book club

October Book Club Wrap-Up: I Think I Love You

October 11, 2011 at 2:12 pm , by

Did you spend the past month daydreaming about your favorite teen idol and bopping along to the music of your youth like we did? While reading I Think I Love You (and allowing the song of the same name to get lodged in our brains), our thoughts wandered back to the good ol’ days when the pop stars we adored wallpapered our bedrooms. We hope you got the chance to take a walk down memory lane as well, and read the open letter from author Allison Pearson and her candid Q&A with us. Still haven’t picked up the book? You can start by reading an excerpt here. We recommend listening to these tunes to really get you in the mood for this retro read.

And with our November issue on newsstands today, it’s time to reveal our next pick! The Widower’s Tale is an enveloping read told from the point of view of four very different men—a retired librarian dealing with the loss of his wife (and the host of other characters in his family), a Harvard student who finds himself wrapped up in an activist movement, and an immigrant landscaper and a preschool teacher—both with a secret past. Their lives weave together in this beautiful story of family and finding oneself; it’s a novel that will truly keep you turning pages. Visit our book club page to get 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 Widower’s Tale all month long.

But first, tell us what you thought of I Think I Love You! Comment here or tweet us at @LHJMagazine with the hashtag #lhjbookclub.

LHJ Book Club: Allison Pearson’s Favorite Crush Songs

October 5, 2011 at 3:40 pm , by

The October LHJ book club pick, I Think I Love You, is truly all about love—the BFF kind of love, the unexpected romance kind of love, and, of course, the starry-eyed teenage kind of love. After all, its about 70s heartthrob David Cassidy, and his songs (and his smile, and his eyes, and his dance moves …) made girls all over the world weak in the knees. The folks at Random House asked author Allison Pearson for her favorite lovey-dovey crush songs, and they really take us back. Click the links to listen to them (and then pick up the book!)—we dare you not to swoon.

I Think I Love You David Cassidy - “The classic Partridge Family anthem to unrequited love still comes up paint-fresh after an incredible 41 years. Great tambourine work from the younger Partridge kids and, of course, vocals from the boy in the posters on my bedroom wall, David Cassidy himself.”

Daydreamer  David Cassidy: “Oh God, I can still feel his breathy voice on the back of my neck. He was so gorgeous!”

Oh Lori – Alessi Brothers: “The quintessential summer love song, sizzling with youthful infatuation and testosterone. And they manage to work in the word ‘bicycle.’ Respect.”

Dear Mr. Gable, You Made Me Love You – Judy Garland: “Check out the young Judy in her nightgown singing to a photo of Clark Gable. One of the songs that made me want to write my new novel – to try and explain why it is we never forget our first crush.”

I’m Not In Love – 10cc: “Like a metaphysical poet, the singer tries to clamber out of the pit of obsessive infatuation, but only slips in deeper. John Donne, eat your heart out. This is beautiful.”

Seasons in The Sun – Terry Jacks: “This infuriatingly catchy ballad of doomed teen love gets into your brain like gum. I prefer Franki Valli’s heart-stoppingly lovely My Eyes Adored You.”

(They Long to Be) Close To You – The Carpenters: “This is the ten ton truck of crush songs. I wasted several sentences in my novel trying to capture the genius of Karen Carpenter’s voice—molten chocolate etc.—but you only have to hear her opening ‘Why’ to submit utterly. ‘On the day that you were born, the angels got together and decided to create a dream come true/So they sprinkled moon dust in your hair and golden stardust in your eyes of blue.’ ”

Puppy Love – Donny Osmond: “I was a Cassidy fan back in the early Seventies, when you were either a Donny or a David girl, but I have to admit this ballad of teen yearning holds up well and Donny looks better every year. He’s right when he sings that we patronize first love and underestimate its primal power. Here he is at the Ohio State Fair in 1972, with a backing track of screams. Way to go, girls!”

(via Random House Reading Group Center)

September Book Club Wrap-Up: Bitter in the Mouth

September 12, 2011 at 3:10 pm , by

l_BitterIntheMouthDid you read our September LHJ Book Club pick, Bitter in the Mouth? We haven’t stopped talking about the metaphors, secret-keeping characters, and major, jaw-dropping plot twists for weeks! It’s definitely a thinker (perfect to nosh on over some wine and cheese with friends). If you’re still looking to get started, check out all of the extra goodies we posted this month—an in-depth Q&A with author Monique Truong (I was desperate to get her to reveal her secrets to crafting this rich story), a list of discussion questions, and an excerpt to introduce you to the book.

The bookish bloggers over at Girls in the Stacks read Bitter and ran with it (go girls!), writing a review, answering the discussion questions, and hosting their own virtual book club chat via a terrific podcast. I loved hearing how the book challenged them—they had so much to say about the themes and characters, and I wanted to dive right into their discussion!

IThinkILoveYouWe hope you’ll read October’s pick, Allison Pearson’s I Think I Love You along with us . It’s an exquisite, endearing novel about teenage love, friendship, growing up—and David Cassidy (was he your favorite, too?). Check out a sneak peek on the book club page, and join in the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, and right here on our blog as we talk about it for the next month.

But first, tell us what you thought of Bitter in the Mouth! Comment here or tweet us at @LHJMagazine with the hastag #lhjbookclub.

Guest Blog: How to Plan a Themed Book Club Discussion

September 12, 2011 at 8:31 am , by

This week’s post comes from Donna Paz Kaufman from Reading Group Choices. Planning a themed book club discussion for your group inspired by the plot, character, setting or style makes for a fun and memorable book discussion guaranteed to bring on the laughter! This month’s LHJ Book Club pick, I Think I Love You, centers around a teenage obsession with 1970’s teen idol, David Cassidy. Here are her expert tips for turning a walk down memory lane into a themed event your club will be talking about for months to come.

Spark Memories of “The Way We Were”
Ask members to bring an old photo of themselves, if they are brave enough! (that’s a 9th grade portrait of me below, circa 1973!), or memorabilia from their own teen idol crush to share in a round-robin reveal.

Serve up the Flavor of the Times
Swedish meatballs, chicken croquettes, meat or cheese fondue, and fruity Sangria are good choices for serving up the flavor of 70′s entertaining.

Set the Mood with Music
Get out your old album collection and disco ball, and boogie to some Classics during pre-discussion social time. (Think Bee Geez, Donna Summer, or The Partridge Family of course.)

Create a Time Capsule with Novelty Items
Set out items that set the stage for reminiscing. Quintessential games from the era like Twister!, a beaded curtain, and bean bags will transport your guests back in time.

Throw Back to Fashions from the Past
Invite members to come dressed in groovy 70’s fashions: Bell bottoms, caftans, knee-high socks, mini dresses, maxis and platform shoes.

Guest Blog: How to Start a Book Club

August 16, 2011 at 10:47 am , by

This week’s post comes from Barbara Drummond Mead, owner of book club wunder-resource Reading Group Choices.  Her blog, On the Bookcase, is dedicated to all things book club. “Book club members find pleasure, adventure, knowledge, self-awareness, and even solace in the covers of a book,” mead says, “and enjoy sharing their discoveries with others.” Here are her tips for starting a successful book club:

Magic Number: Ten to twelve people make a perfect size group.  You’ll always have plenty of participants, if even some people can’t make the discussion.

Who to Invite: Consider inviting work colleagues and personal friends, or ask your local librarian or bookstore if any patrons have expressed interest in forming a new club. Including those outside your usual social circle will help you discover new perspectives and challenge your personal growth.  Their enthusiasm in joining a book club is the key.

Locations Abound: Invite your club over to your home, if you enjoy entertaining.  A busy or budget-challenged host can choose a restaurant or coffee house for seating and refreshments with little effort, and members can pay their own way.

Make Contact: Send a courtesy reminder with the date and time, including a few fun things you have in store for the group discussion. Remember, everyone has a busy life — they need reminders!

Conversational Space: Arrange seating in a circle or U-shape so everyone can be seen and heard.

Mix and Mingle: Set aside 30 minutes of social time to introduce members, asking them about some of their favorite books book genres, and what they hope to get out of the book club experience.

Q&A The first meeting should set the tone, create expectations and facilitate connections within the group. Consult the group to decide meeting frequency, location and refreshments. Good food and drink go hand-in-hand with good conversation!

Choose a Winning Book: Review the next month’s LHJ Book Club Pick, peruse top reviews, and ask members to contribute title selections. By having members choose the books, your group will read and discover books that they might not have picked up themselves.

LHJ Book Club: Q&A with Bitter in the Mouth Author, Monique Truong

August 13, 2011 at 5:08 pm , by

I spoke with Monique Truong about her childhood experiences in the south, the themes of friendship, family and secret keeping in Bitter in the Mouth (the inaugural LHJ Book Club pick!), and how she ended up weaving an intricate story around a girl who tastes words.

The novel’s protagonist, Linda Hammerick, feels like an outsider in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, a town you lived in as a child. How much of your own life mirrors Linda’s? Is the story autobiographical?

I sometimes joke that if life gives you a little town called Boiling Springs and you’re a writer, you’d be foolish not to write about it. There was a lot in my own experience that I thought was important for me to revisit as an adult, as a writer.

When my family came to Boiling Springs, it was the summer of 1975. I remember clearly going to school for the first time and realizing that something had happened—that my body had somehow transformed. I was born in Saigon and was growing up in Vietnam as a little girl, but the moment that I stepped into the elementary school in Boiling Springs, I was no longer just a little girl. All of a sudden there was a lot of interest in the color of my skin, the shape of my eyes, and the color of my hair. I felt like there was this disconnect between how I felt inside and the way I was being treated based on how people were seeing me.

So in creating Linda, I was trying to draw on the confusion that I had and tried to imagine a situation in which a character would feel disconnected from her own body and not understand what was going on—though not in exactly the same way as it happened to me.

I don’t have synesthesia and I don’t have the same sort of family background as Linda, though.

Read more

Join Our Book Club and Win a Nook Color!

August 1, 2011 at 8:00 am , by

To celebrate the start of our book club, we’re giving away a Nook Color. It’s kind of like a Kindle, except you can also read magazines on it (like, ahem, ours), play games and connect to the Internet. I absolutely love mine, so I can’t wait to give one away! We’ll also put Bitter in the Mouth on it, our first book club pick, so you can dive right in as soon as you get it. Just leave a comment on this post, and you’re entered!

*Official Rules