November 2012 Book Choice

For the month of  November we chose The Great Gatsby by
F. Scott Fitzgerald, a classic tale of love and  power soon to be yet
another major motion picture.

As per Wikipedia

The Great Gatsby is a novel by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald. The book takes place from spring to autumn 1922, during a prosperous time in the United States known as the Roaring Twenties, which lasted from 1920 until the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

Between 1920 and 1933, the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, commonly known as Prohibition, completely banned the sale and manufacturing of all alcoholic beverages: distilled spirits, beer, and wine. The ban made millionaires out of bootleggers, who smuggled alcohol into the U.S.. The setting of the novel contributed greatly to its popularity following its early release, but the book did not receive widespread attention until after Fitzgerald's death in 1940, when republishing in 1945 and 1953 quickly found a wide readership.

The Great Gatsby received mostly positive reviews when it was first published and many of Fitzgerald's literary friends wrote him letters praising the novel. However, Gatsby did not experience the commercial success of Fitzgerald's previous two novels, This Side of Paradise and The Beautiful and Damned, and although the novel went through two initial printings, some of these copies remained unsold years later.

When Fitzgerald died in 1940, he had been largely forgotten. His obituary in The New York Times mentioned Gatsby as evidence of great potential that was never reached. Gatsby gained readers when Armed Services Editions gave away around 150,000 copies of the novel to the American military in World War II.

Today the book is widely regarded as a "Great American Novel" and a literary classic. The Modern Library named it the second best English-language novel of the 20th Century.

The cover of The Great Gatsby is among the most celebrated pieces of jacket art in American literature. A little-known artist named Francis Cugat was commissioned to illustrate the book while Fitzgerald was in the midst of writing it. The cover was completed before the novel, with Fitzgerald so enamored of it that he told his publisher he had "written it into" the novel.

October beehive book dinner

Our October dinner was hosted by Mary Beth and Rory at their hauntingly adorable home in the pocket area.
There was not a lot of food/meals mentioned in this book but we managed to connect to the season and symbols quite well. Fiendish foods, goblin greens and other tasty treats filled the tables and our tummies.

A Monster Calls had many surprises and questions. The book talk last for several hours and way into the night...we covered life, living, action vs thought and dying...big topics for an evening discussion.


October Book Club Choice

Our October book choice is A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (based on the idea of Siobhan Dowd).

Here is an overview by the Independent UK

"Children's writer Siobhan Dowd died when she only had the idea for this fifth book; Ness has taken that idea and made of it both a classic tale and a tribute to her. Young Conor's mother is ill with cancer, and he is having nightmares regularly.

They take on a physical form when the yew tree he can see from his bedroom window assumes a human shape, and speaks to him. It tells him three stories – about a bad prince, a foolish parson and an invisible man – as Conor, who is being bullied at school, is estranged from his father and dislikes his grandmother, struggles to accept what is happening to his mother. Ness's fracturing of the family here in many different ways, and his lonely, alienated child-hero, gives his moving tale of death and loss a modern touch, whilst also endowing it with some much-needed fantasy."

From the Telegraph 2012

"This year, for the first time ever, the same book, A Monster Calls, has won the CILIP Carnegie Medal for children’s literature and its companion prize for illustration, the Kate Greenaway Medal. It is an extraordinary outcome for a book with extraordinary beginnings. Its author, Patrick Ness, was passed the baton of an idea from a previous Carnegie Medal-winner, Siobhan Dowd, who died of breast cancer in 2008. (Dowd won the Medal posthumously for Bog Child.) Although Ness wrote a book that was very much his own, the spirit of Dowd was in the book, and in the illustrations by Jim Kay. "

September 2012 Book Club Meeting

Molly hosted our September gathering at her elegant and charmingly eclectic home. Most members had not completed/started/purchased the book choice so the literary discussion was limited yet we still had hours of conversation.

Judy shared stories from Italy, Beth from Seattle and Rory her journey home. The rest of us had humorous tales of family/work adventures from the summer and the food was varied and as delicious as the talk!


September 2012 book choice

September's Book Choice
"The World to Come"
by Dara Horn

Entertainment Weekly Editor's Choice
New York Times Editor's Choice
A Book-of-the Month Club Smart Readers Selection
A Book Sense Top 20 Pick
Winner of the 2006 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction
Winner of the 2007 Harold U. Ribalow Prize
Best of Young American Novelists 2007 - Granta

Prize-winning author Dara Horn interweaves mystery, romance, folklore, theology, history, and scripture into a spellbinding modern tale. She brings us on a breathtaking collision course of past, present, and future -- revealing both the ordinariness and the beauty of "the world to come." Nestling stories within stories, this is a novel of remarkable clarity and deep inner meaning.

August Bookgroup Dinner

Our end of summer group meeting was held at Lori's book-filled villa, a grand jolly time was had by one and all. The book made for interesting discussions regarding surgery, body parts and how much of "us" belongs to us? What about the needs of the scientific community and humanity? Is one persons freedom to much to sacrifice for the better of many?


Caught Reading

To Fly | Steve McCurry

Photographer Steve McCurry catches people reading around the globe

August Book Club Choice

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is our August 2012 book choice.
Here is what NY Times Sunday Book Review writer Lisa Margonelli had to say about this book in Feb 2010-
"In “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” Rebecca Skloot introduces us to the “real live woman,” the children who survived her, and the interplay of race, poverty, science and one of the most important medical discoveries of the last 100 years. Skloot narrates the science lucidly, tracks the racial politics of medicine thoughtfully and tells the Lacks family’s often painful history with grace. She also confronts the spookiness of the cells themselves, intrepidly crossing into the spiritual plane on which the family has come to understand their mother’s continued presence in the world. Science writing is often just about “the facts.” ­Skloot’s book, her first, is far deeper, braver and more wonderful.
Skloot traces the family’s emotional ordeal, the changing ethics and law around tissue collections, and the inadvertently careless journalists and researchers who violated the family’s privacy by publishing everything from Henrietta’s medical records to the family’s genetic information. She tacks between the perspective of the scientists and the family evenly and fairly..."

Lisa Margonelli is a senior research fellow at the New America Foundation and the author of “Oil on the Brain: Petroleum’s Long, Strange Trip to Your Tank.”

Video link with the author:


July Book Club Meeting

The July Book Club Meeting was held at newest member, Michele's festively artistic abode complete with hen house and young chicks.
There was an incredible assortment of mountain/country and Italian foods plus a Freeport Cake in celebration of Miss Rory's birthday day. Much laughter as we dinned outside, talking about the book  characters and planning our next few reads.

We may have stayed tooooo long but the night still felt young even if we didn't when our heads hit the pillow well after midnight.

June/July Book Club choice

Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani was our June/July summer reading choice.

For a little insight here is the 2000 Publishers Weekly Book Review -
"Trigiani's story of a middle-aged spinster finding love and a sense of self in a small Virginia coal town is a lot like a cold soda on a hot summer day: light and refreshing, if just a little too sweet. Trigiani, a playwright, filmmaker and former writer for The Cosby Show, has a Southern voice that perfectly embodies her main character, the embattled Ave Maria Mulligan. Ave Maria, who's satisfied if not exactly happy in her role as the town pharmacist, begins questioning her quiet, country life after a posthumous letter from her mother reveals a jarring secret. Ave Maria soon faces a crisis of identity, the advances of a surprising suitor and the threat of her acerbic, money-grubbing Aunt Alice. From the suitor, who points out his brand-new pickup truck during a marriage proposal, to the town temptress, who dispenses romantic advice from her bookmobile, Trigiani brings the story alive with her flexible vocal inventions. Fans of true love stories and happy endings certainly won't be disappointed. "

May Book Club Brunch on a June day

The May book club meeting was held on the first Sunday of June at Jane's colorful family cottage, and in attendance was honorary Southern Belle Mary Helen Kennedy.

Yummy food and spirited conversation flowed freely as the guests dinned in the most informal garden setting. The Southern Gothic novel takes place in Florida and Beth brought gator jerky and Judy brought a gator head and some Mississippi Mud to sip (if you dare).

May Book Club Choice

Our May Book choice was "Swamplandia!" by Karen Russell. The meeting will be an early June brunch.
Here is what the NY Times reviewer  Emma Donoghue had to say about this book-

"In 2006, Zoetrope published a story by a 24-year-old writer, Karen Russell. That story, “Ava Wrestles the Alligator,” featured a lusciously strange setting (an alligator theme park in the Everglades) and a tough young heroine with a dead mother and an absent father, as well as a weird problem: how to save her resented-yet-beloved older sister from eloping with a ghost. A few months later, Russell’s first story collection, “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves,” with “Ava Wrestles the Alligator” leading a crazy procession of nine other Florida swampland stories, won her wide acclaim, and last year she was chosen one of The New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” top fiction writers.
Now her fans can sink their teeth into her first novel, “Swamplandia!,” a sort of expansion of and sequel to that alligator story. Vividly worded, exuberant in characterization, the novel is a wild ride: Russell has style in spades.

The setting and the sisters (Ava and Osceola, a k a Ossie) are the same, but they now benefit from a full back story. It’s easier to care about the pleasures and miseries of life in a failing gator park when we know how the father (the self-proclaimed Chief Bigtree) and his family ended up there, and are led to understand what goes into the routine of putting on death-defying shows every day. If Russell’s style is a North American take on magical realism, then her commitment to life’s nitty-gritties anchors the magic; we are more inclined to suspend disbelief at the moments that verge on the paranormal because she has turned “Swamplandia!” into a credible world.
Ava is a highly appealing narrator who has many talents beyond swimming with gators or taping their jaws shut. If protagonists (especially of first novels) typically bewail the mundanity of their small towns, the exotic is normal to Ava. Her first-person narration is not a transcription of a 13-year-old voice, but an evocation, in adult language, of a barely adolescent mind-set. This allows for a dazzling level of linguistic invention. Here Russell as Ava describes the dozen houses on pilings that make up the abandoned outpost of Stiltsville: “dawn light screaming through the doorways that hung on their hinges, the broken windows that birds could fly through, the plank lace, the cheesed metals.” "

Interesting to note this reviewer is the author of a previous Beehive book-Room

April 2012 Book Club Meeting

Betsy hosted the April meeting in her Sunset magazine like back garden.

We celebrated spring, the great book and Beth's birthday with a Beehive cake.

It was a most pleasant spring evening made even more lovely with wonderful friends, great discussions and many yummy foods and treats.


Fun site for book lovers...browse

April Book Club Choice

April book choice: Daughter of Fortune by  Isabel Allende
Here is the book jacket summary:
Orphaned at birth, Eliza Sommers is raised in the British colony of Valparaíso, Chile, by the well-intentioned Victorian spinster Miss Rose and her more rigid brother Jeremy. Just as she meets and falls in love with the wildly inappropriate Joaquín Andieta, a lowly clerk who works for Jeremy, gold is discovered in the hills of northern California. By 1849, Chileans of every stripe have fallen prey to feverish dreams of wealth. Joaquín takes off for San Francisco to seek his fortune, and Eliza, pregnant with his child, decides to follow him.
So begins Isabel Allende's enchanting new novel, Daughter of Fortune, her most ambitious work of fiction yet. As we follow her spirited heroine on a perilous journey north in the hold of a ship to the rough-and-tumble world of San Francisco and northern California, we enter a world whose newly arrived inhabitants are driven mad by gold fever. A society of single men and prostitutes among whom Eliza moves--with the help of her good friend and savior, the Chinese doctor Tao Chien--California opens the door to a new life of freedom and independence for the young Chilean. Her search for the elusive Joaquín gradually turns into another kind of journey that transforms her over time, and what began as a search for love ends up as the conquest of personal freedom. By the time she finally hears news of him, Eliza must decide who her true love really is.
Daughter of Fortune is a sweeping portrait of an era, a story rich in character, history, violence, and compassion. In Eliza, Allende has created one of her most appealing heroines, an adventurous, independent-minded, and highly unconventional young woman who has the courage to reinvent herself and to create her own destiny in a new country. A marvel of storytelling, Daughter of Fortune confirms once again Isabel Allende's extraordinary gift for fiction and her place as one of the world's leading writers.

Translated by Margaret Sayers Peden

From the Boston Globe:
"An intricate novel by a fine storyteller....Once the reader submits to her wizardry, a florid, detailed universe of hopes and lust, of class struggle and quarreling individual identities, unfolds."


March Book Club Meeting

Our March get together was held at Molly's lovely home. The book Room had limited food references but many chose to go with the comfort aspect with such foods as macaroni and cheese . Some of our most interesting questions and discussion involving childhood, parenting and survival were inspired by this book.

March Book Club Choice

This month we read the book Room by Emma Donoghue

Here is what the Observer writer Nicola Barr had to say about this book (July 2010)
"Room is in many ways what its publisher claims it to be: a novel like no other. The first half takes place entirely within the 12-foot-square room in which a young woman has spent her last seven years since being abducted aged 19. Raped repeatedly, she now has a five-year-old boy, Jack, and it is with his voice that Donoghue tells their story.

And what a voice it is. "Ma" has clearly spent his five years devoting every scrap of mental energy to teaching, nurturing and entertaining her boy, preserving her own sanity in the process. To read this book is to stumble on a completely private world. Every family unit has its own language of codes and in-jokes, and Donoghue captures this exquisitely. Ma has created characters out of all aspects of their room – Wardrobe, Rug, Plant, Meltedy Spoon. They have a TV and Jack loves Dora the Explorer, but Ma limits the time they are allowed to watch it for fear of turning their brains to mush. They do "phys ed" every morning, keep to strict mealtimes, make up poems, sing Lady Gaga and Kylie, and most importantly, Ma has a seemingly endless supply of stories – from the Berlin Wall and Princess Di ("Should have worn her seatbelt," says Jack) to fairytales like Hansel and Gretel to hybrids in which Jack becomes Prince Jackerjack, Gullijack in Lilliput: his mother's own fairytale hero. And really, what is a story of a kidnapped girl locked in a shed with her long-haired innocently precocious boy if not the realisation of the most macabre fairytale?

For me, the rhythm of Ma and Jack's speech bears traces of the author's native Irish brogue, though the second half reveals the setting to be America (Donoghue now lives in Canada). But this only adds to the strange, dislocating appeal of Room. In the hands of this audacious novelist, Jack's tale is more than a victim-and-survivor story: it works as a study of child development, shows the power of language and storytelling, and is a kind of sustained poem in praise of motherhood and parental love."

February 2012 Book Club meeting

 Kitty hosted our February gathering in her artistically inviting East Sac home. I am somewhat relieved to report that there was no Turkey Neck soup in the eclectic mix of sophisticated foods and bevy of beverages. Good conversation and laughter as we shared the goings on via the Internet with Beth who was unable to attend.

February Bookclub Choice

Our February bookclub choice is "I feel bad about my neck...and other thoughts on being a woman" by Nora Ephorn.

"Nora Ephron has mastered the art of seeming likeable - a rarer facility than one might think. In tone and touch, her essay collection I Feel Bad About My Neck makes a useful bible for those of us who foster the less useful knack for seeming irritating.Sweetly packaged in an undersized format, this admittedly slight collection - much of which has been published previously in magazines - imparts a few nuggets of wisdom that you can take to the bank: "Never marry a man you wouldn't want to be divorced from," and, even more importantly, "Don't buy anything 100% wool even if it seems to be very soft and not particularly itchy when you try it on in the store."

the Guardian April 2007

January 2012, first book meeting of the New Year

 Annette hosted our first Book Club meeting of 2012 in her elegant and inviting home. We enjoyed a lively evening of discussion and book inspired Middle Eastern and Old world foods, with a few modern twists.



Judging a book by their cover with artist, Mike Stilkey

alamodeus: Judging books by their cover ...: Growing up, Los Angeles native Mike Stilkey must have been a librarian's worst nightmare. But today, his mix of ink, colored pencil, paint...