- What book are you currently reading? - "The Fugitive" by Pittacus Lore (Part of the Lorien Legacies series)
- Most memorable book from childhood? - "The Face on the Milk Carton" by Caroline B. Clooney
- What are you favorite genres to read? - Fiction of all types (In particular, I love dystopian YA, mysteries, and historical fiction.)
- How do you read (i.e. library vs. purchase, electronic vs. physical book, audio)? - I purchase a lot of books from used book sales, buy new books for things I've been waiting on, and Kindle/Nook books when there's a good daily or monthly deal.
- Where is your favorite place to read? - On the move (traveling, commuting) or waiting because it makes me feel productive and makes boring time go faster.
- What book character would you most like to have dinner with? - Hans Hubermann from "The Book Thief"
- What do you read for guilty pleasure? - YA novels that are a little too much Y and not enough A. Or these series of Christian romance mystery novels I accidentally got into.
- Favorite thing to drink while reading? - Depends on the book. Hot beverages are great for mysteries, wine is great for a guilty pleasure.
- Favorite author? - That's too hard to pick. I guess the only author I've loved everything I've read (and read more than one or two books) is JK Rowling, but there are probably others and I just don't remember they're all the same author.
- Favorite book club read? - "Mornings in Jenin" (by Susan Abulhawa) or "The Gift of Rain" (by Tan Twan Eng). Bonus points for "The Gift of Rain " surprising me by how much I liked it and for having a map.
Rina has been with the Lit Chicks for about four years now, and during that time I have learned the following about her: 1) She is not ambivalent about books - she either really likes them (they get 5 stars) or she really doesn't (they get 1 star) and 2) Books with maps are the BEST. Here are 10 other things to know about Rina and books.
I've been in a handful of book clubs, and I think one thing that is safe to say is that every club has their own method to picking books. Seriously, I have never seen two clubs pick their books in the same way. Some clubs pick a years worth of books at once, others do it just a month in advance, some book clubs specify what types of books you can pick,etc. We recently went through our latest round of book selection so I thought that I would show you how we do things in the Lit Chicks.
A few years ago we were one of those clubs that picked books a year ahead in advance. We assigned everyone a month and that person got to pick whatever book they wanted. Then we would try to remember the order and the books for rest of the year. I'll confess, there were sometimes we forgot. Other times we would end up reading too many similar books all in a row. It wasn't a bad system, but after awhile we decided to shake things up.
Our first major change was that we decided to go on a quarterly system. Every three months we go ahead and pick new books. This gives us more leeway to consider what we have just previously read. The other advantage of the quarterly system is that it allows us to incorporate new members' choices earlier into our rotation. We like to give new members about three months to get used to the club, then we try to incorporate them into the next round of book selections.
The other major change we made is that we democratized the process. Before, we just allowed a person to pick a title and that was it. Technically, we still let people pick what titles they want to read in their month, we just ask them to pick 3 or 4. Then they present those titles to the club and the club votes on which of those titles they want to read most. In a way it gives the whole club ownership of the book selection. If we pick a fantastic book, we're geniuses, if we didn't - then its no one person's fault since a majority picked it. The other great thing about voting is that it introduces us to more books. Each of these books we selected above were competing against 2 or 3 other books - meaning we learned of 9 - 12 book titles that we may not have known before.
So to run through an example, we just picked our books for February, March, and April. From our records, we knew that it was about time that Lorene and Lauren host again. We also decided that Amy, one of our newest members, would be the third person to host. Lorene opted to host for February so she nominated 4 books:
Altogether, 9 of our current 11 members voted for February. Sometimes if people know they can't make it for a month they opt not to participate in the vote.
In this case we ended up with a tie for "My Family and Other Animals" and "How to Be A Woman", so we ended up letting Lorene pick between those 2. The other two races were much more definitive.
This system isn't perfect, but we found that it has worked well for us over the past few years. If you're in a book club, how do you pick your books?
Sometimes our January books are the hardest to get through. Because we meet on the first Wednesday of every month, we are often reading the book the month before. This means that our January book often has to compete with the chaos that goes on at the end of the year (closeouts at work, holiday parties, holiday trips, etc.) This can be especially hard when you have a really heavy read at the end of the year. Fortunately this year our January book was "Hannah's Dream" by Diane Hammond.
As you can tell from the cover, "Hannah's Dream" is all about elephants - more specifically, one elephant named Hannah. For over 40 years, Hannah has been the only elephant at the Max L. Biedelman Zoo. Her only constant companion is her zoo-keeper Sam, who won't retire until he knows that someone will be there to look after Hannah when he's gone. Meanwhile, a new director of the zoo is making Hannah's the new focus of the zoo marketing campaign. Will the zoo do what is right for Hannah, or will it do what it can to hold on to its start attraction?
"Hannah's Dream" was one of the lighter books we've read this year. While there were some serious moments in the book, something about remained very hopeful. Hannah is a very sweet and lovely animal who does have a sparkling personality, and the Max L. Biedelman zoo is filled with a very quirky selection of staff and visitors. It's not really hard to guess what is going to happen, but you can tell that there is a lot of fun to be had getting there. As someone who spent the month of December glued to the Hallmark Channel and its Christmas movies, I mentioned that it would be a perfect candidate for adaptation for one of its movies (or depending on the edit, it could be a perfect choice for Lifetime).
It's a simple tale, it doesn't share that complicated grit that was present in "Water for Elephants". Perfect for a light read. I listened to the audiobook version on my drive to see my family and I have to admit that the narrator did a fantastic job of bringing the story to life, especially distinguishing all the different characters (of which there were many).
People in the club mostly gave it 3-4 stars out of 5. One thing we we were all surprised about was the fact that this was the first in a series and that the next book was focusing on a killer whale ("Friday's Harbor"). If you like happy stories about animals and looking for a light read, you are really going to like "Hannah's Dream".
In our last "Get to Know Us" post, I mentioned that Amy was introduced to us through Jeanette, so I thought it would be a good idea for us to get to know her next. Jeanette has been with us for two years and is known for her mad cake baking skills. She had to take a brief hiatus in order to take a class, but we are so glad she (and her cake) is coming back this month.
Today's Throwback Thursday Book is "The Light Between Oceans" by M.L. Stedman. If you visited our site anytime in December, you know that this was our December book choice.
Former member Debra described the book perfectly on her Goodreads review " Heart wrenchingly beautiful novel about loves lost and moral sacrifices made for one's children." I would also want to add that it deals a lot with the theme of isolation, especially feeling isolated in your troubles even when your loved ones are around you.
This is definitely a book about extremes. Living in a world where we are constantly connected, it's difficult to imagine what it would be like to live out on an island for years at a time with very few visitors. It's definitely an extreme situation in and of itself. This intensifies as each event transpires. There were points while I was listening to it, that I wanted to yell out at the characters to just stop and think about what they were doing. It's definitely one of those stories where the characters have to figure out what is the best thing to do even though nothing is a good choice. By the end of the book it was hard not to feel exhausted from following what happened.
One thing we did agree on was that we thought the author was a little heavy handed with description. While her language was poetic, there were a couple of places where she laid it on very thick, causing you to think the story was about to go in one direction, but then it just stopped, with nothing coming of all the build up. Sara noted that she found it difficult to like any of the characters - because even the "'good people' were too spineless and too martyr-like". Rina gave the book bonus points for including a map (although she did say that she would have liked the map more if it had been the map of the island that the characters drew in the book). I listened to the audiobook, which was narrated by an Australian. While this upped the authenticity quotient, this made it harder to understand when he was reading whispered conversations or breathy female characters.
Overall the club liked the book. Nobody overwhelmingly loved or hated it. Most of us gave it 3 or 4 stars.
This week the internet was a buzz with the word that Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, had declared it his own personal challenge for 2015 to read a book every other week which covers "new cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies". In true Facebook Fashion, he's created a page for his challenge, so facebook users can follow-along and participate.
Reading challenges are not unfamiliar to book lovers. If you were a child of the 80's like me, your first reading challenge may have been "Book It" which allowed children to earn free personal pizzas every month if they read a certain number of books. If you have a friend on Goodreads, you are probably familiar with their end of year cramming to get the last few books read that they need to meet the goal they set at the beginning of year for their challange. There are tons of book challenges out there - but here are a link to a few places where you can find out about book challenge you may want to check out.
To everyone who reads this blog, I must apologize for going so long between entries. I got very wrapped up in the holidays that I just let it get away from me. But I'm back. I may cut back on posting about new releases or books on film (unless anybody really loves those sections and want me to continue - if so, speak up).
This Wednesday we are going to be discussing the book Hannah's Dream by Diane Hammond. I ended up listening to it while driving to my family's for Christmas and I have to say that I found it to be the perfect feel-good book. It's about elephants, and I find it little hard not to love elephants. Once we have the discussion I can post a little about what we thought. Until then, I will post the Amazon.com summary.
Our Wednesday meeting will be a full one. Not only will we be choosing books for the next 3 quarters, but we will be having our annual White Elephant gift exchange (kinda appropriate given our book choice). Thanks for sticking with us!
An elephant never forgets . . . but can she dream?
For forty-one years, Samson Brown has been caring for Hannah, the lone elephant at the down-at-the-heels Max L. Biedelman Zoo. Having vowed not to retire until an equally loving and devoted caretaker is found to replace him, Sam rejoices when smart, compassionate Neva Wilson is hired as the new elephant keeper. But Neva quickly discovers what Sam already knows: that despite their loving care, Hannah is isolated from other elephants and her feet are nearly ruined from standing on hard concrete all day. Using her contacts in the zookeeping world, Neva and Sam hatch a plan to send Hannah to an elephant sanctuary—just as the zoo's angry, unhappy director launches an aggressive revitalization campaign that spotlights Hannah as the star attraction, inextricably tying Hannah's future to the fate of the Max L. Biedelman Zoo.
A charming, poignant, and captivating novel certain to enthrall readers of Water for Elephants, Diane Hammond's Hannah's Dream is a beautifully told tale rich in heart, humor, and intelligence.
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Emily - Lit Chick for 5 years