Tag Archives | Book Clubs

What I Love About Book Clubs

Today’s post from Sharon Souza at our sister blog, Novel Matters | @NovelMatters

I started a book club about 3 years ago with my adult daughters and some of our friends. We get together once a month for a potluck dinner and discussion of our book of the month. While we enjoy our dinner and discussion, we enjoy just being together most of all.

But that aside, a benefit of our eclectic club that I especially enjoy is reading books I never would have chosen on my own. For example, two years ago my 34-year-old daughter came with the suggestion that we read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. At the time, I’d not heard of the book, and I wasn’t overly excited about reading it. But I kept that to myself, because I wanted everyone to help choose the books we read.

Well, let me tell you, I was completely immersed in the story from page one. I loved the author’s style and the fictional world she created, and loved the protag’s voice. But when I got to the end of the first chapter—which literally took my breath away—I was wholly invested in the story.

And so was every other woman (aged 34 to 70+) in our group. We read book one in the trilogy, then read book two the next month. Then we had to wait four months for book three to release. I’ve read the series twice more since then, and have grown to love it more with each reading.

When we learned Hollywood was making the movie—of course they were!—we spent much of our monthly discussion time “casting ” the film. We thought Robert Downey Jr. would make an excellent Haymitch, but Hollywood didn’t get the memo. No matter, Woody Harrelson won me from his first smarmy word. Naturally, we all went to see the movie as a group—along with all our husbands, who also read the trilogy at our recommendation. We also read The Help and saw that movie together as a group.

We’ve read contemporary novelists, English and American classics, and after reading Sea Wolf by Jack London, one of my all-time favorites, we planned an outing to the Jack London State Park in Glen Allen, in the California wine country, about two hours from where we live. Unfortunately it rained buckets that day so we cancelled, but we’ll get there eventually.

A few months after reading Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, one of the younger women suggested we read Mrs. De Winter by Susan Hill. While I enjoyed Rebecca, I would not have chosen to read Mrs. De Winter, but was pleasantly surprised by the story and the quality of the writing. Same with The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, which is a remarkable book.

Some books we’ve loved; others not so much. And we don’t always agree. We grade every one, and learn a lot about ourselves and each other in the process. We meet tonight, and will discuss the first third of And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer. We’re reading this one over the course of the summer because it’s such a lengthy book. I’m eager to find out what the others think about it. I’m not usually big on historical fiction, but I’m enjoying it a lot.

What about you? What book(s) have you read and enjoyed as a book club selection that you might not have read otherwise? And what fun things do you do as a group?

Sharon K. Souza is the author of Lying on Sunday and Every Good and Perfect Gift. Her newest release, Unraveled, will be available in July. Visit her website for more information www.sharonksouza.com

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

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April Book Club Selection

Welcome, friends, to a new month and a new book club selection. If you are stopping by after today’s devotion at Proverbs 31 Ministries, we’re delighted you came. You have stumbled upon a group of women who share a love for all things Story. And this month’s story is one that we could not be more excited about: A Watershed Year by Susan Schoenberger!

As usual we have a myriad of prizes to give away. Our first place winner will receive a Kindle, pre-loaded with a copy of A Watershed Year. Two additional winners will each receive a copy of the novel. And one participant of our online discussion group will receive a $35 gift card to Amazon, all courtesy of Guideposts Books. (To enter, simply leave a comment on this post or sign up for our free monthly e-newsletter. Winners will be randomly chosen on April 15th.) If you do not have a local book club, or your schedule prevents you from attending one in person, we highly suggest you join our online group. It’s free and you will find Kindred-book-loving-Spirits from all over the world to engage in discussion with.

And now, a bit about the novel:

A Watershed Year by Susan Schoenberger

It was the year that everything changed.

It made me feel better to think that we could talk, somehow, beyond the end of my life, that I could preserve my presence in some small way. And I haven’t told you everything I should have. I wasn’t finished yet, at least where you are concerned…”

Lucy never confessed her love to her best friend Harlan before he passed away. Two months after his funeral, she is haunted by the power of things left unsaid when she receives the first of his e-mails arranged to be sent after his death. So begins the year that everything changes – Lucy’s watershed year.

In an e-mail Harlan says something that consumes her: He’s certain Lucy is destined for motherhood. In her grief she suddenly rediscovers hope, journeying to Russia to adopt a four-year-old boy. When she meets her son Mat for the first time, she realizes he’s also mending a wounded heart and is just as lost as she is. Together they learn to trust, each helping the other to heal. But just as they’re welcoming their new normal, Mat’s father comes to America to reclaim his son and reveals the truth about Mat’s past, which might shatter Lucy’s fragile family forever.

Susan Schoenberger’s breathtaking and powerful story of love, loss, redemption, and what it means to be a mother will leave you in awe as Lucy, in the depths of her greatest despair, somehow finds her greatest joy and embraces the beauty of second chances.

You can read an excerpt here.

About the Author

Susan Schoenberger

Susan Schoenberger has been a journalist since 1984 at various newspapers, including The Baltimore Sun and The Hartford Courant. Her articles, essays, and short stories have appeared in numerous publications. A Watershed Year is her first novel. Susan lives in West Hartford, CT, with her husband and three children

What others are saying about A Watershed Year:

“A Watershed Year is a well-told tale of life and death and the way, when we least expect it, love can encompass us roundabout. In the intriguing relationship between Lucy and Harlan – a relationship that continues long after the death of one and well into the blossoming of life in another – this author has created a vivid and continuous dream of what it means to create a kind of family, for better and worse. This is a brave and moving novel.” – Bret Lott, author of JEWELL, an Oprah Book Club Selection

“Susan Schoenberger takes us to the softer places of the heart in her debut novel, A Watershed Year, where love – in all its forms and glory – transforms grief into grace.” – Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times Bestselling author

“A Watershed Year traces with subtle humor and grace the months after the death Lucy’s beloved friend Harlan. Schoenberger’s spot-on storytelling adeptly draws out the ways in which our closest relationships can be imperfect and yet continue to transform us. The story often tugged me to tears – as much for the truths it reveals about human interconnectedness as for the pain of Lucy’s grief. However, I never felt manipulated or yanked unwillingly to boo-hoo over standard sorrows. Her characters are lovingly quirky yet complex enough to be believable. You’ve never met them before yet you know they exist!” – Juliette Fay, author Shelter Me and Deep Down True

Win, lose, or draw, we encourage you to pick up a copy of A Watershed Year. This is one novel you don’t want to miss!

On behalf of the She Reads team,

Ariel

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About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

read more