Tuesday, December 11, 2007

January meeting date changed

Our January meeting date has changed to accomodate the holiday schedule.

We'll be meeting on Wednesday, January 9th at 7 p.m. in the meeting room of the Fairfax Library to discuss our January selection, This is Not Civilization by Robert Rosenberg.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Book Choices for Jan., Feb. and March 2008

We’ve chosen our next three books – the first for 2008!

JANUARY: At our January meeting, we’ll be discussing This Is Not Civilization by Robert Rosenberg.

From the book jacket: This Is Not Civilization is an inspired, sweeping debut novel that hopscotches from Arizona to Central Asia to Istanbul with a well-meaning, if misguided, young Peace Corps volunteer. Jeff Hartig lies at the center of this modern take on the American-abroad tale, which brings together four people from vastly different backgrounds, each struggling with the push and pull of home. A young Apache, Adam Dale, forsakes the reservation for the promise of a world he knows little about. Anarbek Tashtanaliev, of post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan, operates a cheese factory that no longer produces cheese. Nazira, his daughter, strains against the confines of their village’s age-old traditions. With captivating insight, realism, and humor, Robert Rosenberg delivers a sensitive story about the cost of trying to do good in the world.

You can find discussion questions for This Is Not Civilization here.

FEBRUARY: At our February 7th meeting, we will discuss The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh.

“Set primarily in Burma, Malaya, and India, this work spans from 1885, when the British sent the King of Burma into exile, to the present. While it does offer brief glimpses into the history of the region, it is more the tale of a family and how historical events influenced real lives. As a young boy, Rajkumar, an Indian temporarily stranded in Mandalay, finds himself caught up in the British invasion that led to the exile of Burma's last king. In the chaos, he spies Dolly, a household maid in the royal palace, for whom he develops a consuming passion and whom years later he tracks down in India and marries. As their family grows and their lives intersect with others, the tangled web of local and international politics is brought to bear, changing lives as well as nations.” – Library Journal

You can find discussion questions for The Glass Palace here.

MARCH: At our March 6th meeting, we’ll discuss Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan. This will coincide with another One Book/One Marin reading program to held in early 2008.

“Tan's hilarious new novel arrives at a time when we aren't laughing much at the news of the day. How much you enjoy "Saving Fish From Drowning" may have to do with how willing you are to be bewitched by a superbly executed, goodhearted farce that is part romance and part mystery with a political bent. With Tan's many talents on display, it's her idiosyncratic wit and sly observations about the nature of illusion that make this book pure pleasure. And by the end, all the travelers, including one charming tiny dog, seem like old friends.” The San Francisco Chronicle - Sara Peyton

You can find discussion questions for Saving Fish From Drowning here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Places in Between - Discussion Questions

The Fairfax Library Book Discussion Group will meet this Thursday, December 6th at 7 p.m. in the meeting room of the Fairfax Library to discuss our December book, The Places in Between by Rory Stewart.

Here is a link to the discussion questions provided by the publisher of The Places in Between ...


If I have your e-mail address, I will also e-mail you the discussion questions. I'll have some additional background information about the author and the book at the meeting on Thursday, as well as some special goodies to help us celebrate our five-year anniversary.

Monday, December 3, 2007

How Are We Doing? - a questionnaire

The five-year anniversary of the Fairfax Library Book Discussion Group ("FLBDG") seems like a good time to step back and review our mission. What is our mission?

I like to think of the FLBDG as the no-guilt book club. People come when they are able and interested and shouldn't feel guilty when they can't make it. The book club is sponsored by the Friends of the Fairfax Library, is held in the library's meeting room and is open to any interested readers.

Sometime during the 5 years, I started e-mailing the discussion questions to our e-mail list (which has over 80 names) which also acted as a gentle reminder of the upcoming meeting.

Are there any other changes or minor adjustments we could make to reach out to more readers? This blog is a start. I intend to post a link to discussion questions each month and then, after our discussion, post a brief synopsis of our thoughts on the book.

Below is a questionnaire I put together and I would love to get your thoughts on what we can do to make the FLBDG even better!

Questionnaire for Fairfax Library Book Discussion Group

1. Should we read…?

more current fiction
more themes in our selections (i.e. other cultures, gardens as metaphor, the sea)
more classics
historical fiction
more non-fiction (what kind of non-fiction? Memoirs, adventure, history, current events?)
keep the mix of novels/non-fiction we currently have

2. Would you like to see a brief synopsis of our discussions in an e-mail after our meetings?

3. Would you be interested in rating the books we read?
The library could post the ratings of our group for other interested readers. It could be a simple “thumbs up/thumbs down” or a rating from 1 to 10.

4. The book discussion group currently meets on the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. Would you be interested in meeting at another time or on another day? When?

5. Would you be interested in reading more than one book per month - for instance, if the subjects of the books are related?

6. Should discussions be more strictly centered on the discussion questions provided or should discussions be allowed to meander somewhat?

7. What is the ideal number of participants in a book discussion?
Has the number of participants in the library book discussions been too high? too low? just right?

8. Do you have any difficulty in obtaining the books chosen for discussion through the library?
Would that difficulty in obtaining a copy of the book prevent you from attending the monthly meeting?

9. Currently, discussion questions are e-mailed a few days before our meetings but other background information, such as author interviews, book reviews etc. are handed out at the meeting. Would you be interested in having that information sent as an attachment to an e-mail in MS Word format?

10. Are there any other improvements you would like to see made to make the Fairfax Library book discussion group more interesting or relevant for you?

Thanks for any and all suggestions/criticisms/advice you care to share with me!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Five Years of Reading

The Fairfax Library Book Discussion Group will mark five years of reading with our December, 2007 meeting. I'll have some additional posts soon about that.

I thought it might be fun to share the list of books our group has read over the past five years. Our group chooses books 3 months at a time so we do the choosing 4 times a year - I think of it as a quarterly job. At times, we have tried to read 3 books around a theme such as, "gardening as metaphor", "Native American authors", "exploring India", "war is hell" etc.

I find it difficult to choose books by theme because there aren't too many on-line resources and sometimes I find books that fit the theme but won't work for us because there aren't enough copies in the library system. But ultimately themes are rewarding as we can really dig into a subject. We'll try to do more of that in our future reading. Suggestions, anyone??

Date Book Title Author
December, 2007 The Places in Between by Rory Stewart
November, 2007 The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier
October, 2007 The Family Tree by Carole Cadwalladr
September, 2007 Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
August, 2007 Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
July, 2007 Drop City by T.C. Boyle
June, 2007 Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
May, 2007 Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
April, 2007 Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
March, 2007 The March by E. L. Doctorow
February, 2007 Beloved by Toni Morrison
January, 2007 Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
December, 2006 Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl
November, 2006 The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
October, 2006 Skeletons on the Zahara by Dean King
September, 2006 Any Human Heart by William Boyd
August, 2006 Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
July, 2006 The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty
June, 2006 The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
May, 2006 The Grace That Keeps This World by Tom Bailey
April, 2006 A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
March, 2006 The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr
February, 2006 Devil in the White City by Eric Larson
January, 2006 Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel
December, 2005 The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
November, 2005 The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
October, 2005 The Known World by Edward P. Jones
September, 2005 Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
August, 2005 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time Mark Haddon
July, 2005 Three Junes by Julia Glass
June, 2005 Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
May, 2005 Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
April, 2005 Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
March, 2005 Bee Season by Myla Goldberg
February, 2005 Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
January, 2005 Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
December, 2004 The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie
November, 2004 Watermelon Nights by Greg Sarris
October, 2004 Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
September, 2004 The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
August, 2004 The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason
July, 2004 The Dive From Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer
June, 2004 Children of the Alley by Naguib Mahfouz
May, 2004 Your Mouth is Lovely by Nancy Richler
April, 2004 The Moor’s Last Sigh by Salmon Rushdie
March, 2004 Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett
February, 2004 Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund
January, 2004 Life of Pi by Yann Martel
December, 2003 Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres
November, 2003 Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
October, 2003 Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian
September, 2003 Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Ann Tyler
August, 2003 The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
July, 2003 The Republic of Love by Carol Shields
June, 2003 Gardens in the Dunes by Leslie Marmon Silko
May, 2003 The Lost Garden by Helen Humphries
April, 2003 The Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama
March, 2003 Life of Pi by Yann Martel
February, 2003 Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
January, 2003 Peace Like a River by Leif Enger