Reading Group Choices Newsletter
Your Favorite Discussible of 2012!
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  January 2013
What books generated your best discussion in 2012?

Plus suggestions for great discussions in 2013, new ideas for activities in the coming year, Neely's Favorite Classics, new On the Bookcase blog posts, young readers book club ideas, NPR's Best Book Club Reads, McDonald's joins the book bandwagon, and ways to rejuvenate your book club.

All this and more in this month's issue!
In This Issue
New Titles for the New Year
New Year Ideas
On the Bookcase Posts
NPR:The Year's Best Book Club Reads
Neely's Favorite Classics
Facilitate a Young Readers Book Club
McDonald's Joins the Book Bandwagon
Your Favorite Discussibles of 2012
New Titles for the New Year

All She Ever Wanted by Rosalind Noonan

All She Ever Wanted For years, Chelsea Maynard has longed to be a mother. She's imagined caring for a new baby in the lovely house she shares with her husband, Leo, fondly planning every detail. But after a difficult birth, those dreams of blissful bonding evaporate. Chelsea battles sleep deprivation and feelings of isolation. Chelsea has dark visions fueled by exhaustion and self-doubt. Doubting her ability to parent--even doubting her own sanity--Chelsea is close to collapse. Then an unthinkable crisis hits. And suddenly, Chelsea is compelled to face both the fragility and resilience of life, and the extraordinary depths of love.

The Dead Shall Not Rest by Tessa Harris

The Dead Shall Not Rest It is not just the living who are prey to London's criminals and cutpurses. Corpses, too, are fair game--dug up from fresh graves and sold to unscrupulous men of science. Dr. Thomas Silkstone abhors such methods, but his leading rival, Dr. John Hunter, has learned of the imminent death of eight-foot-tall Charles Byrne, known as the "Irish Giant," and will go to any lengths to obtain the body for his research. Thomas intends to see that Byrne is allowed to rest in peace. For as Thomas knows too well, the blackest hearts sometimes go undetected--and even an unblemished fašade can hide terrifying secrets...


The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman

The Plum Tree Christine B÷lz knows there is a whole world waiting beyond her small German village. It's a world she's begun to glimpse through music, books--and through Isaac Bauerman, the cultured son of the wealthy Jewish family she works for. Yet the future she and Isaac dream of sharing faces greater challenges than their difference in stations. In the fall of 1938, Germany is changing rapidly under Hitler's regime. In the months and years that follow, Christine will confront the Gestapo's wrath and the horrors of Dachau, desperate to be with the man she loves, to survive--and finally, to speak out.

The Drowning House by Elizabeth Black

Drowning House Photographer Clare Porterfield's once-happy marriage is coming apart, unraveling under the strain of a family tragedy. When she receives an invitation to direct an exhibition in her hometown of Galveston, Texas, she jumps at the chance to escape her grief and reconnect with the island she hasn't seen for ten years. There Clare will have the time and space to search for answers about her troubled past and her family's complicated relationship with the wealthy and influential Carraday family. Steeped in the rich local history of Galveston, The Drowning House portrays two families, inextricably linked by tragedy and time.

Parlor Games by Maryka Biaggio

Parlor Games The novel opens in 1917 with our cunning protagonist, May Dugas, standing trial for extortion. As the trial unfolds, May tells her version of events. As the narrative bounces back and forth between the trial taking place in 1917 and May's devious but undeniably entertaining path to the courtroom--hoodwinking and waltzing her way through the gilded age and into the twentieth century--we're left to ponder her guilt as we move closer to finding out what fate ultimately has in store for our irresistible adventuress.

New Year Ideas

It's a new year!  Why not try a few little tricks to keep things new and interesting at your next book club meeting! 

  • Have breakfast or lunch meetings instead of evening meetings.  Many people prefer daytime to evening hours. (Brown bag saves money!)
  • Have a volunteer day.  Help members to bond by joining together in the name of giving.  For example, go to local nursing homes to read.
  • Host a "bring a guest day".  Bring a friend who might not want to commit to joining a book club but will enjoy participating once.
  • Choose new locations -- museums or local restaurants, for example -- to coincide with the book's theme.
  • Schedule a guest speaker or set up a skype call with an author or expert.

On the Bookcase Posts
Laura On the Bookcase
Please welcome Tracy Chevalier to On the Bookcase! This Q&A reveals the secrets behind her novel, The Last Runaway

We're thrilled to also welcome Margot Livesey to On the Bookcase! She tells us why she chose Jane Eyre as her muse in writing her novel, The Flight of Gemma Hardy.


NPR:The Year's Best Book Club Reads

Have you read NPR's 2012 Best Book Club Picks?

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan NPR Graphic

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Arcadia by Lauren Groff

NW by Zadie Smith

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin  



NPR gave us their list, now it's your turn! Fill out our survey and tell us what your reading group's favorite discussible pick was for 2012. 


Neely's Favorite Classics

Neely Kennedy, Literary DirectorA good book becomes a good friend.  Here at Reading  Group Choices, we're anticipating a wonderful year meeting new characters and emerging authors.  Likewise, in this issue we will feature a few classics that you may want to re-introduce to your collection.   As the song goes: "Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold"! 

The Age of Innocence
by Edith Wharton

The Age of Innocence Newland Archer, an eligible young man of the establishment is about to announce his engagement to May Welland, a pretty ingÚnue, when May's cousin, Countess Olenska, is introduced into their circle. The Countess brings with her an aura of European sophistication and a hint of scandal, having left her husband and claimed her independence. Her sorrowful eyes, her tragic worldliness and her air of unapproachability attract the sensitive Newland and, almost against their will, a passionate bond develops between them. But Archer's life has no place for passion and, with society on the side of May and all she stands for, he finds himself drawn into a bitter conflict between love and duty.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights Over a hundred and fifty years after its initial publication, Emily BrontŰ's turbulent portrayal of the Earnshaws and the Lintons, two northern English households nearly destroyed by violent passions in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, continues to provoke and fascinate readers. Heathcliff remains one of the best-known characters in the English novel, and Catherine Earnshaw's impossible choice between two rivals retains its appeal for contemporary readers. At the same time, the novel's highly ambivalent representations of domesticity, its famous reticence about its characters and their actions, its formal features as a story within a story, and the mystery of Heathcliff's origins and identity provide material for classroom discussion at every level of study.

Laughter in the Dark by Vladimir Nabokov

Laughter in the Dark Albinus, a respectable, middle-aged man and aspiring filmmaker, abandons his wife for a lover half his age: Margot, who wants to become a movie star herself. When Albinus introduces her to Rex, an American movie producer, disaster ensues. Vladimir Nabokov's characteristic dazzling skill and irony brilliantly turns a fable into a chilling, original novel of folly and destruction. Amidst a Weimar-era milieu of silent film stars, artists, and aspirants, Nabokov creates a merciless masterpiece as Albinus, an aging critic, falls prey to his own desires, to his teenage mistress, and to Axel Rex, the scheming rival for her affections who finds his greatest joy in the downfall of others.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Great Expectations Pip, a poor orphan being raised by a cruel sister, does not have much in the way of great expectations--until he is inexplicably elevated to wealth by an anonymous benefactor. Full of unforgettable characters--including a terrifying convict named Magwitch, the eccentric Miss Havisham, and her beautiful but manipulative niece, Estella, Great Expectations is a tale of intrigue, unattainable love, and all of the happiness money can't buy. "Great Expectations has the most wonderful and most perfectly worked-out plot for a novel in the English language," according to John Irving, and J. Hillis Miller declares, "Great Expectations is the most unified and concentrated expression of Dickens's abiding sense of the world, and Pip might be called the archetypal Dickens hero."

Sanshiro by Natsume Soseki

Sanshiro Natsume Soseki's only coming-of-age novel, Sanshiro depicts the eponymous twenty-three-year-old protagonist as he leaves the sleepy countryside to attend a university in the constantly moving "real world" of Tokyo. Baffled and excited by the traffic, the academics--and most of all--the women, Sanshiro must find his way among the sophisticates that fill his new life. An incisive social and cultural commentary, Sanshiro is also a subtle portrait of first love, tradition, and modernization, and the idealism of youth against the cynicism of middle age.

Facilitate a Young Readers Book Club

Kids Reading Want to get your kids and their friends to read more this year? Try a kids' book club! Have your kids and their friends create a book club, choose the books they want to read each month, and then plan meetings for them with creative activities to do based on each book they read. You can even trade off hosting the book club meetings between parents. By making it fun and something to look forward to, the kids will be more likely to read a few more books then they normally would. For January we suggest Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

Book Club for Kids: Ideas for Books, Activities and Snack

McDonald's Joins the Book Bandwagon

McDonald's Starting this year, McDonald's in the UK will be distributing books in the their Happy Meals, instead of toys. In 2 years, McDonald's will give out 15 million books. "...backed by Britain's National Literacy Trust. The super-sized book giveaway, called 'Happy Readers,' kicked off...with a five-week promotion of non-fiction books from DK Books' Amazing World series," says Time: NewsFeed. Maybe this program will catch on in the United States!


Thanks for keeping the joy of reading alive,
Your Favorite Discussibles of 2012   

Survey 2011  


It's one-of-a-kind: a list of favorite DISCUSSIBLE books for book groups! Though there are many lists of books and many book awards, not all of the books on them make for the kind of lively, fun, interesting, thought-provoking, unforgettable discussions that reading groups crave. Well, here's your chance--join with thousands of other book group members to tell us which books did all that for your group in 2012. We'll compile and publish the list for you, and let you know how it compares to those chosen in previous surveys.

And when you complete the short survey, Reading Group Choices will enter your name into a random drawing for $100 to jazz up your next get-together -- plus a Box of Discussibles! Five lucky groups will win the prize!

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