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

 

 

Books Inspiring Design

When school let out for summer, I had a great big to-do list of home improvement. I also had a stack of really good books. For the first week of vacation, when all of the kids were in camp, I read The Night Circus by Amy Morgenstern and redecorated my laundry room.

It’s interesting to me, the way that my mood is so affected by what I’m reading. I had found this great wallpaper with images of Paris and London on it and needed to choose a paint colour to go with it. When I got to the card in the fan deck filled with magical names, I choose Para’s “Shape Shifter”. How could I not?

The Night Circus-Inspired laundry room
The Night Circus-Inspired laundry room

So I spent the week painting, reading The Night Circus (while the paint was drying), and hanging wallpaper (thanks Dad!) Now I have a laundry room that I actually like to be in, and I even leave the door open so that everyone can see it.

The Night Circus-Inspired laundry room
Even the clothes are from the closet of a Reveur.

The Curiosity

The Curiosity, by Stephen P Kiernan, is an amazing book. It’s right up there with The Time Traveller’s Wife and The Night Circus. You haven’t read The Night Circus yet? Go read it. Now. Then we can talk.

 

In The Curiosity, a dedicated geneticist has her morals challenged by a scientific discovery. She knows that reanimation of tiny creatures is possible, if only for a very short time. But when this science is applied to a human, when does science end and humanity begin?

 

 

Summer Reading

My list of books this summer was very eclectic as a result of a new teaching assignment: English 8, English 9 and Social Studies 10 focusing on Canadian history.  But fortunately this meant discovering some engaging reading material!

Sisters in the Wilderness – The Lives of Susanna Moodie and Catharine Parr Traill by Charlotte Gray proved to be a most interesting books on Canadian history, while read as a fascinating biography on these two sisters.  The day I finished the book, both sisters were mentioned in articles in the Globe & Mail – not bad for a couple of women who died over a hundred years ago.  How Canada was ‘sold’ to potential immigrants makes for a fascinating back story.

The Fault in Our Stars by  John Green This is a book that I plan to use in my English classes.  I think it would be a great book to link with Romeo and Juliet while looking at an inquiry project on “what makes a good relationship?”, or perhaps  “Should you walk away from someone you love to protect them?” In reading this I also discovered John Green on twitter, and he makes some very interesting and informed comments on literature for young adults.

Esther – The Remarkable True Story of Esther Wheelwright by Julie Wheelwright brings a personal focus to Canadian history.  Esther’s descendent, Julie Wheelwright, traces the life of her ancestor who was kidnapped as a young child from Maine, adopted by a native family, released to a French Jesuit and taken to live in Quebec where she became a Catholic and refused to return to her family.  All of this before she was 18 years old!

While I remain hopeful, with only 7 days left before school starts, there are a few books that might remain on my shelf tempting me while I should be planning lessons…

Guys write for Guys Read, a collection edited by Jon Scieszka

If Walls Could Talk – An Intimate History of the Home by Lucy Worsley

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World – The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and The Endurance by Jennifer Armstong.

But the ultimate reward from this summer is finding a book that my teenaged son would read and complete… After several false starts including The Diviners by Libby Bray and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams, it seemed that the densely worded books simply weren’t going to hold his attention long enough to complete the story.  So I adopted a different approach, suggesting a shorter paperback novel that isn’t much heavier than his iphone.  Upon finishing The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne, my son said it was a “powerful story”.  And that was enough to make me happy.

Great Reads for 2013

I’ve read some great books in the past few months, and I want to share them with you.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is about women pilots in WWII. But it’s also about spies, espionage, and has an amazing plot that will keep you guessing.

Barbara Kingsolver’s latest novel, Flight Behavior, is set where butterfly migration is affected by climate change. It’s a wonderful story about a young wife and mother who learns her own value, and takes control of her future.

Ranger or Morelli? Stephanie Plum is still deciding in Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich.

Erin Morgenstern’s debt novel, The Night Circus, is a fantastical love story. If you enjoyed The Time Traveler’s Wife or The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, you’ll like this.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. When I recommend this book to friends, I tell them not to read the cover, to just dive in. And to make sure they have some free time–you won’t want to put this down.

In 2010, I read The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian. An amazing novel in itself, with and ending that will leave you reeling, it also references events from The Great Gatsby as though they are historical.  I had to read Gatsby right after (Well before the movie hype made the book popular.)  ps–We’re planning a bookclub fieldtrip to see The Great Gatsby this weekend!

 

 

Some of my Favourite books I’ve read this year–great summer reads.

My Name is Memory by Anne Brashares is about love through centuries, reincarnation, and one man’s ability to remember past lives while seeking out his love. (Brashares wrote The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants Trilogy, this is a great break from the teen genre.)

Also very good are The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. Lemon Cake is a little like Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveller’s Wife, very well writtten, and I kept checking the author’s name to see if it was written by the same woman.

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?

Why John Irving is my favourite author

Since I listed John Irving as one of my favorite authors, and a Prayer for Owen Meany is our book choice this month, I felt like I should really say something about his writing and my love for it.

It’s pretty simple what makes a good book for me… story,story, story. Oh, and throw in a couple of great characters and I’ll love you forever!

I’ve read all of John Irving’s books and have yet to be let down. The first time I read “A Prayer for Owen Meany”, I was laughing so hard at times that I had to put the book down to wipe my eyes. Hiding the armadillo in the closest was one of my favorite parts!

But he also knows how to build empathy and relatability in his characters. It’s not long into the story when we find out how Johnny’s mother dies, and yet I feel such an instant connection with the narrator that it moves me to tears.

I would find myself thinking about the characters throughout the day and could almost hear the book calling my name to pick it up and find out what Owen and John would do next. A sure sign of a great book!