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May 2006 Newsletter

May 2006

This Month on

Inquiring Minds Want to Know....

Special Chat Opportunity and Book Giveaway --- LUCKY STRIKE by Nancy Zafris

FAMILY AND OTHER ACCIDENTS by Shari Goldhagen --- Guide Available for Hardcover and Paperback Editions

THE FRIEND WHO GOT AWAY by Jenny Offill and Elissa Schappell

Now in Paperback --- GOODNIGHT NOBODY by Jennifer Weiner


What's Happening on Our Message Boards, Including Our First Online Book Discussions Talks to Librarians Talks to Booksellers Talks to Book Clubs

For Registered Book Clubs - Two Special Offers

Newest Guides

Christian Guides

This Month's Contest: Win 20 Copies of THE FRIEND WHO GOT AWAY
Find a Guide by Title
Find a Guide by Author
Advice and Ideas
Register Your Group
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Inquiring Minds Want to Know....

I have been getting lots of notes from authors and publishers asking if we know of any Mother/Daughter book clubs. With May being Mother's Day, we were wondering if any of you are in a Mother/Daughter book club, or if you know of anyone else who is. If so, please drop me a note at [email protected] with this information. There are a number of titles that are perfect for this audience!

In this month's update we have a guide for Shooting Water: A Memoir of Second Chances, Family, and Filmmaking by Devyani Saltzman, which is the story of Devyani reuniting with her mother on the set of the movie, Shooting Water. This title has some strong mother/daughter themes.

This morning I attended a press conference about the National Endowment for the Arts' new reading initiative --- The Big Read. The first city-wide read was held ten years ago in Seattle and Chicago also has become well known for these reading events. Other cities have done this kind of outreach, but now the NEA is organizing this on a national level. Their plan is to sponsor 100 events in 2007. The goal is for everyone in the participating city or town --- including those involved libraries, civic groups, schools and other organizations, as well we individual readers --- to read the same book and discuss it. Cities and towns will be selecting what they read from a list of 22 titles, which will have extensive background materials created about them to help initiate a dialogue. Interested in having your town or city involved? Click here for more details on how you can spur this effort with your local library, literary partner or civic organization. There is an application to be a part of this stellar reading effort.  
Our requests for interviews with both librarians and booksellers received a terrific response. This month we are sharing our first replies, with more to follow in the months to come. Thank you to all those who shared their comments with us. We are thrilled with this response! Quick note: I had the pleasure of meeting one of our interviewees, Jean Utley, from Book'em Mysteries Bookstore when I was in L.A. for the L.A. Times Festival of Books last month. If you would like to be interviewed, see our interview questions for librarians here and for booksellers here.

Our Community Manager, Anne, has been busy on our message boards. This month we are starting two online book discussions --- one on Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes and one on Tamarind Woman by Anita Rau Badami. Read on and see how you can join the discussion. This is a nice way to read and discuss a book with a new group of people!

Our "In The Club" piece in the May/June issue of Pages Magazine talks about books to read if your club is caught up in The Da Vinci Code movie fever and is looking for something related to discuss. Also, we cover ideas on how to find new members for your group.
I'd love you to weigh in on this month's poll: "Does your group take any of the summer months off?" Weigh in and let us know. This, like the afore-mentioned Mother/Daughter book clubs, is a topic that comes up again and again.

And while we are on the subject of polling, on we are wondering if you plan to see The Da Vinci Code movie and if you have read the book. Vote here.
Here's wishing all the moms in our audience a Happy Mother's Day. We have some terrific Mother's Day gift suggestions on both and for those of you looking for a gift for mom, or creating a last-minute wish list.

Also, mark you calendars that on May 19th we are launching our Summer Beach Bag feature on with not only great beach reading, but also terrific weekly prizes! And on May 26th, we'll launch our Father's Day Contest with great book gifts for dads and prizes.
The winners of last month's Breath and Bones Contest were Susan of Happy Bookers from Merlin, OR, Dot of The Final Chapter from Lock Haven, PA and Chanda from Reno, NV. They each win 12 copies of Breath and Bones for their group and the opportunity to chat with Susan Cokal.

Lots to share this month.  Keep reading and remember to register your book club, if you have not done so already.

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])

Click here to read more about NEA's The Big Read.

Special Chat Opportunity and Book Giveaway --- LUCKY STRIKE by Nancy Zafris

In her second novel, Nancy Zafris once again creates a cast of colorful characters who, in their search for uranium deposits, find themselves along the way. Lucky Strike is a sometimes zany, always poignant look at the unexpected friendships that develop among this group and the ties that bind them.

Three lucky winners will receive up to 12 copies of Lucky Strike by Nancy Zafris for their group and a chat with Nancy Zafris! Interested? Send your name, mailing address, and a brief description of your reading group to [email protected] by June 7th, at 11:59PM.

-Click here to read the guide for Lucky Strike.

Click here for all the contest details.


FAMILY AND OTHER ACCIDENTS by Shari Goldhagen --- Guide Available for Hardcover and Paperback Editions

Separated by a decade and 200 points on their SAT scores, Jack and Connor Reed have a life in the Cleveland suburbs held together by spit and Chinese takeout. With his self-absorbed, over-the-hill parents dead by his twenty-fifth birthday, Jack has abandoned his own plans and returned to his parents' house where he works marathon hours at his late father's law firm, beds young paralegals, and throws money and advice at his teenage brother. Connor meanwhile wants nothing more than to leave the Midwest, start a family early, and do everything the way his parents didn't. But over the years, through the car crashes and bad breakups, the illnesses and illicit affairs, both realize that while circumstances are sometimes beyond control, there are always choices to be made.

Please note this guide is available both in Hardcover and Paperback versions.

Click here to read our guide for Family and Other Accidents.


THE FRIEND WHO GOT AWAY by Jenny Offill and Elissa Schappell

Losing a friend can be as painful and as agonizing as a divorce or the end of a love affair, yet it is rarely written about or even discussed. The Friend Who Got Away is the first book to address this near-universal experience, bringing together the brave, eloquent voices of writers like Francine Prose, Katie Roiphe, Dorothy Allison, Elizabeth Strout, Ann Hood, Diana Abu Jabar, Vivian Gornick, Helen Schulman, and many others. Some write of friends who have drifted away, others of sudden breakups that took them by surprise. Some even celebrate their liberation from unhealthy or destructive relationships. Yet at the heart of each story is the recognition of a loss that will never be forgotten.

Written especially for this anthology and touched with humor, sadness, and sometimes anger, these extraordinary pieces simultaneously evoke the uniqueness of each situation and illuminate the universal emotions evoked by the loss of a friend.

Click here to read our guide for The Friend Who Got Away.


Now in Paperback --- GOODNIGHT NOBODY by Jennifer Weiner

Life in suburban Upchurch is anything but picturesque for Kate Klein. Along with three small children and a husband who is hardly at home, Kate has to contend with living up to the standards set by her fellow Upchurch mothers. They're designer-clad, perfectly coiffed --- at the playground --- and feed their kids organic food. They make motherhood look effortless while Kate, with uncombed hair and a stash of bribe lollipops, "hasn't done one single thing right" since moving from Manhattan to this small Connecticut town.

When Kate arrives for lunch at the home of Kitty Cavanaugh and finds the Upchurch mom murdered, she's jolted from her malaise and sets out to uncover the killer. As her investigation heats up, Kate finds out not only that Kitty had a few dark secrets but that they had a mutual acquaintance --- a man from Kate's past who will lead her to reexamine the life she's chosen.

In Goodnight Nobody, Jennifer Weiner brings together two compelling tales---an engrossing murder mystery and a poignant story about one woman's quest to save her sanity and sense of self amidst the challenges of motherhood, marriage, and suburbia.

-Click here to read more about Goodnight Nobody.

Click here to read our guide for Goodnight Nobody.


A brief, lyrical novel with a powerful emotional charge, Rules for Old Men Waiting is about three wars of the twentieth century and an ever-deepening marriage. In a house on the Cape "older than the Republic," Robert MacIver, a historian who long ago played rugby for Scotland, creates a list of rules by which to live out his last days. The most important rule, to "tell a story to its end," spurs the old Scot on to invent a strange and gripping tale of men in the trenches of the First World War.


Click here to read the guide for Rules for Old Men Waiting.


What's Happening on Our Message Boards, Including Our First Online Book Discussions

Anne Staszalek, our Community Coordinator, reports that we have an interesting discussion currently active on the boards about the best and worst books your groups have read. You can see what others have said and add your own comment here:

This month we are going to start two online book discussions on our message boards. Anne has picked one of her favorite books, Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes, as one of the titles as it is gentle and warming, and perfect for this month when we're starting to think of travel and vacations --- and sunshine. We have a guide here and our discussion can be found here. Read the book? Then jump in and make a comment.

For our second title, she's selected Tamarind Woman by Anita Rau Badami --- a story of an Indian-born woman  examining her life, the trip she took to get there and where she goes from here. We have a guide for this title as well, which can be found here and our discussion can be found here.

Here are some advice and ideas from book clubs that Anne has found on the boards:

From Book Diva:
My book club takes trips in August for a weekend.
Our first trip was to Las Vegas, then New Orleans, San Francisco, and this year we're headed to Boston. We started theming our book selections for August to fit the trips we take. For New Orleans, we read Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire; for SF, we read Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club. For August, our member is choosing a book by an author whose hometown is in Boston.

From Radar_Charley
Does your club have the ho-hum need something new blues? Call your friendly librarian and ask if she has a list of local authors and copies of their books or look online for local authors. Once you have secured enough copies of his/her books, contact the author and invite them to your next meeting. I contacted one author, Bev Marshall, through her publisher and found out that she lived about 20 minutes from my house.

I called and invited her to visit our group and she accepted. For the meeting I made each member a copy of the menu of items taken from the story. We had Orange Crush and drank from Mason Jars and dessert was Mississippi Mud Cake --- all things were in the story.

Anne's Question of the Month for May:

What book did your group most enjoy discussing? Was there a book that did not work?

-Click here to answer the Question of the Month.

Click here to visit our Message Board. Talks to Librarians

We are featuring the following interviews with librarians on this month:

The Half Hollow Hills Community Library
Chanhassen Library
Excelsior Library
Fox Chase Library
Greenwood Public Library
Burlington County Library System
Algona Community Schools
The Russell County Public Library
Nesmith Library
Linebaugh Library System
Bridgeport Public Library
Evergreen Park Community High School
Branchville Elementary School interviews special librarians around the world, spotlighting a different one each month. We hope that you enjoy reading about their experiences and might find some new ideas for books and tips. If you are a librarian and you would like to be spotlighted, click here.

Click here to read all our interviews with librarians. Talks to Booksellers

We are featuring the following interviews with Booksellers this month on

Duck's Cottage Coffeeshop and Bookstore
Charley Hardin
Book'em Mysteries

Each month on we'll be featuring interviews with booksellers from across the country. If you are a bookseller and you'd like to share your knowledge and opinions about book clubs with our readers, click here.

Click here to read all our Bookseller Interviews. Talks to Book Clubs

We are featuring the following interviews with book clubs on this month:

Amie Kusak
The Central Readers
The RAW Sistaz Detroit
The Anguilla Book Club
Click here to read all our Book Club Interviews.

For Registered Book Clubs - Two Special Offers

This month we are running the following contests for Book Groups that have registered with us by May 12th:

Chat and Giveaway - When Light Breaks by Patti Callahan Henry: 10 groups will win 12 copies of the book and the opportunity to chat with Patti Callahan Henry.

More about When Light Breaks:
Garnering comparisons to Anne Rivers Siddons and Pat Conroy, Patti Callahan Henry has woven her lyrical Southern voice throughout the Lowcountry landscape. Now as two women from opposite sides of the sea meet, a tale unfolds that will draw you into the heart's remembrances and the compelling power of story.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Chat and Giveaway - Finishing Touches by Deanna Kizis: 13 groups will win the chance to chat with Deanna Kizis. Of those winners, one group will win 12 books for their group, the 12 runners-up will each receive one book for their group.

More about Finishing Touches:
Jesse Holtz and her two best friends, Cecile and Bryn, are practically attached at the hip. Their 10-year friendship ---begun in college and still super glue-strong --- is maintained by ritualized weekly get-togethers and daily cell phone catch-ups. Until Cecile, the Golden Girl of the trio, dies from injuries sustained in a head-on car crash.

In Finishing Touches Deanna Kizis follows up her brilliantly comic debut novel, How To Meet Cute Boys, with a part bittersweet, part acid funny tale of the intricacies of friendship, grief and getting a life while getting over a tragic event.

Click here to register your group.

Newest Guides

The following guides are now available on

About Grace by Anthony Doerr
Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes
Blue Peninsula by Madge McKeithen
The Breakdown Lane by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Breath and Bones by Susann Cokal
The Bright Forever by Lee Martin
Cage of Stars by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Christmas, Present by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Daniel Isn't Talking by Marti Leimbach
Family and Other Accidents by Shari
Finishing Touches by Deanna Kizis
The Friend Who Got Away by Jenny Offill and
Elissa Schappell
The Gilded Chamber by Rebecca Kohn
In the Shade of the Jacaranda by Nikki Arana
Living on Air by Anna Shapiro
Lucky Strike by Nancy Zafris
The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty
Nothing but the Right Thing by Stacy Hawkins
The Prince of Poison by Pamela Kaufman
The Red Carpet by Lavanya Sankaran
Rules for Old Men Waiting by Peter Pouncey
Shooting Water by Devyani Saltzman
The Sisterhood of Blackberry Corner by Andrea
Speak To My Heart by Stacy Hawkins Adams
Stop That Girl by Elizabeth McKenzie
The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult
A Theory of Relativity by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Twelve Times Blessed by Jacquelyn Mitchard
What I Know Now by Ellyn Spragins
When Light Breaks by Patti Callahan Henry
The Winds of Sonoma by Nikki Arana



Please note that these titles, for which we already had guides when they appeared in hardcover, are now available in paperback:

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Dear Zoe by Philip Beard

Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner
Leeway Cottage by Beth Gutcheon
Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson 
The Myth of You and Me by Leah Stewart
Ya-Yas in Bloom by Rebecca Wells
Rococo by Adriana Trigiani

Click here to read our newest guides.


Christian Guides

The following Christian guides are now available on

In the Shade of the Jacaranda
by Nikki Arana
Nothing but the Right Thing by Stacy Hawkins
Speak To My Heart by Stacy Hawkins Adams
The Winds of Sonoma by Nikki Arana


Does your group take any of the summer months off? Check which applies to your group.

No, we continue to meet every month.
We skip June, July and August.
We skip July and August.
We skip June.
We skip July.
We skip August.
None of the above applies to us.
Click here to answer the poll.
This Month's Contest: Win 20 Copies of THE FRIEND WHO GOT AWAY

A subscription to our newsletter is all you need to be entered in our monthly contest. This month, one lucky reader will win up to 20 copies of The Friend Who Got Away for his or her entire reading group.

-Click here to read more about The Friend Who Got Away.

Read contest details here.

Do you like what you see here, and want to forward it to a friend? Then click our link on the bottom of the page to do just that!

Happy reading. We'll see you next month.

Don't forget to visit our other websites from,,,,, and

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])

The Book Report Network
250 W. 57th Street - Suite 1228
New York, New York 10107