5 Uses for a Canvas Tote Bag

Subscription BoxIf you subscribe to Hello Book Lover, you received a cute canvas tote bag in your May box. If not, you may still have one laying around that you should put to good use! Here are some ideas of how to use a canvas tote. Whatever you use it for, don’t forget to throw in your book! (except maybe when you go to the grocery store!)

  1. School/work: big enough to fit your day planner, wallet, lunch and a sweater.
  2. Grocery store/farmer’s market: these make adorable reusable bags for your groceries and you’ll look super cute carrying it around at the farmer’s market with some fresh flowers.
  3. Beach: throw in your sunscreen, hat, sunglasses and towel and you’re set to go!
  4. Everyday: use your tote as your everyday bag for a casual summer look. With a larger bag you can be ready for whatever the summer days bring you!
  5. Day trip: Pack your bathing suit, a change of clothes, snacks and drinks for a day trip adventure.

Show us how you’re using your new tote! #hellobooklover

Book Club Discussion: Brooklyn, by Colm Tóibín

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for Brooklyn, by Colm Tóibín. 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!

1.When Eilis and Tony first meet, she seems more interested in him as an escape from her troublesome housemates than as a genuine romantic interest. Tony, however, is clear about his love for Eilis from the start. Why do you think Eilis is hesitant in her feelings?

2. Imagine Eilis in today’s world. Do you see her primarily as a career-motivated woman, or as a wife and mother?

3. If Eilis had been able to choose freely, between Brooklyn and Tony, and Enniscorthy and Jim, what do you think she would have chosen?

4. If Tony and Eilis were a couple in today’s world, would their relationship have lasted?

5. Is Eilis really a young woman who does not choose, who allows others to determine her fate? Why?

6. For those who have seen the Oscar winning movie adaption, what were the most striking differences between the book and the movie?

Questions by: Hello Book Lover and Simon and Shuster


Hi, I’m Alexis, cofounder of Hello Book Lover! I am jumpstarting the Brooklyn discussion with my responses below:

1. When Eilis and Tony first meet, she seems more interested in him as an escape from her troublesome housemates than as a genuine romantic interest. Tony, however, is clear about his love for Eilis from the start. Why do you think Eilis is hesitant in her feelings?

Eilis is portrayed as a passive person and not having anyone in Brooklyn to help her with decisions made her hesitant with Tony.

2. Imagine Eilis in today’s world. Do you see her primarily as a career-motivated woman, or as a wife and mother?

I’m having a hard time with this one, as I can see it going either way. I’m curious to see what other people think!

3. If Eilis had been able to choose freely, between Brooklyn and Tony, and Enniscorthy and Jim, what do you think she would have chosen?

I think she would have chosen Enniscorthy and Jim. This was the easier choice to make as her mother and everything she knew was in Enniscorthy. The only thing waiting for her in Brooklyn was Tony. If they had not been married it would have been easier for her to just not go back.

4. If Tony and Eilis were a couple in today’s world, would their relationship have lasted?

Relationships can withstand a lot more distance and time than they probably used to, as shown in Brooklyn. The long travel time and lack of communication during Eilis’ trip home could certainly have been avoided in today’s world.

5. Is Eilis really a young woman who does not choose, who allows others to determine her fate? Why?

It does seem that Eilis is very indecisive regarding major life decisions. She ultimately goes with the choice someone else makes for her. We see this first with her decision to move to Brooklyn. She never really has much of a choice after her sister sets everything up for her. It seems like she is undecided about going to Brooklyn but in the end just goes because the decision was already made for her. She doesn’t want to disappoint other people.

6. For those who have seen the Oscar winning movie adaption, what were the most striking differences between the book and the movie?

In the movie it seemed that Eilis’s feelings toward Tony simply faded due to distance and time whereas in the book Eilis expressed some real doubts about whether or not she even loved Tony. Personally, I liked how it was portrayed in the movie better.

Share your answers below!

Book Club Discussion: Longbourn, by Jo Baker

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for Longbourn, by Jo Baker. 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!

1. What did you think of Jo Baker’s choice to include multiple characters’ perspectives? Did you prefer the perspective of any specific character over the others?

2. Thoughts on the introductory quotes at the beginning of each chapter?

3. Several of the characters had secrets (Mrs. Hill, Mr. Bennet, James, Mr. Hill) Did you suspect any of these secrets before they were revealed?

4. Have you read Pride and Prejudice? For those who have read it, do you feel like it was necessary background reading or did Jo Baker’s novel fully stand on its own?

5. What did you think of Jo Baker’s portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet, the much-loved heroine of Pride and Prejudice? Comments on her portrayals of any other characters from Pride and Prejudice?

6. Focus Features purchases the film rights to the book several years ago. Who would you like to see play Sarah and James?

Questions by Hello Book Lover and Random House.

Explore further: A fun Q&A with Jo Baker from NPR!


Hi, I’m Lauren, cofounder of Hello Book Lover! I am jumpstarting the Longbourn discussion with my responses below:

  1. What did you think of Jo Baker’s choice to include multiple characters’ perspectives? Did you prefer the perspective of one character over the others?

This caught me off guard at first. I am not sure I can think of another book I’ve read written in this format. I got used to it really quickly, and didn’t really think about it again. It was interesting to read multiple points of view in real time.

2. Thoughts on the introductory quotes at the beginning of each chapter?

I believe the quotes were pulled directly from Pride and Prejudice, right? I liked them, because they acted a subtle markers of the Pride and Prejudice narrative happening upstairs.

On another note, I liked that Mr. Bennet was portrayed as kind of a jerk and Jo Baker made you feel a little sorry for Mrs. Bennet!

3. Several of the characters had secrets (Mrs. Hill, Mr. Bennet, James, Mr. Hill) Did you suspect any of the plot twists related to these secrets before they were revealed?

I wholly suspected James’ secret, Baker made it pretty obvious. The Mr. Bennet/Mrs. Hill plot twist was a complete surprise! The way she revealed that James was their son was fairly subtle and in one sentence. I had to read it twice to make sure I was interpreting correctly!

4. Have you read Pride and Prejudice? For those who have read it, do you feel like it was necessary background reading or did Jo Baker’s novel fully stand on its own?

I think the book could easily stand on its own, but, in my opinion, half the fun of Longbourn was seeing the narrative of Pride and Prejudice through a completely different lens. I am not sure I would have liked the book as much if I hadn’t read Jane Austen’s novel. It kind of felt like being part of a secret background plot.

5. What do you think of Jo Baker’s portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet, the much-loved heroine of Pride and Prejudice?

Seeing how Jo Baker portrayed various characters from Pride and Prejudice was the most enjoyable part of the book for me. I rather enjoyed that Elizabeth was not depicted in the best light. This is probably an unpopular opinion, but I have never really loved Elizabeth Bennet as a character and never fully understood everyone’s obsession with the love story between her and Mr. Darcy. Jo Baker makes Lizzie Bennet seem less steadfast than in Jane Austen’s novel. She depicts Elizabeth’s doubt before her marriage, her uncertainty when she first moved in with Mr. Darcy, and her eagerness to please her new husband. This felt very real to me and I was more on board with Jo Baker’s version of Elizabeth Bennet than I was with Jane Austen’s. Jane Austen never convinced me that Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy were a perfect match, and I like that Jo Baker subtly highlighted some of the imperfections in their union.

6. Focus Features purchases the film rights to the book several years ago. Who would you like to see play Sarah and James?

I am so terrible with actors’ names, I will leave this one to the rest of you.

Please add your comments below!

June Book Reveal: Eight Hundred Grapes

Eight Hundred Grapes book

Starting out with the quote “You have to grow about eight hundred grapes to get just one bottle of wine. If that isn’t an argument to finish the bottle, I don’t know what is.” you know it’s going to be good. So grab a glass of wine and relax with this read!

“There are secrets you share, and secrets you hide… What if your beloved fiancé, he of the crinkly smile and irresistible British accent, had kept a life-changing secret from you? And what if, just a week before your dream wedding, you discovered it?

Georgia Ford, bride-to-be, hops in her car and drives through the night, from Los Angeles to Sonoma, to her safe haven: her family, and the acclaimed family winery. Georgia craves the company of those who know her best, and whom she truly knows. Better yet, it’s the eve of the last harvest—the best time of the growing season, and Georgia knows she’ll find solace—and distraction—in the familiar rituals. But when Georgia arrives home, nothing is at all familiar. Her parents, her brothers, the family business, are all unrecognizable. It seems her fiancé isn’t the only one who’s been keeping secrets…

Eight Hundred Grapes is a story about the messy realities of family, the strength (and weaknesses) of romantic love, and the importance of finding a place to call home. “This winning tale will both satisfy on a literary level and encourage oenophiles to pour themselves a glass of a recent vintage to enjoy while reading; it’s a tasty treat for wine lovers and teetotalers alike” (Publishers Weekly). You won’t be able to put this “addictive” (Us Weekly) novel down.”

Sign up for our June box here!

June Book Reveal: The Signature of All Things

The Signature of All Things book

Check out one of our June reads below! Get transported to another time and get lost in this novel by #1 New York Times Bestselling author, Elizabeth Gilbert.

“In The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction, inserting her inimitable voice into an enthralling story of love, adventure and discovery. Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker—a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia. Born in 1800, Henry’s brilliant daughter, Alma (who inherits both her father’s money and his mind), ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself. As Alma’s research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, she falls in love with a man named Ambrose Pike who makes incomparable paintings of orchids and who draws her in the exact opposite direction—into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, and the magical. Alma is a clear-minded scientist; Ambrose a utopian artist—but what unites this unlikely couple is a desperate need to understand the workings of this world and the mechanisms behind all life.

Exquisitely researched and told at a galloping pace, The Signature of All Things soars across the globe—from London to Peru to Philadelphia to Tahiti to Amsterdam, and beyond. Along the way, the story is peopled with unforgettable characters: missionaries, abolitionists, adventurers, astronomers, sea captains, geniuses, and the quite mad. But most memorable of all, it is the story of Alma Whittaker, who—born in the Age of Enlightenment, but living well into the Industrial Revolution—bears witness to that extraordinary moment in human history when all the old assumptions about science, religion, commerce, and class were exploding into dangerous new ideas. Written in the bold, questing spirit of that singular time, Gilbert’s wise, deep, and spellbinding tale is certain to capture the hearts and minds of readers.”

Sign up for your June box today!

May Book Reveal: Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

brooklyn book

This New York Time’s bestseller is now a major motion picture. Academy Award nominee for Best Picture in 2016, you definitely want to check out this book and then go see the movie!

“Hauntingly beautiful and heartbreaking, Colm Tóibín’s sixth novel, Brooklyn, is set in Brooklyn and Ireland in the early 1950s, when one young woman crosses the ocean to make a new life for herself.

Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the years following World War Two. Though skilled at bookkeeping, she cannot find a job in the miserable Irish economy. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn to sponsor Eilis in America — to live and work in a Brooklyn neighborhood “just like Ireland” — she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind.

Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, a blond Italian from a big family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. He takes Eilis to Coney Island and Ebbets Field, and home to dinner in the two-room apartment he shares with his brothers and parents. He talks of having children who are Dodgers fans. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love with Tony, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future.”

Sign up for our May box here!

May Book Reveal: Longbourn by Jo Baker

Longbourn book

Any Downtown Abbey or Jane Austen fans out there? Us too! That’s why we couldn’t resist choosing Longbourn as one of our May book choices.

Here’s what it’s about:

“If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she’d most likely be a sight more careful with them.
 
In this irresistibly imagined belowstairs answer to Pride and Prejudice, the servants take center stage. Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants’ hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended.

Jo Baker dares to take us beyond the drawing rooms of Jane Austen’s classic—into the often overlooked domain of the stern housekeeper and the starry-eyed kitchen maid, into the gritty daily particulars faced by the lower classes in Regency England during the Napoleonic Wars—and, in doing so, creates a vivid, fascinating, fully realized world that is wholly her own.”

Sign up for our May box today!

5 Tips to Fit Reading into Your Schedule

IMG_5470Life is busy. Unless reading is one of your top priorities, you may have a hard time finding time for it in your schedule. Here are a few ideas of when you can fit in some reading throughout the day!

  • Take advantage of your commute. If you take a train or subway to and from work everyday, use this time to get some reading in. (don’t forget to get off at your stop!)
  • Take reading breaks. Instead of scrolling through your phone while you eat lunch, read!
  • Get into bed 20 minutes early. Then use that extra time to read before falling asleep.
  • Discuss with a friend (or a few friends!). Read the same book as a friend and discuss it as you go. This will hold you accountable for keeping up.

When do you like to read?