Books · Sister Reads

Sister Reads – Reading for Book Club, Booktopia, and Just Because

Hello and Happy Spring to all you book lovers!

So as you may (or may not) have noticed we sister-reads-banner2didn’t post for April but for a very good reason. I was actually in France visiting Francine and we were both so busy that we decided to skip April and resume this month.

I have to mention that the timing of this post is most appropriate as by the time you will be reading this I will be at Booktopia 2017 at the Northshire Bookstore in VT. What is Booktopia you ask? Why just a weekend full of readers and authors interacting in casual settings whilst having wonderful conversations about…BOOKS!!! Or as I like to think of it a glimpse of heaven on earth! It is also the motivation I needed to push my reading into high gear.

So without further ado here’s what I have read since our last meeting:

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

This was the March choice for my Literary Parings Book Club. The story all happens in one day and is very much about English society in the 1920s. This is a book that I really wanted to read and like. I have always heard so much about Mrs. Dalloway. Sadly to say although it is an interesting story I found it tiresome. It is very much observation and stream of consciousness and the extremely long sentences made it difficult for me to follow. I would get to the end of a very long paragraph and then be like, “wait who just said/thought all of that”, and have to go back and figure it all out. Very frustrating for me. This book made me really appreciate the use of punctuation. One of the ladies in my book club said that she listened to the audiobook and I think I will give that a try. May be easier to follow if someone is reading it to me. Alas, I missed April’s meeting as I was traveling but they read The Hours by Michael Cunningham as the pairing for Mrs. Dalloway. I still hope to read it before the year is up.

The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

I absolutely loved this book. It follows the love story of the main characters Eva and Jim in three different incarnations/versions of their lives based on the choices they make. I will say that you should try to read this book in big blocks of time so that you get into the rhythm of the three versions and also to help you keep track of the versions. However, don’t stress or over think it too much as it will come to you as you read more and you will know what path of Jim and Eva’s life you are reading. Apart from the story itself, Laura Barnett’s style of writing is brilliant. She is able to intertwine the three versions into one seamless novel.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

This is one of those books that I kept hearing about and never read until I had to read it for the Sister Reads online book club. It was a bit tough at first as it reminded me of when I lost my dad even though it’s been well over 10 years. It is really a memoir about her losing her husband unexpectedly to a heart attack while their only daughter was in a coma in hospital. It really gives you great insight into the grieving process, especially when you lose someone unexpectedly. But can’t take too much time to wallow as someone else is depending on you. I really liked her honest, heartfelt words and how she shared her most vulnerable moments with the reader. The Year of Magical Thinking is about Didion trying to make sense out of all that is happening to her and her family and about trying to get on with the act of living.

These next books are from three of the nine authors who will be at Booktopia this weekend (I am attending six sessions and at the time of writing this I am trying to finish at least one more book before we leave on Friday morning (yes as in today)…Yikes!!)

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

Let me just say that when I am in my 80s I want to be just like Lillian! Lillian Boxfish is based on Margaret Fishback who was reputed to be the world’s highest-paid female advertising copywriter in the 1930s and who worked for Macy’s. Lillian is feisty and marches to her own drum. If you know me then you will know that New York is not exactly my most favorite city but after reading Lillian I kind of want to visit and follow the same path that she took for her walk. The book takes place on New Year’s Eve 1984 in Manhattan and as the title suggests we take a walk with Lillian. Along the way, she encounters some very interesting people and also reminisces about her past.

Books for Living by Will Schwalbe

I have been meaning to read Will Schwalbe’s other book “The End of Your Life Book Club” this year (it is on my 2017 TBR list). However, I read this one first as he is one of the authors who I will be interacting and having conversations with this weekend. Books for Living is non-fiction and examines how certain books that Will has read along the way have impacted his life. Let’s just say that after reading this that my TBR pile has really grown. I have read some of the books he mentions and some I will never read as they are just not my thing. Books for Living now has me thinking of the books as I read them in a completely different light. This truly is a celebration of reading and books and I highly recommend this one.

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

I think that the majority of the books that I have read about WWII have either been from a Jewish perspective or that of the allies. I really liked that Jessica wrote this book from a different perspective – that of the lives of German women whose husbands were part of the resistance and the attempt to assassinate Hitler. While the majority of the book focuses on their lives after the war has ended there are also flashbacks to before and during. I think what really drew me in was that subconsciously (or consciously) I have never really given much thought to the Germans who opposed what Hitler was doing and fought against it some giving up their lives. In other words, I have never really thought about the average German citizen who may have been inherently good but just in a place and time that they had no control over. I somehow just always thought “Aryan” Germans equal bad, German Jews equal good and persecuted, if that makes sense. I really enjoyed this story and also how it portrayed these women and the strength they had in such troubling times. The Women in the Castle really gives the reader some insight into the repercussions of war and what it takes to not only survive physically but also emotionally and go on with the act of living.

And finally this – Finding Gideon by Eric Jerome Dickey

I am a member of First to Read a Penguin Random House online group that gives you the chance as a member to read new books before they hit the shelves. I started reading this and realized that they must have been a previous story about the two main characters and after some investigation found that this was not the first Gideon book. Other reviews about this had stated that it can be read without having read the previous ones but I found like I was missing some important back story about Gideon from not reading his other stories. This is not usually a genre that I read and the sex and violence (although I am not a prude and have read many books with these things in them) were just a little too much for me. Still, an interesting story and Dickey’s writing is really good. I skimmed most of this book, as I just could not get into it.

So there you have it! My reading is finally starting to pick back up to a nice pace which I hope to maintain for the rest of the year. I wonder what Francine has read since our last time. Go here to see.

6 thoughts on “Sister Reads – Reading for Book Club, Booktopia, and Just Because

  1. Wow! You’ve taken over from where I left off. Interesting observations about the grieving process. I feel inspired to dive back into reading some more.

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  2. Have you read The Hours? It’s a sort of retelling of Mrs. Dalloway. And thanks for reminding me to borrow Mrs. Dalloway from the library, I started it once but couldn’t get past the first chapter without falling asleep. lol Next time I have to read it during the day.

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    1. Will be reading The Hours. It was our pairing for April but I was visiting you so missed book club but I still want to read it. See if you can get the audiobook for Mrs. Dalloway.

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