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November 2011

 
ReadingGroupGuides.com Newsletter November 2011

Quick Links to Features on ReadingGroupGuides.com
 
My Life as Laura...

In August, September and October, I spent days as a frontier girl sans electricity as hurricanes, rainstorms and a freak October snowstorm rolled through my town. Let’s just say that those Little House on the Prairie books made life before electricity look a lot more cozy and fun than I found it to be. But then again, Laura and the clan were not dealing with running a group of Internet sites or trying to read books 'til all hours of the night. They went to bed when the sun went down as they had to get up early to do things like churn the butter. Instead, I, the consummate night owl, was seeking out power like a gold miner. I learned to bring a power strip anywhere where there might be power so I could plug every device in. I also learned that an iPad can light up a room like a lamp when on the max brightness setting. I had lunch with a friend yesterday who told a story about how she and her husband were both reading on their iPads and quickly realized that they were like twin bed lamps. I wonder if Steve Jobs thought about THAT as a role for the iPad.

Oh well, how boring and dull it would be if life was unchallenging!

Lots of great books found their way to our office these past weeks, and it's nice to be sharing them with you. We not only have wonderful opportunities for book groups this month; we also have added guides to many titles that you will want to explore.

On the contest front, through Friday, November 18th, we are featuring a very special book group contest for Night Road by Kristin Hannah. We hosted a VERY successful contest with our ReadingGroupGuides.com Registered Book Clubs in October, and it spurred us to offer the same opportunity to the rest of our ReadingGroupGuides.com and Bookreporter.com readers.

Thus an additional 150 clubs --- we already awarded this prize to 500 clubs!!! --- will win hardcover copies of her book, Night Road, for everyone in their group. There is a caveat. Groups who win must agree to talk about the book in their January or February discussion groups and post about their discussions on Kristin Hannah’s Facebook page, the blog on KristinHannah.com, their personal Facebook pages, Twitter accounts or blogs. Pretty nice, eh? Fill out the form here by noon ET on Friday, November 18th to enter your group!

And you readers who are Kristin Hannah fans will want to note that Night Road will be available in trade paperback on January 3rd, while Home Front, her upcoming novel, will be available on January 31st. Want to learn more about Home Front? Then click on over to KristinHannah.com.

We are also featuring a contest for The Goodbye Quilt by Susan Wiggs. 25 readers will have a chance to win this thoughtful book, which tells the story of a mother torn between happiness and sadness as she sends her only child to college. Maybe it’s because I knit and maybe it’s because I value hand-crafted items, but I just love the description of this book: “As mother and daughter embark on a cross-country road trip to move Molly into her dorm, Linda pieces together the scraps that make up Molly’s young life --- the hem of a christening gown, a snippet from a Halloween costume. And in the stitching of each bit of fabric, Linda discovers that the memories of a shared journey can come together in a way that will keep them both warm in the years to come.”

A few years ago, an author friend, Ad Hudler, shared that he had given his daughter a gift like this as she went off to college, and it made me wish I had done something like that for my sons, though I am not sure they would have appreciated something like this quite the same way.

I have met Susan and her daughter, who is an only child, amusingly on the same trip to Seattle where I spent time with Kristin, and I cannot help but wonder how many of her emotions are wrapped into this story. Interested in winning this book for your group? Click here to enter this contest by Friday, December 2nd at noon ET.

We know that many groups enjoy reading books and then seeing the movie together, thus we are excited to share another contest where 10 groups will win a copy of the movie tie-in edition of John le Carré’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the first book in the Karla trilogy. The movie adaptation of this heart-stopping book of international intrigue will be in theaters on Friday, December 9th, so you'll want to think about reading this one now. There are authors who tell me time and time again that le Carré is a master of the thriller writing craft, and they read him to study style as well as for enjoyment. Click here to enter this contest by Friday, December 2nd at noon ET.

A few weeks ago, I played a bit of book catch-up. I was traveling this summer when A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard came out. I missed the full interview with her that Diane Sawyer did, just catching some random clips, but I have been intrigued by this young woman who was kidnapped at age 11 and spent 18 years in captivity bearing two girls at the hands of her kidnapper along the way. I never had a chance to read the book, but this week I stole some time to read the heartbreaking ---and also uplifting --- story of a young woman’s resilience in the wake of unspeakable horror. I still marvel that no one noticed what was going on in that backyard all those years; knowing the typical noise that surrounds a young family, how could this have been missed? Chilling, but I also daresay inspiring. You can find the reading group guide for this book here.

We've added 13 new guides this month, including one for The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, the 2011 recipient of the prestigious Man Booker Prize. The book is told from the perspective of a middle-aged man who grapples with his past and memories he has not often considered, but has been forced to come to terms with. We are also pleased to share that this is our newsletter contest book. One lucky book group will have a chance to win up to 20 copies of this great book for their group! Click here for more info. The good news: If you are a subscriber to this newsletter you already are entered to win!

Last month we asked you to weigh in about a group that was growing way too fast. You shared your comments, and we have them here on the ReadingGroupGuides.com Blog. You had some really thoughtful suggestions, so thanks to all who contributed feedback. I heard from the group member who had submitted the question, and she was wowed by your ideas.

We also have an interview with Valerie Giambona, founder of the Red Pages Book Club in Secaucus, New Jersey. I met Valerie at a librarian event last month, and she shared what a great fan she is of ReadingGroupGuides.com and Bookreporter.com. I asked her if we could interview her, and she graciously agreed. Every month, the Red Pages Book Club, a group of 25 friends and neighbors, gathers at a local restaurant and eats a meal that matches with the book they have read. Here, Valerie shares how the group got started, explains how it works, and describes some delicious literary-themed cuisine!

Over at Bookreporter.com, I have selected two new Bookreporter.com Bets On picks that would both make great book group selections. One is When She Woke by Hillary Jordan, the other is The Sisters by Nancy Jensen. Read more about all my Bookreporter.com Bets On selections here.

Two polls for you to weigh in on this month. Here on ReadingGroupGuides.com we ask, "If there is no discussion guide available for a book, will your group still select it?" Click here to vote. And on Bookreporter.com we ask, "Right now, the Bookreporter.com Coming Soon feature lists titles two months in advance. If we extended this preview of what’s to come further, how far out would you like to see books that are "Coming Soon"? You can vote here.

Here’s to a month of great reading…with your group and with your personal reading as well.

Carol Fitzgerald (Carol@bookreporter.com)

 

Special Contest: Win Copies of NIGHT ROAD by Kristin Hannah for Your Group

This month, 150 groups are being offered a very special opportunity --- a chance to win a hardcover copy of Night Road by Kristin Hannah for each member of their group (up to 20), provided that they agree to discuss the book at their January or February meeting and post comments or feedback about the book and/or their discussion on Kristin Hannah’s Facebook page, the blog on KristinHannah.com, their personal Facebook pages, Twitter accounts or blogs. The deadline for entries is Friday, November 18th at noon ET.

Night Road by Kristin Hannah (Fiction)
For 18 years, Jude Farraday has put her children's needs above her own, and it shows --- her twins, Mia and Zach, are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill moves into their small, close-knit community, no one is more welcoming than Jude. Lexi, a former foster child with a dark past, quickly becomes Mia's best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable.

Jude does everything to keep her kids on track for college and out of harm's way. It has always been easy --- until senior year of high school. Suddenly she is at a loss. Nothing feels safe anymore; every time her kids leave the house, she worries about them. On a hot summer's night her worst fears come true.

-Click here for the reading group guide.
 

Click here to read all the contest details.

 
Special Contest: Win a Copy of the Movie Tie-In Edition of TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY by John le Carré for Your Group
The feature film adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the first novel in John le Carré's celebrated Karla trilogy, will be in theaters on Friday, December 9th. To celebrate, we’re giving 10 readers the opportunity to win a copy of the movie tie-in edition for their group. The deadline for entries is Friday, December 2nd at noon ET.

More about Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy:
The first novel in John le Carré's celebrated Karla trilogy, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a heart-stopping tale of international intrigue.

The man he knew as "Control" is dead, and the young Turks who forced him out now run the Circus. But George Smiley isn't quite ready for retirement --- especially when a pretty, would-be defector surfaces with a shocking accusation: a Soviet mole has penetrated the highest level of British Intelligence. Relying only on his wits and a small, loyal cadre, Smiley recognizes the hand of Karla --- his Moscow Centre nemesis --- and sets a trap to catch the traitor.

-Click here for the reading group guide.

 
Click here to read all the contest details.

 
Special Contest: Win a Copy of THE GOODBYE QUILT by Susan Wiggs for Your Group
We are celebrating the release of The Goodbye Quilt by Susan Wiggs --- the story of a fabric shop owner who is torn between excitement and heartache as her only child departs for college --- with a special contest. 25 readers will have the opportunity to each win a copy of the book, which is in stores now, for their group. The deadline for entries is Friday, December 2nd at noon ET.

More about The Goodbye Quilt:
Linda Davis’s local fabric shop is a place where women gather to share their creations: wedding quilts, baby quilts, memorial quilts, each bound tight with dreams, hopes and yearnings. Now, as her only child readies for college, Linda is torn between excitement for Molly and heartache for herself. Who will she be when she is no longer needed in her role as mom?

As mother and daughter embark on a cross-country road trip to move Molly into her dorm, Linda pieces together the scraps that make up Molly’s young life --- the hem of a christening gown, a snippet from a Halloween costume. And in the stitching of each bit of fabric, Linda discovers that the memories of a shared journey can come together in a way that will keep them both warm in the years to come.

-Click here for the reading group guide.

 
Click here to read all the contest details.

 
A STOLEN LIFE: A Memoir, by Jaycee Dugard

When Jaycee Dugard was 11 years old, she was abducted from a school bus stop within sight of her home in South Lake Tahoe, California. For more than 18 years, Dugard was held captive by Phillip Garrido and his wife, Nancy. Dugard depended on the Garridos for everything, but she never lost hope of being reunited with her family. After she became a mom herself, Dugard knew she could never leave her daughters behind, even if that meant a lifetime in captivity.

Click here for the reading group guide.

 
HOLY GHOST GIRL: A Memoir, by Donna Johnson

At 17, Donna Johnson fled Brother David Terrell and his Holy Roller crew to seek “the world with its … terrible beauty.” But after decades of running, Donna still felt the pull of her past. So when circumstances summon her back to Terrell’s revival tent, she finally confronts the conundrum of miracles and hypocrisy, faith and corruption that encompassed her young life.


Click here for the reading group guide.

 
ReadingGroupGuides.com Blog: Our Reader Feedback on Managing a Large Book Group

A few weeks ago, we got a request from a reader who wanted some feedback on a predicament. Her book group is bursting at the seams in membership --- which is why they now meet at a library instead of people’s homes. They had 26 members as of June, and now members are asking friends to tag along. At this month's meeting, some hadn't even read the book and never verbally participated. It appeared they enjoyed some refreshments and listened to others discuss a book. The group was so large that little side discussions were going on here and there, and the leader had to use her “schoolteacher voice” to ask them to wait their turn and share what they had to say with everyone. They almost needed a microphone for some of the participants!

As we at ReadingGroupGuides.com are lucky to have a large pool of reading groups at our disposal, we decided to turn to our readers for advice. We asked if anyone had any suggestions for how a group leader could handle this particular issue, and we are pleased to share their responses.

 

Click here to see our reader feedback on managing a large book group.

 
ReadingGroupGuides.com's Book Group Spotlight: Red Pages Book Club
The Book Group Spotlight Feature is designed to share a selected book group with our readers. The spotlight may focus on a group's discussion of a book or on a group that we feel is particularly interesting.

Our latest Book Group Spotlight interview is with Valerie Giambona, the founder of the Red Pages Book Club in Secaucus, New Jersey. Every month, the group of 25 friends and neighbors gathers at a local restaurant and eats a meal that matches with the book they have read. Here, Valerie shares how the group got started, explains how it works, and describes some delicious literary cuisine!

-Click here to read previous Book Group Spotlight interviews.
 
Click here to read our latest Book Group Spotlight interview.

 
Bookreporter.com's New in Paperback Roundups for November

November's New in Paperback roundups on Bookreporter.com include the following highlights for reading groups:

The Brave by Nicholas Evans (Fiction)
As a child, Tom Bedford moves to Hollywood with his sister when she falls in love with a suave TV cowboy. But after a shocking act of violence, Tom’s life is destroyed. And when his estranged son is charged with murder years later, he is forced to confront his painful past.

Forbidden Places by Penny Vincenzi (Historical Fiction)
Penny Vincenzi’s eighth riveting family drama centers on love and marriage, families and secrets, and wartime and what it does to every accepted social value.

An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin (Fiction)
Lacey Yeager is prepared to take the NYC art world by storm. Hungry to keep climbing the social and career ladders, she charms everyone who crosses her path. Her social ascension parallels the alluring evolution of the art world and the country from the late 1990s through today.

-Find out what's "New in Paperback" for the weeks of October 31st, November 7th, November 14th, November 21st and November 28th.


 

Bookreporter.com Bets On: THE SISTERS by Nancy Jensen and WHEN SHE WOKE by Hillary Jordan
The Sisters by Nancy Jensen (Fiction)
The Sisters, a debut novel by Nancy Jensen, opens in rural Kentucky in 1927 with two sisters --- Bertie Fischer and her older sister, Mabel --- who become separated through a tragic string of events. For a moment, I got settled in with these characters and thought this book was just going to be their story. But as I kept reading, I realized that these are not the only compelling sister characters we come to know in The Sisters. As the years unfold, other generations of sisters in this family form the backdrop for the narrative. The story flows through 80 years, marking the social changes that affect life in America as well as the ways these changes affect the characters. A secret that was buried in the past will impact all these sisters --- and the courses of their lives.

-Click here to read more of Carol's thoughts about The Sisters.
-Click here to read a review of The Sisters.

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan (Dystopian Thriller)

Hillary Jordan’s debut novel, Mudbound, won a number of prizes and became a reader favorite for its honest portrayal of a family struggling to make ends meet on its Mississippi Delta farm during the 1940s. The topic of When She Woke couldn’t be much more of a 180, as it’s a dystopian novel set in the not-too-distant future where criminals are referred to as Chromes. The skin color of all Chromes is dyed to reflect their crime. At the start of the sentence, their jail time is continuously filmed in a reality show kind of format, and their actions are broadcast nationwide. Once released from their original sentence, they remain dyed, and their skin tones define them and keep them ostracized from the general public. It’s chilling and haunting and a brilliant social commentary.

-Click here to read more of Carol's thoughts about When She Woke.
-Click here to read a review of When She Woke.

-Click here to read an excerpt from When She Woke.
-Click here to read our interview with Hillary Jordan.
-Visit www.HillaryJordan.com.
 
Click here to see all the books Bookreporter.com is betting you'll love.

 
Miami Book Fair International: November 13-20, 2011
Miami Book Fair International
November 13-20, 2011 - Street Fair: November 18-20
Wolfson Campus, Miami Dade College

Enjoy the 28th edition of the nation’s finest and largest literary gathering presented by the Florida Center for the Literary Arts at Miami Dade College.

Come see hundreds of great authors like John Connolly, who will be talking about his YA novel, The Infernals, on Friday, November 18th at 9:30am; New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean, author of Rin Tin Tin, who will speak on Sunday, November 20th at 2:30pm; and Jeffrey Eugenides, who will be discussing his new bestseller, The Marriage Plot, on Saturday, November 19th at 10am.

There are also a number of discussion panels on intriguing topics like “Discover New Worlds” and “The Writer’s Voice.” And don’t forget: there are some not-quite literary events at this festival! Check the schedule for fun events like cooking demonstrations, a talk by Jim Lehrer about presidential debates, and an evening with Rosanne Cash!

-Click here for the full schedule of events.
 
Click here for more information about Miami Book Fair International.

 
Looking for a Guide?
ReadingGroupGuides.com maintains an ever-expanding database of more than 3,350 reading guides to help groups in their discussions. You can search for books by title, author or genre.

You can also find a plethora of titles --- and see what other groups are reading --- by taking a look at our Most Requested Guides, which lets you know what the most frequently accessed guides are each month, and our annual "Best of" lists, which are divided into three categories: New Favorites, Ongoing Favorites and Enduring Favorites.
 
New Guides Now Available

The Barbarian Nurseries by Hector Tobar: This is the great panoramic social novel that Los Angeles deserves --- a 21st-century, West Coast Bonfire of the Vanities, taking us beyond the glimmer of Hollywood and deeper than camera-ready crime stories to reveal Southern California life as it really is, across its vast, sunshiny sprawl of classes, languages, dreams and ambitions.
Christmas in Sugarcreek: A Christmas Seasons of Sugarcreek Novel by Shelley Shepard Gray: Judith Graber has always been the obedient daughter, and this holiday season she feels overworked, overlooked, and underappreciated. But everything changes when her father hires Ben Knox.
Ed King by David Guterson: In Seattle, 1962, Walter Cousins makes the biggest error of his life --- he sleeps with Diane, his children's au pair. Diane gets pregnant and leaves their baby on a doorstep, but not before turning the tables on Walter and setting in motion a tragedy of epic proportions.
Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor by Jana Riess: This wry memoir tackles 12 different spiritual practices in a quest to become more saintly, including fasting, fixed-hour prayer, the Jesus Prayer, gratitude, Sabbath-keeping and generosity.
The Goodbye Quilt by Susan Wiggs: Fabric shop owner Linda Davis is torn between excitement and heartache as her only child prepares for college. On the journey to Molly’s new school, Linda compiles scraps from throughout Molly’s life to create a meaningful gift.
Holy Ghost Girl: A Memoir by Donna Johnson: Recounted with deadpan observations and surreal detail, Holy Ghost Girl bypasses easy judgment to articulate a rich world in which the mystery of faith and human frailty share a surprising and humorous coexistence.
Lot’s Return to Sodom: A Liv Bergen Mystery by Sandra Brannan: The Sturgis Motorcycle rally is no place for buttoned-down citizens --- UNLESS THEY’RE TRYING TO HIDE A MURDER OR TWO.
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides: From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides comes this Austen-esque tale with Madeleine, an English major writing a thesis with the marriage plot as the centerpiece, stuck in the middle of her own love triangle.
Proof of Heaven by Mary Curran Hackett: Seven-year-old Colm knows he is sick and not getting better. When he reveals his dying wish --- to meet the father who abandoned him --- Colm and his family embark on an emotional quest and come face-to-face with their biggest uncertainties about life and death.
River of Smoke by Amitav Gosh: In the second installment of the Ibis trilogy, set during the opium trade of the early 19th century, we’re taken on a voyage through epic power struggles between East and West in an irresistible page-turner of a novel.
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes: This intense new novel, winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize, follows a middle-aged man as he contends with a past he has never much thought about --- until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance, one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present.
A Stolen Life: A Memoir by Jaycee Dugard: Jaycee Dugard’s memoir is written by the 30-year-old herself and covers the period from the time of her abduction in 1991 --- when she was just 11 years old --- up until the present. In her stark, compelling narrative, Jaycee opens up about what she experienced, including how she feels now, a year after being found.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carré: The first novel in John le Carré's celebrated Karla trilogy, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a heart-stopping tale of international intrigue. The highly anticipated feature film adaptation will be in theaters on December 9th.


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

The Brave by Nicholas Evans: The beloved author of The Horse Whisperer returns to the American West with a filmmaker trying to make amends with his tangled past.
The True Memoirs of Little K by Adrienne Sharp: A former top ballerina in the Russian ballet recounts her life, career, romances and the cutthroat dancing world.


 

This Month's Poll
If there is no discussion guide available for a book, will your group still select it?

Yes
No
We’re not sure how we feel about this.

 
Click here to answer our poll.
 
This Month's Newsletter Contest Book: THE SENSE OF AN ENDING by Julian Barnes
Win a copy of The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes for your reading group!

To be a group to win up to 20 free copies of this book, all you have to do is sign up for the ReadingGroupGuides.com newsletter by December 1, 2011. If you are receiving this newsletter in your mailbox, you already are signed up!

More about The Sense of an Ending:
This intense new novel, the winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize, follows a middle-aged man as he contends with a past he has never much thought about --- until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance, one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present. Tony Webster thought he’d left all this behind as he built a life for himself, and by now his marriage and family and career have fallen into an amicable divorce and retirement. But he is then presented with a mysterious legacy that obliges him to reconsider a variety of things he thought he’d understood all along, and to revise his estimation of his own nature and place in the world.

 
Click here to read all the contest details.
 

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Happy reading. We'll see you next month.

Don't forget to visit our other websites from TheBookReportNetwork.com:


Bookreporter.com, GraphicNovelReporter.com, FaithfulReader.com, Teenreads.com, Kidsreads.com, AuthorsOnTheWeb.com and AuthorYellowPages.com.

Carol Fitzgerald (Carol@bookreporter.com)

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