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November 2008 Newsletter

November 2008

This Month on

Back to Books....

Special Contest: Win SARAH'S KEY by Tatiana de Rosnay for Your Group 

Special Contest: SHELTER ME by Juliette Fay

GOOD LUCK by Whitney Gaskell

Now Available in Paperback: HOME TO HOLLY SPRINGS by Jan Karon


Registered Book Club Offer
What's New on the Blog's Book Club Makeover

This Month's Book Club Interview

Book Groups, Librarians and Booksellers --- We Want to Hear from YOU!

Don't Miss Our Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest on!
New Guides Now Available
This Month's Poll and Tip

This Month's Contest Book: THE STREET OF A THOUSAND BLOSSOMS by Gail Tsukiyama

Find a Guide by Title
Find a Guide by Author
Advice and Ideas
Register Your Group

Back to Books....

The election thankfully is behind us --- I was quite tired of bickering --- and we all can get back to reading for pleasure. As I write this note I keep hopping up to pack for the Miami Book Fair that I am going to be attending this weekend. It's funny how typing a word can spark an idea of something that I forgot to toss into my bag, okay, bags. I am quite eager to see Nancy Horan, author of Loving Frank, as well as Kristy Kiernan, author of Matters of Faith. I still am going through the four pages of events scheduled for Saturday and Sunday trying to map out a schedule. The offerings, including the panels for a new track of programming for the Fair this year --- graphic novels --- have me making more choices than I would want to have to do since there are so many great events running simultaneously.

Since I last wrote I attended Book Group Expo in San Jose. My hat goes off to Ann Kent and her team, who handled an amazing number of logistics to bring this weekend together so it ran seamlessly. When I saw the "footprints" marking the directions from one group of panels to the next, I knew these were women afer my own heart on getting the details right. This is the third year that this event has been held. The first day, when asked for a show of hands, it looked like 95% of the attendees were repeat visitors. I spent most of the weekend with Esther Bushell, who blogs about the weekend here. I also interviewed Garth Stein for
Book Club Girl's on Air radio show, and you can listen to that here.

I met some really interesting book club facilitators and book club members --- I was most amused by the two women who I met on Saturday who were wearing matching t-shirts that said, "My Book Club Can Beat Up Your Book Club" --- during the weekend, as well as some of our readers and bloggers. Always nice when moments like that happen. And I got to see old author friends like Gail Tsukiyama, whose title The Street of a Thousand Blossoms is our prize book this month, and Masha Hamilton, who was readying for a trip to Afghanistan to research a new book, and to finally meet Joshua Henkin, the author of Matrimony, who has become a friend over the past year. These were just a smattering of the special experiences I enjoyed during this weekend event.

This month I am happy to bring you the discussion guide for Three Cups of Tea, which we received literally hundreds of requests for in the past two months. It's the true story of one of the most extraordinary humanitarian missions of our time. In 1993, a young American mountain climber named Greg Mortenson stumbled into a tiny village high in Pakistan’s beautiful and desperately poor Karakoram Himalaya region. Sick, exhausted and depressed after failing to scale the summit of K2, Mortenson regains his strength and his will to live thanks to the generosity of the people of the village of Korphe. Before he leaves, Mortenson makes a vow that will profoundly change both the villagers’ lives and his own --- he will return and build them a school.

My mother's book group read Three Cups of Tea last month, and they immediately decided that they wanted to be part of this cause. They each are bringing a check for $12 to their December meeting and will be donating these funds to Mortenson's effort. I love the call to action that this book is bringing to readers.

We're wondering what groups are doing this holiday season --- special celebrations, making donations on your group's behalf, or any other creative endeavors. Send your holiday tips, stories, advice and traditions --- along with your group name and location --- to [email protected].

We also received a number of requests for a guide for The Shack by William P. Young. Just Saturday two friends told me that they were reading this book, and they are very different readers, thus I can see this book will attract the attention of many diverse groups. Someday I would like to sit down and do a chart about the best-loved book club titles to trace why each resonates so resoundingly with groups. It would be a really interesting study!

With the holidays approaching, we want to remind you that a book makes the perfect present to give --- and to get --- this holiday season. That's why we’ve compiled our Books as the Perfect Gifts Countdown. Between now and December 25th, we are going to share one reason each day on why a book makes the perfect gift. So if you need a reason, we have 45 of them! Hope you enjoy this feature as much as we did creating it.

Stumped on what to get for all the people on your holiday list? Get a jump on holiday shopping with our What to Give/What to Get Holiday Gift Guide on our flagship site,, which spotlights books in a host of popular categories such as cookbooks, mysteries, stocking stuffers and more. It will be live on Friday, November 14th. It also includes holiday gift ideas for kids and teens! Want to win a book for yourself as well as a basket of holiday-themed items? Then enter our Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest also on Still not in the spirit of the holidays with these features? Then check back with on November 21st when we bring you daily posts from bestselling and notable authors, each of whom is going to share a story about a book they either gave or received. I've read some of these already, and they are truly wonderful.

Confession: To the three groups that won Book Club Makeovers, I need a few weeks more to get back to you with our plans. I have been tugged in a number of directions --- and airports --- these past few weeks, so I do not have these solutions completely ironed out. I am planning that the planes I will be on these next two weekends will give me time to pull together our notes into a strategy for you! And I promise to keep the lists of ingredients and recipes for Thanksgiving dinner in a separate file. 

Until next month, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you...and thank you for reading. Oh, if you are headed to the Miami Book Fair, I will be at the Horan event. Looking at the clothes on the rack that I am packing, I am fairly sure I am going to be wearing turquoise.

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])


Special Contest: Win SARAH'S KEY by Tatiana de Rosnay for Your Group 

We are celebrating the paperback release of Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay --- a mesmerizing story in which a mysterious past unfolds, the present is torn apart and the future is irrevocably altered --- with a special contest. Ten groups will have the opportunity to each win up to 12 finished copies of Sarah’s Key, which is now in stores, for their group. Enter between now and Tuesday, November 25th by filling out the form found here.

More about Sarah’s Key:
Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a 10-year-old girl, is taken with her parents by the French police as they go door to door arresting Jewish families in the middle of the night. Desperate to protect her younger brother, Sarah locks him in a bedroom cupboard --- their secret hiding place --- and promises to come back for him as soon as they are released.

Six years later: Sarah’s story intertwines with that of Julia Jarmond, an American journalist investigating the roundup. In her research Julia stumbles onto a trail of family secrets that link her to Sarah and to questions about her own future.

-Click here to read the guide for Sarah's Key.


Click here to read all the contest details.


Special Contest: SHELTER ME by Juliette Fay

We are celebrating the release of Shelter Me by Juliette Fay --- a beautifully written debut novel about heartbreaking loss and emotional redemption --- with a special contest. Thirty-five readers will have the opportunity to each win one advance copy of Shelter Me, which will be in stores on December 30th, for their group. Enter between now and Tuesday, November 25th by filling out the form found here.

More About Shelter Me:
After the sudden death of her husband, Janie LaMarche is swamped by tides of grief and rage. Yet she's forced to confront the onward march of her life by an unlikely cast of interventionists: her two small children, her Ipecac-toting aunt, the "unflinchingly nice" parish priest and the contractor hired by her husband to build her a porch, whose involvement in her family's life becomes more ingrained with every beam he installs.

This stirring debut from author Juliette Fay is filled with insight on how we carry on after a loved one’s death --- and how we must often force ourselves to embrace solace from those who show up to help us weather the tides of our grief.

-Click here to read the guide for Shelter Me.

Click here to read all the contest details.


GOOD LUCK by Whitney Gaskell

After life as she knows it falls apart, Lucy Parker heads off to Palm Beach to hide out at the home of an old college friend. But just as Lucy begins to envision a new life for herself, the past catches up with her. Lucy would give up every penny to have her old life back --- but just as she’s ready to cash it all in, fate has one last surprise in store for her… one that will show her exactly what she’s worth.

Click here to read the guide for Good Luck.


Now Available in Paperback: HOME TO HOLLY SPRINGS by Jan Karon

Jan Karon enchants us with the story of the newly retired priest’s spur-of-the-moment adventure. For the first time in decades, Father Tim returns to his birthplace, Holly Springs, Mississippi, in response to a mysterious, unsigned note saying simply: “Come home.” Little does he know how much these two words will change his life. A story of long-buried secrets, forgiveness and the wonder of discovering new people, places and depth of feeling, Home to Holly Springs will enthrall new readers and longtime fans alike.
Click here to read the guide for Home to Holly Springs.



Todd McCray is a developmentally challenged young man living with his parents on their Kansas farm. While listening to the radio one day, Todd hears that the local animal shelter is seeking temporary homes for dogs during the Christmas week; Todd immediately wants to participate. Once Todd wins over his reluctant father, George, the McCray family find themselves with Christmas, a loyal, obedient dog that weaves his way into the hearts of the McCray family and their friends. When the time comes to give Christmas back, however, it is George who finds he is having a hard time letting go.

Click here to read the guide for A Dog Named Christmas.

Registered Book Club Offer
For November we have a very special opportunity for Registered Book Groups. Our featured title this month is While My Sister Sleeps by Barbara Delinsky. Groups who have registered with us by Monday, November 17th have the chance to win free books for their entire group. If your group is not registered, click here to register.

While My Sister Sleeps by Barbara Delinsky --- Book Giveaway: Three groups will have the opportunity to receive 10-12 copies of the book.

More About While My Sister Sleeps:
A master storyteller, bestselling author Barbara Delinsky has captivated millions of readers worldwide with her emotionally powerful novels. While My Sister Sleeps takes the intensity to new heights. This is the story of a family forced to confront difficult truths, while finding the courage to love each other enough to let go.

Raising provocative questions about family ties, repercussions of the past and the toughest choices a parent could ever have to make, While My Sister Sleeps is a novel that will give you much to discuss.


Click here to register your group.

What's New on the Blog
Lots of authors have been writing posts for us on the Blog. Among our recent contributors are Camilla Morton, Alissa Torres, Laura Pedersen, Garth Stein and Margaret Cezair-Thompson. Many of you are telling us you are making this blog a daily destination. The latest blog can be found here, and here are quick links to some recent posts:

-Camilla Morton: More Book Club Advice
-Camilla Morton: How to Start a Book Club

-Musings on Book Group Expo
-American Widow: Book Club Members Share Their Thoughts
-Alissa Torres: The Creation of a Memoir
-Laura Pedersen: Buffalo Gal
-An Economic Recovery Plan from An Independent Business --- and How Book Clubs Play a Part
-New Yorkers Celebrate National Reading Group Month
-Boston Celebrates National Reading Group Month
-Garth Stein on Racing in the Rain and Other Topics
-Margaret Cezair-Thompson: Discussing The Pirate's Daughter

For those of you who use RSS feeds to keep track of your favorite blogs, you can now add the blog to your list by clicking the link on the blog page.
Click here to read the blog.'s Book Club Makeover

Whether your book club is just a few months old or has been around for a while, you might be in need of a Book Club Makeover from After reading your emails --- and talking to book clubs across the country --- we see that book groups often can fall into a routine and need a bit of livening up. It’s to the rescue! We’ll select groups each month for makeovers, review the problems and make suggestions. Interested in a Book Club Makeover for your group? Click here for details.

We selected our first three groups for Book Club Makeovers. They are "Stages and Pages" from Portland, ME, "The Bookies" from Fort Morgan, CO and "Changing Chapters" from Wisconsin Rapids, WI. You can read more about them --- and their issues for us to solve --- here. We will report back to them with our ideas later this month, and we will share our thoughts with you next month.
Click here for more information about the Book Club Makeover.


This Month's Book Club Interview

This month we are sharing a new interview with a book club on

Tera Sheppard is the founder and moderator of Chicks on Lit, an online-based book club on Formed in February 2008, it currently has over 460 members. In this interview, Tera and several of her fellow readers talk about the bonds formed among the group’s participants, which are stronger than they ever could have imagined. They also explain how their varied backgrounds and the welcoming atmosphere allow for some very intense and enlightening book discussions.


Click here to see all our interviews with book clubs.


Book Groups, Librarians and Booksellers --- We Want to Hear from YOU!

Each month we feature interviews with book clubs from around the country on Interested in having your group spotlighted? Click here to read what to do.

We also like to feature interviews with librarians and booksellers from across the country in much the same way that we interview book groups each month. If you'd like to share your knowledge and opinions about book clubs with our readers, a link to the list of questions we'd like answered is available from the links below.

Please feel free to go beyond these questions and share with us anything about books clubs --- ones that meet in your library, your store, of which you're a member or ones that you've heard about --- that you think might interest our readers. When answering these questions, please keep in mind that our readers love to know what other groups are reading, so the more titles you include, the better!

-Librarians: Click here to see our interview instructions and questions for Librarians.

-Booksellers: Click here to see our interview instructions and questions for Booksellers.

Don't Miss Our Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest on!
The holiday season is upon us! At it's time for us to share the spirit of the season with our Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest. As you begin your holiday shopping, we want to remind you that books make affordable, personal and wonderful gifts for EVERYONE on your list --- and are a nice way to treat yourself as well!

From November 7th through January 5th we will spotlight a different title or collection of titles, and readers will have the chance to win one of five holiday baskets filled with winter-themed items as well as two copies of the featured book(s). Why two? One is to keep, of course, and one is for someone on your holiday gift list. We will also include festive wrapping paper to make the gift-giving hassle-free.

Our featured titles are:

Buffalo Gal by Laura Pedersen
Candy Cane Murder by Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine and Leslie Meier
Christmas at Sea Pines Cottage by Sally Smith O'Rourke
A Christmas Passage by David Saperstein and George Samerjan
Santa Clawed by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown
Silver Bells by Fern Michaels, JoAnn Ross, Mary Burton and Judy Duarte
The Spy Who Came for Christmas by David Morrell

Be sure to check the feature on December 12th to see our special end-of-the-year surprise, featuring even more great titles!

Click here for all the contest details.

New Guides Now Available
The following guides are now available on

The Art of Social War by Jodi Wing

Bitter Sweets by Roopa Farooki
The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter
A Dog Named Christmas by Greg Kincaid
Good Luck by Whitney Gaskell
Home to Holly Springs: Father Tim, Book 1 by Jan Karon
Listening is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project edited and with an introduction by Dave Isay
The Paper Bag Christmas by Kevin Alan Milne
Reporting the War: Freedom of the Press from the American Revolution to the War on Terrorism by John Byrne Cooke
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
The Saturday Wife by Naomi Ragen
Shelter Me by Juliette Fay
The Smart One and the Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik
The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama
Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
Three Minutes on Love by Roccie Hill
While My Sister Sleeps by Barbara Delinsky
The Whitest Wall by Jodee Kulp

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

Bleeding Kansas by Sara Paretsky
Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella
The Secret Between Us by Barbara Delinsky

We have the following new guides for Christian book groups:

It's Not About Me: Second Glances Series, Book 1 by Michelle Sutton
One Holy Night by J. M. Hochstetler
Click here to visit

This Month's Poll and Tip

Do you discuss books with your book group members outside of your formal meetings?

Yes, we do this all the time.
No, but that is a good idea.
No, we do not.

Tip for November:

With the holidays coming --- and a tighter than usual economic situation happening this year --- books are going to make perfect gifts. Need help in trying to decide who to give what book to? Think about enlisting your book group for advice! There you have a captive group of readers for suggestions. Each bring a list of those you want to get gifts for --- and suggest away.

Click here to answer the poll.


This Month's Contest Book: THE STREET OF A THOUSAND BLOSSOMS by Gail Tsukiyama

Win a copy of The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama for your reading group!

To be a group to win 20 free copies of this book, all you have to do is sign up for the newsletter by December 1, 2008. If you are receiving this newsletter in your mailbox, you already are signed up!

More About
The Street of a Thousand Blossoms:
Now available in paperback, Gail Tsukiyama’s novel is a gorgeously rendered work, steeped in politics and ancient Japanese tradition. Spanning three decades during World War II and beyond, this engrossing tale captures the lives of two ripped-apart Tokyo families as they struggle to make ends meet after losing nearly everything during the war.

Click here to read contest details and rules.


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