Reading Group Choices Newsletter
Family Summer Reading
School's out,
let's read!
 May/June 2013
Planning a family get-away this summer?  Why not share your love of books and book discussion with your loved ones, too?  Our May/June newsletter has lots of ideas for you--from deciding what books to choose to making the discussion fun and interesting for all. 


We have lots of discussible suggestions for your book group, too.  A Pulitzer Prize Winner, a few for art-lovers, and lots about families with a little intrigue thrown in.  Plus some comments about Ladies' Home Journal picks and some thoughts from favorite discussible authors.


Enjoy them all, and your family and summer, too!

In This Issue
Long-standing Book Club Favorite
Discussibles for Art Lovers
Discussibles about Families & for Families
Ladies' Home Journal Book Club Picks
Neely's Family Favorites
On the Bookcase Posts
2013 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction
Tips for Family Book Clubs
Thanks for Participating!
Family Reading this Summer
 Long-standing Book Club Favorite

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak The Book Thief by Markus Zusak has been on Reading Group Choices' "Annual Top Book Club Favorites" list for five years (2007-2011) in a row! If you reading group hasn't discussed this young-adult cross-over novel, put it on your list today.

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier. The New York Times bestseller The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is the perfect selection for book clubs. Once you begin to read it, you just have to talk about it.  The New York Times raves, "Brilliant. . . . It's the kind of book that can be life changing." USA Today says The Book Thief, "Deserves a place on the same shelf with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank."


Discussibles for Art Lovers

The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro

Art Forger Almost twenty-five years after the infamous art heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum--still the largest unsolved art theft in history--one of the stolen Degas paintings is delivered to the Boston studio of a young artist. Claire Roth has entered into a Faustian bargain with a powerful gallery owner by agreeing to forge the Degas in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But as she begins her work, she starts to suspect that this long-missing masterpiece--the very one that had been hanging at the Gardner for one hundred years--may itself be a forgery.    


Eight Girls Taking Pictures by Whitney Otto

Eight Girls Taking Pictures A profoundly moving portrayal of the lives of women, imagining the thoughts and events that produced eight famous female photographers of the twentieth century. Inspired by the work of Imogen Cunningham, Madame Yevonde, Tina Modotti, Grete Stern, Lee Miller, Ruth Orkin, and others, author Whitney Otto weaves together eight stories, crisscrossing the world and a century to portray the tensions that defined the lives of female artists. These memorable characters seek the extraordinary through their art, yet also find meaning and reward in the ordinary tasks of motherhood, marriage, and domesticity. This is a bold, immersive, and unforgettable novel about women in love.


Cascade by Maryanne O'Hara

Cascade It's 1935, and Desdemona Hart Spaulding has sacrificed her plans to work as an artist in New York to care for her bankrupt, ailing father in Cascade, Massachusetts. When he dies, Dez finds herself caught in a marriage of convenience, bound to the promise she made to save her father's Shakespeare Theater, even as her town may be flooded to create a reservoir for Boston. When she falls for artist Jacob Solomon, she sees a chance to escape and realize her New York ambitions, but is it morally possible to set herself free?


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Discussibles about Families & for Families

Between Heaven and Texas by Marie Bostwick

Between Heaven and Texas While Lydia grows up petite and pretty, Lydia's twin sister, Mary Dell, just keeps growing. Tall, smart, and sassy, Mary is determined to one day turn her love of sewing into a business. Meanwhile, she'll settle for raising babies with her new husband. But that dream proves elusive too, until finally, Mary gets the son she always wanted--a child as different as he is wonderful. And as Mary is forced to reconsider what truly matters in her family and her marriage, she begins to piece together a life that, like the colorful quilts she creates, will prove vibrant, rich, and absolutely unforgettable...

More Than You Know by Nan Rossiter

More Than You Know Under their mother's steady guidance, Beryl and her older sisters, Isak and Rumer, shared a childhood filled with happiness. But now Mia Graham has passed away after battling Alzheimer's, and her three daughters return to their New Hampshire home to say goodbye. Swept up in memories and funeral preparations, the sisters catch up on each other's lives. And as Beryl, Rumer, and Isak face a future without Mia, they realize it's never too late to heed a mother's lessons--about taking chances, keeping faith, and loving in spite of the risks...

Broken Harbor  by Tana French

Broken Harbor Starting with her award-winning debut, French has scored four consecutive New York Times bestsellers and established herself as one of the top names in the genre.  Broken Harbor is quintessential French--a damaged hero, an unspeakable crime, and an intricately plotted mystery--nestled in a timely examination of lives shattered by the global economic downturn. Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy always brings in the killer. Always. That's why he's landed this high-profile triple homicide. At first, he thinks it's going to be simple, but the murder scene holds terrifying memories for Scorcher. Memories of something that happened there back when he was a boy.

 Is This Tomorrow by Caroline Leavitt

This Is Tomorrow In 1956, Ava Lark rents a house with her twelve-year-old son, Lewis, in a desirable Boston suburb. She finds her neighbors less than welcoming. Lewis yearns for his absent father, befriending the only other fatherless kids: Jimmy and Rose. One afternoon, Jimmy goes missing. The neighborhood--in the throes of Cold War paranoia--seizes the opportunity to further ostracize Ava and her son. Years later, when Lewis and Rose reunite to untangle the final pieces of the tragic puzzle, they must decide: Should you tell the truth even if it hurts those you love, or should some secrets remain buried?

The Way Back to Happiness by Elizabeth Bass

No one could blame Bev Putterman for becoming estranged from her sister. No one but Bev, anyway. Growing up, Diana was difficult and selfish yet always their mother's favorite. And then came the betrayal that took away the future Bev dreamed of. Yet if Diana caused problems while alive, her death leaves Bev in a maelstrom of remorse. She longs to provide a stable home for Diana's fourteen-year-old daughter, Alabama. But between her commitment-phobic boyfriend and her precarious teaching position, Bev's life is already in upheaval without an unruly teenager around. 

Benedict Hall by Cate Campbell

Margot Benedict struggles to succeed as a physician despite gender bias--and personal turmoil. The household staff have always tried to protect Margot from her brother Preston's cruel streak. Yet war has altered Preston too--not for the better. And when a chance encounter brings a fellow army officer into the Benedict fold, Preston's ruthlessness is triggered to new heights. Frank Parrish has been wounded body and soul, and in Margot, he senses a kindred spirit. But their burgeoning friendship and Preston's growing wickedness will have explosive repercussions for everyone at Benedict Hall as Margot dares to follow her own path, no matter the consequences.


Ladies' Home Journal Book Club Picks

Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry In May's best-selling Ladies' Home Journal Book Club selection, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, author Rachel Joyce tells the story of one man's unlikely decision to walk the length of England from Kingsbridge to Berwick upon Tweed. Harold Fry's spontaneous pilgrimage begins as a means to save an old friend after receiving a letter that she is in hospice dying of cancer.  It is a surprisingly touching journey that builds on Harold's seemingly stodgy existence as a retiree, and gathers strength as the story unleashes into an emotional tidal wave ending.

Read "A Walk Down Memory Lane, The Routes of Our Pain" by Reading Group Choices' Neely Kennedy for discussible topics and themes! 

Orphan Train In the Ladies' Home Journal Book Club June selection, Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline takes readers on an absorbing and very personal journey, intertwining the stories of a misfit teenage girl, Molly, and a reclusive ninety-year-old woman, Vivian, who bond over their painful orphan childhoods. Though the two women are brought up in different eras, and Molly's modern experience is less harsh than Vivian's thanks to child-protective services laws, their experience of abandonment, abuse, neglect, and mistrust are largely the same.

Read "It's a Hard Knock Life; Orphan Wisdom" by Reading Group Choices' Neely Kennedy got discussible topics and themes!


Neely's Family Favorites

  Upper Elementary Classics

The Secret Garden The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe The Yearling

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

 Magical Tween

Harry Potter The Golden Compass Wonkenstein


The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling  

The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman 


Teen Peer Relationships


If You Come Softly The Secret Language of Girls The Outsiders  


If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson

The Secret Language of Girls by Frances O'Roark Dowell
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton  



On the Bookcase Posts
Laura On the Bookcase

Please welcome the author of Garden of Stones, Sophie Littlefield, to On the Bookcase in an exciting interview!

New York Times bestselling author,Khaled Hosseini shares travel secrets about is upcoming book tour for his newest novel, And the Mountains Echoed.

Tiger-Mom or not, Kim Wong Keltner--author of Tiger Babies Strike Back--tells us about her new book!

2013 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

The Orphan Master's Son Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother--a singer "stolen" to Pyongyang--and an influential father who runs a work camp for orphans. Superiors in the state soon recognize the boy's loyalty and keen instincts. Considering himself "a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world," Jun Do rises in the ranks. He becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his Korean overlords in order to stay alive. Driven to the absolute limit of what any human being could endure, he boldly takes on the treacherous role of rival to Kim Jong Il in an attempt to save the woman he loves, Sun Moon, a legendary actress "so pure, she didn't know what starving people looked like."

Tips for Family Book Clubs

Here is a good list of ideas for facilitating a Family Book Club meeting.  From The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Shireen Dodson
(pages 121-122):
The Mother Daughter Book Club
  • Keep it Simple
  • Avoid Written Agendas, assignment sheets, or anything that looks or sounds like homework.
  • Encourage The Girls to take charge of the club and let each girl exercise her judgment in her own way.
  • When in Doubt, err on the side of respecting the girls' choices. If the selection is open to any books the girls suggest, then be ready to start sleuthing if they choose a Nancy Drew mystery.
  • Instead of Rigid Rules, express expectations.
  • Decide How You Feel About Absences or attendance of girls without their moms.
  • Encourage the open expression of ideas and feelings.
  • Set a Good Example. When girls hear us sharing thoughts--including different points of view--in a respectful, collaborative way, they are learning about the world of women in a way they won't get from TV.
  • Don't Feel Pressured to demonstrate literary analysis. Relax and watch for ways to help the girls explore the questions they seem to find compelling.
  • In All Matters, ask instead of tell, and facilitate only when the girls make it clear they need help.
Thanks for Participating!
Favorite Discussible Books of 2009
Reading Group Choices would like to thank all the book clubs for participating in this year's survey! We value your input and hope all the information we gather will help us to give you more ideas and suggestion to lively book discussions.

Thanks for keeping the joy of reading alive,
Get your family reading this summer! 
Summer Reading

This summer, turn off the TV and bond

with your children

over a good book!  We would like to recommend a few great titles to get you started, with choices including Upper Elementary Classics, Magical Tweens, and Teen Peer Relationships.  We also love the idea of letting your child guide your selections.  Most importantly, have fun spending quality time together while learning more about his or her inner dialogue... and your own! 



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Top Book Group Favorites

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Favorite Discussible Books of 2009  

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