Book Groups

Next Life Might Be Kinder

Next Life Might Be Kinder

Ever have that experience where you read a “new” author and exclaim, “Who is this guy and why hasn’t anybody told me about him?”  Howard Norman’s Next Life Might Be Kinder is that kind of book. I love the fact that this novel is summarized by the first line of the book: “After my wife, […]

Fortunately, Neil Gaiman

Fortunately, Neil Gaiman

This is not the first time I have posted about Neil Gaiman, an author much beloved by my household. I recently put forward my theories of therapeutic reading, and I had opportunity to do further research this week. I know, I work too hard.  Now then: are you world-weary?  Are you cynical? Would you be suffering from ennui if […]

Essays on the Power of Story: Rebecca Solnit’s “The Faraway Nearby”

Essays on the Power of Story: Rebecca Solnit’s “The Faraway Nearby”

I picked up Rebecca Solnit’s The Faraway Nearby when I saw it on a patron ‘s list of favorite books. I had been hearing Solnit’s name a lot anyway, mostly in reference to another book of hers, Men Explain Things To Me. The Faraway Nearby is a collection of thirteen interconnected essays that range from […]

What Light in Yonder Saber Breaks? William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

What Light in Yonder Saber Breaks? William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

Looking for a change of pace for an upcoming book group meeting? I’m a big advocate of playing with the formula at least once a year and trying something unusual. The contrast helps to keep the standard meeting format fresh. One of my favorite variations is to read something aloud. There’s a great deal of […]

A Life in Film

A Life in Film

I didn’t always appreciate Roger Ebert. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, when he and Gene Siskel were America’s most ubiquitous critical presence, I didn’t give either the thumbs-up as a reviewer. But over time, and through illness, Ebert’s steady presence grew on me. Whether you agreed with his verdict on a particular film or […]

Go Straight to Hell’s Kitchen: North River by Pete Hamill

Go Straight to Hell’s Kitchen: North River by Pete Hamill

This summer seems to have been a season for trying authors who have long been on my bookshelf, but never quite made it into my hands. Pete Hamill’s North River mixes atmospheric historical novel with thoughtful middle-age romance, family tragedy with a dash of criminal suspense. The setting is the waning days of the Tammany […]

Discussable Duets: Pairing fiction and nonfiction

Discussable Duets: Pairing fiction and nonfiction

It may be the height of summer, but the F season is right around the corner. I’m not talking about FALL, I’m talking about FOOTBALL. If you’re group plans their reading only a few months in advance, why not try to grab that elusive demographic–the male reader–and answer a pertinent question posed by many American […]

West of Here

West of Here

Our guest blogger, Marnie Lassen, hails from Melbourne, Australia, where she is a reader, conservationist, adventurer and excellent cook.  She recently scaled the tallest mountain in Borneo (and got back home in time to whip up a pavlova).  When I last saw her she was passing through the Northwest, on her way to brave the dangers of an all-inclusive […]

Swipe and Prejudice

Swipe and Prejudice

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a good smart phone must read the books of his wife. Let’s start with two confessions. First, despite the fact that she is probably my wife’s favorite author, I had, until recently, never read Jane Austen. Sure, I’ve seen enough PBS to know […]

Cyrano Wrap

Cyrano Wrap

I’m a long time, unabashed fan of Edmund Rostand’s 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac. The play introduced the word “panache” to the English language, and that’s appropriate, because nowhere else is the concept more fully brought to life. Cyrano is a soldier, a poet, a duelist, a musician, and even a theater critic in the […]