A group of ladies who love to read, but can't fit an off-line book club into their busy lives.
"We read to know we are not alone." -C.S. Lewis

Thursday, May 06, 2010

New Format

So... do we want to do away with the "book club" aspect of this blog and just write up book reviews, or suggestions, or questions we have about books? Actually having a book that we are all supposed to read and discuss on here doesn't seem to be working.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

January/February Book


I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Cecily will be starting the discussion in late February, so get reading.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Other reading ideas

I admit, I love:

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert

and I am personally about to begin her most recent book:

Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

I love her work and would love to read and discuss these with others!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

January Book Picks (from Cecily)

There are two I was thinking of:
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands by Susan McCarthy

Messenger has a lot of swearing including the F-word. But I really love it.
Trumpet is Mockingbirdesque.
Votes?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Date for Galileo's Daughter

Since most of us have either not started, or are taking a very long time (me) to read this book, I'm going to assign us a date in the future. Kate, let's plan on the discussion on this starting at the end of November, maybe just after Thanksgiving so we all have time to read while our bellies are too full to do much else. Will that work for you Kate?

Is a book a month too frequent? Should we do one every two months or something? Or did this book just bog us down?

Cecily has graciously volunteered to do the next book. Let's aim for the end of December for it (or, depending on the book the end of January). Cecily, let us know your pick when you know what it is.

I've given everyone author and administrative privileges on the blog, so you should all be able to post, and also to change the sidebar, etc.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Reading Status

Can I get a reading status of where everyone is in Galileo's Daughter?

I'm on page 99, just about to start the 2nd (or maybe it's the 3rd) section.

Melissa, Kelly and Alisha... can you either leave your email addresses in a comment, or email me at nanceisthewritingfish at gmail dot com. I've added Kelly to the administrator list for this blog, but will add you two as well. Plus I can send out emails to remind everyone to look at the blog when it seems like no one is looking at the blog.

And we still need our next book and host.

Thanks.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Blog Background

The background for all of my blogs went crazy. I'm working on it.



Later in the day... And we're back looking cute.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Upcoming Events

Kate... do you have a date in mind for the discussion to begin for Galileo's Daughter?

Everyone... anyone interested in picking the book/starting the discussion for October??

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Family

Melissa, in her comment on "Let the Discussion Begin" brought up the idea of a family that I meant to mention and forgot. The Professor has no family other than the sister-in-law, whose present in his life seems minimal until the end in the nursing home. The housekeeper never had a father, spent a good chunk of the middle of her life without her mother, but has a son she's raising on her own (or who is raising himself since until the Professor insists she bring Root to work, he's home alone from the time school gets out until she's done at the Professor's at 7 PM). Root only has a mother, no father, and a grandmother for a very brief period of time.

The three sort of settle into a family routine. And although the Professor doesn't remember them from day to day, like one of you said (Kate or Melissa, I think) on a subconscious level, we'd like to think that his life is improving due to their efforts, and he does genuinely care for them. Something happened that made it so he didn't want this housekeeper fired, and that he wanted the child to come to his home each day.

I like this unconventional structure for the family. I come from a typical family. Parents who've never divorced. One brother, one sister. But I have a brother-in-law and a sister-in-law who come from much different circumstances where they have step-parents and half siblings, etc. This "family" has what we expect of a family: love, compassion, interest in their well-being. I like that when the housekeeper is fired and then returns, she sees that the new maid has attacked the Professors room/study/office and cleaned all of the places that she didn't touch, even though, as a housekeeper, it was her job to clean. She could see that it was his private, and even though it was a mess, it was organized in a manner that he kept it and she didn't want to disturb or upset him.

In the end, it seems like the sister-in-law has finally accepted her role in his life. She even says something along the lines of her being forever in his memory, where the housekeeper never will. And she becomes a member of this little family consisting of people who care for the Professor.

Book for September

So, I told Nance that I could be interested in leading the September book discussion and that I had a book in mind. I am always nervous about choosing the book as I feel you all recommend such wonderful books, and the books I want to read are not so intriguing. So here are the three I would like you to consider. I figure I would do it this way instead of picking a book that maybe some of you have read already.

The Accidental Tourist By Anne Tyler

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
by John Boyne

Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel

Comment on your choice and the winner is the one we'll begin discussing on September 28th.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Overall

I'm sure there is a lot to talk about that I haven't even touched on*, so if you have more to say please comment or create a post of your own.**

Did you enjoy this book? Would you recommend it to a friend?***

Personally, I enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the friendship created between the three main characters. I enjoyed the kindness of this housekeeper who went above and beyond her responsibilities and actually cared for this man.




*They always say you should never preface your writing by saying "this sucks," but I'm not doing that. I'm ENDING my discussion by saying there's a lot here I didn't talk about (or probably even notice).

**If you don't have the ability to post, send me an email: nanceisthewritingfish@gmail.com and I'll add you to the list of administrators.

***I think I've been taking to many Old Navy online surveys... they always ask how likely I would be to recommend shopping at Old Navy to a friend.

Compassion

This book seemed to be about compassion and friendship to me. With a little bit of math thrown in on the side.

The Professor had already gone through an entire list of of housekeepers. It isn't clear whether they left, or the sister-in-law fired them. I would assume that they had a difficult time functioning in the Professor's world. But then this sweet woman comes into his life, and whether he knows it or not, his life improves so much. She genuinely had an affection for this man. And her life also improved. She went from being a lowly high school drop-out to spending her time trying to figure out the different math problems the Professor gave to her and Root. I'm sure it didn't hurt for Root to have a male role model in his life, a friend, and a math tutor.

What are your thoughts on the theme of this book?

Love in the Romantic Sense

We find out at one point that the sister-in-law was in the car accident that left the Professor with his memory loss. One of the discussion questions at the back of the book implies that they were romantically involved. Did you see it that way? If so, did it change how you felt about the Professor and the sister-in-law?

I didn't see it that way. It would explain why the sister-in-law feels she needs to care from him (although "care for" is a long stretch from what she was doing).



There are also questions about the relationship between the housekeeper and the Professor being something besides a platonic friendship. I didn't see it that way, nor do I want to. The housekeeper has never really had a man in her life, nor has her son. I think he was a fatherly/grandfatherly figure to them both.

Thoughts?

Memory

This book was sort of like the non-comedic, non-romantic version of Fifty First Dates with Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler. There were details of the Professor's memory loss that weren't really explained to my satisfaction. It probably would have caused the book to drag, but I would have like to see more of the struggle he faced. Sometimes I forgot that he couldn't remember her from day to day because it always seemed like they got along so well. This was especially true when it came to Root. It seemed like the Professor and Root started each day like old pals and went right into their regular routine.

Were there things you would have like to have explained more fully, or was it perfect as it was?

Ogawa had a challenge in creating a character with only 80 minutes of memory. One of the ways she uses to show how the professor copes is the notes he pins to his suit. The one in the most promient place saying "your memory only lasts 80 minutes" was especially sad. But I loved picturing this elderly Japanese man walking to a ball game or to get his hair cut, unaware of the oddness of his appearance with all these little notes pinned to him. It was such a tender moment when the housekeeper was helping him rewrite and repin them. If you had to create a character like this, what would be some of the ways you could explain how he functions with only 80 minutes of short-term memory.

Math and Math & Baseball

How many of you are math people? (My hand is down for anyone interested). I haven't taken a math class since Algebra 2 my senior year of high school... 13 years ago. But my husband just finished a degree with a math minor, and has been taking classes that I don't even understand the class name, let alone the math involved... differential equations, econometrics. I never even got to calculus.

Did the math part of this book turn you off? The same friend that recommended this book had earlier recommended the book E=MC2 to me. It's basically a biography of the equation. I made a very very small dent in that book before I gave into my boredom and not understanding. This book however, made me think about math in a different light, and feel the specialness of numbers to the professor. I'll admit, there were math parts that I just sort of skimmed over, but some of it was actually intriguing as well.

Why do you think Ogawa wrote the book the way she did (math-wise)? Writing actual math problems, etc.

Do numbers bear any significance on the structure of the book (there are 11 chapters, etc.)?



I love love that she included so much baseball. Baseball is one of my favorite sports to watch (I know, some of you are moaning about how boring baseball is). But it really is a mathematical game and such a beloved game in Japan. Baseball is full of numbers averages, statistics and percentages. When you put math in those terms, I almost understand what they all mean because I can relate them to what I know about baseball.

What are the differences in Root and the Professor's love of the game?