The book club met yesterday morning to talk about The Good Lord Bird by James McBride. The discussion was spirited and far-reaching, including discussions of current events as well as the historical realities of John Brown’s time.
One of the most interesting parts of the discussion revolved around comparisons to Huckleberry Finn, which many reviews have noted. Some of the book clubbers thought this was a valid comparison, given the dialect, the humor, and the satire, but some didn’t quite see it.
One book club member brought a biography of John Brown in order to talk about the accuracy of the book’s portrayal of Brown. Most of the broad strokes of Brown’s life were true to all accounts, but some of the specific actions of secondary characters were embellished or completely created by McBride.
Because this book was based on real events and real people, we also discussed some of the additional secondary characters, such as Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. Douglass does not get a particularly positive treatment in the book, but we discovered no basis in reality for these descriptions. Continue reading
Today we met at the Morris County Library to discuss the sci-fi classic Kindred by Octavia Butler. We had several new Book Clubbers, and it was a really fascinating hour and a half. We started by talking about why Butler chose to take a modern (well, modern in the 1970s) woman and transport her back to the Antebellum south, instead of just writing a more straightforward slave narrative. Some people didn’t feel like that worked for them; they didn’t like the time travel because it wasn’t realistic. Once we discovered how she came up with the idea of this novel, however, most of the book club members appreciated her reasoning, even if they still didn’t necessarily think it worked. As she stated in an interview:
I wanted to take a character, when I did Kindred, back in time to some of the things our ancestors had to go through, and see if that character survived so very well with the knowledge of the present in her head.
This morning we had a very interesting discussion on the book Someone by Alice McDermott. Many of our regular Book Clubbers found it a great read. Even those who thought it somewhat disjointed gave it three stars (out of five), but for the first time, we had more than one person rating it a five star book! So congratulations, Ms. McDermott. Rave reviews!
A lot of the discussion revolved around the meaning of vision and sight. Marie has had problems with her eyesight her entire life. This lack of ability to see clearly is echoed in the many relationships Marie has – including her brother Gabe, her parents, and Walter, among others.
On a related note, we talked about the meaning of people falling throughout the book. Not only does the book begin and end with the story of Pegeen and her fatal fall, but several other characters take serious tumbles throughout the novel.
Don’t forget to stop by the Morris County Book Club this Wednesday, April 15, at 10:00 am. We’ll be talking about Alice McDermott’s Someone.
This book has won a lot of awards, among them:
It’s going to be a great discussion. Once your taxes are done (they are done, aren’t they?), spend a little quality time talking with all of us about this extraordinary book about an ordinary woman.
Today we had a thoroughly engaging discussion of the nonfiction book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Our discussion reached beyond the bounds of introverts and extroverts – we discussed education, politics (politely!), and parenting as well. All our discussions touched on the introversion/extroversion scale, however, as we considered the implications of being more introverted in a world that typically promotes extroversion.
We discussed how a good pairing of an introvert and extrovert can lead to amazing things – whether it’s Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, or a marriage between compatible types. We talked about some of our own experiences feeling introverted at times, but also how we pushed through to success. We also discussed some of our own career choices, and how they were influenced – consciously or unconsciously – by our level of extroversion.
The next meeting for the MCL Book Club will be on Wednesday, February 18 at 10 AM. We will be discussing Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.
This literary debut is “a retelling of real-life events from 1828 Iceland, when Agnes Magnusdottir and two others are convicted and sentenced to death in a brutal double murder thought to have been motivated by greed and jealousy. As Iceland’s primitive prison system is ill equipped to house death row inmates, a local farm family is prevailed upon to board Agnes until the date of her execution.” -From Library Journal
Below you’ll find links containing more information about Burial Rites and Hannah Kent, including discussion questions:
In January, we revived the Morris County Book Club for 2015. As our inaugural book, we read We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler.
“As a girl in Indiana, Rosemary, Fowler’s breathtakingly droll 22-year-old narrator, felt that she and Fern were not only sisters but also twins. So she was devastated when Fern disappeared. Then her older brother, Lowell, also vanished. Rosemary is now prolonging her college studies in California, unsure of what to make of her life. Enter tempestuous and sexy Harlow, a very dangerous friend who forces Rosemary to confront her past”. – Booklist starred review