Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Book Group Madness!

After a summer's hiatus, and a September's worth of back-to-school events, my book group finally got back together to discuss the passle o' books we've read over the last couple of months. Mocha chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin pie bars, Guatemalan chocolate chip bread, baba ghanoush, stilton with apricots, pinot noir--all big hits. The books were less consistent.

People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks. This was probably the most successful book with the group overall. Most everyone really liked it, though some had trouble connecting with the present-day main character. I particularly enjoyed how Brooks brought history to life with involving characters and vivid historical details.

Lush Life, by Richard Price. Most everyone enjoyed this novel for its atmosphere. Set among the world of cops and crooks in Manhattan's Lower East Side, it's a novel to be enjoyed for its ear for dialect and attention to detail rather than its plot.

Darling Jim, by Christian Moerk. A horror fairy tale, with a lyrical Irish lilt. I didn't finish this one, but the others in my book group found it to be either page-turning mind candy or really yucky, because of the gory subject matter.

Engleby, by Sebastian Faulks. Okay, I admit it, I did not read this book. I meant to, but I kept forgetting to get a copy. I really enjoyed Sebastian Faulks's book Birdsong, many years back, but the idea of this book, a sort of psychological thriller/whodunit with a remorseless main character, didn't grab me. It didn't grab many of my fellow book-groupers, either. I would say it generally got a thumbs down.

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. For me, this was a page turner. Almost everyone in the group loved this book. The main character was really appealing to most, and the subject matter really engaging. There was only one dissenting voice--one reader who didn't think the book covered any new territory. I liked it because the writer created some real tension for me--I was actually afraid of what might happen to the main characters.

As usual, great discussion, good friends, good food, lots of wine, and many laughs made for a successful book group evening.

12 comments:

softdrink said...

I've only read The People of the Book and The Help, but I enjoyed them both. I especially liked The Help, for the characters, and the setting and what you said about tension...I was really invested in what happened to everyone.

Ti said...

Sounds like a very productive meeting with lots of yummy food! My kind of meeting. Hehe.

My book group discussed A Mercy. Many had a hard time with it. I did too until I listened to the audio and then went back to read the book. Our next book is In The Time of the Butterflies.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I love the selection of books and especially the selection of food. Sounds like a great book group!

Gentle Reader said...

Jill--I was on tenterhooks reading the book, I thought the author did a good job making the stakes pretty high!

Ti--I really liked A Mercy, but I can see how the elliptical language might make it a difficult book group book. I bet I would get more out of the audio version--great idea!

rhapsodyinbooks--the foods are nearly as important as the books! I always really enjoy the food and the conversation with my group :)

litlove said...

I'm impressed your group got through so many reads! My husband read Engleby a while back and wasn't too impressed by it, either. I'm waiting for The Help to come out in paperback here, and I must read Geraldine Brooks - she's been on the list for ages!

Dorothy W. said...

I've been meaning to read the Geraldine Brooks book for quite a while. I just loaned my copy to a friend who loved it, so now that I have it back I should start it soon. (Although the truth is, it will probably take me a while. But I'd like to get to it.)

Bybee said...

I picked up a lot of good ideas for my own book groups by reading your post. Food ideas, too...

Tara said...

I loved The Help and am going to suggest it to my book club for 2010.

LisaMM said...

We haven't read any of these yet- and now that I think of it we have never read a thriller of any kind. We should probably do something about that. We read Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks a while back and I have been curious about People of the Book.

Our group discussed Olive Kitteridge last weekend, and that was really fun.

Your groups food sounds amazing! Always a very important component of a good book club meeting!

Have a great week, Tracy!

Gentle Reader said...

litlove--I'll be interested to hear what you think if you read the Geraldine Brooks. I must say that of her books, I liked this one the best...

Dorothy--I really enjoyed the Brooks, so I do hope you get to it so I get to hear what you think :)

Bybee--Glad to be inspiring on any level, whether it be about books or food!

Tara--I think The Help is a particularly good book group book, don't you?

Lisa--well, food is definitely very important to us! Wish I could have been a fly on the wall for your Olive Kitteridge discussion--I loved that book, but my group hasn't read it!

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