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?

A fantasy writer to watch for

The Closer by Ari Goelman

Publisher’s Weekly has described his work as “outstanding” and “lovingly constructed,” while The Harvard Crimson has described him as a master of “sci-fi, fairies, and the urban ghetto.”

Ari Goelman is a writer to watch for. With several short fiction pieces published, and a novel in the works, Ari Goelman is a writer to watch for.

I have a turtle

I Have a TurtleWhen I was four I had a favourite book, I Have a Turtle. What I loved most about this book was that I only had to memorize half of the book to be able to “know” it all. I still have it memorized, “I have a turtle. In my mother’s hatbox. Under my bed. In the corner of my room. In my house. Surrounded by trees. with all the people passing by. I have a turtle.” Then it went in reverse order.

While it did nothing to teach me proper sentence stucture, I remember realizing that the words in this book were the same as some of the words in my abc books–I ran to get them–and I could read!

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?

What book would Timothy Taylor take to a desert island?

The Red and the Black by Stendhal

“I really wanted to say The Red and The Black, because if I were trapped on a desert island I might finally get around to reading this one, both volumes.”–Timothy Taylor

Timothy kindly recommended something that we could easily read in a month instead, whew!

The Grand Inquisitor by Feodor Dostoevsky

Recommended by Timothy Taylor, author of Stanley Park and The Blue Light Project.

To learn more about our “Special Guest” Book Recommendations project, please click here.

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.

Books: a Love Story

I just don’t seem to have much time to read right now. It’s frustrating, but it’s true.  I work six day a week and have kids and writing projects and household stuff to do, and reading has become a luxury reserved for those rare moments when I feel like I have “spare” time. Tonight, for instance, it’s 9:45, my kids have just gone to bed and I have a small writing contract to get done, I’m supposed to write five pages of my novel, and it’s my turn to write a blog post. In reality, I figure I have about 15 minutes left before I fall asleep at my desk.  Maybe ten…

But despite the fact that I don’t have much time to read them, books are strewn everywhere in my house. My favourites are usually in my bedroom, either in a precariously leaning stack beside my bed or actually IN my bed, buried somewhere under the covers.

My favourite books have always been well-loved. My definition of this is that I’m not exactly careful about keeping them pristine. They become bent and dog-eared, I open them and lay them flat, things get piled on top of them, tea gets spilled on them, they get dropped in baths.

If I feel especially attached to a book I don’t let it out of my sight until it’s been read. It bangs around in my purse by day, rattling around with the mints and lip gloss and pens. At night it’s pressed under my pillow while I sleep, or sometimes I fall asleep with it still in my hand.

If you see a book at my house that looks battered and worn, creased, and stained with red wine, it’s not  a lack of respect for the author or the book. Quite the opposite. It’s the books on my shelf that look like they’ve never been cracked open that, well…probably haven’t.

Books that are on my bedside table right now:

Small Mechanics by Lorna Crozier

The Blue Light Project by Timothy Taylor

Light Lifting by Alexander MacLeod

Firestarter by Stephen King

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell ( I heart David Mitchell. Have I mentioned that before?)

Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton (This one isn’t mine…)

Explaining steampunk to a cowboy

Last weekend I found myself explaining steampunk to my 73-year old in-laws. Oh, where to start.

The Diamond Age: Or, A young Lady's Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson
The Diamond Age: Or, A young Lady's Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson

We were all at a family reunion in ranch country, staying in an old hotel on a working ranch. The hotel has a saloon. Our first evening there, a man was sitting in the saloon, dressed up like he was posing for an old-time photo. I’m talking round glasses, bowler hat, vest, jacket, tie, and a handlebar moustache! The next afternoon we came across some cowboys on their day off, dressed in old-time garb. I think it was the same man with the handlebar moustache (could there really be more than one?) who was wearing a checked shirt with leather gauntlets, a leather vest, bandanna, and hat.

My father-in-law was a cowboy for 20 years, but he didn’t get the fashion these guys were sporting on their time off. I suggested that maybe they were Steampunks who just didn’t know where to hang out. Blank looks, of course. I explained that in science fiction, the pre-Victorian era is considered to be the height of civilization, and if you pair the fashion and conventions with futuristic technology, you get Steampunk. Thanks to Maria, I read The Diamond Age: Or, A young Lady’s Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson, making this conversation possible.

He steered the conversation to cowboys who will work for lower wages so that they can ride horses while they work.