Thursday, April 27, 2023

Readers Book Discussion -- April 19, 2023

The Readers book discussion group met on April 19 to discuss A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher. The book's narrator, Griz, lives on an island with his family and their two dogs. It is a post-apocalyptic story that takes place after something Griz refers to as the "Gelding", in which most of the population has died out due to infertility. A stranger comes to the island and steals one of Griz's dogs. When Griz wakes the next day and realizes this, he decides to chase the stranger down and retrieve his dog. 

"A man stole my dog.

I went after him.

Bad things happened."

The group gave the book an overall rating of 3.75 stars out of a possible 5. Everyone felt that the book had a slow start, especially when Griz is on the  beginning of his quest. It is hard to carry a story when you are the only character. As Griz gets further into the journey, the action picks up. He meets another person and his descriptions of the surroundings make for great visuals. While the book can be a little sad, given the nature of the story, there are many events sprinkled throughout that make the reader smile. One such moment is when Griz and his new companion come across an old gramophone and hear music for the first time. The end of the book has a couple of "did not see that coming" moments that make for a great finish. All in all, A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World is definitely worth reading. 

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Young Soul Readers -- April 17, 2023

The Young Soul Readers book club  met in April to discuss All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. It earned a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars.

The novel takes place in modern day Indiana and follows two teenagers named Violet and Finch. They meet on top of the bell tower at their school when both are contemplating suicide. They both survive, but it is unclear who saves who that day. Finch is a boy with a harsh past who struggles with mental illness, even though his family and friends won't admit it. He is known as a "freak" at school and gets bullied frequently. Violet is a girl that's coming to terms with past tragedy who also struggles with depression. 

As Violet counts down the days to graduation, Finch is counting up, trying to increase the number of days he has been "awake" and trying to avoid the dark slumber of his mental illness again. There is a stark contrast between the sadness Violet and Finch feels because she can trace its origin to the death of her sister the year before. Finch and the people around him have a harder time understanding his struggles because no one can pinpoint an event that caused such sadness in him. Instead, he walks around almost embracing the degrading labels that have been assigned to him by his classmates. As the two characters fall in love, the novel looks at the idea that despite your love for someone, it isn't always possible to save them. 

The discussion group found the book extremely thought provoking and agreed that the author did a great job of showing that mental illness is not the same as simply being sad. The juxtaposition of the two main characters illustrated this best. There were a few unrealistic parts, especially the amount of secrecy Finch was able to maintain from the rest of his family, that frustrated some members. Overall, the group would recommend it to readers who want to have a deeper, thought-provoking reading experience, but it is a tear jerker, so don't forget those tissues. 


Monday, April 17, 2023

Night Owls -- April 10, 2023

For the month of April, the Night Owls met to discuss Art Matters, a collection of essays by Neil Gaiman with illustrations by Chris Riddell. The collection covers a wide range of topics within a relatively short amount of pages: freedom of speech, freedom of information, the importance of libraries, procrastination, and the perseverance of working in the arts. 

Most members greatly enjoyed the book and found that while what the author was stating regarding several of the aforementioned topics was not necessarily new or groundbreaking, his style of writing and breakdown of complex ideas were done in a straightforward and accessible manner for all levels of readers to understand. Gaiman's wry wit when comparing the challenges of writing a book to building a chair in Making a Chair was also well-liked by the group. While some members of the group found the book to be very uplifting and inspiring, some members did comment that they felt some parts of Gaiman's writing came across a bit preachy and that some advice given was somewhat idealistic. 

Overall though, the group enjoyed reading this month's book and gave it a favorable 4 average rating. 

Final Rating: 4
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ = It was amazing

⭐⭐⭐⭐ = Really liked it
⭐⭐⭐ = Liked it
⭐⭐ = It was ok
⭐ = Did not like it

Overbooked -- April 3, 2023

 The Overbooked bunch underwent a challenging read this month as we met to discuss the beloved classic, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Originally published in 1813, the novel follows the story of Elizabeth Bennet as she learns to see past her initial prejudices and misjudgments of the people around her, especially in regards to the handsomely brooding Mr. Darcy. Written as a novel of manners which recreates the intricate customs and social norms of the time, Austen employed the use of irony, humor and social commentary to poke fun at the idea of a woman's dependence on marriage as well as the classism of the time, both of which are still relevant topics to this day.

The biggest hurdle for all members was the style of writing and dialogue. Several members found this to be the most daunting aspect of the book, but were glad to have stuck through it as the experience gave them a better understanding as to why the book is so well loved and considered a classic. The universal themes help to make the book relevant to this day. Others were genuinely surprised by how much they ended up enjoying the book and couldn't put it down. However, the roundabout manner in which characters often spoke could get frustrating at times, and readers wished they would just say what they meant. 

In the end, the book was very well received despite the initial reservations the group had tackling this classic. Members awarded the novel a 4.1 average rating. 

Final Rating: 4.1
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ = It was amazing

⭐⭐⭐⭐ = Really liked it

⭐⭐⭐ = Liked it

⭐⭐ = It was ok

⭐ = Did not like it

Thursday, April 13, 2023

The Questers -- April 13, 2023


The Questers chose The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs as the nonfiction title to discuss this year. Jeff Hobbs was Peace's roommate at Yale University. Peace never quite fit with the Ivy League crowd, but the intellectual genius never quite fit in on the streets of his hometown of Newark, New Jersey either. Hobbs doesn't try to necessarily answer why Peace couldn't escape the dangers of his drug riddled past, but he definitely writes the narrative to force the readers to ask those pertinent questions. Given what some would consider the opportunity of a lifetime, a free ride to Yale, Peace cannot seem to branch out to a legitimate career. 

Even though the reader wants to root for Peace to succeed, the title gives the ending away. There will be no triumphant breaking of generational poverty in this biography. When a generous alum offers Peace a free education, it seems the table has been set for him to support himself and his family upon graduation. However, without a mentor and guidance, Peace finds himself falling back into old habits of survival and comfort by smoking and dealing marijuana. The comfort of danger and poverty is more of an incentive than material success in an unknown world. 

The discussion group gave the book a 2.96 star rating. There were times when the book was a bit slow and hard to follow, but it provided a very lively discussion with difficult societal and moral questions. For those wanting a thought provoking read, this is a good one for the reading list. 

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Once Upon a Crime -- April 4, 2023

The Once Upon a Crime book club met recently to discuss the book The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Oseman. With six members attending and two others submitting their rating, the book received an alarming 4.7 out of 5 stars! 

The group really enjoyed the characters and how they all worked together to solve the murders. There are four main members who are residents in a retirement campus. They give retirement a whole new picture! Even though there are murders and suicide, it also contains several humorous moments, which kept the plot exciting and moving. The discussion group compared the characters to the Golden Girls sitcom.

This is a must read for those who enjoy a good mystery.


Clubbing in February -- Part 2

The Questers discussed Only the Beautiful by Susan Meissner in February. The book is set between 1938 and 1947 with the earlier years focu...