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View Poll Results: What bookish book shall we pick off the shelf in January?
Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters by Anne Boyd Rioux 5 62.50%
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis 3 37.50%
Rereadings by Anne Fadiman, Ed. 3 37.50%
The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald 6 75.00%
The Binding by Bridget Collins 1 12.50%
Original Sin by P.D. James 2 25.00%
The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett 1 12.50%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 8. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 12-07-2019, 06:52 AM   #1
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Vote for January 2020 • I'd Rather be Reading: Books about Books


Let's select the book we'll read and discuss in January 2020.

We love new participants. We're happy for you to vote, but in the interest of a vibrant conversation, we'd like to request that you not vote unless you plan to join the discussion whatever the selection. So if you haven't posted in a book club thread yet, do please say a quick hello here or in the Welcome thread.


This is a poll. Vote for as many books as you'd like. Questions? FAQs | Guidelines Or just ask!

Choices:

Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters by Anne Boyd Rioux
Amazon U.S. $9.99
Spoiler:
Quote:
"Lively and informative . . . does what–ideally–books about books can do: I’ve taken Little Women down from the shelf and put it on top of the books I plan to read.–Francine Prose, New York Times Book Review

Soon after its publication on September 30, 1868, Little Women became an enormous bestseller and one of America’s favorite novels. It quickly traveled the world and since has become an international classic. When Anne Boyd Rioux read it in her twenties, it had a singularly powerful effect on her. Through teaching it, she has seen its effect on many others.

In Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy, she recounts how Louisa May Alcott came to write the book, drawing inspiration for it from her own life. She also examines why this tale of family and community ties, set while the Civil War tore the country apart, has resonated through later wars, the Great Depression, and times of changing opportunities for women.

Today, Rioux sees the novel’s beating heart in its portrayal of family resilience and its honest look at the struggles of girls growing into women. In gauging its current status, she shows why it remains a book with such power that people carry its characters and spirit throughout their lives.

"Highly companionable and illuminating."–Mark Rozzo , Vanity Fair

"Straddling the line between entertainment and nuanced complexity, this fascinating look at Alcott’s novel is not to be missed."–A Mighty Girl

"A love letter written not by a smitten youngster naïve to her beloved’s drawbacks but by a mature adult who can recognize complexity and nuance."–Ilana Masad , NPR

"An affectionate and perceptive tribute."–Wendy Smith, Boston Globe
286 pp.

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
Kobo: $8.99 CA; $6.99 US; $11.99 AU; £5.99 GB Kindle: $7.80 CA
Spoiler:
From Amazon:
Quote:
To Say Nothing of the Dog is a science-fiction fantasy in the guise of an old-fashioned Victorian novel, complete with epigraphs, brief outlines, and a rather ugly boxer in three-quarters profile at the start of each chapter. Or is it a Victorian novel in the guise of a time-traveling tale, or a highly comic romp, or a great, allusive literary game, complete with spry references to Dorothy L. Sayers, Wilkie Collins, and Arthur Conan Doyle?

What Connie Willis soon makes clear is that genre can go to the dogs. To Say Nothing of the Dog is a fine, and fun, romance--an amused examination of conceptions and misconceptions about other eras, other people.
From Booklist:
Quote:
What a stitch! Willis' delectable romp through time from 2057 back to Victorian England, with a few side excursions into World War II and medieval Britain, will have readers happily glued to the pages. Rich dowager Lady Schrapnell has invaded Oxford University's time travel research project in 2057, promising to endow it if they help her rebuild Coventry Cathedral, destroyed by a Nazi air raid in 1940..

Take an excursion through time, add chaos theory, romance, plenty of humor, a dollop of mystery, and a spoof of the Victorian novel, and you end up with what seems like a comedy of errors but is actually a grand scheme "involving the entire course of history and all of time and space that, for some unfathomable reason, chose to work out its designs with cats and croquet mallets and penwipers, to say nothing of the dog. And a hideous piece of Victorian artwork."
512 pp.

Rereadings by Anne Fadiman, Ed.
Kobo: US$9.99; CA$10.99; AU$13.08; UK£6.95 / Amazon AU: $9.86
Spoiler:
From Kobo:

Quote:
Is a book the same book-or a reader the same reader-the second time around? The seventeen authors in this witty and poignant collection of essays all agree on the answer: Never.

<SNIP>

These essays are not conventional literary criticism; they are about relationships. The relationship between reader and book is a powerful one, and as these writers attest, it evolves over time. Rereadings reveals at least as much about the reader as about the book: each is a miniature memoir that focuses on that most interesting of topics, the protean nature of love. And as every bibliophile knows, no love is more life-changing than the love of a book.
272 pp.

The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
Kobo: $A9.99, $US2.99, $C11.99,£5.99
Spoiler:
Quote:
In 1959 Florence Green, a kindhearted widow with a small inheritance, risks everything to open a bookshop - the only bookshop - in the seaside town of Hardborough. By making a success of a business so impractical, she invites the hostility of the town's less prosperous shopkeepers. By daring to enlarge her neighbors' lives, she crosses Mrs. Gamart, the local arts doyenne. Florence's warehouse leaks, her cellar seeps, and the shop is apparently haunted. Only too late does she begin to suspect the truth: a town that lacks a bookshop isn't always a town that wants one.
163 pp.

The Binding by Bridget Collins
Kobo: US $2.99; CA $2.99; GB £4.99; AU $8.99
Spoiler:
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Quote:
Books are dangerous thingsMeg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters by Anne Boyd Rioux [Catlady, Victoria, issybird]
Amazon U.S. $9.99
Spoiler:
Quote:
"Lively and informative . . . does what–ideally–books about books can do: I’ve taken Little Women down from the shelf and put it on top of the books I plan to read.–Francine Prose, New York Times Book Review

Soon after its publication on September 30, 1868, Little Women became an enormous bestseller and one of America’s favorite novels. It quickly traveled the world and since has become an international classic. When Anne Boyd Rioux read it in her twenties, it had a singularly powerful effect on her. Through teaching it, she has seen its effect on many others.

In Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy, she recounts how Louisa May Alcott came to write the book, drawing inspiration for it from her own life. She also examines why this tale of family and community ties, set while the Civil War tore the country apart, has resonated through later wars, the Great Depression, and times of changing opportunities for women.

Today, Rioux sees the novel’s beating heart in its portrayal of family resilience and its honest look at the struggles of girls growing into women. In gauging its current status, she shows why it remains a book with such power that people carry its characters and spirit throughout their lives.

"Highly companionable and illuminating."–Mark Rozzo , Vanity Fair

"Straddling the line between entertainment and nuanced complexity, this fascinating look at Alcott’s novel is not to be missed."–A Mighty Girl

"A love letter written not by a smitten youngster naïve to her beloved’s drawbacks but by a mature adult who can recognize complexity and nuance."–Ilana Masad , NPR

"An affectionate and perceptive tribute."–Wendy Smith, Boston Globe
286 pp.

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
Kobo: $8.99 CA; $6.99 US; $11.99 AU; £5.99 GB Kindle: $7.80 CA
Spoiler:
From Amazon:
Quote:
To Say Nothing of the Dog is a science-fiction fantasy in the guise of an old-fashioned Victorian novel, complete with epigraphs, brief outlines, and a rather ugly boxer in three-quarters profile at the start of each chapter. Or is it a Victorian novel in the guise of a time-traveling tale, or a highly comic romp, or a great, allusive literary game, complete with spry references to Dorothy L. Sayers, Wilkie Collins, and Arthur Conan Doyle?

What Connie Willis soon makes clear is that genre can go to the dogs. To Say Nothing of the Dog is a fine, and fun, romance--an amused examination of conceptions and misconceptions about other eras, other people.
From Booklist:
Quote:
What a stitch! Willis' delectable romp through time from 2057 back to Victorian England, with a few side excursions into World War II and medieval Britain, will have readers happily glued to the pages. Rich dowager Lady Schrapnell has invaded Oxford University's time travel research project in 2057, promising to endow it if they help her rebuild Coventry Cathedral, destroyed by a Nazi air raid in 1940..

Take an excursion through time, add chaos theory, romance, plenty of humor, a dollop of mystery, and a spoof of the Victorian novel, and you end up with what seems like a comedy of errors but is actually a grand scheme "involving the entire course of history and all of time and space that, for some unfathomable reason, chose to work out its designs with cats and croquet mallets and penwipers, to say nothing of the dog. And a hideous piece of Victorian artwork."
512 pp.

Rereadings by Anne Fadiman, Ed.
Kobo: US$9.99; CA$10.99; AU$13.08; UK£6.95 / Amazon AU: $9.86
Spoiler:
From Kobo:

Quote:
Is a book the same book-or a reader the same reader-the second time around? The seventeen authors in this witty and poignant collection of essays all agree on the answer: Never.

<SNIP>

These essays are not conventional literary criticism; they are about relationships. The relationship between reader and book is a powerful one, and as these writers attest, it evolves over time. Rereadings reveals at least as much about the reader as about the book: each is a miniature memoir that focuses on that most interesting of topics, the protean nature of love. And as every bibliophile knows, no love is more life-changing than the love of a book.
272 pp.

The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
Kobo: $A9.99, $US2.99, $C11.99,£5.99
Spoiler:
Quote:
In 1959 Florence Green, a kindhearted widow with a small inheritance, risks everything to open a bookshop - the only bookshop - in the seaside town of Hardborough. By making a success of a business so impractical, she invites the hostility of the town's less prosperous shopkeepers. By daring to enlarge her neighbors' lives, she crosses Mrs. Gamart, the local arts doyenne. Florence's warehouse leaks, her cellar seeps, and the shop is apparently haunted. Only too late does she begin to suspect the truth: a town that lacks a bookshop isn't always a town that wants one.
163 pp.

The Binding by Bridget Collins [gmw, CRussel, Bookpossum]
Kobo: US $2.99; CA $2.99; GB £4.99; AU $8.99
Spoiler:
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Quote:
Books are dangerous things in Collins's alternate universe, a place vaguely reminiscent of 19th-century England. It's a world in which people visit book binders to rid themselves of painful or treacherous memories. Once their stories have been told and are bound between the pages of a book, the slate is wiped clean and their memories lose the power to hurt or haunt them.

After having suffered some sort of mental collapse and no longer able to keep up with his farm chores, Emmett Farmer is sent to the workshop of one such binder to live and work as her apprentice. Leaving behind home and family, Emmett slowly regains his health while learning the binding trade. He is forbidden to enter the locked room where books are stored, so he spends many months marbling end pages, tooling leather book covers, and gilding edges. But his curiosity is piqued by the people who come and go from the inner sanctum, and the arrival of the lordly Lucian Darnay, with whom he senses a connection, changes everything.
437 pp.

Original Sin by P.D. James
AmazonUS: $11.99; AmazonCA: $12.99; AmazonUK: £4.68; AmazonAU: $7.59
Spoiler:
From Goodreads:
Quote:
Adam Dalgliesh takes on a baffling murder in the rarefied world of London book publishing in this masterful mystery from one of our finest novelists.

Commander Adam Dalgliesh and his team are confronted with a puzzle of impenetrable complexity. A murder has taken place in the offices of the Peverell Press, a venerable London publishing house located in a dramatic mock-Venetian palace on the Thames. The victim is Gerard Etienne, the brilliant but ruthless new managing director, who had vowed to restore the firm's fortunes. Etienne was clearly a man with enemies—a discarded mistress, a rejected and humiliated author, and rebellious colleagues, one of who apparently killed herself a short time earlier. Yet Etienne's death, which occurred under bizarre circumstances, is for Dalgliesh only the beginning of the mystery, as he desperately pursues the search for a killer prepared to strike and strike again.
434 pp.

The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett
US$9.99
Spoiler:
From Goodreads:
Quote:
"What about the most valuable relic in the history of English literature—would that be worth killing for?"

Hay-on-Wye, 1995. Peter Byerly isn't sure what drew him into this particular bookshop. Nine months earlier, the death of his beloved wife, Amanda, had left him shattered. The young antiquarian bookseller relocated from North Carolina to the English countryside, hoping to rediscover the joy he once took in collecting and restoring rare books. But upon opening an eighteenth-century study of Shakespeare forgeries, Peter is shocked when a portrait of Amanda tumbles out of its pages. Of course, it isn't really her. The watercolor is clearly Victorian. Yet the resemblance is uncanny, and Peter becomes obsessed with learning the picture's origins.

As he follows the trail back first to the Victorian era and then to Shakespeare's time, Peter communes with Amanda's spirit, learns the truth about his own past, and discovers a book that might definitively prove Shakespeare was, indeed, the author of all his plays.
355 pp. or treacherous memories. Once their stories have been told and are bound between the pages of a book, the slate is wiped clean and their memories lose the power to hurt or haunt them.

After having suffered some sort of mental collapse and no longer able to keep up with his farm chores, Emmett Farmer is sent to the workshop of one such binder to live and work as her apprentice. Leaving behind home and family, Emmett slowly regains his health while learning the binding trade. He is forbidden to enter the locked room where books are stored, so he spends many months marbling end pages, tooling leather book covers, and gilding edges. But his curiosity is piqued by the people who come and go from the inner sanctum, and the arrival of the lordly Lucian Darnay, with whom he senses a connection, changes everything.
437 pp.

Original Sin by P.D. James [CRussel, Victoria, Dazrin]
AmazonUS: $11.99; AmazonCA: $12.99; AmazonUK: £4.68; AmazonAU: $7.59
Spoiler:
From Goodreads:
Quote:
Adam Dalgliesh takes on a baffling murder in the rarefied world of London book publishing in this masterful mystery from one of our finest novelists.

Commander Adam Dalgliesh and his team are confronted with a puzzle of impenetrable complexity. A murder has taken place in the offices of the Peverell Press, a venerable London publishing house located in a dramatic mock-Venetian palace on the Thames. The victim is Gerard Etienne, the brilliant but ruthless new managing director, who had vowed to restore the firm's fortunes. Etienne was clearly a man with enemies—a discarded mistress, a rejected and humiliated author, and rebellious colleagues, one of who apparently killed herself a short time earlier. Yet Etienne's death, which occurred under bizarre circumstances, is for Dalgliesh only the beginning of the mystery, as he desperately pursues the search for a killer prepared to strike and strike again.
434 pp.

The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett [Bookworm_Girl, Dazrin, CRussel]
US$9.99
Spoiler:
From Goodreads:
Quote:
"What about the most valuable relic in the history of English literature—would that be worth killing for?"

Hay-on-Wye, 1995. Peter Byerly isn't sure what drew him into this particular bookshop. Nine months earlier, the death of his beloved wife, Amanda, had left him shattered. The young antiquarian bookseller relocated from North Carolina to the English countryside, hoping to rediscover the joy he once took in collecting and restoring rare books. But upon opening an eighteenth-century study of Shakespeare forgeries, Peter is shocked when a portrait of Amanda tumbles out of its pages. Of course, it isn't really her. The watercolor is clearly Victorian. Yet the resemblance is uncanny, and Peter becomes obsessed with learning the picture's origins.

As he follows the trail back first to the Victorian era and then to Shakespeare's time, Peter communes with Amanda's spirit, learns the truth about his own past, and discovers a book that might definitively prove Shakespeare was, indeed, the author of all his plays.
355 pp.
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Old 12-07-2019, 08:25 AM   #2
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Normally I'd keep myself under half, this time I've let myself have the balance go over. It's an interesting array of books.
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Old 12-07-2019, 03:15 PM   #3
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I found the Rioux at one of my libraries, so was able to give it a tick. It looks interesting.
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Old 12-07-2019, 08:27 PM   #4
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In one of those synchronicities that seem to happen so often in regard to the book club, a friend just posted on Facebook a link to and a recommendation for the film of The Bookshop. Overall, the reviews and ratings are not stellar, but it got a personal boost. Available on Amazon Prime, for those who have it.

Last edited by issybird; 12-07-2019 at 08:42 PM.
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Old 12-08-2019, 01:32 AM   #5
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I love coincidences like that!
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Old 12-08-2019, 01:10 PM   #6
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In one of those synchronicities that seem to happen so often in regard to the book club, a friend just posted on Facebook a link to and a recommendation for the film of The Bookshop. Overall, the reviews and ratings are not stellar, but it got a personal boost. Available on Amazon Prime, for those who have it.
My DW and I just watched the film of it this fall. Not Oscar worthy, perhaps. But quite enjoyable. Makes me more inclined to want to read it than I might otherwise have been. It will definitely get a vote from me for our January read.
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Old 12-08-2019, 01:19 PM   #7
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My DW and I just watched the film of it this fall. Not Oscar worthy, perhaps. But quite enjoyable. Makes me more inclined to want to read it than I might otherwise have been. It will definitely get a vote from me for our January read.
You do know you're supposed to read the book first!
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Old 12-08-2019, 01:50 PM   #8
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You do know you're supposed to read the book first!
Ah, but sometimes Saturday Night Movie Night wins out. Seriously, I'm not sure the book would ever have come my way if it weren't for the Book Club, and it's not one I would have normally read or been interested in. But sometimes the film makes the book more interesting.
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Old 12-08-2019, 08:51 PM   #9
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There's an interesting review in The Guardian of the latest film of Little Woman; its commentary is heavily and explicitly influenced by this month's nominated book by Anne Boyd Rioux.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/20...he-big-screen?
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Old 12-09-2019, 12:52 AM   #10
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There's an interesting review in The Guardian of the latest film of Little Woman; its commentary is heavily and explicitly influenced by this month's nominated book by Anne Boyd Rioux.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/20...he-big-screen?
Yes, I read that earlier. Should have thought to post it here. The Guardian is one of my three news sources, and the only one I directly pay for. They have some interesting reviews in addition to their general news. My bad for not posting the link here, and your good for doing so!
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Old 12-09-2019, 01:30 AM   #11
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I do have a question about P.D. James...

The only book of hers that I've read recently enough to remember is Death Comes to Pemberley, which I found very disappointing (as a murder mystery, as a period piece, and as a Jane Austen wannabe). It did have its points of interest as a period piece, in terms of how the law worked, but not well presented (IMO).

So, given my obviously negative reaction to that, does she normally do better? Are the Dalgliesh books worth trying?
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Old 12-09-2019, 01:50 AM   #12
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So, given my obviously negative reaction to that, does she normally do better? Are the Dalgliesh books worth trying?
I have just started on the Dalgliesh series, having really enjoyed the TV series way back in the Pleistocene. Making the usual allowances for a first-of-series, I was very impressed, and so far book two is not bad either. Dalgliesh in the first book reminded me of less pretentious, less snobby/effete version of Ngaio Marsh's Roderick Alleyn, perhaps something of a blend between Alleyn and the later Campion. Definitely interesting enough for me to try the first four or five for a taste.
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Old 12-09-2019, 07:40 AM   #13
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I do have a question about P.D. James...

The only book of hers that I've read recently enough to remember is Death Comes to Pemberley, which I found very disappointing (as a murder mystery, as a period piece, and as a Jane Austen wannabe). It did have its points of interest as a period piece, in terms of how the law worked, but not well presented (IMO).

So, given my obviously negative reaction to that, does she normally do better? Are the Dalgliesh books worth trying?
I thought Death Comes to Pemberley was awful. I rated it one star at Goodreads. The kindest thing I can about it is that its quality must reflect James's being in her dotage. I think her later Dalgliesh books had also slipped.

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I have just started on the Dalgliesh series, having really enjoyed the TV series way back in the Pleistocene. Making the usual allowances for a first-of-series, I was very impressed, and so far book two is not bad either. Dalgliesh in the first book reminded me of less pretentious, less snobby/effete version of Ngaio Marsh's Roderick Alleyn, perhaps something of a blend between Alleyn and the later Campion. Definitely interesting enough for me to try the first four or five for a taste.
I read the Dalgliesh books back in the day as they came out, but I got tired of them, as I get tired of virtually all mystery series eventually. I usually end of reading one or two out of habit once I'm bored and then realize I'm done.

So, Dalgliesh. I'd put him solidly in that tradition of modern detectives, those who are professional policeman, educated and cultured and introspective, similar to Inspectors Banks and Lynley. I think the snobbery and elitism is still there, but bubbling under. I get bored with all the navel-gazing.

That said, James writes good prose. I do wonder, though, how well the early books in any series hold up, decades later. I suspect many are stale, not achieving classic status. But that's me.
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Old 12-09-2019, 09:38 AM   #14
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Old 12-09-2019, 06:18 PM   #15
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Thanks for the comments on P.D. James, it's good to hear I was not alone in my reaction to Death Comes to Pemberley, and that the other books may be worth trying.
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