Book Club Picks – Humor

smileIs your book club looking for some titles to cheer them up during the dreary winter season?  Here are a few titles they might enjoy reading.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially challenged professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. And so, in the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers.

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple – Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Little Bitty Lies by Mary Kay Andrews –  A tantalizing tale about an abandoned Atlanta housewife and mother who tells one tiny white lie that sets her world spiraling outrageously out of control.

Very Valentineby Adriana Trigiani – The adventures of an extraordinary and unforgettable woman as she attempts to rescue her family’s struggling shoe business and find love at the same time.

Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boyby Helen Fielding –  Bridget Jones stumbles through the challenges of loss, single motherhood, tweeting, texting, technology, and rediscovering her sexuality in—Warning! Bad, outdated phrase approaching!—middle age.

The Good House by Ann Leary – Hildy Good is a lifelong resident of a small community on the rocky coast of Boston’s North Shore, she knows pretty much everything about everyone.  A successful real-estate broker, mother, and grandmother, her days are full. But her nights have become lonely ever since her daughters, convinced their mother was drinking too much, sent her off to rehab.  Now she’s in recovery—more or less.

Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen – A tale at once fiercely pointed and wickedly funny in which the greedy, the corrupt, and the degraders of what’s left of pristine Florida—now, of the Bahamas as well—get their comeuppance in mordantly ingenious, diabolically entertaining fashion.

Truth In Advertising by John Kennedy – Finbar Dolan is lost and lonely. Except he doesn’t know it. Despite escaping his blue-collar Boston upbringing to carve out a mildly successful career at a Madison Avenue ad agency, he’s a bit of a mess and closing in on forty. He’s recently called off his wedding. Now, a few days before Christmas, he’s forced to cancel a long-postponed vacation in order to write, produce, and edit a Superbowl commercial for his diaper account in record time.

Kind of Kin by Rilla Askew – A funny and poignant novel that explores what happens when upstanding people are pushed too far—and how an ad-hoc family, and ultimately, an entire town, will unite to protect its own.

This Is When I Leave You by Jonathon Tropper – A riotously funny, emotionally raw novel about love, marriage, divorce, family, and the ties that bind-whether we like it or not.

New Book Announced for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0

oprahOn December 10th, Oprah announced her latest selection for her Book Club 2.0.  It is Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings.  This novel is a 19th century narrative featuring real and fictional characters, weaving together stories of a slave girl and a slave owner’s daughter. In a statement released December 10th, Oprah said, “These strong female characters represent the women that have shaped our history and, through Sue’s imaginative storytelling, give us a new perspective on slavery, injustice and the search for freedom.”


Reading Around the Globe – For Book Clubs

worldDo the members of your book club like to travel?  Or do they like to “travel” via books?  Here are some books that will take them on a trip around the world.

Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man’s Miraculous Survival by Joe Simpson (Biography)

Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder (Biography)

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick (Non-fiction)

The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious – and Perplexing – City by David Lebovitz (Non-fiction)

Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip by Peter Hessler (Non-fiction)

A Beautiful Place to Die: An Emmanuel Cooper Mystery by Mall Nunn (Mystery)

Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth by Xiaolu Guo (Fiction)

A Guide to the Birds of East Africaby Nicholas Drayson (Fiction)

Babylon Rollingby Amanda Boyden (Fiction)

The Sound of Waterby Sanjay Bahadur (Fiction)

Top Ten New Novels for Summer Reading

summer reading

Kirkus Reviews has put together a list of the top 10 new novels perfect for summer reading:

  1.  The World of the End – Ofir Touche Gafla
  2. Lexicon – Max Barry
  3. No One Could Have Guessed The Weather – Anne-Marie Casey
  4. Big Brother – Lionel Shriver
  5. Ladies’ Night – Mary Kay Andrews
  6. The Last Summer of the Camper-Downs – Elizabeth Kelly
  7. The Broken Places – Ace Atkins
  8. A Hundred Summers – Beatriz Williams
  9. One Last Thing Before I Go – Jonathan Tropper
  10. Bring Up The Bodies – Hilary Mantel

Jenn Reads: Slaughterhouse Five

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut is our July pick for the Cheshire Cats Classics Club. It was chosen largely to appeal to men and to those who like more modern classics. This is not my typical fare, necessarily, and was not even on my to-read list. Far from it, actually.

I’m not sure what I thought Slaughterhouse Five was going to be, but whatever notions I had where quickly dispelled. I think I heard that it included a fictional planet, and time-travel and thought “Not for me…” First impressions are often wrong, prejudiced, and just down right stupid.

Slaughterhouse Five is a crisp 275 pages, easily read, and likely easily misunderstood. Some may find the scenes of Tralfamadore ridiculous, the war depictions brutal, the episodes of sex raunchy, but they unfortunately have missed the essence of the book. And don’t let the ease of reading the book fool you: Vonnegut is trying to send an important message on the destructiveness of war, finding happiness, and mental illness.

Slaughterhouse Five, to me, is an anti-war novel on the surface. The subtitle, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance With Death alludes to the fact that so many of the men who bravely fight our wars are merely boys. They are dancing with death in a way many of us will never experience.

What Billy Pilgrim experiences and views at the bombing of Dresden forever changes him and shapes the novel. Billy’s “strange” behavior of time traveling and episodes on Tralfamadore are manifestations of his PTSD. Knowing that Vonnegut himself saw the bombing of Dresden makes you wonder how much of this was truly Billy Pilgrim’s story and how much of it was autobiographical. Anyone who has seen actual warfare is never the same.

I listened to this book, as I try to do with all of the classics we read for the club. Ethan Hawk was the reader for this version, which included an interview with Vonnegut. All in all, I was pleasantly surprised with this book, having gone in with low expectations. Hawk’s reading of it was admirable, although the mixing on the recording was very low and he was often difficult to hear, and the story moved.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars (but it’s a hearty 3 stars)