Reading Group Choices Newsletter
Poetry & Short Stories
New Genres,
New Discussions
  April 2012 
Greetings!

 

Create new, exciting discussions by using new genres!

See how characters confront the secrets of their past, discover new passion in former loves and face change and the consequences of their own choices.

Win CA$H or books for your book group -- encourage your friends to enter the favorite discussibles survey and enter yourself for chances to win new discussibles!

Plus a celebration of National Poetry Month, "Food by the Book" and reading group choices and tips from your colleagues - all in this month's Reading Group Choices newsletter!   

 

In This Issue
Last Chance to Win CA$H
Short Story Selections
Confronting the Past
Love Reborn
Facing Change & Consequences
Food by the Book
National Poetry Month
Neely's Poetry Favorites
Barbara's Short Story Recommendations
New On the Bookcase Posts
RGC's NEW Pinterest Page
Your Own Discussible Choices
Tips from Your Colleagues
Diversify Your Book Club Selections
Last Chance to Win CA$H!

 Five lucky groups will win $100 each! Use the cash to cater your next gathering, buy books for your next discussion, go to a movie or play with your group - let your imagination go wild!  

Survey 2011  

 

Winners will be selected at random from those who tell us in the Favorite Discussibles Survey about their best discussions in the past year.    

 

IT'S YOUR LAST CHANCE! Our survey this year closes on April 20th.  

 

Short Story Selections

Guest contributor Mamie Potter, winner of a recent short story competition judged by Elizabeth Berg and sponsored by Quail Ridge Books & Music (Raleigh, NC), offers Reading Group Choices subscribers some valuable and unique advice for book groups...


No year of book club reading is complete without a short story collection.

Mamie PotterYou can make it easy by choosing the annual Best American Short Story collections that have been published since 1978.  The editors are the best of the best--Joyce Carol Oates, Barbara Kingsolver, John Edgar Wideman, and Geraldine Brooks to name a few.  These writer/editors pore over prestigious literary publications like The New Yorker, Granta, One Story, and the Harvard Review, to choose the most compelling stories.  It is an opportunity for book clubs to learn about new writers whose novels they may want to try later in the year.

Read the full article here.
 
Confronting the Past
 
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
 
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions. But for Victoria Jones, it's been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. Now eighteen, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others. But a vendor at the flower market has her questioning what's been missing in her life, and when she's forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it's worth risking everything.


Where We Belong by Emily Giffin
 
Where We Belong by Emily Griffin Marian Caldwell is a thirty-six year old television producer, living her dream in New York City. With a fulfilling career and satisfying relationship, she has convinced everyone, including herself, that her life is just as she wants it to be. But one night, Marian answers a knock on the door . . . Only to find Kirby Rose, an eighteen-year-old girl with a key to a past that Marian thought she had sealed off forever. From the moment Kirby appears on her doorstep, Marian's perfectly constructed world and her very identity will be shaken to its core...

Love Reborn

Sacrilege by S. J. Parris
 
Sacrilege by S. J. Parris Radical philosopher, ex-monk, and spy Giordano Bruno suspects he is being followed. He is shocked to discover that his pursuer is in fact Sophia Underhill, a young woman with whom he was once in love. When Bruno learns that Sophia has been accused of murdering her husband, a prominent magistrate in Canterbury, he agrees to do anything he can to help clear her name. He must turn his detective's eye on history--on Saint Thomas Becket, the twelfth-century archbishop murdered in Canterbury Cathedral, and on the legend surrounding the disappearance of his body--in order to solve the crime.

Words Get in the Way by Nan Parson Rossiter

Words Get in the Way by Nan Parson Rossiter The modest ranch house where Callie Wyeth grew up looks just as she remembers it. But in the years since Callie lived here, almost everything else has changed. Her father, once indomitable, is in poor health. And Callie is a single mother with a beautiful little boy, Henry, who has just been diagnosed with autism. Returning to this quiet New Hampshire community seems the best thing to do. Even if it means facing Linden Finch, the one she loved and left for reasons she's sure he'll never forgive. Yet in the relationship that develops between the two, Callie begins to find hope...

Facing Change & Consequences

More Than You Know by Penny Vincenzi
 
More Than You Know by Penny Vincenzi Eliza has a dazzling career in the magazine world of the 1960s. But when she falls deeply in love with Matt, an edgy working-class boy, she gives up her ritzy, fast-paced lifestyle to get married. By the end of the decade, their marriage has suffered a harrowing breakdown, culminating in divorce and a dramatic courtroom custody battle over their little girl. Also at risk is Eliza's gorgeous family home, which she can't bear to give up. True to form, Penny Vincenzi introduces a devious cast of characters seemingly plucked from the pages of sixties--and seventies--era magazines...


Grace by T. Greenwood

Grace by T. Greenwood For thirteen-year-old Trevor Kennedy, taking photos helps make sense of his fractured world. His father, Kurt, struggles to keep a business going while also caring for Trevor's aging grandfather, whose hoarding has reached dangerous levels. Trevor's mother, Elsbeth, all but ignores her son while doting on his five-year-old sister, Gracy, and pilfering useless drugstore items. Only Crystal, a store clerk dealing with her own loss, sees the deep fissures in the Kennedy family. And as their lives become more intertwined, each will be pushed to the breaking point, with shattering, unforeseeable consequences. Grace is an INDIE NEXT pick for April 2012!


Heft by Liz Moore

Heft by Liz Moore Former academic Arthur Opp weighs 550 pounds and hasn't left his Brooklyn home in a decade. Twenty miles away, in Yonkers, seventeen-year-old Kel Keller navigates life as the poor kid in a rich school and pins his hopes on what seems like a promising baseball career--if he can untangle himself from his family drama. The link between this unlikely pair is Kel's mother, Charlene, a former student of Arthur's. After nearly two decades of silence, it is Charlene's unexpected phone call to Arthur--a plea for help--that jostles them into action.


The Sometimes Daughter by Sherri Emmons

JThe Sometimes Daughter by Sherri Emmonsudy Webster's mother, Cassie, is a beautiful, flawed flower-child who brings her little girl to anti-war protests and parties rather than enroll her in pre-school. But as Cassie's husband, Kirk, gradually abandons '60s ideals in favor of a steady home and a law degree, their once idyllic marriage crumbles. Kirk files for divorce and is awarded custody. Cassie calls and writes, occasionally entering Judy's life just long enough to disrupt it. And when Cassie comes home again, Judy, who has tried so long to find a place in her mother's life, must finally decide what place Cassie claims in hers...

Food by the Book

This month's Food by the Book selection is How to Eat a Cupcake by Meg Donohue.

How to Eat a Cupcake by Meg Donohue Free-spirited Annie Quintana and sophisticated Julia St. Clair come from two different worlds. Yet, as the daughter of the St. Clairs' housekeeper, Annie grew up in Julia's San Francisco mansion and they forged a bond that only two little girls oblivious to class differences could--until a life-altering betrayal destroyed their friendship. A decade later, Annie bakes to fill the void left in her heart by her mother's death, and a painful secret jeopardizes Julia's engagement to the man she loves. A chance reunion prompts the unlikely duo to open a cupcakery, but when a mysterious saboteur opens up old wounds, they must finally face the truth about their past or risk losing everything..


National Poetry Month

National Poetry Month This is the 16th year that the month of April has been deemed National Poetry Month. On Poets.org you can find fun ways to either create a poetry reading group or how to incorporate poetry in to your current book club. Tips such as using a book of poetry for one meeting, or choosing one poem to read and examine at each meeting. You could even pick a poet to discuss his or her life in relation to their work. Another interesting idea that is offered is to find a movie that involves poetry and watch it with your reading group.  Poetry has many options for reading groups that you many have not looked into yet.

Neely's Poetry Favorites

Neely Kennedy, Literary Director Sailing Alone Around The Room by Billy Collins
 
Sailing Alone Around the Room, by America's Poet Laureate, Billy Collins, contains both new poems and a generous gathering from his earlier collections The Apple That Astonished Paris, Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, and Picnic, Lightning. These poems show Collins at his best, performing Sailing Alone Around the Room by Billy Collinsthe kinds of distinctive poetic maneuvers that have delighted and fascinated so many readers. They may begin in curiosity and end in grief; they may start with irony and end with lyric transformation; they may, and often do, begin with the everyday and end in the infinite. Possessed of a unique voice that is at once plain and melodic, Billy Collins has managed to enrich American poetry while greatly widening the circle of its audience.


This Is Just To Say by Joyce Sidman

This is Just to Say by Pamela Zagarenski and Joyce Sidman When Mrs. Merz asks her sixth grade class to write poems of apology, they end up liking their poems so much that they decide to put them together into a book. Not only that, but they get the people to whom they apologized to write poems back. In haiku, pantoums, two-part poems, snippets, and rhymes, Mrs. Merz's class writes of crushes, overbearing parents, loving and losing pets, and more. Some poets are deeply sorry; some not at all. Some are forgiven; some are not. In each pair of poems a relationship, a connection, is revealed.


Space, In Chains by Laura Kasischke

Space, In Chains by Laura Kasischke Space, in Chains speaks in ghostly voices, fractured narratives, songs, prayers, and dark riddles as it moves through contemporary tragedies of grief and the complex succession of generations. In her eighth book of poetry, Laura Kasischke has pared the construction of her verse to its bones, leaving haunting language and a visceral strangeness of imagery. By turns mournful and celebratory, Kasischke's poetry insists upon asking hard questions that are courageously left unanswered.

 
Street Of Clocks by Thomas Lux

The Street of Clocks by Thomas Lux The Street of Clocks, Thomas Lux's first all-new collection since 1994, is a significant addition to the work of an utterly original, highly accomplished poet. The poems gathered here are delivered by a narrator who both loves the world and has intense quarrels with it. Often set against vivid landscapes - the rural America of Lux's childhood and unidentified places south of the border - these poems speak from rivers and swamps, deserts and lawns, jungles and the depths of the sea.


Plume by Kathleen Flenniken

Plume by Kathleen Flenniken The book's personal story and its historical one converge with enriching interplay and wide technical variety, introducing characters that range from Carolyn and her father to Italian physicist Enrico Fermi and Manhattan Project health physicist Herbert Parker. As a child of "Atomic City," Kathleen Flenniken brings to this tragedy the knowing perspective of an insider coupled with the art of a precise, unflinching, gifted poet.

Barbara's Short Story Recommendations

Barbara Drummond MeadIn keeping with the theme of diversifying your book club selections, we would like to share and old blog post of Barbara Drummond Mead about short stories.

I love short stories -- characters coming alive in compact narratives. There are many short story collections that makes great reading group picks and create lively conversation. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, Unaccustomed EarthandInterpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri--just to name a few. One of my personal favorites is Ship Fever by Andrea Barrett! Oprah selected a short story collection, Say You're One Of Them, by Uwem Akpan. Is there an reason why short fiction is a dying genre? Will Oprah come to the rescue of the short story?  Has your book club selected a short story collection? Which one and why?

Tell us about the short stories your reading group has read!

 

New On the Bookcase Posts

Laura On the Bookcase Reading Group Choices visits Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh, North Carolina for their annual Book Club Bash!

Author On the Bookcase: Vanessa Diffenbaugh, author of The Language of Flowers, explains how she came to create flower dictionary.

Author On the Bookcase: Alice Hoffman writes a letter to her readers about her new novel The Dovekeepers

Reading Group Choices' Laura Vianna attends Virgina Festival of the Book in Charlottesville, Virginia as a panel member at the Book Club workshop.

Get resources to celebrate National Poetry Month!

 

RGC's NEW Pinterest Page!
Your Own Discussible Choices

Book Dots Congratulations to Lori and The Book Club Divas for winning the random drawing for this month's Discussible Book Choice!

"We recently read Night Road by Kristen Hannah.  For once everyone in the group finished it and could really relate to the book.  We had a great discussion regarding the characters, and what we would have done in the situation."
Lori, The Book Club Divas, Coral Springs, FL

We enjoy hearing from book club members and sharing their choices with everyone. Please let us know about your group's discussible choices - you may win a "Box 'O Books" with something for every member of your reading group! 

More Discussible Choices

Tips from Your Colleagues

What's worked in the best book clubs? "Box O' Books" to Cecelia and the Pearl Chapter One Book Club for offering their book club tips this month!

"We have door prizes at every meeting.  Most popular are books (imagine!), but other items are included such as book bags, adult summer reading t-shirts, etc.  Everyone really likes this feature."
Cecelia, Pearl Chapter One Book Club, Pearl, MS  

We enjoy hearing from book club members and sharing their choices with everyone. Please let us know about your group's tips - you may win a book-related prize for every member of your reading group!

More Tips From Your Colleagues 

 

 
Thanks for keeping the joy of reading alive,
 

 
Diversify Your Book Club Selections
 

 

Stack of Books

 

Fiction novels are the most popular genre for book club picks, but trying something new may lead to enjoyable and enlightening group discussions! This month's eNewsletter highlights poetry and short stories, two beautiful but often overlooked forms of literature.

Poetry allows us the unique experience of relating directly to an author. Thoughts, feelings, and ideas flow from the page not only into our minds but often straight into our hearts.  This month's poetry selections represent five unique modern voices, some offering lighthearted reflections and others serious contemporary commentary.  Incorporating poetry makes an interesting and soulful addition to any book club discussion.  Encourage each member to choose a favorite poem and share why it speaks to her.  As when gazing at a work of art, differing interpretations are both interesting and thought-provoking.

Similarly, reading a collection of short stories is a wonderful way to make connections with an author.  Because the condensed format of a short story allows for an equally condensed emotional impact, we get an immediate feeling for his or her strengths, viewpoints, and overall artistry.   In Olive Kitteridge, for example, Elizabeth Strout is able to dramatically link thirteen tales that revolve around one central character and town.  We get an intimate look at the characters that can be difficult to achieve in a single novel.   As a fun exercise, ask your members to reflect on a character that most represents her own feelings and views. For more about Olive Kitteridge and other wonderful short story titles and book club ideas, we are pleased to give you Mamie Potter's fabulous article.  Enjoy!

 

   

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Chances to Win!
 
2012 Survey 

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Choices
 
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Fresh Ideas for Discussion

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Neely's Poetry Favorites 

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