Book Club Unbound 2014 Reading List Revealed!

Remember that we were exchanging books for Christmas this year? And that the books we gifted are our choices for this coming year? Check out Holiday Gift Exchange–Book Club Style here.

We decided to spin a bottle to decide who got to open the next book. We also decided that we would read the books in the order that they were opened, and that the person who chose the book would host that month.

Okay, the books! We were all as excited as kids getting new toys. Really. Because books are so much better than toys!

And these are some really great books…

TheCuriosity by Stephen P Kiernan

The Curiosity by Stephen P Kiernan – Dana

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – Koree

A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett – Tonya

Open House by Elizabeth Berg

Open House by Elizabeth Berg – Allegra

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden – Lizette

The Englishman's Boy by Guy Vanderhaeghe

The Englishman’s Boy by Guy Vanderhaeghe  – Rebecca

The Englishman's Boy by Guy Vanderhaeghe

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – Erin

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer – Rochelle

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter – Leah

The Emperor of Paris by CS Richardson

The Emperor of Paris by CS Richardson – Maria

Which one are you most excited to read?

Holiday Gift Exchange–Book Club Style

When we get together next week, we will be bringing a wrapped book to exchange. Not just any book, though!. We are wrapping up our reading selections for the upcoming year, and exchanging them for gifts.

book club gift exchange idea


It’s Leah’s idea, and we all love it! What a fun way to reveal our reading list. I hope someone brings We Are Water by Wally Lamb. She’s Come Undone is one of my favourite books.

We will list our selections as soon as we unwrap them.

We Are Water by Wally Lamb



Leah’s summer reads for 2011, and One Day

I was a little taken aback last week when I spotted my most memorable 2010 summer read in Chapters sporting a new cover – turns out One Day is about the be released as a film starring Anne Hathaway. My stomach dropped, and I was rooted to the spot. It took me months to get over this book, now I am about to be reminded of it constantly. Would I feel obliged to see the movie? Could I sit through 90 minutes, knowing the punch that would be heading in my direction at the climax?

Sometimes a book or story just won’t let go of you. You try and live your life as normal, but you continue to have conversations with the characters, dream of new endings, sketch out conflict resolutions. One Day was like that, I kept rereading the same page, hoping the words would change. But I think that’s what made it such a great book, these characters could be someone you know, went to school with, or live with. How would you deal with their circumstances?

Two days after seeing the book in Chapters, I picked up the latest edition of Chatelaine. This month’s author interview? David Nicholls discussing his book and new screenplay for One Day. I think I need a book club intervention, I need to discuss this book!

So what will be a memorable read for Summer 2011? Librarians at Vancouver’s Public Library recently reviewed their top choices and I plan to try the following:

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoft

Jane by April Linder

Cleopatra, A Life by Stacy Schiff

Truth to Tell by Mavis Cheek

What’s best for summer reading these days? A good old fashioned book, a Kindle, a Kobo, an Ipad, or ?? How do those e-readers handle the sand and a little suntan lotion?

Rediscovering a great author

The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan BradleyI had completely forgotten about looking for the next book in Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce Mysteries until Leah posted an article on fb featuring  The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. I went right to my library’s website and reserved the next two books and, because I’m not known for my patience, I went to the village library (actually a reading room) to look for them there. Success! I came home with the second book, The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag. I just have to finish the book I’m on now (no, I’m not saying what it is, everyone reads “candy” books sometimes!) and then I can dig in. Hopefully the third book, A Red Herring Without Mustard, comes in soon.

The end of the world as we know it

Ever since the world didn’t end last weekend, I have been thinking about lure of the apocalypse.

Here’s how one follower who believed Harold Camping’s assertions that the End of Days would begin on May 21st expressed his disappointment when the Rapture didn’t happen:

‎”I was hoping for it because I think heaven would be a lot better than this earth.”

To me, that sums up all the world’s problems in a nutshell.

It’s so easy to ignore the real and pressing issues that face the world when you believe we’re hurtling toward inescapable doom.  After all, why bother fighting evil or working to change things for the better when God could bring down Judgment Day at any moment?

Even worse, if you grow up believing that everyone on earth is going to be punished for their sins, it becomes hard not to think they deserve it. You become desensitized to the idea of the vast majority of the world suffering. In fact you begin to associate that with something good, dare I say, “rapturous”—your own personal eternal salvation.

… How could such a belief ever lead to any positive change?

Yet even as I’m horrified by the idea of so many people expecting and praying for the world to end in an instant, I can understand the allure and am not entirely immune to it myself. As a teenager, I spent an inordinate amount of time figuring out exactly what I would do if the nukes rained down and destroyed everyone in the world but me.

It’s not that I wanted it to happen. I just felt like I had to be prepared.

From elementary school to university one of my all-time favourite books was Stephen King’s The Stand. I loved post-apocalyptic tales such as The Chrysalids or A Canticle for Leibowitz, or “whoops, here comes the asteroid” stories such as Lucifer’s Hammer.

As I lay in bed at night, I would try to imagine what kind of role I would play in a world where civilization as we knew it had collapsed.

Even though I shuddered to think of the gut-punching sorrow of seeing most of my friends and family die, at the same time, there was a small part of me that bought into the appeal of the blank slate—the opportunity to start afresh in a brave new world and maybe even build a better society than the one that we had lost.

But as I’ve gotten older, apocalypse fiction has lost its appeal. When we had to read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, for example, I couldn’t get past page 100. The sparse elegance of the prose notwithstanding, I just couldn’t handle being in that head space. I could not stop myself from imagining my husband and son in the roles of the main characters—and the thought made me sick to my stomach.

Now that I’m a mom, the idea of adopting a “Hulk, smash!” attitude toward the world’s problems no longer works for me. After all, I’d like my kids to live long and happy lives in a healthy society.  So from now on, instead of dwelling on all the ways we’re killing the planet and killing each other or how we’re at the whim of an indifferent universe (or a judgmental God, take your pick)—I want to spend more time focusing on solutions.

And so I was wondering if any of you have any particularly good books you could recommend that focus on exactly that: solutions.

I want to spend less time filling my head with useless garbage and more time learning about the amazing solutions people are developing right now to improve the human condition and help us live in greater harmony with the world around us.

Because I KNOW these solutions are out there… I just don’t think the spotlight gets focused on them often enough in the current “if it bleeds it leads” media environment.

So if you can recommend any great books that focus on solutions—books on permaculture, urban farming, clean energy, alternative transportation, conflict resolution, whatever you can think of—please share them in the comments.

Because who will create that brave new world if not us?

I’m a Book Club Overachiever

I have started keeping track of what I’ve read. This is partly because I love lists, and partly because I’m getting tired of bringing home the same damn book every couple of months. I prefer to read hardcovers, and I like to pick out a stack from the new releases section of the library. Also, I’m usually in a rush.

I choose books based on their looks. I scan along the spines, looking for a title, image, or familiar author name to stand out. I rarely read the jacket description because I like to be surprised by the plot. If I think I may have read it before, I’ll read the first page or so to see if it’s familiar. This has worked out pretty well for me, but I do keep bringing home books I’ve read before. So, the new system.

In 2010 I read at least 60 books. Many of the books were outstanding and a few were blah. Only two were given a “don’t read any more by this author” rating, and one was given a “YES, this author is great!” That book is Say You’re on of Them by Uwem Akpen. It’s a book of short stories of children’s lives in various situations in Africa.

Alright, a Top 10 Books I’ve read in 2010:
1. Say You’re on of Them by Uwem Akpen
2. The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian
3. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
4. Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously by Adrienne Martini
5. Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant
6. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
7. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
8. Deloume Road by Matthew Hooton
9. The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb
10. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

What Are Your Book-Related New Year’s Resolutions?

book club new years resolutionsIt’s the first day of another new year, and what better time to ponder any book-related resolutions you might have for the year ahead?

So how about it? Are there any reading-related goals you’d like to accomplish in 2011?

Is this the year you tackle War and Peace or read the Bible or the Koran from cover to cover? Or maybe you’ve always wanted to read the entire works of Shakespeare or Dickens but have never found the time to do so.

… Whatever your book-related resolutions, share them with us in the comments!