Featured Book Club Of The Month–Evansville, Indiana

November 20, 2012 at 12:09 pm , by

The club poses with Bobby Deen on their trip to Savannah, GA.

The women of the Make Time To Read Book Club in Evansville, Indiana share a bond goes far beyond a common interest in reading. “Book Club has expanded my repertoire of reading choices and taken me outside of my comfort zone,” says club member Laura Stephenson. “But more importantly, I’ve formed life-long friendships.”

How many members do you have, and how long have you been getting together for book club meetings?

“We have been a group for the past 14 years with 15 members currently. Even though they aren’t official members, we have had 4 children marry through the years and 2 have ‘book club grandbabies.’” – Jerrianne Bonenberger

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

“We rotate houses for our monthly meetings, and we do have wine and snacks. We try to hold one special meeting a year, when dine out or have a potluck based on the book (The Recipe Club, for instance), or we take a trip.  To commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the club, we took a trip to Savannah, Georgia in May 2008. We read Paula Deen’s memoir that month and had a lovely time. We rented a beautiful, historic home, and visited Paula Deen’s restaurant and her brother, Bubba’s, too.” – Kim Higgins

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

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett is a club favorite; but personally, Still Alice by Lisa Genova proved very poignant for me this year. Having a father suffering from Alzheimer’s, this book, while fiction, was a thought-provoking and truly insightful look into this cruel disease.” – Laura Stephenson

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

“My family knows that the last Wednesday of the month is book club and for me to miss it, there must be a very important excuse.  The fellowship of this wonderful group of women means a lot to me, but also we like to refer to it as a mom council.  Several women have older children, and they became  the younger members’ mentors when we had parenting questions.  Plus I know that any time I need something or someone, I can call any of these gals and she would be right there.  I consider them not only good friends but sisters.” – Jerrianne Bonenberger

“We have such a connection with each other in so many different ways. Some of us only see each other at book club. Others see each other frequently. Many of us have children who went to school together. Some of us go to church together. Each month is a time for us to discuss the joys of reading and our favorite books, but also a chance to connect personally and discuss what is going on in our personal lives and with our families.” – Kim Higgins


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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Book Club Guest Blog: Expectations and Next to Love

May 18, 2012 at 11:48 am , by

Today’s post is by Neely Kennedy of Reading Group Choices, a leading online resource for book club tips and discussible selections. 

In June’s LHJ Book Club pick, Next to Love, author Ellen Feldman tells the heartbreaking, but hopeful story of three women’s lives during the paradigm shift of the Baby Boomer generation—1944-1964, spanning WWII and the war in Vietnam.

Babe, Grace and Millie are young wives whose husbands have been drafted to fight in WWII. When the trajectory of their future is forever changed by war’s tragic events, their imperfect, yet steadfast, friendships prove the only constant in their lives.

In the excerpts from the book below, Feldman illustrates a woman’s instinct for survival—the ability to adapt to whatever twists and turns life may present.

Work: Women are constantly breaking through the barriers of perceived gender inferiority, especially when taking on jobs traditionally (and stereotypically) held by men.

“…her father laughed at her for applying. Who did she think she was? He said the same thing when she went to work at Diamond’s rather than a five-and-dime. Who did she think she was? It was the refrain of her life.”

Marriage: In the thick of a long marriage, there often comes a point at which we recognize our original expectations were somewhat idealized.

“Babe thinks of Claude. It always comes back to Claude. Love may endure a lifetime, but it is less reliable on a day-to-day basis.”

Friendship: Long-lasting friendships are often our greatest source of support, but can also be complicated and painful.

“And here they are all these years later. They love one another with atavistic ferocity, though it occurs to Babe sitting in the sunporch, these days perhaps they do not much like one another.”

Motherhood: As we move from childhood into adulthood, we grow to know our mothers not only as mothers, but also as humans—flawed and imperfect.

“The scene is picture perfect, a spread in one of the women’s magazines she and Millie subscribe to. Except it can’t be because in the world of those glossy pictures, mothers do not ask their daughters to keep secrets.”

Society: Many women struggle to meet the expectations society places on us.

“She is ashamed of being a woman alone in the world without a man, unclaimed, unvalued, a reproach to the laws of society and nature. When she found Charlie, she thought she had taken care of all that for life.”

Book Club Bonus! Ask members to discuss expectations pertaining to each of the topics above: work, marriage, friendship, motherhood, society. What does it means to be in a relationship (romantic or platonic) without imposing your own expectations? How we can find more personal fulfillment through expectations we place on ourselves, instead of through our expectations of others?

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

The Sound of Music Behind the Scenes

April 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm , by

The hills are alive… Raindrops on roses… I am 16 going on 17… Climb every mountain… How do you solve a problem… A drink with jam and bread… So long, farewell… Every morning you greet me…

If you can jump right in and sing every one of these with me, you’re officially a Sound of Music junkie. So are we. My colleagues Amelia (left) and Lauren (right) and I were so excited to meet with Kym Karath, who played Gretl, the baby of the von Trapp family, in the iconic 1965 movie. She’s holding the new book that all the “kids” worked on together, called The Sound of Music Family Scrapbook. As if you couldn’t tell that’s her. She looks exactly the same!

The book is a blast, full of behind-the-scenes anecdotes, photos and memorabilia. It even includes a DVD of home movies. I love the section called “Rock the Boat,” about the famous scene where the kids and their governess return home from their revels wearing the play clothes lovingly made out of the ugly, about-to-be-retired curtains. All hell breaks loose when they see that their father, Captain von Trapp, has returned from his travels with the elegant baroness. They jump up to greet him and the boat capsizes.

Well, the water was murky and had leeches on the bottom. The kids had to do four takes and, worst of all, 5-year-old Kym didn’t know how to swim. Julie Andrews was supposed to fall forward and catch Kym at the same time, which she did perfectly on the first take. On the second try, however, Andrews fell off the backside of the boat and little Kym “sank to the bottom of the lake like a boulder.” “I swallowed a lot of lake water,” Karath says. “You can imagine my mother’s reaction. They had to restrain her from jumping in. She couldn’t swim either.”

Luckily, the son of the assistant director dove in and saved Kym, and the take was the one used in the film. But when you watch the movie, you’ll notice a jump cut to Heather Menzies, who played Louisa. They had to edit out the footage of the rescue, after which the poor girl, who’d swallowed so much murky lake water, promptly threw up all over Heather’s costume.

The book (which would make a great Mother’s Day gift!) is full of fascinating stories like that—guaranteed to make watching the movie again a whole new experience.


Guest Blog: The Author of The First Husband On The Search for a Place Called Home (Plus: Win a Copy of Her Book!)

April 23, 2012 at 2:19 pm , by

Laura Dave, whose wonderful piece about her chronic sleeplessness appears in the current issue of LHJ, is a California-based writer whose third novel, the critically and popularly acclaimed The First Husband, arrives in bookstores in paperback tomorrow (April 24). Here, Dave tells us how she came to write what USA Today called a “playful, unpredictable and emotionally resonant” story about Annie Adams, a conflicted young career woman who finds herself torn between two wildly different men and two equally different lifestyles.

Bonus: Be one of 20 lucky readers who will win a hot-off-the-presses copy of The First Husband! Leave a comment on this post to enter.


I began writing The First Husband almost by accident. I was knee-deep in a different novel that took place in Big Sur, California. That novel was about fathers and daughters. Or, I should say, it started out as a novel about fathers and daughters. But the book had turned out to be about many disparate things including the American west, identity theft, and broken hearts. All of which is to say that the deeper I got into the writing of that book, the further away I seemed to be moving from why I’d wanted to write it.

So, almost surreptitiously, I opened a new document. I didn’t tell myself I was starting a new book—how could I? I told myself I was just writing one scene, which kept coming to me: a woman sitting on her couch in her house, right before her longtime boyfriend walks in and changes everything in her life.

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