Book Club Books

Joyland by Stephen King

1 Loved It
3 Liked It
2 Neutral
0 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• The story was short which was nice. It was not scary at all. – Sarah
• I am enjoying it and will finish it. – Tami
• I had never read Stephen King before. I now understand the following. I am a fan! – Melissa
• I really enjoyed this book. It was fast and an easy read. Could really visualize the characters. – Carrie
• I liked the style and the book was easy to read. I didn’t like the story that much – not very rich. – Steph
• This is the first Stephen King book that I have ever read. On a whole, I enjoyed the characters and story. There were a few pages here and there where he mentioned modern day pop culture and politics, that pulled me out of the story and felt unnecessary. – Danica

Conclusion: Most enjoyed the book although we didn’t have a whole lot to talk about except for clearing up a few questions about happenings from the story.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

0 Loved It
2 Liked It
3 Neutral
1 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• Before this book, I had only read A Farewell to Arms by Hemingway. That book, I loved, this one, not so much. The incredible detail he writes with feels important when describing war, when describing the antics of a bunch of privileged Americans running amok through Europe, it was so rough for me. – Danica
• This story was very stacato and it was nor as good as I thought it would be. I guess I just had high expectations. – Sarah
• This was my 1st Hemingway novel. Not sure what all the hype is. Quick, easy read. I did like it as it related to The Paris Wife. – Carrie
• I liked the style but it was a little too slow and leisurely to finish by book club. – Steph
• I have decided that I’m not a huge fan of Hemingway. – Melissa
• I enjoyed my first Hemingway. I think I particularly enjoyed it after reading The Paris Wife. – Kerry

Conclusion: A mixed bag, but we did have fun discussing this book and comparing it to The Paris Wife which we read a few months ago.

Reading Group Guide

I’m Walking as Straight as I Can by Geri Jewell

2 Loved It
4 Liked It
0 Neutral
0 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• Geri’s honesty and humor made reading her memoir enjoyable! Having Geri at our book club was priceless! – Melissa
• Awesome book. I love her honesty, vulnerability and her strength through life’s experiences. -Dina
• This was a great personal insight into Geri’s life. Not only was it enlightening to gain more understanding and admiration for how determinedly she has overcome and succeeded with her CP, but it was also relatable to anyone who has experiences of growing up. – Marlo
• Geri’s was so incredibly honest with her writing that I felt like I knew her even before she arrived at book club. Her positivity, determination and humor is inspiring. It was so generous for her to come and indulge us in a wonderful conversation at our book club. – Danica
• I enjoyed reading this book. It felt like I had known Geri forever after I read it. A great evening talking with the author! – Kerry
• I really enjoyed reading about her life. She is an amazing lady. – Tami
• I really enjoyed this read. It was easy and fun. I felt so connected to Geri and so invested in her life. Her honest, humorous writing style was refreshing. – Carrie
 
Conclusion: We loved meeting Geri and had a wonderfully thought provoking conversation with her. Thank you Geri for joining us!

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

0 Loved It
4 Liked It
1 Neutral
0 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• This was a necessary perspective on women’s roles in society today – whether in business or in the home. – Melissa
• I liked this book. She was likable and interesting and the topic is very close to my heart. It was a good read. – Steph
• Good food for thought. I think she covered it all. – Kerry
• I really liked the descriptions of gender issues in the working world. However, I don’t necessarily  agree with her proposed solutions but at least she is proposing something. – Sarah
• I could relate to many of her examples and anecdotes, it all rang very true to a lot of my working experiences. The only thing that I felt was missing was the topic of dress and visual presentation in a male dominant working environment. But overall I think it was a very important book for our generation. – Danica

Conclusion: We had a great discussion with a wide range of experiences and opinions. Everyone who read it had something to relate to.

Reading Group Guide

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

1 Loved It
4 Liked It
2 Neutral
0 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• This was definitely an enjoyable read. Although there were points that seemed either slow or tedious traits to the characters, I enjoyed the glimpse into 1920’s Avant Garde Paris. Specifically, it was inspiring to read about how Hemmingway wanted so hard to become the writer he was. – Marlo
• I enjoyed the glimpse into the lives of the clearly influential members of artistic and literary history. – Melissa
• I really liked it at the beginning and liked the insight into Earnest and his personality, but he really was a horrible person. – Sarah
• I really enjoyed this book – good, interesting story and very well written. Yay! – Steph
• This was not one of my favorites. I did not get drawn in until the end and then I was angry, nauseous and crying. – Carrie
• I loved the setting and descriptions of their friends and travels however, the main character’s passivity really bothered me, especially towards the end. – Danica

Conclusion: We naturally started discussing the book even before formally doing so and also decided to put The Sun Also Rises on our schedule because of this book. I’d say it was a good choice.

Reading Group Guide

Temple of a Thousand Faces by John Shors

0 Loved It
3 Liked It
3 Neutral
2 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• It took me awhile to get onto the book. I enjoyed the different status levels of the characters and how each dealt with the war. – Melissa
• The book was boring. The author did not do a good job of pulling the reader into the time period and the dialogue felt too modern. – Sarah
• I liked the book, but it did take me awhile to get into it. About half way through I started to get really drawn into the relationships and experiences. I enjoy his descriptive writing and feel able to picture the scenes he describes. – Carrie
• I found the language too simplistic and I never connected with the characters or felt invested in the story. – Steph
• Although I didn’t like it as much as his previous work, I did appreciate the multiple perspectives on the same event. His descriptions of the surroundings was also a highlight. – Danica
• I did not enjoy reading this book. I was bored by the description of the battles and violence. I did enjoy the descriptions of the temple. – Kerry
• This was a well constructed story, with all the components for an epic historical novel – romance, intrigue and combat. I felt it could have been condensed, but liked the quickened paceas they went into battle. The descriptions of Angkor and surrounding areas brought me there. When I looked up pictures after reading, it was exactly as I had imagined. – Marlo

Conclusion: We had a fun phone conversation with John, so all in all, it was a great book club.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

0 Loved It
0 Liked It
2 Neutral
2 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• The author was just trying too hard to be taken seriously as an adult author and it just did not work. – Sarah
• I thought it was an easy read. Difficult to relate to any the characters who were mostly, unlikable. – Carrie
• I am 87% in. It has kept my interest so far. Not sure what to think of it overall. – Kerry
• I made it about a 1/3 of the way in and just didn’t connect with it. I was having trouble with motivating to pick it up and read so I decided to abandon it instead. – Danica

Conclusion: Didn’t go very well, not much to talk about except for comparing her previous work to it.

Reading Group Guide

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

1 Loved It
3 Liked It
1 Neutral
2 Disliked It
1 Hated It

Comments:
• Hated the first half and the end. The second half was not bad but the characters never grew or changed. – Sarah
• I hated the characters, I felt they were vapid and toxic, no redeeming qualities. Because of that, I hated every word, action and story development. – Danica
• I liked the first part, but strongly disliked the second part. I felt the story lacked. – Steph
• Very warped story but a quick read. I enjoyed it. – Vicki
• Have not finished it, but am liking it a lot. I do plan on finishing it! – Tami
• What a fun book! For all those who have witnessed/been a part of adultery and desired revenge, this book was a treat! Loved the characters… enjoyed it all! – Rachelle
• I’m not done yet, but I’m really liking it. – Melissa

Conclusion: We we very divided on this one but it did lead to a fruitful discussion. There was a lot to talk about.

Reading Group Guide

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

0 Loved It
1 Liked It
2 Neutral
0 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• I loved the setting but really disliked the story line. It definitely gave me some things to think about. – Danica
• Glad to have finally read this book! I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would… but interesting. – Steph
• Some parts were interesting but the story didn’t come together as much as I hoped it would and I didn’t love the ending. – Shannon
• It was better than 1984. I thought it closer to what the future may be. – Sarah

Conclusion: We had a very lively discussion that connected current trends and event to the setting of the book. Even those who didn’t end up reading it were able to participate. I call it a success!

Reading Group Guide

The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar

0 Loved It
5 Liked It
2 Neutral
0 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• At first, I really like the book but then it became obvious and repetitive in the emotional responses. – Sarah
• I really enjoyed it. It was a fast, easy read. I didn’t love all the characters, but did like the relationship between them and the development through the past to present. – Carrie
• I enjoyed the book. I thought the relationships between all the characters were interesting. – Kerry
• I didn’t love the story but I did like how some of the small everyday expressions were not translated so you really got a feel for the setting outside of the physicality of it. – Danica
• It took a while to decipher the characters. But I enjoyed the strengths that the female characters were able to portray.
• The characters in this book were intriguing and they made me ask questions about Indian culture. I’m still shocked at the brutality at the hand of men in the book! However, the women were resilient and vibrant. Good read. – Rachelle
• I enjoyed the book. Got into it quickly. Did not enjoy the end but I finished it! – Tami
• I liked the writing style, but found the story very/too depressing. – Steph

Conclusion: I think we all read and finished it, that says a lot. We also had a very lively discussion about caste systems and women’s roles in society.

Reading Group Guide

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

0 Loved It
0 Liked It
1 Neutral
1 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• Was not a fan of the songs, prose or story at all. I also did not like how all the characters were driven by greed. – Sarah
• I am ultimately glad I read this as I felt it was a missed opportunity from childhood. There were parts that I really enjoyed and other parts that I could have done without. Having said all that, I am still really excited to see the upcoming movies. – Danica

Conclusion: Most of us didn’t want to read it and most didn’t.

Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King

2 Loved It
0 Liked It
1 Neutral
0 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• I totally enjoyed this book. I learned so much and was happy to find out it was non-fiction. It has made me really want to go to Rome. – Sarah
• I learned a little more about the Sistine Chapel Ceiling masterwork, but what really intrigued me was the political and interpersonal history that played into how it got made. – Danica
• I haven’t gotten very far.

Conclusion: Those of us who read it, loved it, but few actually cracked the cover.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

0 Loved It
2 Liked It
0 Neutral
2 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• It is a great story and a classic for obvious reasons. However, I did not like it as much as the first time I had read it. – Sarah
• I didn’t ever feel any enjoyment in reading this. It droned on and on and the dialogue was repetitive and boring. The concept is interesting, but I didn’t enjoy it. – Melissa
• I didn’t understand why this has become such a classic. I finished it hoping it would get better, it did not. I found no climax and little plot. – Carrie
• I expected more of the creating of the monster and less of the chasing of it. I also didn’t feel the need for a story within a story as the most interesting part was when the monster was learning, not when he was scheming and rampaging. – Danica

Conclusion: We were a bit disappointed at how much the modern day version of Frankenstein is much more interesting than its source material.

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

0 Loved It
3 Liked It
0 Neutral
1 Disliked It
1 Hated It

Comments:
• This was a really interesting book. However, I thought the book would focus on looking at people in business (CEOs etc) rather than the history of psychopathy. – Sarah
• I enjoyed his writing style. I also found the topic to be interesting. – Melissa
• While I did enjoy the book, I didn’t love it. However, I did keep thinking about it long after finishing it, so something did connect on an intellectual level. – Danica
• Not the book for me. Interesting concept but many the actual psychopath anecdotes were just too disturbing. – Marlo
• Very easy read, but did not enjoy. Hard to put into words why. Probably because of my profession. – Carrie

Conclusion: While we had mixed reviews, we had a lively conversation about it.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

3 Loved It
4 Liked It
1 Neutral
0 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• I really enjoyed this book. I was expecting not to like it, but was pleasantly surprised. – Sarah
• I love this book! One of my favorites of the books I’ve read recently. Such a unique story. – Kerry
• I couldn’t get into it… – Steph
• I have begun and am enjoying it. I will finish it one day. – Tami
• I really enjoyed this book. Very intriguing and a fast read. – Carrie
• This book took me awhile to get into. Once I did, though, I really enjoyed it. The medical knowledge was very interesting. -Melissa
• I love this one. The character development was really interesting and the cultural setting, was even more fascinating. Even though it was long, I read it super fast. – Danica

Conclusion: We mostly really liked it. We spoke about it a little but the group was really quiet and mellow. I think on a different night, it could have been really lively.

Reading Group Guide

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

0 Loved It
3 Liked It
1 Neutral
0 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• A good story about empathy and friendship. – Kerry
• A classic for good reason. I really enjoyed re-reading it. – Melissa
• I am loving reading this with my kids. It’s so fun watching them get excited about such a classic story. – Carrie
• Love this story. Always have, always will. – Tami
• I remember loving this story as a child, but it really did not last the test of time. – Sarah
• I must have read it as a child, my sister did, so I must have too but I did not remember it. I enjoyed it and can see how it is a classic children’s book. – Danica

Conclusion: A fun classic to read and discuss, we even parlayed it into a discussion about The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.
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