Book Groups

Tsardust: The Tragic and Romantic Appeal of the Romanovs
By December 16, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

Tsardust: The Tragic and Romantic Appeal of the Romanovs

What is it about certain historical figures or eras that draw so much of our attention as readers? If one were to take a shelf of typical historical fiction and remove the books about the Tudors, it would probably shrink by half. Remove the books about Hitler, Victoria, Napoleon, the French revolution, and the American […]

Posted in: Book Groups, Book Lists
Drama in Levittown: An Inspirational Theater Story from the Suburbs
By December 4, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

Drama in Levittown: An Inspirational Theater Story from the Suburbs

When one individual really cares, amazing things can happen in the most unlikely places. That’s one of the great messages in Michael Sokolove’s Drama High: The Incredible True Story of a Brilliant Teacher, a Struggling Town, and the Magic of Theater (2013). Unless you live there, you probably don’t know Levittown, Pennsylvania. It’s not even […]

Posted in: Book Groups
A British Gem Is Back in Print: Barbara Trapido’s Brother of the More Famous Jack
By November 25, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

A British Gem Is Back in Print: Barbara Trapido’s Brother of the More Famous Jack

I’ve been anticipating the reprint of British author Barbara Trapido’s 1982 debut novel, Brother of the More Famous Jack, for some time now—and it’s finally here! I’ve read pretty much everything that Barbara Trapido has written and have written about her here before. I have found no one else to match Trapido’s wit, style, and uncanny ear […]

Posted in: Backlist, Book Groups
Time-Management Tips for Book-Group Discussion Leaders
By November 20, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

Time-Management Tips for Book-Group Discussion Leaders

I’ve been involved with book groups since 1999. Some of them have been connected to bookstores or libraries, while others have been individuals meeting in one another’s homes. I’ve started a few from the ground up and taken over others when the previous leader decided the responsibility was too much. Being a discussion leader takes up a […]

Posted in: Book Groups
Humiliation Can Be Good for a Book Group
By November 18, 2014 1 Comments Read More →

Humiliation Can Be Good for a Book Group

David Lodge’s classic campus comedy, Changing Places (1975), introduced a game called Humiliation, which readers have been playing to their red-faced delight ever since. Players get together in a group and confess the canonical works that they have failed to read, scoring a point for each other person who has read it. In Lodge’s book, in which […]

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Coming Back to Jeanette Winterson: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
By November 14, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

Coming Back to Jeanette Winterson: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

I read Jeanette Winterson’s debut autobiographical novel Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit years ago, so I was intrigued to see what her memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, would be like in revisiting some of the same material. I am preparing to lead a discussion on this book next week for […]

Posted in: Book Groups
What Makes a Book Worth Talking About? A Veteran Book-Group Leader Weighs In
By November 6, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

What Makes a Book Worth Talking About? A Veteran Book-Group Leader Weighs In

I have been a discussion leader since 1999 and the question I am most often asked is, “What exactly makes a book a good book-discussion pick?” The first thing I say back is that most publishers aren’t correct in their estimation of what is a discussable book. I have lead as many as five different groups […]

Posted in: Book Groups
A Book-Group Discussion Where Everyone Reads a Different Book? Blame It on Paris
By November 5, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

A Book-Group Discussion Where Everyone Reads a Different Book? Blame It on Paris

When I travel, I like to take books with me that are set in my destination. Reading Ian Rankin mysteries in Edinburgh, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1994) in Savannah, made those trips more memorable, bringing to life locations that otherwise might not have signified much. But when faced with the plethora of choices […]

Posted in: Book Groups
Return to Oz for a Fantastic Book-Group Theme
By October 28, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

Return to Oz for a Fantastic Book-Group Theme

My fantasy and science fiction group discussed the theme of “Fantasy before Tolkien” last week, and I decided to use the opportunity to go somewhere I hadn’t been in over thirty years: Frank Baum’s Oz. More than any other series of books, these titles are connected to my development as a reader. I remember loving them, […]

Growing Up Too Fast: A Rock-and-Roll Coming-of-Age
By October 22, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

Growing Up Too Fast: A Rock-and-Roll Coming-of-Age

Caitlin Moran’s debut coming-of-age novel, How to Build a Girl, tackles two topics that not enough literary or even coming-of-age fiction does: the sex-obsessed teenage girl and a family living in poverty. I found both topics refreshing, even eye-opening at times, and believe that both will give book groups a lot to discuss. What she […]

Posted in: Book Groups