Thursday, December 9, 2010

December's Soiree and Title Suggestions

Thanks to those who came this week.

We had a nice time talking about book recommendations for next year. We ate junk food. And I got to hold two adorable babies. It was pretty much a perfect evening.

Here's the list of titles discussed. Some of them were just general recommendations, some were recommendations for Shelley's teenage daughter. Eventually the conversation digressed into a discussion of teaching your children uncomfortable and difficult subject matter. This was spurred on by Jessica's relating her experience reading Romeo and Juliet with her seven year old son, Jonah. Read about her experience here. And if you haven't already subscribed to Jessica's blog or don't check it regularly, you really should. She's brilliant and everything she writes is beautiful and touching. No pressure, Jess, but it's true. So write more. Please?

But I digress. Okay, here is the list of the titles we discussed on Tuesday.
We'll probably see about half of them as selections for our 2011 list. Click on each title for more information.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Schaffer
Full of fun and quirky characters, a glimpse into the post-war community on the Isle of Guernsey during its German occupation. This will be our January selection. I've already read it (and LOVED it) but am looking forward to re-reading it in preparation. As a heavy library user, this is one book that I actually will buy.

Anna Karenina
by Leo Tolstoy
Our classic selection for next year.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: a Flavia de Luce mystery
by Alan Bradley
A delightful murder mystery starring an 11-year old mischievous English girl whose specializes in chemistry and the torturing of her older sisters. Despite its youthful heroine, this is not a children's book. Although I think children could like it as well.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
by Helen Simonson
A New York Times best seller that was featured on the Diane Rehm Show, I'm really looking forward to this one. It's about a retired British man and his unexpected romance with a Pakistani woman, sending ripples of disapproval throughout their provincial town.

Ender's Game
by Orson Scott Card
I can't believe I've never read this one. I've always wanted to. Jessica recommended this for Shelley's daughter. Jessica really just recommends pretty much everything by Orson Scott Card, and says that the second book in Ender's Saga is her favorite. Maybe we'll do it for the Dropouts. Maybe we won't. But I'm going to FINALLY read this one next year.

Anything by Agatha Christie, particularly And Then There Were None
Again, how is it that I have been a lover of reading for so long and have never read any Agatha Christie? I suppose it's because I've never gotten into mystery as a genre. But that will soon be rectified.

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner and subsequent books The Queen of AttoliaThe King of Attolia, and A Conspiracy of Kings
A YA series with plot twists in each book that's fun for ages 16-17 and up. I've read the first three books and I never saw the end coming, but though the twists are unexpected, they flow perfectly and don't at all feel disjointed. The author is truly a master of surprise endings, making them work in a way that any other author would probably fail at. This probably won't be a Dropouts selection, since it's mostly just mindless entertainment that doesn't really warrant serious discussion, but I still recommend it. Reading it is a good time.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
by Mark Haddon
This novel is from the POV of a teenage boy with Autism. He discovers the neighbor's dog murdered in the front yard and sets out to solve the mystery of who killed it. His sleuthing efforts make him confront some of his social fears and you ache for him as fails to understand the clues to a secret about his own life.

The Art of Humane Education
by Donald Phillip Verene
The author argues that the ideals that should guide education have been lost in the university setting in this country and offers suggestions on how classes should be taught, great texts that should be taught and how they should be interpreted.

A full edition of The New Yorker magazine
At Jessica's suggestion, we're going to broaden our experiences and expand into a genre most of us ignore. Perhaps we'll read the fiction issue. Perhaps will pick a random week. Not sure when we'll do this, but it will add some great variety to our reading this year.

Out of the Silent Planet as part of C.S. Lewis' lesser known science fiction Space Trilogy
Who knew C.S. Lewis wrote a science fiction trilogy? Well, not me. Since I love everything else by him, this will be fun.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
by Betty Smith
After being so disappointed with Joy in the Morning, although Emma enjoyed it, she insists we give Betty Smith another chance. So we're going to read the celebrated novel for which she is most well-known. I guess this also can go under our "classics" heading for the year.

The Genius in the Design
by J.P. Morrissey
The story of the two Italian 17th century architects and their bitter rivalry that inspired much of the best architecture in Rome.

Any other suggestions?


  1. So when I recommended The Art of Humane Education, I think what I really meant to recommend was Recalling Education by Hugh Mercer Curtler. Both sit on my shelf, and we read one as a counterpoint to the other in the same class. I'll have to review them both to remember which I liked better...although maybe it would be most enlightening if we did read both before discussing the subject.

    And I'm very excited about The Genius In the Design, which I forgot to bring and only remembered to recommend after I left and called Maren on her cell phone. Can we pretty please schedule this one sometime soon?

  2. I'm really excited about some of these! I've jotted them all down and will try to read along with you guys. I will miss seeing you all regularly. I learn so much from this group.

  3. So, are these in order? Are we to read Anna Karenina for February?