Laura, Blackey Library Book Club, Jeremiah, KY

“Recently we had a wonderful discussion on Alice LaPlante's new book, Turn of Mind.  There were elements that everyone could relate to personally, which always serves to draw out good conversation.  In addition, the story was complex, with an interesting narrative structure, and that gave us plenty to talk about.”

Catherine, Book Club for Adults, Chillicothe, IL

“This month we are reading Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris. Next month, Hush by Eishes Chayil. We are looking for a good book for December!”

Susan, The Friday Morning Bookclub, Owings Mills, MD

Cutting for Stone was fabulous!!  We all loved the book.  The twists and turns of the story, and the wonderful writing had us all enchanted.”

Barbara, Sturdy Shoes Book Group, Memphis, TN

“We are just getting started. There are six in our group so far. Our first and only book to read so far was The Shack. We would love to read Christian-based books.”

Cheryl, Sisters and Friends, Mounds, OK

“Wally Lamb's The Hour I First Believed led to a great discussion in our group. The Columbine shooting, post-traumatic stress, the history of women's prisons, and several family secrets are just a few of the plot elements to discuss. In addition, member's different reactions to Lamb's exuberant writing style was a discussion all by itself.”

Mary, The Lit Lovers, New Brighton, MN

“We read A Daughter's Walk last month, and it was an interesting look at early feminism and the history of the time.”

Lori, Book Club, Wayland, MA

“We just read Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff and had amazing discussion about it. Our summary about it can be found on our website,”

Thien-Kim, From Left to Write, Silver Spring, MD

The Cat, the Quilt and the Corpse by Leann Sweeney.  We wanted a light book instead of the usual books.  Was a fun,quick read.”

Gail, Monday Night Readers, Anoka, MN

Water for Elephants provides interesting reading about different time periods in the same man's life. In The Mountain Between Us, we liked the different love stories it contained and that it was a clean read with a surprize ending. Composing Amelia is a good realistic book about how mental illness affects a family. And The Devotion of Suspect X is a great mystery from a completely different perspective. Japenese detective. Very good, reminds me of Columbo.”

Kathleen, Book Club, Las Vegas, NV

Whispering Season by Ivan Doig”

Phyllis, Las Animas Readers, Las Animas, NV

“I love Reading Group Choices.  I look forward each month for your on line reviews and preview of new and old books.  Thank you for all you do.”

Dottie, Baldwin Book Club, Pittsburgh, PA

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Susan, Reading Optional Book Club, Cary, NC