Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Book Ideas: Oscar Edition

I thought the Oscars were a little snoozy the other night, but it reminded me that films could be a source of ideas for us down the road. Just throwing out some books have been adapted into movies, with Academy Award-nominated screenplays:
  • "Atonement" by Ian McEwan
  • "Little Children" by Tom Perrotta
  • "Notes on a Scandal" by Zoe Heller
  • "About a Boy" by Nick Hornby

You know, I'm using Wikipedia to find the adapted-screenplay nominees from the past few years, and there's a sad dearth of women writers. Not that that's a requirement. I was just looking for ideas of a different vein from, say, "No Country for Old Men."

And, yes, this post is partly an excuse to display a photo of James McAvoy. Could he have been any cuter when he was presenting at the Oscars? More on point: What other books-turned-movie have you been curious about?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Running Out of Shelf Space?

Maybe the answer is to avoid buying new tomes. My friend in Bradenton, Fla., swears by PaperbackSwap. I barely have time for leisure reading as is, but if you try it out, lemme know what you think!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

That's Good Readin'

Another way we might consider keeping track of book suggestions is through a virtual bookshelf. (There are many, and I'm shilling the one for which I already have a good amount of data input.)

Try it out. See if you like it!

And, in case you're wondering, I'm pretty sure I've read more than the measly 100-plus books on my list. Either that, or I've wasted a lot more of my time with movies, TV and the Interwebs than I previously thought!


Monday, February 11, 2008

Why I Picked 'Elephants'

I'm burying Jenny's call-out for feedback on "Persuasion" with this post, so be sure to check out the next entry and let her know what you think: to Austen or not to Austen?

On to the business at hand. I chose Sara Gruen's "Water for Elephants" (2006) for our March meeting based on a recommendation from my friend Jamie, who lives in Dallas and who encouraged me to start this book club. She has a club of her own, and that group read "Elephants" and liked it. So it was an easy pick, especially since I had to make one quickly after bumping "Kabul Beauty School" on the fly.

If you think it's too late to start reading it now, take heart: I haven't started either! I just got the book Friday and somehow keep putting it off. I'm going on a week-long trip next week -- counting on that for some prime reading time. (Plus: Remember, you don't have to read or finish the book to come to the meeting!) UPDATE, Feb. 25: I finished the book! A quick read, and I'm kind of a slow reader.

If you're still on the fence about it, here's some critical feedback: Out of the 1,107 customer reviews on Amazon.com (that's a lot!), 723 gave it five stars, 232 gave it four (out of five).

And praise from book reviews:
"So compelling, so detailed and vivid, that I couldn’t bear to be torn away from it for a single minute.” — Chicago Tribune

“Gruen unearths a lost world with her rich and surprising portrayal of life in a traveling circus in the ’30s. An emotional tale that will please history buffs — and others.” — People

“[This] sprightly tale has a ringmaster’s crowd-pleasing pace.” — Entertainment Weekly

“You’ll get lost in the tatty glamour of Gruen’s meticulously researched world, from spangled equestrian pageantry and the sleazy side show to an ill-fated night at a Chicago speak-easy.” — The Washington Post

Hope you can make it! Lemme know via Evite or e-mail.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Can I Persuade You...?

So I was sitting there pondering what my choice for the April book will be (yes, already, because I can be an excessive planner), and I hit upon Jane Austen's "Persuasion," a classic -- and short-ish -- tale about lost loves and second chances. I read it a good while ago and have wanted to revisit it with fresh eyes and get others' POVs. And I thought it'd be nice to do a classic, and you can't get much more classic chick lit than my girl Jane.

So a few questions:

1. Have you read it (recently)? If a lot of people have, I'll find an alternative.
2. Would you like to?
3. Would you be even more inclined to read it if you could picture either of these two guys as the dashing hero ? Wink, wink. (They were in the last two movie versions.)

I need some validation, people! Or it's back to the drawing board for me. Leave comments below...

"Killer Heels" Postmortem

Thanks to all who came to the inaugural meeting! It was great to gab with Jenny, Vibha, Brandi, Lisa, Kendra, Tanya and Amanda.

Some of us liked the book better than others. I thought it was entertaining, as far as chick lit goes, if a little predictable on the murder-mystery side. Most of us agreed the author tried too hard with the multitude of pop culture references.

The conversation veered to other topics, of course. Amanda made the point that one problem with the Spice Girls reunion is that they're not spicy enough this time around. The next day, Jenny passed along this follow-up:

The Spice Girls are cutting short their reunion world tour, blaming "family and personal commitments."

The UK band said they would end their tour in Toronto on 26 February, with planned shows in Beijing, Sydney, Cape Town and Buenos Aires being axed.

Reports had suggested a lack of interest in some of the cities.

And a lack of spiciness!

One more follow-up: The book's main character is given a brandy alexander to drink after a traumatic incident. Apparently its fats and carbs are soothing. So we wondered, what's in a brandy alexander? I even pulled out the laptop but never got around to finding the recipe. Here it is, according to Wikipedia:

1.5 ounce brandy
1 ounce dark crème de cacao
1 ounce half-and-half or heavy cream
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
I also found versions that used milk and ice cream, yum!

Help Blog Help You

So, what's the point of this blog, aside from being an excuse for me to waste a lot of time? I have a few ideas (time wasting being just one) for ways this site can be useful. See, I really hope you all think of this as your book club, not just mine, and perhaps some interactivity can help.

Everyone is welcome and encouraged to not only comment on posts (hint hint, nudge nudge), but to post themselves. You can do so by (A) asking me to add you to the list of users allowed to post or (B) e-mailing me something to post on your behalf.

Here are my ideas for the blog. Add your own!
  • Book proposals: A few folks have already mentioned ideas for future books. Could post these and see what the response is like, especially if you're unsure.
  • Book previews: No one has to do this, but if you want to elaborate on a book choice, this could be a place to do it.
  • Follow-ups on meetings: Does this happen to you? You have a conversation about a random topic, then the next day it comes up in the news or with an unrelated group of friends. That happened with our last meeting (post to come). Anyway, I'll try to post highlights and impressions from each get-together.
  • Random (and not necessarily relevant) thoughts, tidbits: Anything you want to share with the group? Post away!
  • Virtual book club: For those who can't make meetings but still want to feel connected to the group. You can still chime in, through the blog!

Okay, at this point, you're probably as tired of reading all this administrative mumbo jumbo as I am of writing it. Just want to add: I'm open to any suggestions and critiques you have about how the book club is run. (Yes, that's the best Cuba Gooding Jr.-in-"Jerry Maguire" photo I could find. Yes, I realize it's a 12-year-old reference. Sue me!) I'm trying hard not to be bossy book club lady, but feel free to remind me if I'm not being "lazy" enough.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Who You Callin' Lazy?

Okay, I admit that creating a blog for the book club seems to go against any claims of laziness on my part. Let me explain: My philosophy for the book club is that it shouldn't be a source of stress. We have enough of that in our lives, right? So the "lazy" label is a reminder that there's no pressure involved: No worries if you haven't finished the book or even read the book (or hate the book). We just want your company! No worries about hosting if you don't want to, or coming if you don't want to. The idea is to have fun, enjoy some female bonding and maybe learn a thing or two.

To keep up with a book club, this lazy woman needed a few guidelines. Here they are:

1) The club meets the first Sunday of the month, as long as there's a quorum. If not, it can be rescheduled at the host's discretion.

2) Hosting duties rotate among members who want to host. You decide the book, the time of day and location, and send out an Evite or e-mail with the info. (Angie can help with this last part if you want.)

3) Each book selection should be announced within a week of the previous meeting, if not earlier, to allow time to procure and read it.

4) Meeting spots don't have to be the host's home: Restaurants, coffee shops and parks are other options.

5) No pressure if you haven't read the book!

You may recall that I originally didn't want to go outside D.C. for meetings. I felt bad about that from the start, so I'm dropping it. Heck, I'll just get a Zipcar and round all y'all up if/when we end up going to Arlington.

Welcome to the club!