Lauren Piro

Featured Book Club – New York City

September 28, 2012 at 2:27 pm , by

Book club at its most basic is already a great time – diving into a delicious read over wine and snacks with good friends (with breaks in between for gabbing about other things, of course). But if you’re ready to take your meetings to the next level, take a note from this club in New York City. These gals truly value their book club friendships and know how to have fun. Plus, they have matching T-shirts! Adorable!

Is there anything special you do for each meeting or on occasion?
“We meet at a different member’s apartment each month. Whoever is hosting sends out an email with suggestions for snacks and wine for other the members to bring. Wine and cheese (and dessert!) are a must!

Also, once a year, we have book club mixer—when each member is allowed to bring a guest (boy or girl) to our meeting. That’s twice the attendance, twice the wine, and twice the opinions! It’s always a lively one!  We also have an annual book club sleepover. We don’t exactly discuss a book (okay, we don’t at all), but we all get together, play games, and have an old-fashioned slumber party at a member’s apartment. Another highlight of being in the club!” - Jillian Wohlfarth

What’s your favorite book you’ve read together and why?
“Some of my personal favorites (because of the books themselves and our discussions of them) include The Dive from Clausen’s Pier, Bel Canto, Amy and Isabelle, The Dogs of Babel, and Zeitoun. I love when girls leave a meeting thinking differently about a book after our discussion.”- Jennifer Director

“We’ve had a lot good ones through the years, but I have to say my favorite book was Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. It’s about a family that survives Hurricane Katrina. I actually didn’t have time to read the book in time for our meeting, but was so moved by our discussion that I went out and bought it the next day!” – Danielle Rabin

Everyone’s super busy these days. Why is it important to you to make time to read and then get together?
 “This group of girls has become more than just a book club – we’re friends. I like having something to keep me on top of reading and enjoy our good conversations about the books we read, but I also count on book club as a place to share and celebrate/vent about life updates, learn from everyone else who are far more versed in pop culture than me, give advice, and laugh.” – Katie Dunn

“That’s just it. We’re all so busy. So it’s so important to make time for friends and stimulating discussion. My girlfriends are my biggest support system and release in the city, and knowing that I get to see them, chat, and learn from (and about them) once a month is a must. I look forward to book club every month, it’s always so bolstering. We’re lucky to have girls from all different industries, relationship statuses, families, etc. — so our book discussions are always full of great perspectives and insights. It’s also really nice to take focus off of work and enjoy some personal reading time. Book club ensures that I make pleasure reading a priority.” - Jillian Wohlfarth

Interested in a chance at having your book club featured on our blog or in the magazine? Tell us about your group here!

Summer Reading: Mutiny Gallery by Poet BK Fischer

June 28, 2012 at 12:08 pm , by

It’s summer time and the livin’ is officially easy … doesn’t a glass of lemonade (or chardonnay) outside on the porch with a great new book sound idyllic right about now? I can hear your sighs of relief already. We’re sure you’ve got the drinks covered, but we’d like to recommend the read that accompanies you during your next moment of peace this season. BK Fischer is a poet from Sleepy Hollow, New York, and her novel-in-verse Mutiny Gallery is just the engrossing book you need. New to poetry? Fischer’s thoughtfully crafted poems bring everyday life into a new, intriguing light—the perfect introduction to the genre.

We caught up with Fischer about the inspiration for the book, her life as a writer, and what to do if you feel like you want to be a poet … and you didn’t know it. (Couldn’t resist!)

Tell us a little bit about Mutiny Gallery. What was your inspiration?

Mutiny Gallery tells the story of a woman who leaves her suburban home and takes her 10-year-old son on a cross-country road trip, stopping at offbeat museums along the way. Two things inspired me to write the book. In 2007, I wrote a short play about a woman named Claire and her toddler son, Max, which was performed at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in Peekskill, New York. When that production wrapped up, I was looking for a new project, and I wondered what would happen to those characters ten years later. At the same time, I picked up a book a friend had given me called Little Museums: Over 1000 Small (and Not-So-Small) American Showplaces, and I started to imagine Max and Claire visiting these strange places. Their visits to these museums began to tell the story of their experiences.

Readers new to poetry might be surprised to learn that your collection is actually a ‘novel-in-verse,’ a full story told through poetry. What makes poetry the best medium for this story?

I liked that telling the story through a series of poems allowed room for gaps—leaps in time, place, and emotion. Our lives are not usually one continuous story, but rather a series of memories, episodes, events, and intense moments (with long dull stretches in between). Lyric poetry is especially suited to conveying moments of extremity, fear, quest, and revelation, and for capturing the intensity of a stopping place in the mind.

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Featured Book Club of the Month – Dallas, Texas

May 10, 2012 at 4:10 pm , by

Everyone loves a good book club, and women from the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas really love this one! Meetings of the DWF Tea Readers sometimes attract as many as 50 members, and they plan such fun events that these ladies just keep coming back for more—don’t they look darling at their annual “Boas & Tiaras” meet-up? “We are all voracious readers,” says member Jill Hayden. “When we get together it’s a great opportunity to share what we’ve read and want to read next.”

Is there anything special you do for each meeting or on occasion?

“Our group meets several times during the month at a local book store and we have pot-luck dinners twice a month in the homes of our readers. Our dinners have a theme – Breakfast for Dinner, Tex-Mex Night or Summer Grillin’, to name a few.  We arrange for an author to call in to discuss their books, how they got started writing and what they enjoy reading.  This year we’ve spoken with authors Robyn Carr, Julie James, Shelly Laurenston and Shannon Butcher.  We also get together one Saturday afternoon a month at an area tea room for a bit more formal affair.  Once a year we have a very special tea with an equally special guest author in attendance.  We have had Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Meg Cabot as our guests in the past.” – Jill Hayden

What’s your favorite book you’ve read together and why?

“That’s the beauty of our group.  We don’t select a specific book to read and discuss.  Since we know who our call-in author will be prior to our dinner, we try to read some of the author’s work if we’re not familiar with her.  Often we find that even if the author does not write a genre we normally read, or if we haven’t previously read one of her books, by the end of the call, we’re hooked and we’ve whipped out our phones or notebooks to purchase the books on the spot.” – Jill Hayden

Everyone’s super busy these days.  Why is it important to you to make time to read and then get together?

“We have book club because it’s fun! We eat good food, laugh late into the night, and get to talk about our fictional friends. Finding friends who experience as much joy in reading as I do isn’t as easy as you might think. I love being in a room full of women who talk about plots and characters with curiosity, passion, and respect.” – Maria Munoz

“Sanity!  Seriously, I think the best reason to embrace hobbies and get together with people that share your love for them is sanity.  In these days of ‘go-go-go’, a hobby gives you a chance to escape all the realities for your life for just a little while.  I think that is why reading appeals to me and my book club friends.  We get to escape for awhile into our books and then come together to share out love of the stories we just read.  To me we truly have the best hobby in the world and our book club just gives us another way to celebrate it.”  – Felicia Sparks

Book Club Wrap-Up: Signs of Life

April 11, 2012 at 5:00 pm , by

Natalie Taylor kept us in stitches (and near a box of tissues), with her hilarious yet gut-wrenching memoir, Signs of Life, last month. She unabashedly allowed readers to dive into her psyche during the months after the sudden death of her husband and birth of her first-born son. And we’re so glad that Natalie continued to be candid with us all month long, game for a Q&A and Facebook chat about the book. If you haven’t yet picked up Signs of Life, read her letter to readers now–you’ll want to run out to the nearest book store by the second paragraph.

But now that our May issue is officially on newsstands (doesn’t cover star Melissa McCarthy look great?), it’s time to reveal our next pick! This month, we’re reading The Language of Flowers, the illustrious debut novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, a true labor of love. Though the story of a young woman aging out of the foster care system and finding joy in the world of flowers is fictional, Diffenbaugh means it to be a symbol of a cause dear to her heart—creating a better outlook on life for the many young people who leave the foster care system each year. Find out more about why this is so important to Diffenbaugh in her Q&A with us, and her letter to readers. And, as always, stay with us on Facebook, Twitter, and right here on our blog to join the conversation as we chat about the book all month long.

We’re hosting a live Facebook chat with Vanessa Diffenbaugh on Thursday, April 26 at 1:00pm EST! Mark your calendars, and come to our wall to ask Vanessa a question about The Language of Flowers, her life as a writer, or her philanthropic efforts. We hope to see you there!

Featured Book Club of the Month – Fairfield, CT

March 22, 2012 at 10:16 am , by

The ladies of the Edgewood Road Book Club have been meeting for four years, and in that time their group has grown from nine to 14 dedicated, book-lovin’ members. “Having long wanted to share my love of reading and discussion, I first brought the group together,” says member Sharon Daly. “We are a wonderful mix of middle-aged and thirty-something women, and I appreciate the different perspectives we bring to the group, in addition to the support and friendship we provide each other.”

Don’t they look like a fun bunch? I asked them a bit more about what they love about their group and for their favorite reads!

Is there anything special you’ve done for your meetings?

“We’ve had two theme dinners—a Southern feast for a discussion of To Kill a Mockingbird and The Help, and a French potluck for Julie & Julia. Authors have also called into our meetings to discuss their books with us, like Jeffrey Zaslow when we read The Girls from Ames, and Warren St. John when we read Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer. I’m a writer myself, so it’s fascinating to hear what motivates and inspires these authors.” – Amanda Cuda Swavy

What’s your favorite book the club has read together?

“One of our favorite books was Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann, which is about Philippe Petit, the man who walked a tightrope between the Twin Towers in 1974. It was one of the most profound books we have read, and we all felt that the way the characters’ lives intertwined was genius. It’s a commentary on life in New York in the 70′s, but there were also many parallels to life today.” – Sharon Daly

Everyone’s super busy these days. Why is it important to you to make time to read and get together?

“Discussing books with good friends over wine is enlightening, and a wonderful way to spend an evening. Plus, even though we have a TV with 3000 channels, I still find there is nothing to watch! So I love to read.” – Ann Marie Curtin

“Reading opens our minds to understanding the human condition, and sharing insights with other women is so affirming. The support we give each other is such a gift.” – Sharon Daly

“I’ve come to cherish the friendships I’ve made with the women in the group, and sharing our feelings about the books has led us to open up to each other in other ways, as well. The book group is a place where I feel safe and can relax. It’s one the few things I do just for myself, and it has made me happier.” – Amanda Cuda Swavy

Interested in a chance at having your book club featured on our blog or in the magazine? Tell us about your group here!


Book Club Wrap-up: Vaclav & Lena

March 15, 2012 at 12:36 pm , by

Did you fall in love reading Haley Tanner’s Vaclav & Lena this month with us? We hope all of our fellow book clubbers swooned together while reading this work of romantic literary fiction, and that you were dazzled by its themes of magic and illusions. We invited Tanner to take over our Facebook wall one afternoon, and we couldn’t peel our eyes away from her candid accounts of her life as a writer and behind-the-scenes secrets about working on V&L, her first novel. Missed out? You can read the chat here, and listen up for info on more author chats to come—all you have to do is like us on Facebook to stay in the loop.

Now that our April issue is on newsstands, we’re ready to reveal our next pick! A first for the LHJ Book Club, we’ve chosen a truly mesmerizing memoir this month, Signs of Life, by Natalie Taylor. When Taylor was 24, she was newly married, pregnant, and on top of the world. Then, the worst thing happened: her husband died in a freak accident. Signs of Life is the story of the year-and-a-half that followed, and trust us when we say it is as hilarious as it is harrowing. Visit our book club page to read a letter from Taylor to get you started. And, as always, stay with us on Facebook, Twitter, and right here on our blog to join the conversation as we chat about the book all month long.

But first, tell us what you thought of Vaclav & Lena! Comment here or tweet us at @LHJMagazine with the hashtag #lhjbookclub.

On Reading and Writing: A Q&A with Author Haley Tanner

March 9, 2012 at 11:04 am , by

Have you picked up this month’s book club pick, Vaclav & Lena? It’s a touching love story (Aren’t you a sucker for a good love story? We are!), by Haley Tanner. We have a penchant for reading literature here at LHJ, so I was eager to chat with this young debut novelist about her writing process and the books she’s curled up with recently. Read on for the inside scoop, and check out a preview to Vaclav & Lena and the rest of the LHJ Book Club bookshelf on our books page.

What have you read recently and loved?

I just read The Adults, by Alison Espach, which was amazing. It’s a coming-of-age story about a girl growing up in Connecticut, and it’s full of dramatic tension. There’s some really heavy, serious subject matter, but it’s also laugh-out-loud funny.

Do you find it hard to read other stories while you are writing?

I do get to a point where I can’t read other writing, because I start to sound like JD Salinger or Muriel Spark. But sometimes I’ll intentionally read other writers while I’m writing. If, say, I feel like my setting is falling flat, I’ll read someone who’s really good with setting. Or if I feel like I’m forgetting to have fun, I’ll read Tom Robbins for a little while. It’s like a prescription.

Where did the germ of the idea for Vaclav & Lena originate? Did you always have the story in the back of your mind?

I was writing an assignment for a class, procrastinating at midnight. I had class the next day, and I’d written nothing. I finally just sat down and I started writing, and the first thing I wrote is still the first page of the book, Vaclav’s introduction to his magic act. Once I had the characters, I watched what they would do. It was incredibly fun, and I never had a larger plan for them. Even when I was on page 45, I didn’t know what page 46 would look like.

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