Book Groups

The Hugo Awards, Sad Puppies, and When Politics Gets in the Way

The Hugo Awards, Sad Puppies, and When Politics Gets in the Way

The Hugo Award nominees were announced earlier this month, and when the ballot was revealed it became clear to many that the Sad Puppies voting bloc had prevailed. The Sad Puppies, one of the worst self-chosen monikers in literary history, are a collection of authors that want to keep science fiction and fantasy old school. […]

Getting Them While They’re Young: A Book Group for Tweens

Getting Them While They’re Young: A Book Group for Tweens

Book clubs are a familiar sight for adults. They are gatherings, maybe of friends or colleagues, with frank discussions about a book and its meaning. But we shouldn’t limit that wonderful sense of belonging to just adults. What about a book group for tweens? I wasn’t sure if such a group existed until I did some […]

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Science Fiction Short Stories: Discussing Ted Chiang

Science Fiction Short Stories: Discussing Ted Chiang

Ted Chiang is one of the most respected science fiction writers out there right now. But he is not prolific and has only written short stories and novellas. The Economist recently published an article on the reasons you should read his work. And with a film adaptation of his short story “Story of Your Life” […]

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Book Podcast: Breakfast at the Bookstore

Book Podcast: Breakfast at the Bookstore

Podcasts about books and reading are gaining in popularity. They are a great way to find new books to read for yourself or your book group. But podcast conversations can also provide the same kind of delights that a book group can provide—the joy of hearing another person’s perspectives on a book and the ways in […]

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Ghosh and Golly: All Asea over Sea of Poppies

Ghosh and Golly: All Asea over Sea of Poppies

It’s just like Gilligan’s Island, but the passengers are indentured servants and the tour is longer than three hours. Imagine if Eliza Bennett went to India with her parents and got orphaned there. This is 12 Years a Slave meets Eat, Pray, Love. I’m lying, and rather despicably. It’s more like one of the darker […]

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An Overlooked Gem for Your Next Book Group Read: Amanda Hodgkinson’s 22 Britannia Road
By February 23, 2015 0 Comments Read More →

An Overlooked Gem for Your Next Book Group Read: Amanda Hodgkinson’s 22 Britannia Road

When I am putting together a list for one of my book clubs, I always like to include an overlooked gem. This is usually a book that has not received a lot of publicity or media attention, but is still rich and engaging. One year, I was lucky to come across an ad for an author […]

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Hawaiian History through the Generations: Kiana Davenport’s Shark Dialogues
By February 19, 2015 0 Comments Read More →

Hawaiian History through the Generations: Kiana Davenport’s Shark Dialogues

Kiana Davenport’s Shark Dialogues (1994) is a powerful look into the brutal, fraught history of the Hawaiian Islands through seven generations of one Hawaiian family. Focusing on a polarizing matriarch, Pono, the novel flashes backward and forward in time to tell the story of Pono’s ancestors, her life’s true love, and her daughters and granddaughters. Written in […]

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Record Collecting and the Power of Music: Joshua Harmon’s The Annotated Mixtape
By February 17, 2015 0 Comments Read More →

Record Collecting and the Power of Music: Joshua Harmon’s The Annotated Mixtape

I started reading some of essays that comprise Joshua Harmon’s The Annotated Mixtape years ago as they appeared in journals. The author and I went to college together in Vermont, so I have been following his writing career for years now. And last year he came out with The Annotated Mixtape and a short story collection, A […]

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The Family Vacation: A Toxic Disaster We’re Helpless to Resist
By February 12, 2015 0 Comments Read More →

The Family Vacation: A Toxic Disaster We’re Helpless to Resist

One Christmas holiday, I spent a few days in a beachside house with my siblings and their children. On his maiden voyage with the Wii, my little nephew accidentally sent his untethered remote control careening from his hand, end over end, toward the obscenely large television. The plasma screen splintered, and a hissing, steaming ooze bubbled forth.  Soon […]

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Is Your Book Group Stuck in a One-Book Rut? Try a Multiple-Book Discussion
By January 27, 2015 0 Comments Read More →

Is Your Book Group Stuck in a One-Book Rut? Try a Multiple-Book Discussion

One book or many? It’s a question I debate with my colleague Andrew Smith, who leads one-book discussion groups at Williamsburg Library. I prefer themed book groups that bring multiple books to the table for each meeting. Ultimately, either solution can be effective. Sue Dittmar, a wonderful librarian from St. Charles City-County Library District in […]

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