5 Reasons Why I Should Never Read a Mystery Novel

When I visit my local ELA Library, I usually do a quick pass through the New Mystery section. If the latest Alex Delaware (by Jonathan Kellerman) or Kinsey Milhone (by Sue Grafton) novel is available….YES. Mine, grabbing it like a child and holding it close.

I then put aside whatever I am reading and delve into those books.

Most genres I can set aside at the appropriate times. But, when I get engrossed in a mystery, forget it. The details, the short section breaks, the quickening pace, keep the pages turning long after they should.

Here are a few of the reasons why I should not even start a mystery, unless I have a day to focus on it:

  1. Dinner -what dinner? Are you really hungry tonight?
  2. These woeful eyes staring when their walks are delayed.IMG_4713
  3. Pages might get warped near the shower.
  4. At 11 pm I will resolve to read “one more chapter”; suddenly it is 2 am. And I have to be up in 4 hours for work!
  5. Can’t read it when at the gym. So postpone the workouts, right?

The same often happens with the latest Stephen King or a few other authors, but it always happens with a tight mystery.

The journey continues.

C

Note: feel free to substitute “binge watch the latest HOT series”, “start a puzzle”, “search online for cheap airfares” in the title, depending on your tastes.

My Book Club Basics 3/3, Choosing Books!

 

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What books are on your nightstand now? (or in your line up on your electronic device)  Share!

Books, Books and more Books! With an overwhelming selection of enticing-poorly written-predictable-and keep-you-up-all-night reads today, how do you choose books for your book club? For our club, each host gets to pick their book and shape their meetings around the selection.

We have a few members who get stressed (and hilarious) when it comes time to make their book selections.  Just stay calm, since there are a myriad of resources to find your selections.

Here are a few ideas for you to help you pick your next read:

  • Talk to other people who love to read!
  • Ask your librarian—our local ELA Library has an entire book club selection area with ideas. Library websites also include lists, such as Chicago Public Library’s top 2016 rentals.  
  • Browse your local bookstore. Pick up a book, read the jacket, sample a page. Ask an employee what they liked recently.
  • Many newspapers and magazines, from People to The New York Times to Vanity Fair, include new book releases on a regular basis.
  • Goodreads website  gives you a place to find books, fellow readers, research genres.
  • Bookbrowse is an online booklover’s magazine. They have a “First Impressions” you can join where they send 5-6 books a year to either write a review or join a discussion, for a small fee.
  • You can Google many topics for book lists. Be careful, it’s easy to get lost doing this: top historical fiction, history, chick lit, novels, young adult, science fiction.

It can be overwhelming, so keep it simple. Remember, it is a BOOK CLUB choice–happy reading!

This is the 3rd and final post I have shared for now about starting, organizing, or changing up your book Club.  Read the others here: My Book Club Basics, 1 of 3 and My Book Club Basics, 2 of 3.

The journey continues.

Cindy, the WBL Book Club Wrangler

P.S. With all the new books out, it is easy to overlook the classics. Refresh your list with some timeless (or dated) literature.

My Book Club Basics, 2 of 3

My last post was about why I love my book club. Since people have asked us about how to set up/run/host a book club, know that there are many options to create a club that works for you. Some groups are very organized and intense, and some (like ours) are a bit less formal in pre-planning and execution.

Here are some ideas to think about, when setting up your own group:

  • Consider inviting varied members who are willing to research the book, develop questions and will be involved in the discussions.
  • Mix up the genres of books you read.
  • How will you make your book selections? My next post will explore this topic, since there are so many resources.
  • Choose where/when you will meet. Our group meets at someone’s house at night; others go to a coffee shop, out for lunch, or meet at a local bookstore or library.
  • Possibly have some set times, such as 30-60 minutes for catch up, then giving a specific time for the book discussion to start. We started doing this, and this structure helps our meetings run smoother when some people come who have not read the book.
  • Decide who you will have a discussion leader for each meeting who will do research on the author bio, background on subject matter, pose pointed discussion questions.  Will it be the current host? Hire someone?
  • Pair up the book with a movie or tv show. For example, we have read and seen the movies: Chocolat, Wuthering Heights, The Help and A Man Called Ove(the latter two were seen in the theater).
  • Decide if you will record a member rating for each book.
  • Mix it up! At our December meeting, we choose an easy book with a holiday theme, wear Christmas sweaters, and do a white elephant.
  • Enjoy reading and each other!

Now, gather some people, then start reading. And talking.

C

My Book Club Basics, 1 of 3

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Display from the Printer’s Row Book Fair, Chicago

To answer the most frequently asked question first—Yes, we discuss the books in our monthly meetings! We do not just drink wine.

I am honored to have been part of our book club since its inception in 2003! Our first book was A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, shortly before it was debunked as a fraudulent biography. Ironically, there was a lot of discussion at our initial meeting about which parts of that book seemed fake (and later, how easy it should have been for Oprah’s team to research the story before catapulting it to stardom).

In 14 years, we have welcomed new friends to our group, had our dear friend Janaki move, seen births, deaths, kids grow through school and beyond, job changes, and illnesses. I personally have enjoyed books and genres I never would have chosen and found some authors I now covet—Lianne Moriarity, Fredrik Backman, Kristin Hannah.  In our discussions and debates, I still learn about my friends’ histories, dreams, passions, losses.

My friend Theresa, who launched our book club, says that she is very proud of our club’s longevity as a no judgment book club. If you only read the back page but want to listen to the discussion….come on in. Only read one book a year and come only twice a year…we will be happy to see you. Listen on Audible at double-time speed…more credit to you.

People often ask me for reading suggestions. This can be a baited question, since there are so many types of books. Do you like novels, chick lit, romance, biographies, non-fiction, science fiction, history? If for a book club, will you read recently released books? Or only ones that are available at the local library?

For several book ideas now, here is the list of books that our book club read in 2016, and the start of 2017, in the order that we read them:

Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
The Martian by Andy Weir
The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens
The Memory Box by Eva Lesko Natiello
Whiskey & Charlie by Annabel Smith
The Wedding Pearl by Carolyn Brown
Before the Fall by Noah Hawle
My Grandmother Forgot to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman
Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton
The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans
11/22/63 by Stephen King

My personal favorites from this list were My Grandmother Forgot to Tell You She’s Sorry, A Man Called Ove,11/22/63, and Whiskey & Charlie. 

If you want to start a book club, it just takes a little time and a few friends. There are many options to best set up and run your club, choose your books,etc.  My next post will address these topics.

Books and Bucket Lists

Reading. Friends. Cocktails. Discussion. Learning. Debate. Snacks. Laughter. Maybe One.More.Drink.

I so look forward to my monthly neighborhood book club meetings. While our families joke that we do not actually discuss our varied selections, we do!   The amount we talk about the book may be proportionate to how relatable (or debatable) the book is, whether there is a difference of opinion about the quality of the characters-plot-writing, and if the host has good discussion questions.

Through others reading choices I have discovered authors and books I never would have picked up, lived vicariously through a variety of eras and locations, expanded my life views, made new friends, and become a better writer.

Sometimes we even have homework assignments.

For our last book club we were asked to bring our bucket list of 5 things we wanted to do, typed and unsigned. We then tried to guess who wrote out each sheet.   (this “homework” went along with our discussion, nameless but light romantic fluff).

It was eye-opening to see how similar some of the items were on our lists: a lot of travel, learning new skills like writing and knitting, re-learning old hobbies, more travel, and spending more time with our families.

We will continue to share, learn, cry, discuss life in each meeting. Hopefully grow individually and as a group. And prop each other up outside our ongoing gatherings.

And my bucket list, in case you are interested:

  • Travel to Iceland and Australia.
  • Research family history to learn my mom’s family when/why they came to US.
  • Do travel and photo exploration of large swath of Route 66. (maybe Sante Fe to Flagstaff or CA).
  • Write a novel.
  • Sky dive.

What is on your list? (bucket or reading)

C

Who do you write for?

Who do you write your blog for? Your poems? Your stories? You or your potential readers? I sometimes toss this thought around if I am struggling to find a subject to write about, when writing for myself.  When working on a business assignment, the thought process is completely different for me.

When I share my personal blog posts on social media, I am often surprised at which ones generate the most shares, reads, or feedback. Yet others I think are passionate pass by with nary a discussion. Interesting to note what hits people’s emotions.

My business blog subject matter is easier to identify. I write about issues impacting marketing, emedia, publishing, audience development, database management—areas I work in every day. The blog is a great tool to share ideas and opinions with customers. It also shows perspective clients my areas of expertise and some of my thought process. Other marketers can also learn, explore, express, provoke.

I recently read The M Train by Patti Smith and Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker. Both books were autobiographical–short vignettes in each chapter with connections throughout. Completely different in tone, I really enjoyed both, but I felt a bit more allowed into Patti Smith’s life.

Both of these books had very authentic voices. Maybe because the authors wrote about what they really felt and believed, rather than focusing on their audience during their writing process? Their stories were filled with sentiments from the heart. Thinking about these books now inspires me to continue to write in my personal blog what interests me today. Next week. Next month. And I hope you will continue to join me on my journey.

Keep it real with words and pictures.

C

Living Authentically

Is it possible for someone like me, to “live authentically” right now, today? I have been asking myself this question recently, reading the novel The Red Book by  Deborah Copaken Kogan.  This novel takes place over a 20th graduation anniversary weekend of Harvard graduates.  A quick read with a somewhat predictable storyline, I felt the characters were diverse, relatable, and interesting.  My favorite part of the book was the actual Red Book entries, where the graduate tell of the last 5 years on a page.  Insights and false realities to introduce the characters.  We all have the lives we show the public and the dreams which have been put on hold, forgotten as we march through the day-to-day.

We spend the years of our youth and early adulthood being molded by society, our parents’ demands and expectations, our teachers, our peers, where we fit in the family hierarchy, the location where we grow up, our interests, the media, our religion, the family beyond our house, and the unexpected events—sometime crises- that are thrust at us.

It can be years until we peel off the layers of expectations set upon us. When we are open enough to learn about ourselves, admit our dreams, possibly think about what WE really want—free of the plans others have laid out for us—we can be busy in that gerbil-on-a-wheel life of kids, mortgages, spouse/partner, aging parents, a stash of lovely friends, our health issues, bills, and the other minutia that comprise a life.

Our abilities and work experiences have perhaps led us down an unexpected and now-monotonous path. But in this economy and where we are in our family lifecycle, we cannot afford to change drastically.

I’m not sure there is a way off that path right now, so I will grasp the moments of joy, of exploring my dreams, while I can.  I will continue to morph my business into something that brings greater satisfaction.  Hopefully I can increase the “moments of authenticity” until they feel a more-integrated part of my life, not simply escapism.

As for my kids, I have been talking to them about me understanding the pressures around them, but they should think about the paths they want to take.  Make their study, work, activity choices based on what THEY want to do to succeed, not what they think that we, their friends, their educators, the media, their peers (not always the same as their friends), and guilt think they should do. Not an easy feat.

And if you have a chance, pick up The Red Book. It might make you think about how to make your life yours, not someone else’s expectation. C