2018 Family Book Club Picks

Greetings from a snowed-in Philadelphia (which is in the middle of a Bomb Cyclone)! I hope your 2018 is off to a smashing start with high hopes of success in your resolution endeavors. Last year, my two sisters, mom and I decided to begin a book club to help connect over the distance between us. We had such a great time reading together, that we decided to continue the tradition. If you want to check out how things went last year, click here.

We each select 3 picks and then gift them to each other for Christmas. It is a slightly anxiety producing process as we each want to pick an excellent book that everyone will like, and we want to be sure not to pick something that another person might pick. Last year there was one duplicate, so we completed 11 books instead of 12. This year, we didn’t have a single repeat, so we have 12 delicious books to dive into. I will post each month after we have met to discuss the book selection. I am going to try really hard to read all 12 books this year after reading only 10 of the 11 picks last year, but if I’m being honest, there are a couple of books on this list that I think will be a challenge for me…we’ll see! Without any further ado, let’s get into the 2018 Family Book Club Picks: Continue reading

2017 Book Wrap Up

Another year in the books. I have decided to stop remarking on how fast time goes by, so I won’t say that “I can’t believe 2017 is over!” Every year that passes, time seems to move even faster. I can’t say that 2017 was a momentous year for me, especially coming after my fantastic 2016 year, but 2017 held its own. One area that surged for me in 2017 was how many books I read, surpassing last year’s total by 25 books! Not having graduate school to contend with really opened up my schedule for spending more time reading for pleasure. I also devoted significantly more time to this blog, which has been a welcome addition to my bookish adventures. Continue reading

2017 Family Book Club Wrap Up

book-club-picks-graphic

Our very first year as a book club has concluded! We started this book club as a way for my sisters, mom and I to stay connected even with the distance between us through our mutual love of books. We live in Rochester (NY), Pittsburgh (PA), and Philadelphia (PA), all of which are about 5-6 hours from each other in a triangle. We don’t get to see each other more than a few times a year, but video calling once a month has made the distance a bit easier this year. We spent time discussing each book, but inevitably our conversations would veer to other things and the kids pop on screen. It was a nice way to catch up each month beyond phone calls.

From a reading perspective, this book club helped me to read books I would not normally read. It also helped me finally read some books I have been wanting to read. Our book selections were fairly diverse in character experiences and locales around the world. Through our selections we visited Sweden, Appalachia, provincial England, Russia, pioneer Alaska, the wild west of America, Japan, and Nigeria. Our main characters ranged from teenagers to old curmudgeonly men. We also had the chance to see through the eyes of characters who come from cultures vastly different than our own. In essence, this year was everything I’d hoped from a book club. Continue reading

Book Club Pick: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Everything

Title: Everything, Everything

Author: Nicola Yoon

Published: September 2015

Rating: ★★


Summary: Madison has a rare disease that makes her allergic to the world. As a result, she lives only in her germ-free home, never leaving. That’s fine until her new neighbors move in and she finds herself wanting more.

My Thoughts: This was a highly anticipated book for me. I have been wanting to read this book for a long time. Last December (2016) I picked it as one of my 3 picks for the 2017 Family Book Club, and it got slotted for a full year later, December 2017. The wait was agonizing, especially with the movie being released, and I almost cracked several times. But I didn’t. After all that…I found that I didn’t really like this book I had built up in my head. In fact, it turned out to be among my least favorite books of the year and definitely secures the spot for greatest disappointment. I know this opinion will be very unpopular, but here are a few reasons why it didn’t work for me. For one, the writing style wasn’t my favorite. I am not opposed to the mixed media style of writing, but I didn’t think it was done particularly well here. It seemed like the poems and drawings were just filler, not very intentional. When Yoon wanted to actually discuss plot, she used tried and true methods…writing like a normal person. I have seen mixed media writing work well and add to the story telling, but that was not the case here. Next, I don’t think any of the characters were really developed, nor were the relationships. Top of my list though was that I found Maddy and Olly’s relationship grating.  There was no build-up, it was sudden and I didn’t understand or feel the connection. I actually found it to be a bit on the unhealthy side of relationship depictions. An honorable mention on my list of reasons why I didn’t like this book, goes to the big “plot twist,” because I saw coming a mile away. Totally bummed I didn’t love this book like so many people did, but I am not at all apologetic about it. In fact, I find myself wondering what others saw in this book to even enjoy it nevermind give it 5 star ratings. Feel free to enlighten me down below in the comments…

Book Club Discussion:  As we commenced our last book club for 2017, concluding our very first year as a book club, we all waited a moment before being the first to state we did not enjoy a well-loved book. Once the ice was broken and we found that we all were underwhelmed by this book, we enjoyed a conversation of commiseration. My oldest sister joined very briefly and liked it better than the rest of us, stating she enjoyed the brevity of the book in comparison to some of our longer reads this year, but she didn’t rank it in the top half of the books we read together this year. We all commented on how we found Maddy and Olly’s relationship unlikely. Like how can you fall in love with someone just by seeing them through a window a few times?? It was just really hard to get on board with them, which was a big part of the novel. My other sister and Mom both thought the most interesting character was Maddy’s mom. They connected with her situation and considered the choices she made among the only heart-plucking aspects of this story. In all honesty, the conversation was brief because none of us really enjoyed the book, there wasn’t much depth to unpack and discuss, and it was 2 days before Christmas.

So that concludes our 2017 Family Book Club, the inaugural year. I am excited to say that we have 2018 Family Book Club in the works! Stay tuned for a post very shortly reviewing 2017’s Book Club and taking a peek at our picks for 2018.