I present to you, the 2015 reading schedule for our Blogging Book Club:
January 29 Wonder by R.J. Palacio
February 26 My Story by Elizabeth Smart
March 26 Yes, Please by Amy Poehler
April 30 Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
May 28 Interpreters of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
June 25 Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
July 30 Wild by Cheryl Strayed
August 27 All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
September 24 The Happiness Project or Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin
October 29 And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Two choices carried over from last year (Wonder and My Story) and we cut out November and December this year meaning that we needed to choose eight books together. Six of the choices were based on your votes- Yes, Please got the most votes followed by Unbroken and Dark Places. Wild, All the Light We Cannot See and And Then There Were None rounded out the top six.
I let myself choose the last two remaining books. Last year's book club had more than a few books I didn't really enjoy so I figured I'd hand select a couple this year. For May I chose one of my favorite collections of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies, and for September I chose Happier at Home (or The Happiness Project if you haven't read that yet.)
I am totally stoked for our reading this year. I think we have really chosen some awesome books and a good variety. Just a quick reminder how it works-- Read the book. Come to my blog to read the discussion on the book and see what I and other book club members have to say. Post your own thoughts. Link up your own post about the book if you wrote a post for the book. Visit other posts about the book. Feel yourself becoming more intelligent. See? It's easy!
(Also, you never have to commit to reading every book for book club. You can join one month and drop the next. It's fine! Just hop in on whatever books you are interested in.)
This year I will have guest "hosts" for book club. We will both share our thoughts on both of our blogs. It's a great way to get traffic for your blog and a great way for me to get the word out about book club. Win/win my friends! If you are interested in co-hosting book club please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know which month/book you are most interested in.
Oh, and if you haven't read Wonder yet, get working on that! We will discuss that on the blog on January 29. (Book club will always be the last Thursday of the month.)
And now, a short summary of each book we will be reading so you can get all jazzed up for book club this year. I am so excited to get started.
Wonder by R. J. Palacio, 4.42 Goodreads rating
Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life, in an attempt to protect him from the cruelty of the outside world. Now, for the first time, he's being sent to a real school - and he's dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted - but can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, underneath it all?
Narrated by Auggie and the people around him whose lives he touches forever, WONDER is a funny, frank, astonishingly moving debut to read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page.
My Story by Elizabeth Smart, Chris Stewart, 3.72 Goodreads rating
On June 5, 2002, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart, the daughter of a close-knit Mormon family, was taken from her home in the middle of the night by religious fanatic, Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. She was kept chained, dressed in disguise, repeatedly raped, and told she and her family would be killed if she tried to escape. After her rescue on March 12, 2003, she rejoined her family and worked to pick up the pieces of her life.
Now for the first time, she tells of the constant fear she endured every hour, her courageous determination to maintain hope, and how she devised a plan to manipulate her captors and convinced them to return to Utah, where she was rescued minutes after arriving. Smart explains how her faith helped her stay sane in the midst of a nightmare and how she found the strength to confront her captors at their trial and see that justice was served.
Yes, Please by Amy Poehler, 3.85 Goodreads rating
In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book, Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book is full of words to live by
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, 4.44 Goodreads rating
On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.
Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.
Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, 4.10 Goodreads rating
Some of these nine tales are set in India, others in the United States, and most concern characters of Indian heritage. Yet the situations Lahiri's people face, from unhappy marriages to civil war, transcend ethnicity. As the narrator of the last story, "The Third and Final Continent," comments: "There are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept." In that single line Jhumpa Lahiri sums up a universal experience, one that applies to all who have grown up, left home, fallen in or out of love, and, above all, experienced what it means to be a foreigner, even within one's own family
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, 3.90 Goodreads Rating
Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars.
Since then, she had been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben's innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her brother's? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back?
She begins to realize that everyone in her family had something to hide that day... especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed, 3.92 Goodreads rating
At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.
Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, 4.23 Goodreads rating
All the Light We Cannot See--while set mostly in Germany and France before and during the war--is not really a “war novel”. Yes, there is fear and fighting and disappearance and death, but the author’s focus is on the interior lives of his two characters. Marie Laure is a blind 14-year-old French girl who flees to the countryside when her father disappears from Nazi-occupied Paris. Werner is a gadget-obsessed German orphan whose skills admit him to a brutal branch of Hitler Youth. Never mind that their paths don’t cross until very late in the novel, this is not a book you read for plot (although there is a wonderful, mysterious subplot about a stolen gem). This is a book you read for the beauty of Doerr’s writing-- “Abyss in her gut, desert in her throat, Marie-Laure takes one of the cans of food…”--and for the way he understands and cherishes the magical obsessions of childhood. Marie Laure and Werner are never quaint or twee. Instead they are powerful examples of the way average people in trying times must decide daily between morality and survival
The Happiness Project or Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin, 3.52 Goodreads rating, 3.44 Goodreads rating
Starting in September, Rubin dedicated a school year—September through May—to making her home a place of greater simplicity, comfort, and love.
In The Happiness Project, she worked out general theories of happiness. In Happier at Home she goes deeper on factors that matter for home, such as possessions, marriage, time, and parenthood. How can she control the cubicle in her pocket? How might she spotlight her family’s treasured possessions? And it really was time to replace that dud toaster.
Each month, Rubin tackles a different theme as she experiments with concrete, manageable resolutions—and this time, she coaxes her family to try some resolutions, as well.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, 4.20 Goodreads rating