May Book Reveal: The Year of Living Danishly

The second option for our May “A Year in the Life” box is The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell!

When she was suddenly given the opportunity of a new life in rural Jutland, journalist and archetypal Londoner Helen Russell discovered a startling statistic: the happiest place on earth isn’t Disneyland, but Denmark, a land often thought of by foreigners as consisting entirely of long dark winters, cured herring, Lego and pastries.

What is the secret to their success? Are happy Danes born, or made? Helen decides there is only one way to find out: she will give herself a year, trying to uncover the formula for Danish happiness.

From childcare, education, food and interior design to SAD, taxes, sexism and an unfortunate predilection for burning witches, The Year of Living Danishly is a funny, poignant record of a journey that shows us where the Danes get it right, where they get it wrong, and how we might just benefit from living a little more Danishly ourselves.

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May Book Reveal: Julie and Julia

The first option for our May “A Year in the Life” box is Julie and Julia by Julie Powell!

Julie Powell, nearing thirty and trapped in a dead-end secretarial job, resolves to reclaim her life by cooking in the span of a single year, every one of the 524 recipes in Julia Child’s legendary Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Her unexpected reward: not just a newfound respect for calves’ livers and aspic, but a new life-lived with gusto.

Book Club Discussion: The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

  • The book deals with learning to let go and go with the flow. In relation to traveling, do you struggle with going with the flow or do you find it more difficult to let go? Why?
  • What did you think of the author’s portrayal of female friendships?
  • What role does Carly Dawson play in Friedman’s journey?
  • Did you appreciate that the book was not as romance focused as it could have been?
  • What was your favorite place that Friedman traveled to? Why?

Questions partially adapted from author interview.

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Book Club Discussion: Wild

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

  • When Cheryl discovers the guidebook to the Pacific Crest Trail, she says that the trip “was an idea, vague and outlandish, full of promise and mystery.” Later, her soon-to-be ex-husband suggests she wants to do the hike “to be alone.” What do you think her reasons were for committing to this journey?
  • In the beginning of the book, Cheryl’s prayers are literally curse words—curses for her mother’s dying, curses against her mother for failing. How does her spiritual life change during the course of the book?
  • Cheryl’s pack, also known as Monster, is one of those real-life objects that also makes a perfect literary metaphor: Cheryl has too much carry on her back and in her mind. Are there other objects she takes with her or acquires along the way that take on deeper meanings? How so?
  • “Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves,” Cheryl writes her first day on the trail. She is speaking about her fear of rattlesnakes and mountain lions and serial killers. To defeat that fear, she tells herself a new story, the story that she is brave and safe. What do you think about this approach, which she herself calls “mind control”? What are some of her other ways of overcoming fear?
  • At one point, Cheryl tells herself, “I was not meant to be this way, to live this way, to fail so darkly.” It’s a moment of self-criticism and despair. And yet, some belief in herself exists in that statement. How do the things Cheryl believes about herself throughout the memoir, even during her lowest moments, help or hurt her on the PCT?

Questions from Oprah’s Book Club!

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April Book Reveal: Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle–and people in general–has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence–creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

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April Book Reveal: Attachments

Attachments by by Rainbow Rowell

“Hi, I’m the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . ”
From the award-winning author of Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, and Landline comes a hilarious and heartfelt novel about love in the workplace.

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It’s company policy.) But they can’t quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now- reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself.

What would he say . . . ?

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Book Club Discussion: Modern Romance

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

How have cell phones changed the conventions of modern dating? Overall, despite some of the drawbacks that Ansari points to in Modern Romance, would you say our instant texting and communications make the dating scene better or worse…or, basically, no different.

Talk about Ansari’s statement that “the whole culture of finding love and a mate has radically changed” in the modern era.” In what way…and why? Or maybe you don’t really agree with him? If so, why not?

What do you think of the millennials’ preference for texting rather than actually talking on the phone?

Toward the end, Ansari says this: “The main thing I’ve learned from this research is that we’re all in it together.” What exactly does he mean? Do you agree…or not?

What advice would you offer those in the dating world?

Questions from Litlovers.

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Book Club Discussion: The Engagements

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

Feminism and the role of women is a recurring theme in The Engagements. Which character’s attitude did you relate to the most, and why?

Two of the novel’s major characters are anti-marriage, with story lines that are decades apart. How does time change society’s attitude toward intentionally unmarried women?

Why do you think Frances is the only character whose story moves through time?

While the novel is clearly about marriage, parental relationships also play a major role. Discuss and compare the parenting styles of Evelyn, James, and Kate.

Which story line did you enjoy the most? Whose story would you like to keep reading?

 

Questions from Litlovers.

Interview with J. Courtney Sullivan.

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March Book Reveal: The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost

The second book option for our March box is The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman!

Rachel Friedman has always been the consummate good girl who does well in school and plays it safe, so the college grad surprises no one more than herself when, on a whim (and in an effort to escape impending life decisions), she buys a ticket to Ireland, a place she has never visited. There she forms an unlikely bond with a free-spirited Australian girl, a born adventurer who spurs Rachel on to a yearlong odyssey that takes her to three continents, fills her life with newfound friends, and gives birth to a previously unrealized passion for adventure.

As her journey takes her to Australia and South America, Rachel discovers and embraces her love of travel and unlocks more truths about herself than she ever realized she was seeking. Along the way, the erstwhile good girl finally learns to do something she’s never done before: simply live for the moment.