What I’m Reading

For mother-daughter book club, we are reading The River Between Us by Richard Peck. It is the story of the Civil War told from a girl’s point of view. I love the Civil War as a metaphor for families in conflict.

For my friends’ book club, we are reading Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks (we had previously read March. Loved it!) For workplace book club, we’re reading What Was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn. All three of these have astute girl narrators, nice!

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I wrote this a few weeks ago and never posted. So now I must update. In my workplace book club, we are reading Hanhunt: The 12 Day-Chase for Lincoln’s Killer by James Swanson. And for friends’ group, we are reading The Hunger Games (though I’ve seen the movie!) by Suzanne Collins.

I am not very far in either of these books. But I know that they are quests. I love novels about a hero’s journey, especially when the hero is a spunky heroine!

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This Month’s Book Club Picks

For book club we are reading Diane Keaton’s Then Again.

I can’t find the passage but at one point she says we mustn’t blame mothers for all of our adult unhappiness. Mothers do their best. I agree. The book is a collage of memories, a collage like the kind Diane’s mother created –  scrapbooks and journals.

I am having trouble staying focused on my reading. Fortunately, occasionally, the choices from my work book club and my other book club coincide, like when we read The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls in both.

At my work book club, we are reading Kurt Vonnegut’s Catch-22 and for Mother-Daughter Book Club, we are reading the Robin Benway’s The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June. The girls and I recommended that book; we’ve already read it. Very funny. (But if you don’t like it, don’t blame me, a mother.) Phew. I have one less book to read.

I’d like to blog more on this topic, but yes, you guessed it, I have to get back to the Diane Keaton memoir. Book club is Tuesday night and I have hundreds of pages to go. I might just skip ahead to the Warren Beatty part.

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Read a lot!

Even more than writing, I love to read. And I love talking about books. At last night’s book club we discussed Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. Only two of us finished the book. (Yes, I was one of the two! And it was a loooooooooong novel.)

I found it compelling. I identified with every one of the f’ed up characters. I didn’t like that I saw myself in the depressed women. The character Patty was trying to be proactive. Still, she was reactive, self-defeating and messed up. She should’ve been in a book club. Reading helps.

We vote on the next month’s selection. In last night’s final voting, The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald was tied with my pick (and my mother’s recommendation), A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. I was disappointed that in the final round, the classic won.

Today, it dawned on me: I can read whatever I want, even books not picked by my book club. That’s what it means to be a grown-up. I like that part of adulthood. I can be proactive, not reactive. I am more than a character in a novel (or a writer of a blog.)

A Message from Judy Blume

There was a message on Twitter from Judy Blume to me. My breath caught in my throat.

I had been walking on Broadway for 30 minutes, heading to work yesterday morning. I stopped to check my phone. I was super excited to read what she, one of my heroes and the author of Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, wrote to me.

See, on Monday I’d written to Ms. Blume:

@judyblume we have a mother daughter bookclub in #nyc Could you stop by #uws Sun, June 4? we are reading #Deenie THANKS SO MUCH!

Ms. Blume’s message said, “– love mother/daughter book clubs but won’t be NY then. Say hi to readers for me. Parental expectations-should be interesting.”

So I emailed the “Hi!”  from the great author to the mothers and daughters in our book group. And now I pass on Ms. Blume’s hello to you, blog readers. And rest assured, we will discuss parental expectations — and much more — at our next book group!!!

Happy Reading, everyone! (Here’s my post from our first mother/daughter book club https://gettingmyessayspublished.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/mother-daughter-book-club/. )

Mother-Daughter Book Club

We had our first mother-daughter book club a week or so ago. Four mothers and six daughters sat on the floor and the comfy chairs around a coffee table that held wine glasses, juice boxes, and snacks on paper plates.

I love talking about what I’m reading. I love “comparing and contrasting,” a favorite assignment from my middle school English teachers. I love reading and discussing books so much that I even got my Master’s in literature. I missed it.

When my girls were toddlers, I jumped at the chance to start a book club with fellow mothers of preschoolers. Now our kids are middle schoolers. We’ve been meeting monthly for about eight years. We go on a long weekends together once a year. (Last year we went to Napa Valley and the year before to South Beach. For the trip we read a book set in or about that place.)

For our first mother-daughter book club meeting in March we all read Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. For our next book we were choosing among these books:

Deenie by Judie Blume

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls by Elise Primavera

Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

And the last book won! I can’t wait to read it and discuss it. I can’t wait to be a mother who talks to her kids about important things, like literature.

The Other Way To Read

I forgot how to read a real book. I am reading “The Other,” by David Guterson. I bought the real book, not the e-book book. (Thanks, Dad, for the bookstore gift certificate!)

And when I got to the end of an early chapter, I closed the book, and reminded myself to remember that I’d stopped there. On an e-book, there’s no need for book marks or reminders to yourself. The e-book remembers for you. You turn it on and voila, you’re right at your stopping-off point.

So back to my paperback book, a day later, I opened “The Other,” and started at Chapter 3 which seemed right, until the end of chapter. The narrator referred to a character as if I, the reader, should already know who she was. But I was yet to be introduced. Yes, I flipped back and realized I’d completely skipped Chapter 2.

I have become so used to reading on an e-book that I’ve lost my knack for reading a real book. It is taking me a moment to relearn, but I will get there. I’m smart like that.

Reading is one of my life rules, my routes to sanity — My Rule #2 is escape through literature. http://mbcoudal.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/rule-2-escape-through-literature/

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