Saturday, 26 November 2016

Choosing books for 2017

   This is the time of year that my Monday Night Book Club chooses books for the coming year.  
   I love this kind of planning!  In fact, I guess I convinced the group to operate in this manner.
  We all bring suggestions to this "Battle of the Books" and make a pitch for our favourites.
  I have been going though books and lists to come up with my suggestions.  We alternate classics with contemporary novels.  
   I discovered this book discussion group in the mall in 1998.  They were planning to read "Middlemarch".  Wow!  880 pages.  But the next month they read "A Suitable Boy" with 1400 pages.  I realized immediately that these readers were serious.
  And so, since then, we have read over 100 classic novels.  It is becoming difficult to find titles in the library.  Even book stores don't carry much of a collection of classics.  Sometimes we can order the books or get them from interlibrary loan.

  I had been interested in reading "Hans Brinker', but it is difficult to find enough copies.  It is a children's classic, but we have read several children's classics- "Black Beauty" for sure!
I also would like to do another Wilkie Collins book.  We read "Woman in White" and it was great. "Moonstone" is a mystery but hard to find.

  I settled on "The Time Machine" by H.G.Wells.  I am able to get several copies through the library and it is very small and the girls will love that for a change.

   However, the contemporary books that I was considering are very large.  I bought "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt but haven't found time to finish it yet.  It is 773 pages.

   I also considered an older book that Oprah had on her show "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" by David Wroblewski.  It is a great story involving training dogs, but also a mystery.  It has 688 pages, but does drag on occassion.

   What about "The Signature of All Things" by Elizabeth Gilbert? She wrote "Eat, Pray, Love", but this book is very different.  A 48-year-old woman studies botany and evolution and is searching for the origins of all things.  Very deep!


I wonder what the others in the group will suggest?  We vote on which books to read, so my books may not be chosen at all!

Thursday, 17 November 2016

"Room" by Emma Donoghue

  I found myself in a 'book club dilemma' again.  This is the November choice for one of my book clubs.  I read it when it was first published in 2011 and really didn't enjoy it.
  However, I have a commitment to my book clubs, so I decided to re-read the book.
  I know that this book has been very popular.  It has won many awards and was made into a movie.  Some of my friends really enjoyed it.
   Once again, my opinion is not the popular one.
   "Room" is written in the voice of Jack, 5 years old.  His mother had been abducted 7 years previously and held captive in a windowless shed where she was used for sex by "Old Nick"- the kidnapper.  She had one baby that died because Old Nick wouldn't help at the birth.
   Jack has a strange speech pattern which irritated me.  His mother interacted with him all day with games and stories, so why wouldn't he talk like her?  The sentences are so disjointed that there is no flow to the story.
   Then, after they escape, you read all the terms used by the social workers- cognitive distortions, depersonalization.  It just doesn't fit when it is first person narration.
  I didn't think it worked to use the voice of the boy.  
Author Emma Donoghue
Emma Donoghue, 47, born in Ireland, now lives in London, Ontario with her partner and children.  Her latest book was published this year- "Wonder".  The publisher says it is: "a tale of two strangers who transform each other's lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil."

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Love Warrior

   This book was waiting for me at the library and I didn't recognize the title.  Then I saw the stamp saying that it is a 2016 selection for Oprah's book club.  I put many books on hold and forget why.  This book was on hold for a long time!
   I immediately disliked the cover and considered passing up on it.  Covers really affect me and the red, black and white colours with the 'warrior' title did not interest me. 
   However, I trust Oprah to choose good books and I have read many of her choices.

On to the book:
Glennon Doyle Melton, the author of this memoir, is an enigma to me.  From the age of ten she struggled with body issues and identity.  She became anorexic, alcoholic, and overly sexual.
Her childhood seemed magical.  But at such an early age, she had severe struggles.
Her life was more difficult than I can imagine and I expected that something terrible must have happened to her as a child.  I am left with this question: Why do some people have such a difficult life?

 Here is Glennon's explanation:
"For twenty years, I was lost to bulimia and alcoholism and bad love and drugs.  I suffered.  My family suffered.  I had a relatively magical childhood, which added an extra layer of guilt to my pain and confusion.  Glennon-why are you all jacked up when you have no excuse to be jacked up?
My best guess is that I was born with an extra dose of sensitivity to love and pain.  I didn't want to walk through the battlefield of life naked.  So when I was ten years old, I made up my own little world called addiction and I hid there for decades. I felt safe.  No one could touch me."

  This book certainly was very detailed and I can never understand how someone writes every detail of their personal life for all to see, and then goes to the supermarket or sits in church.
  Glennon finally found her way out of the pain through extensive counselling, yoga, breathing workshops, and God.  She researched the Biblical word 'helpmate' and rather than believing that women are made to be helpers, she decided that they are warriors, thus the cover and title.
  Some readers found the book self-indulgent.  Others just felt it was terribly raw.