Reading Group Choices Newsletter
I Pledge Allegiance to Book Clubs  
Happy 4th of July! 
  July 2012 


After all the 4th of July excitement, Reading Group Choices thought this month would be a good time to discuss American historical novels! Learn something new about this country's history while also learning something new about your reading group! 


Ladies Home Journal and Reading Group Choices have teamed up to bring you monthly book club tips! Is this month's pick the one for your next gathering? 


Plus a summer Olympic read, new cast of Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Senator Gillibrand's book club and Neely's American favorites!         


In This Issue
Your Next Book Club Pick?
Ladies' Home Journal Book Club
New On the Bookcase Posts
Neely's American Favorites
Your Own Discussible Choices.
Tips from Your Colleagues
Summer Olympics Read
Casting Hunger Games: Catching Fire
"Off the Sidelines" Book Club
American Historical Novels
Your Next Book Club Pick?
Last Summer by Holly Chamberlin
Last Summer by Holly Chamberlin Jane Patterson lives next door to her best friend Frannie Giroux, and their teenaged daughters, Rosie and Meg, are inseparable. But in the girls' freshman year of high school, everything changes. Rosie -- quiet, shy, and also very pretty -- attracts the sneers and slights of a clique of older girls. When Meg betrays their friendship, fearful that she too will be targeted, Rosie suffers an emotional breakdown. In the months that follow, each struggles with the ideas of forgiveness and compassion, of knowing when a friendship has been shattered beyond repair -- and when hope can be salvaged, one small moment at a time...

The Reluctant Matchmaker by Shobhan Bantwal

The Reluctant Matchmaker by Shobhan Bantwal At thirty-one, Meena Shenoy has a fulfilling career at a New Jersey high-tech firm. Not that it impresses her mother and aunts, who make dire predictions about her ticking biological clock. Men are drawn to Meena's dainty looks, and she dates regularly but hasn't met someone who really intrigues her. Someone professional, ambitious, confident, caring. Someone like her new boss, Prajay Nayak. Just as Meena's thoughts turn to romance, Prajay wants her to craft a personal ad that will help him find a suitable wife. Despite her attraction to Prajay, Meena can't refuse the generous fee...

The Silver Boat by Luanne Rice
Silver Boat by Luanne Rice From the beloved New York Times bestselling author, Luanne Rice, comes a heartwarming yet heart-wrenching portrait of three far-flung sisters who come home to Martha's Vineyard one last time. Their mother's beach house is the only place any of them ever found true happiness, and they need to begin the difficult process of letting go. Memories of their grandmother, mother, and their Irish father, who sailed away the year Dar turned twelve, rise up and expose the fine cracks in their family myth -- especially when a cache of old letters reveals enough truth to send them back to their ancestral homeland.

Ladies' Home Journal Book Club

LHJ Book Club Ladies' Home Journal (LHJ) and Reading Group Choices have teamed up to bring book clubs a more specific and interesting way to provoke a lively book discussion! Each month LHJ chooses a book suitable for book club discussion. Reading Group Choices' Literary Director, Neely Kennedy, writes a blog post that picks the best discussion themes. Check out the articles here


New On the Bookcase Posts

Laura On the Bookcase Author On the Bookcase: Oksana Marafioti, author of American Gypsy, encourages everyone to write, whether is it just a few thoughts or a full novel.

Author On the Bookcase: Jyotsna Sreenivasan tells us why she wrote her new novel, And Laughter Fell from the Sky, with Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth in mind.

Choose Kind is an anti-bullying campaign inspired by R.J. Palacio's debut novel, Wonder. Random House Children's Books invites you to share your story and pledge to Choose Kind every day.


Neely's American Favorites

Neely Kennedy, Literary Director Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

Sorely wounded and fatally disillusioned in the fighting at Petersburg, Inman, a Confederate soldier, decides to walk back to his home in the Blue Ridge Mountains and to Ada, the woman he loved there years before. His trek across the disintegrating South brings him intoCold Mountain by Charles Frazier intimate and sometimes lethal converse with slaves and marauders, bounty hunters and witches, both helpful and malignant. At the same time, the intrepid Ada is trying to revive her father's derelict farm and learning to survive in a world where the old certainties have been swept away. As it interweaves their stories, Cold Mountain asserts itself as an authentic odyssey, hugely powerful, majestically lovely, and keenly moving.

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry 

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry A love story, an adventure, and an epic of the frontier, Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize- winning classic, Lonesome Dove, the third book in the Lonesome Dove tetralogy, is one of the grandest novels ever written about the last defiant wilderness of America. Journey to the dusty little Texas town of Lonesome Dove and meet an unforgettable assortment of heroes and outlaws, whores and ladies, Indians and settlers. Richly authentic, beautifully written, always dramatic, Lonesome Dove is a book to make us laugh, weep, dream, and remember.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston One of the most important works of twentieth-century American literature, Zora Neale Hurston's beloved 1937 classic, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is an enduring Southern love story sparkling with wit, beauty, and heartfelt wisdom. Told in the captivating voice of a woman who refuses to live in sorrow, bitterness, fear, or foolish romantic dreams, it is the story of fair-skinned, fiercely independent Janie Crawford, and her evolving selfhood through three marriages and a life marked by poverty, trials, and purpose. A true literary wonder, Hurston's masterwork remains as relevant and affecting today as when it was first published.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Grear Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald's third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted "gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession," it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides This is the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of l967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction.

Your Own Discussible Choices

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

"We liked The Best of Times by Penny Vincenzi, because we like 'ripples' -- what happens if you're not there or here -- an interesting concept. We wished the author had spent more time on some characters and less on others, but overall, very good."
Libby, The Minoa Book Club, Minoa, NY

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 book-related prize for every member of your reading group!

More Discussible Choices
Tips from Your Colleagues

Tips This month, your colleagues have offered some great tips for making your discussions lively. Congratulations to Vikki and Jan's Book Club for winning this month's drawing.

"We read one banned book each year - usually in October for 'Banned Books Month'. We have discussed not only the book, but why we think it might have been banned. We've had some insightful discussions!"
Vikki, Jan's Book Club, Seward, NE

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

Lots More Tips
Summer Olympics Read

Gold by Chris CleaveIn the tumultuous buildup to the Summer 2012 Olympic games, Chris Cleave's Gold follows three competitive and determined athletes in a heart-stopping, adrenaline-pumping story of friendship and marriage, tragedy and redemption, parenthood and sacrifice, that will leave you at once breathless and fulfilled. Says Kirkus Reviews, "[Cleave] knows how to captivate with rich characters and nimble plotting."

Casting Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Philip Seymour HoffmanIn Reading Group Choices' survey, book clubs voted The Hunger Games one of the top ten discussible books of the past year. Lionsgate and the filmakers of Hunger Games: Catching Fire have just casted Philip Seymour Hoffman for the role of Plutarch Heavensbee, Head Gamemaker for The Hunger Games. The second movie will be released November 22, 2013.  Maybe your book club should plan a field trip to the cinema!


"Off the Sidelines" Book Club

In the spirit of American pride, it looks like even senators have time for book clubs! Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) has a book club called "Off the Sidelines."

The Senator says, "Our book club is just one way to engage women..."

This month's selection is "How Great Women Lead: A Mother-Daughter Adventure into the Lives of Women Shaping the World" by Bonnie St. John.

Check out the last book discussion with Senator Gillibrand and Sheryl WuDunn, author of Half the Sky.


Thanks for keeping the joy of reading alive,

American Historical Novels  

American Books


Celebrate American history this July by reading an acclaimed period piece. The American novel allows us to experience key moments in our country's history, including the immigration experience, the Civil War, the Wild West, the Civil Rights movement, the Great Depression, and the recent financial crisis.



Encourage book club members to share stories of their family history and experience. Bring photographs of your ancestors or a sentimental heirloom. Discuss the triumphs and struggles of our great nation by examining how much has changed -- and what things remain the same.





Chances to Win!
Ladies' Home Journal
Book Club


See what Ladies' Home Journal's Book Club and Reading Group Choices' Neely Kennedy are discussing!

Ladies' Home Journal Side Bar


Neely's American Favorites 







Fresh Ideas for Discussion


The Flight of Gemma Hardy

My Dear I Wanted to Tell You

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

The Reservoir

The Astral

The Absolutist

The Atlas of Love


The Most Dangerous Thing

Picture This

The Secrets of Mary Bowser

The Night Circus


New Blog Posts
More About Reading Group Choices 




Join Our Mailing List