October 29, 2017

2018 Book Club Selections

Good grief, can you even believe that 2018 is just around the corner? Knowing Ann, she'll be ready to read the book for January before you know it so I thought I'd better get our list put together for 2018. I played around with a theme, like we've had for the past couple of years; but, in the end, I've decided our goal next year is just to read interesting books that will give us a lot to talk about and, hopefully, stretch our knowledge of the world a bit.

January: Kitchens of The Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
February: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (our classic)
March: Nora Webster by Colm Toibin
April: News of The World by Paulette Jiles
May: The Women In The Castle by Jessica Shattuck
June: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
July: open to leave us some flexibility
August: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
September: Eleanor and Hick by Susan Quinn (our nonfiction)
October: The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
November: The Wangs Versus The World
December: open for possible movie night

As always, our schedule will be somewhat flexible to allow for things like a great Omaha Reads book or something one of you thinks would make a great choice. I have left a couple of open spots, one for a planned movie night but we won't know when that will be until a movie of interest comes out.

These choice were all made based on reviews and feedback from my blogging friends but I have not read any of them. In 2018, my plan is to read the books a couple of months ahead of time. Once I've read the book, then I'll know for sure if we'll stick with that book. I don't want a repeat of Behind Closed Doors!

August, September and October

In August, we had our, now annual, trip to the theater to see the movie adaptation of a book we've read. Three of us and a guest went to see The Glass Castle, the adaptation of the book by the same name by Jeanette Walls, a book the club read before any of us had even joined the group. Only one of us had actually read the book; Lisa thought the filmmakers had done a great job, although it may even have been softened a bit. The others in attendance all thought they would not have been able to finish the book if they had started to read it; it is so hard to imagine someone growing up the way the Wall children grew up.

In September we read George Saunders' Lincoln In The Bardo, which recently won the Booker Prize. This is Lisa's favorite book of the year and a huge favorite of the critics, but it was not as universally loved by book club members. Ann didn't care for the structure of the book while Linda and Lisa thought that was one of the great things about the book. It did raise a lot of questions: how much of the "factual" narrative was, in fact, excerpts from real books, what is "the bardo," why could some of the people in the bardo move on and others couldn't. Despite some people having problems with the book's structure, it was still a good choice with a lot to discuss.

For October, we talked about Jonis Agee's The Bones of Paradise. This book was the choice of the Omaha Public Library for the Omaha Reads book for 2017. While all of us had problems with different aspects of the book, we all did enjoy it and there was a lot to talk about. Ann expressed a real interest in books set in the West in this time period (duly noted!) and we all learned a lot about the Wounded Knee Massacre. The dynamics of family, what is the value of land to a person, were there surprises in the book, the structure of this book (as it moved back and forth in time, in particular), and what we thought of the characters' character were all topics of discussion. Cheryl hosted this month and found a couple of books for us to look through that related to the novel that added a nice extra touch to our reading. We definitely recommend this book as a book club choice, even with its flaws.

July 23, 2017

June and July

 We're searching for a new home for our meetings since our favorite spot closed down and in June we met on the patio of Lazlos, a local brew pub. The sun and gnats, a new member, and some personal drama all contributed to our not talking about J. Courtney Sullivan's The Engagements as much as we might have. It's not a brilliant book but there is a lot of material for book clubs - a lot of different kinds of women and relationships, the history of the diamond ad campaign, women's roles, and that ring. Of those who read it, everyone seemed to have their favorite story line; Ann's favorite was Delphine's. We were interested in knowing the history behind the adverting phrase "A Diamond Is Forever" and liked how Sullivan had taken the story of its creator as a running thread throughout the book. We did all agree that having so many different storylines and characters really made the book hard to follow.
In July we read B. A. Paris' Behind Closed Doors. We used to have a rule that we wouldn't read a book unless someone had read it first and could vouch for it. But when Lisa picked this one, it was solely based on reviews. Yikes! Only Grace really liked the book. Otherwise, we really, really didn't like this one at all. Ann had read it the month before and had already told us that she didn't like it. We could have scratched it then and picked up something else. But Lisa S pointed out that sometimes books that aren't universally loved make for great discussion. Turns out to be true about books that most people didn't like as well. We actually spent more time taking about this book than we do most of our books! We talked a lot about whether or not we found any of it believable. We talked about how hard it was to read about a woman being abused. We talked about that ending (which, we must admit, was fairly satisfying). Movie rights have actually been optioned and we talked about whether or not we thought we would like the story more as a movie and if we thought it would be more believable in movie form.

In August we'll be headed to the movie theater to watch the film adaptation of Jeanette Wall's The Glass Castle.

**Those of you who were in the club when Mari was leading it may notice that I've removed Bookworm With A View from the lists of sites we love. Mari's blog no longer goes by that title and it now more about other things than books. Also, that link went to an entirely different site, which seemed odd!

May 3, 2017

Our Future

Life is busy; I get it. But with only three people at the meetings the past couple of months, I'm wondering if we need to make some changes. I'm wondering if everyone is still interested in being a book club. 

One change we'll definitely be making is a change in venue. As you all know by know, Upstream will be closing the end of June. We've got two months left of having our own room with comfy furniture and our favorite bartender. Then where do we go? Cheryl and I have been talking about it; Cheryl's been asking everyone we meet if they have any suggestions. What about you guys - any idea where we might go that might work at least somewhat as well? Is it time to go back to hosting in our homes?

While we're at it, we've been the Omaha Bookworms for a long time. The reason we're the Omaha Bookworms was so that we could get free books from publishers. Our original founder felt that publishers wouldn't be as likely to send free books to groups with cute names or names with alcohol in the name. But since we're no longer beholden to read the books a publisher thinks we'll like, we can be whatever we want to be. If we're going to stay together going forward, what do you think about a new name to go with our new venue?

**Assuming we're going forward, you'll see that in September we're reading George Saunders' Lincoln In The Bardo. If you're a library person, you'll want to get your request in now to make sure you have a chance to read it by September.

Last, but not least, I've been leaning us heavily on literary fiction critic favorites. We're going to shake things up a bit in the next few months - some nonfiction that should be not too heavy, a mystery, I'm looking at something light for the summer, and we'll have a movie night in December. That may be in a theater or we may rent something and watch in someone's house. Where we can drink for less and eat real food.