Well, this year we took it a step further and Laughed Our F'n Assess Off in church. Every year an organization within our district holds a fundraiser to benefit employees who are terminally ill. It is a trivia night with teams. Our team likes to go all out and in order to top ourselves we with an LMFAO theme. I am terrible at trivia. But I have so much fun with these yahoos. And yes, it is held in a very generous and open-minded Episcopalian church in our town.
Sorry for party rockin'!
She's sexy and she knows it.
Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots!
Every day we're shuffle-in'.
A gigantic afro really gives a middle aged white guy a lot of extra confidence!
I am officially the unofficial historian of my book club, and it is time for another reading list update. The titles at the top are the most recent books that we have read. Go on, take a browse. If you've read any of these, I'd love to hear your comments about them. And if you have any great recommendations, I'd love to hear them, too.
Looking for a good read? Your search has come to an end. For the past six years I’ve been in a book club, which is something that I had always wanted to do. We meet once a month for dinner and to discuss the book of the month. It has been so much fun. I have enjoyed most of the books, some more than others. One of the best parts of the book club is that it guides me into reading things I would never choose on my own. In my pre-book club years, I was stuck in a rut, reading only a certain kind of book, which usually fell into the category of trashy supermarket novels. Now, my horizons have been expanded! I’ve rated these books on my own very exclusive 5-star scale as well as offset in red my favorite reads:
Fifty Shades of Grey**
by EL James
Okay. This seems to have gotten even more press than The Hunger Games, if possible. Very interesting story, but terribly, terribly written. I'm going go ahead and call it not just "mommy porn," it's all out hard core. And tons and tons of it. I must say it had me hot and bothered at first but then after a while I just didn't care anymore about so much sex. Did I just say that? Who am I anyway? What have I done with the real Jason?
The New York Mormon Single's Halloween Dance***
by Elna Baker This book was funny, and all of Elna's insights about Mormonism are dead on, without being disrespectful. Very entertaining.
by Ann Patchett
Based on a true story of a hostage situation in Lima, Peru. I had a tough time sticking with this one. Not bad, but not my favorite either.
Change of Heart***
by Jodi Piccoult
Classic Jodi Piccoult. I was entertained by it, but at points I thought, "Really?"
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society****
by Mary Ann Shaffer
At first I thought this book would be a real snoozefest. I actually listened to it rather than read it, and I was completely charmed by the story and the characters and the way it was portrayed in the audiobook. It made me want to visit Guernsey.
The Hunger Games*****
by Suzanne Collins
Do I really need to say anything here? If you've read the book or seen the movie, you understand. If not, just read it already!
by Alan Cumming
Well. This book was interesting, and filthy, and interesting again, and depressing, and then not depressing. Written by actor Alan Cumming.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks*** by Rebecca Skloot
The true story of a woman whose cells were taken from her illegally...and they still live on today well after her death in medical research. Interesting and well written.
The Last Lecture** by Randy Pausch
The Last Lecture is a collection of lectures that the author wrote and gave as he was dying of cancer. They are touching and insightful, but I found them a tad sanctimonious at times.
by Katherine Stockett
This is one of the best I've read all year. It takes place in Mississippi during the 1960's, focusing on, yes, the help, and those in charge of them.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret****
by Brian Selznick
This is actually a childrens' novel, written at a fifth grade level. It is a great story, with some unbelievable illustrations. I read it to my six year old Diego, and he loved it!
A Very Private Gentleman aka The American***
by Martin Booth
This one takes place in Italy, and is the story of a man who makes highly specialized guns and ammunition used in assasinations.
Have a Little Faith****
by Mitch Albom
This is a true story about religion. Even though I am not particularly a religious person, I found this book to be inspiring and motivating, and certainly thought provoking.
The Physik Book of Deliverance Dane****
by Katherine Howe
The setting of this novel is in modern Salem, Massachusetts, and deals with the topic of, yes, witches, from both the 1600s and modern times. It has some great twists and turns.
A Reliable Wife****
by Robert Goolrick
This was a dark novel, but still beautifully written. It tells the story of a wife for hire who tries to poison her husband, but then changes her mind and nurses him back to health. All within his knowledge.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo***
This is the first in the trilogy of The Girl, written by a Swede and set in Sweden. The first 150 pages nearly killed me; I thought they were so boring. The rest was really good. I haven't read the other two books in the series, but I hear they're excellent.
Swallow the Ocean****
by Laura Flynn
The story of a family whose wife and mother suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. Having dealt with this topic in my own family, I could identify with several different parts of this book.
Not a light-hearted story, but inspiring. After unthinkable abuse, a girl named Precious finally escapes and begins to make a life of her own.
The Lost Symbol*****
by Dan Brown
Dan Brown doesn't disappoint! This one focuses on the mystery and symbolism behind the early United States government and its extensive ties with Free Masonry. Not as good as The Da Vinci Code, not as good as Angels and Demons, but almost.
by Nancy Horan
The story of Frank Lloyd Wright. Focuses on his long love-affair and its tragic ending. Excellent!
The Poisonwood Bible*****
by Barbara Kingsolver
This was my favorite book of the year. A fascinating and well-written story of a Bible-thumping preacher who moves his family to Africa. Insightful, gripping, tragic.
The Whistling Season*
by Ivan Doig
A portrayal of a family on the prairie whose mother has died and some new people come to town to help out.
(Yawn. This book bored me to tears.)
Eat, Pray, Love****
by Elizabeth Gilbert
A newly divorced woman decides to live life to the fullest by visiting Italy, India, and Indonesia. In the process, she discovers many things about who she really is, and how to be happy.
The Book Thief*****
By Markus Zusak
Another story of Nazi Germany...told from a different perspective. Very well done.
Shadow of the Wind****
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
This story of murder and suspense takes place in Spain. Artfully written.
Three Cups of Tea****
by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
This is the true and inspirational story of a man who dedicated his life to building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Friday Night Knitting Club****
by Kate Jacobs
Looking for a good chick book? This is it--with much commentary insight on friendships, relationships, assumptions, perspective, and lost time.
by William P. Young
Some of us approached with this with much trepidation, as it is the story of a man who spends the weekend in a shack with God. However, it had many vital life lessons and a not-so-traditional perspective on God and love that I found thought provoking.
Still Life with Crows***
by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
This was a good mystery involving a recurring character in these authors' novels.
The Historian ***
by Elizabeth Kostova
This was a vampire story with a more realistic, historical approach. Very interesting, and very long.
The Other Boleyn Girl*****
by Phillipa Gregory
Fascinating, entertaining, and historical! I avoided this book for a couple of years, but then it was chosen as a book club read, and I'm very glad.
What the Dead Know****
by Laura Lippman
This book is a twisty, turny mystery that will keep you guessing til the end.
No One Belongs Here More Than You***
by Miranda July
If you like quirky short stories, this book's for you. I do, and I liked it.
Water for Elephants****
by Sara Gruen
I never imagined I would love a circus story so much. But this story had it all, mystery, intrigue, passion, and murder.
The Tortilla Curtain***
by T.C. Boyle
This is the story of illegal Mexican immigrants living in a a dry river bed in Topanga Canyon, just a mile away from a prestigious upper scale community. This story is too close to the truth.
by Irene Spencer
Ohhh, boy. Ready for an amazing true story written by a polygamist's wife?
Notes from a Small Island*
by Bill Bryson
Okay, I have a confession. I ordered the wrong book for this particular month's book club, so didn't really read this one. I tried, kind of, but I couldn't get into it.
. The Glass Castle: A Memoir*****
by Jeanette Walls
This book is one of the best memoirs I have read. Loved it!
The Barrytown Trilogy **
by Roddy Doyle
Very Irish, very funny, when you can understand it.
. Mirror, Mirror ***
by Gregory Macguire
This author also wrote Wicked. His style is very weird, yet enjoyable.
. A Long Way Down ****
by Nick Hornsby
A funny book about people who want to commit suicide.
. My Sister’s Keeper ****
by Jodi Picoult
Gut wrenchingly sad, but a great story. . The Five People You Meet in Heaven ***
by Mitch Albom
A nice little story, but I was a bit bored. . The Year of Magical Thinking**
by Joan Didion
Another memoir, about grieving , I didn't love it.
. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter ****
by Kim Edwards
Interesting story about a doctor who gives away his Down'sSyndrome baby.
. In Cold Blood*
by Truman Capote
The true story of multiple murders.
. The Davinci Code*****
by Dan Brown
Very famous book, and for good reason. If you haven't read it yet, get on board, it's exceptional.
by David Sedaris
By far the funniest book I have ever, ever read. Also a memoir.
The Birth of Venus *****
by Sarah Dunant
A captivating tale about renaissance Florence and a woman who wants to be an artist, which was unheard of at the time.
. The Thirteenth Tale*****
by Diane Setterfield
Ohh so good! Suspenseful, interesting, "ghost" story.
If you don't read anything else on my list, read this one.
. The Family Tree ****
by Carole Cadwalladr
A story about a dysfunctional family and depression. Very insightful.
. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books **
This book was written at a post-doctorate reading level. It was very high quality, great story, but I had a difficult time understanding it.
. The Kite Runner ****
Sad historical fiction about Afghanistan. Great story.
. Other People’s Dirt: A Housecleaner’s Curious Adventures ***
by Louise Rafkin
The title says it all. Mildly interesting and funny, but nothing remarkable.
. Little Children *****
by Tom Perrotta
Fascinating! The movie was equally so.
. Love in the Time of Cholera *
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Yawn. I did not join the book club to read classics. I'm sorry. Too hard to follow.
. Breathing Lessons*****
by Anne Tyler
My most treasured author, and one of her best books. She takes the every day and turns it into something amazing.
. The Great and Secret Show **
by Clive Barker
The most memorable book we've read, simply because of its truly bizarre nature. Science fiction.
. The Secret Life of Bees*****
by Sue Monk Kidd
Wonderful, meaningful story.
. The Life of Pi ***
by Yann Martel
Great story, fiction. One of my book club friends read the whole thing thinking it was true and was sooo bummed when she found out it wasn't.
. Middlesex ****
by Jeffrey Eugenides
A riveting story about a hermaphrodite.
. The Power of One: The Classic Novel of South Africa *
by Bruce Courtenay
This was a nice story but bored me to tears.
. The Time Traveler’s Wife ***
by Audrey Niffenegger
Pretty good read, keep an open mind with this one.
. The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary **
by Simon Winchester
Interesting, but I wouldn't recommend it. The best part of this book was when we all had to form lists of our favorite words.
. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time **
by Mark Haddon
Everyone loved this book, but I just couldn't get into it. Autism is the main theme.
. Mrs. Dalloway *
by Virginia Woolf
Bleck. Read The Hours instead. Reading Virginia Woolf is like trying to make sense out of insanity. Oh, wait. That's what it is. It did have some interesting insights about depression, though.
. Good Omens *
by Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett
Quite humorous, but I couldn't get past its quirkiness and difficulty to understand in order to enjoy the humor.
. Wifey **
by Judy Blume
Betcha didn't know the author of Tales of a Fouth Grade Nothingand Superfudge also writes porn! Tra-aaaa-shy!
These are outstanding non-book club books that you might consider:
. The God in Flight*****
by Laura Argiri
This was an amazing, beautifully crafted story that left me thinking about it for weeks to come.
. Running With Scissors *****by Augusten Burroughs
Hysterical! Unbelievable! Loved it!
. Dry ****
by Augusten Burroughs
The sequel to Running With Scissors. Also very good.
. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim ****
by David Sedaris
Same author as Naked, also quite funny.
. Angels and Demons*****
by Dan Brown
Same author as The Davinci Code. Outstanding.
. She’s Come Undone*****
by Wally Lamb
Very funny and touching.
. The Lovely Bones****
by Alice Sebold
Sad but meaningful story about a murdered girl who watches her family from heaven .
Today I lost my charm with my mother in law. Usually I hold my tongue but this was something I just could not let go.
Diego was snuggling with my sister in law, Donella. He is very affectionate with almost everyone, but he is particularly affectionate with her. It pleases me that he is getting that important female attention from a special person in his life. He has a handful of women that take a special interest in him, be it friends, aunts, and of course, his grandmother. This was our intention. This was by design.
He got up to do something in another room, and my mother in law said to my Donella in an offhand way, "He needs his mother doesn't he?" I stopped in my tracks. I turned around and gave her a puzzled, perturbed look. But I left the room and came back a minute later. Then I could see that Giancarlo was angry. He told me his mother had said to Diego's godmother, Claudia, "Why don't you marry Giancarlo or Jason so Diego can have a mother?"
Upon hearing this addition, I blew up. I stood in front of her while she sat on the couch, knitting in her lap. I yelled because she can't hear otherwise. I yelled because I was angry. "What?! How could you say something like that? We have purposely surrounded him with special women who give him female attention that he needs. People like you, and Donella, and Claudia, who are very wonderful and important to him. But for you to say that he needs a mother is like saying that the two of us are incompetent as parents, that we shouldn't be his parents. A child needs two parents who love him and take care of him. That's the bottom line." She tried to shrug her comment off and chuckled saying she was just joking. I would have none of that.
Never once in Diego's life have we ever heard a comment of this sort from anybody that we know. It sounded like it could have come right out of Ann Coulter's mouth. Or any other homophobe's mouth. And to have it come out of Diego's grandmother's mouth was a shock.
You don't need to talk to me about the importance of mothers. My mother was everything to me. But it wasn't because she was my mother. It was because she was warm, nurturing, and affectionate. It was because she guided me with love. She meant everything to me because she gave me what I needed and asked for nothing in return. All of this could just as easily come from my dad, although it didn't for the most part.
The above has all since blown over. Water under the bridge. Dirt under the rug, whatever. But whenever something like this happens I become just one bit more disenfranchised.