Formal book discussions start on the last Monday of the month. Please feel free to post information about the author or the book before that date. Let us know if you're loving it, hating it, having trouble - whatever you feel like sharing. But PLEASE try to stay away from plot comments until the discussion offically starts. If you'd like to post, but haven't signed up, leave a comment here. If you have questions about posting, try the information page. Thank you!

    January 2005

    The Plot Against America by Philip Roth

    Formal Discussion begins January 31, 2005.

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      Book Discussion Begins!

      The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth

      First off, let me just say that I’m so excited about the interest in the group! As of my writing this, we have had 99 people sign up. If I include myself, we’ve hit the 100 mark! That’s amazing, and I must say, far beyond what I imagined. I hope you all have a wonderful, insightful, fulfilling time talking about the books.

      That said, I’ve been kind of nervous to start the discussion. I’ve run book groups in the past and generally you only have to throw out one or two questions/discussion points and the conversation takes off. I’m not quite sure how we’ll get that done in cyperspace, but I’m very, very hopeful. I’ve decided the best way to do this is just to talk about what I thought of the book – maybe ask a few questions of others – and add some links at the end to some articles I read in preparation for the discussion. I hope you will all feel free to comment on my entry, and of course, write your own entries as well.

      Philip Roth’s book, American Pastoral, is one of my favorites of all time and I was excited to read another one. Especially TPAA, since the subject matter is so frightening and fascinating at the same time. What if Lindbergh, a national, really international hero and superstar, were to be elected President? So what? If we add to that his Anti-Semitic, White Supremacist leanings, the crusade of Hitler and Fascism in Europe, and Lindbergh’s isolationist platform, we’ve got quite a heady mix.

      Continue reading "Book Discussion Begins!"

    February 2005

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

    Formal Discussion begins February 28, 2005.

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    • Green-Eyed Grrl and DS on CIDN

      My sixteen-year-old son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at age two, when we took him to a doctor to discuss his newly discovered (by us) ability to read. Soon thereafter his diagnosis was changed to “high-functioning autism,” which is by no means a standard of any sort, and at best a very relative term to describe a person with autism who is more capable of social communication and less disabled by his unusual brain structure. More than what? Less than what? These distinctions are unclear.

      More recently, high-functioning autism is lumped together with Asperger’s syndrome for diagnostic purposes. The more I study the two the less I believe they differ in any substantial way. However, for many parents, a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome is more palatable than a diagnosis of autism, as for years autism has been characterized as a totally debilitating affliction (which ain’t necessarily so).

      I asked my son to answer the following questions about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Here’s what an autistic teenager has to say about the book and specifically about Christopher, the (unlabeled) protagonist of the story.

      Continue reading "Green-Eyed Grrl and DS on CIDN"

    March/April 2005

    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke

    Formal Discussion begins May 2, 2005.

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      So, my opinion...

      My opinion of Strange/Norrell? Hated it! I read more than 400 pages of it and then gave up. Was there even a plot? (grin) Okay--that's an exaggeration--there was a small little plot, but streeeetched out to a ridiculous degree. I love fantasy books, enjoy Victorian England, like Dickens . . . this should have been a winner for me . . . but I found myself looking for any excuse to avoid picking it up, and felt like I was doing homework whenever I did. ("Do I have to??") Did NOT like it! And if I had had to read "thistle-haired gentleman" one more time, I really would have thrown the book against the wall. Is there no other way to describe a man with wild, white hair, that the author had to use this one descriptive phrase over and over and over?? (Even the footman, who presumably never saw a thistle in his life, described the man that way in his thoughts . . . a little unlikely, I thought, for a servant who's probably never been outside of London before.) In short (I know, too late to be short), I emphatically did not like this book! And I won't even get started on the footnotes...

    May 2005

    The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

    Formal Discussion begins May 30, 2005.

      Latest Post:

      Let's Do The Time Warp Again!

      Where to start? The Time Traveler’s Wife seems to have it all – love, danger, librarians! As a former (are you ever really former?) librarian, I’m always glad to see them pop up in literature, especially one as dashing and intriguing as Henry.

      I ended up reading this book practically in one day. I haven’t done that in a long, long time and it’s something I’ve missed in my reading, so if nothing else, I’m grateful to Niffenegger for writing a book that would capture me so. And I'm even more grateful that the book made me cry. I was weeping. Sobbing. It's been a great while since a book has moved in that way.

      Continue reading "Let's Do The Time Warp Again!"

    May 2005

    Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

    Formal Discussion begins June 27, 2005.

      Latest Post:

      Cloning Around!

      I'm late! And I'm so sorry! And to top it all off I haven't finished the book. I've got about a 100 pages to go, and I promise I will be back to chat.

      To get things started though, I wanted to list some of the links I found:

      Random House author interview.

      Salon review.

      Powell's interview.

      NPR Interview with Ishiguro.

      CBC article.

      The Simon Review.

      Village Voice review.

      Ugh! I wish he wasn't revealing everything so slowly! I read a lot of the reviews before I started the book, so I knew the main premise before hand. A conscious decision on my part.

      So far, it's okay for me. I don't think Kathy's as detached as I thought she would be as a narrator, but I find it annoying that she seems to keep repeating herself a lot - I think this is because Ishiguro jumps around timewise.

      I'd like more details that they DO know about in their lives, as opposed to what seems like a lot of speculation. I want more descriptions of their projects. I can't seem to see them in my mind at all and I think they would be a very nice emotional clue to what is going on in their heads.

      Given their situation and how in the dark they are, their relationships seem very typical to me. It's funny - Kathy figures out that the couples are acting like they've seen on TV, but how different is that from what "regular" teenagers see and copy? It got me wondering how much we learn from the media, as opposed to the people we see in front of us everyday. Maybe we're too close to, say, our parents? Or maybe it's kind of an osmosis thing and we don't realize how much we've picked up until years later? Just some questions that popped into my head.

      Of course, the big issue with this book is the ETHICS question. These children have been cloned for the sole purpose of donating their organs. I love the whole sex thing - have it, it's for fun, but don't catch any diseases. Oh yeah, and you can't have any kids.

      Why are they being "educated?" Although I question the eductation their getting? What do you think the role of the teachers are in their lives? (Some of these questions might be answered further on in the book - sorry!)

      What about the Madame and her gallery?

      I hope this is a jumping off point for discussion. Again, I'm sorry I'm being lax, but I promise to be back for a more in depth entry! Please, have fun!