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  • Jessica Smock

    Organizer
    March 27, 2021 at 2:56 pm

    Share a book with us that you loved (or just want to talk about). Tell us how you felt about it. Would you recommend it? Why or why not?

  • Tegan Corradino

    Member
    April 9, 2021 at 7:48 pm

    Signora Da Vinci by Robin Maxwell. Fascinating book about Da Vinci’s mother, fiction, but you can imagine it being true. Signora was an amazing woman with such dedication to her child, great story. I also just finished The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman. I couldn’t put it down! It’s about the Spanish Flu in 1918 in Philadelphia. I don’t know if I would have found it so intriguing before COVID, but there were so many things I could relate to…great book!

  • Emma Jarrett

    Member
    April 10, 2021 at 5:09 pm

    The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd. I have no adequate words but it is brilliant! She has fictionalised the life of Jesus’s wife during his “missing years” and it is about her as a woman also having a “largeness” in her that she spends her life finding a way to voice. And the character of her husband, Jesus, sees that and supports it. As Monk Kidd says in the Author’s notes: what would our world be like if this had been true?!

    It is a fine historical reminder for all us women who are now using the freedom we have to use our voices.

  • Elisa Heisman

    Member
    April 12, 2021 at 11:05 am

    I recently read “The Midnight Library” and highly recommend it. I don’t want to say too much but, the female protagonist attempts to kill herself and winds up in a purgatory of sorts – a library – where she gets to try on different lives that she regrets not living. It’s a great read or listen to it on Audible like I did. It’s a page-turner for sure. Has anyone else read it?

    • Jessica Smock

      Organizer
      April 12, 2021 at 2:06 pm

      I’ve heard so many great recommendations for that book. I’m usually a realistic fiction sort of reader, but I keep hearing that it’s definitely worth it.

    • Stephanie Trdenic

      Member
      April 13, 2021 at 1:56 pm

      Next on my To-Read list! I read Matt Haig’s “How to Stop Time” and loved it! Have you read that one?

      • Jessica Smock

        Organizer
        April 13, 2021 at 2:27 pm

        I can’t remember! I know I read a Matt Haig novel a long, long time ago (and liked it, I think) but I can’t remember which one it was…

    • Joan Delcoco

      Member
      April 15, 2021 at 2:41 am

      I enjoyed this book a lot. Though the details of how the midnight library works get increasingly complicated as the book goes on, I really liked the premise that we can examine our regrets and disabuse ourselves of the idealized notions of how these would have played out. I have always toyed with writing a kind of “Sliding Doors” story, where you imagine how your life would have been different if you’d chosen X instead of Y at a given decision point in your life, and confess I sometimes get stuck in a cycle of regret, comparing a current circumstance to an imagined one I gave up because of a choice I made. This book was a good reminder that the roads not taken wouldn’t necessarily have been the primrose paths we might imagine them to be, to get on with the life you have, and work to make it what you want.

      • Stephanie Trdenic

        Member
        April 15, 2021 at 2:54 am

        I just read “Replay,” and I’m totaling forgetting the author…written in 1986 or so, so it’s a bit dated, but it also has that theme: if we got a “second chance” at life, would we make changes that seem positive, only to find our lives end up worse? Sometimes heartbreaking, ultimately hopeful, IMO.

        I LOVE time travel and these “lives on repeat” stories. Also recommend “Life After Life” by Kate Atkinson, same general theme, but far better written than Replay.

  • Stephanie Trdenic

    Member
    April 13, 2021 at 1:55 pm

    Jenny Lawson’s “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.” She also wrote “Furiously Happy” and her newest one, “Broken (in the Best Possible Way) just got released. She’s a memoirist who writes about her chronic depression, anxiety, and panic attacks with great humor. I think of her books more as comedy — they ARE memoirs, but she talks about most of it in laugh-out-loud ways. AND she includes old snapshots, so I’m thinking even the most outrageous-sounding stories are true. She’s just someone you’d love to give a hug to, (but you wouldn’t, because she couldn’t deal with a stranger hugging her.)

    For a taste of her humor, check out her blog, The Bloggess (Like Mother Teresa, Only Better)

    Oh, and she’s really into taxidermied animals: collects them at antique stores, decorates them with hats, etc, and gives them great names like Squirrelly Temple and Owly McBeal.

    She’s just the most lovable “misfit” though. (As she calls herself.)

    • Joan Delcoco

      Member
      April 15, 2021 at 2:43 am

      Owly McBeal alone is reason enough for me to check it out!

      • Stephanie Trdenic

        Member
        April 15, 2021 at 2:48 am

        You will not be disappointed! Check out some of her blog posts too — the recent ones are about her virtual book tour, but go back several months (under “Random Stuff”) and you’ll get some hilarious anecdotes!

        (She also has a thing about zombies, btw. Now that should REALLY get you interested!)

      • Stephanie Sprenger

        Member
        April 15, 2021 at 9:28 pm

        RIGHT?? ❤️😂

  • Joan Delcoco

    Member
    April 15, 2021 at 2:53 am

    Let me preface my recommendation by saying I am not a detective novel enthusiast. At all. But for a book group with a writing theme, I had to read Elizabeth George’s craft book, Mastering the Process, which lays out her writing process using her novel “Careless in Red.” I wasn’t a huge fan of the former (her process is very specific to her purposes) but ended up enjoying the detective novel quite a lot. The reason: she’s a master of characterization. There isn’t a single flat character in this book, which is rare in a detective novel, a genre which tends to trade in stock characters. Even the minor characters have compelling backstories, complex motivations.. She also does a wonderful job of rendering settings, which I found a useful study because I’m crappy at it — her secret is that she doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination, and travels to the places she plans to write about, photographing them extensively (ok so maybe the process book isn’t that bad). My only caveat is that if you haven’t read her stuff and think you might want to read more than one of her Detective Lynley series, then don’t start with Careless in Red, because it occurs later on in the series, and reveals major events that take place in his life. On the other hand, I think the earliest entries in the series, which I’ve started reading in order, aren’t as well crafted.

    • Stephanie Trdenic

      Member
      April 15, 2021 at 3:16 am

      We need to do a book swap or something, Joan! I LOVE mysteries, and Elizabeth George’s Lynley series is one of the best I’ve ever read. Same thing you said — not a flat character in the book. She amazes me how she fully fleshes out even minor characters…it may be just one single, brief interview of a person tangentially related to the murder, but she makes sure you really KNOW that person — perhaps thru details about their home environment, or level of education as shown by their dialect — and she can do it in a few paragraphs for the minor characters. In fact, she does it in a way that we can’t know who the minor characters were until it’s over. Like, well, she spent SO much time helping us get to know this guy, he’s gotta crop again. Maybe he does or maybe he doesn’t.

      For anyone who wants to begin this series, I agree you need to read them in order, and…I’d also say..if you decide you’re definitely carrying on with the series, DON’T read the book jacket of the next one until you’ve finished the current one. Made that mistake once — had the last one still unread, the next one came out, I look at the book jacket, and literally said OMG — WHAT? Major spoiler included. MAJOR FUCKING SPOILER.

      • Joan Delcoco

        Member
        April 16, 2021 at 2:03 am

        I wish we could do a book swap — though I’m reading the Elizabeth George books on my kindle, lol, so that wouldn’t work I guess! Remind me of where you’re located again? I’m in No Virginia outside of DC….

  • Jessica Smock

    Organizer
    April 15, 2021 at 1:57 pm

    Joan! I am ordering Mastering the Process right this second. My New Years resolution was to write a novel — specifically a mystery — this year. (I am not doing well on this resolution so far, BTW.) I somehow thought that I had either purchased or had seen all of the craft novels that I might like about novel writing. But I missed this one!

    And honestly we should have you give a guest talk about all of your favorite writing craft books 🙂

    • Joan Delcoco

      Member
      April 16, 2021 at 2:11 am

      Oh no, I hope you like it lol. I feel terrible when people get a book I recommended and then dont’ get anything out of it. Did you ever find anything useful in the writer’s workshop book? (by Matthew S…)

      That’s such a cool idea, to have people give talks about craft books. Though that’s probably much more your strength than mine. The problem is that I don’t retain anything after I read it (very sad — I had an incredible memory before TBI), so I’d have to reread it first and take detailed notes…(Though that would actually be a good cognitive rehab exercise for me, and I’d do it if you want, when I have a bit more breathing room). That said, I do happen to have notes on Mastering the Process because the person who facilitated my book club discussion wrote a summary of the process she outlined. I’ll see if I can dig those out and post them in the Writing Resources group if you want.

      • Jessica Smock

        Organizer
        April 16, 2021 at 1:42 pm

        I would love eventually to have some sort of database or forum listing people’s recommendations for craft books. I’ve gotten so much out of many books. I love having them as a resource. But you’re absolutely right: it’s so disappointing when you buy a book about writing, get excited about it, and then find that you get nothing out of it. Different sorts of craft books speak to different people.

        And I’m completely jealous that you belong to a book club like that!

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