Thursday, October 1, 2015

Catching up on life and books!

Many of you know that I've been in a neighborhood book club for almost fourteen years. We just finished our 152nd book together! Our gatherings include food and wine, lots of laughter, sometimes sprinkled with a few tears and no matter what book we read, a really great discussion. 

Back in January, I thought it would be fun to have you all join us and I shared a few months of book reviews. Actually, I shared exactly two books. Then I pretty much fell off the blogging wagon. No excuses, life just got really busy. You know the saying ... I can do anything, I just can't do everything. ... Well that is just so true and perfectly sums up my life at the moment!

So today I'm making an effort to get back on track and catch you up on what you've missed in book club over the last few months. I hope you find a book that peaks your interest. And better yet, I hope you share it with a friend!

In March, we read Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than her tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and he is not interested in exploring a new one.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, Lou sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

Thoughts ... This one really got to me and thoughts of Louisa and Will are still swirling around in my head. The moment I finished it, I needed to talk about it. It is beautifully written, tender and touching, but it will break your heart. And it will bring up topics that are sensitive, compelling and thought-provoking. If you need a light, uplifting read, you might want to skip this one. But this is the perfect read for a cold winter night, wrapped in a blanket when you need something deep and gritty. Read it with a friend and be prepared for a great discussion!

In April, we read The Boys In The Boat by Daniel James Brown.

The Boys in the Boat celebrates the 1936 U.S. men’s Olympic eight-oar rowing team—nine working class boys who stormed the rowing world, transformed the sport, and galvanized the attention of millions of Americans.

The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers from the American West, the boys took on and defeated successive echelons of privilege and power. They vanquished the sons of bankers and senators rowing for elite eastern universities. They defeated the sons of British aristocrats rowing for Oxford and Cambridge.  And finally, in an extraordinary race in Berlin they stunned the Aryan sons of the Nazi state as they rowed for gold in front of Adolf Hitler.

Against the grim backdrop of the Great Depression, they reaffirmed the American notion that merit, in the end, outweighs birthright. They reminded the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together. And they provided hope that in the titanic struggle that lay just ahead, the ruthless might of the Nazis would not prevail over American grit, determination, and optimism.

And even as it chronicles the boys’ collective achievement, The Boys in the Boat is also the heart warming story of one young man in particular. Cast aside by his family at an early age, abandoned and left to fend for himself, Joe Rantz rows not just for glory, but to regain his shattered self-regard, to dare again to trust in others, and to find his way back to a place he can call home.

Thoughts ... This is the true story of an unlikely group of young men who rowed their way into history and you will be rooting for them right from the beginning. The details of the story have been meticulously researched and we found ourselves totally engrossed in the mechanics of a sport we knew little about before reading the book. The grit and determination of these young men will amaze and inspire you and you'll get a history lesson in the process. Not only did everyone in book club love it, but everyone in my family read this one too. It's a wonderful read!

In May, we read The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Thoughts ... Well you can hardly miss the comparisons to Gone Girl. If you like psychological thrillers, definitely read this one. The characters are a bit messy and not particularly likable, but they will definitely keep you guessing. I love books where you take nothing at face value and nothing is as it seems. We were particularly fascinated by the thought of Rachel riding the train each day and imagining the lives of the people she observed along the way. Don't we all do that in our own lives? We see people every day and imagine what their lives are like. If we only knew!

I'll be back soon with our next three books!

*The synopsis of each book was taken directly from the author's website.

1 comment:

NanaDiana said...

Hi Sharon! I am back to blogging and visiting. I have not read any of those books yet...they all sound intriguing. I should really join a book club as much as I like to read....but--like you said- I can do anything- I just can't do everything!
Hope you have a wonderful weekend- xo Diana