Tag Archives: book club

Till We Have Faces

Or in this case, Till We Have Facials. Yes, my book club discussed the book Till We Have Faces under facial masks. (They would not let me post a picture of us!) No surprise: while tight and awkward, the masks restricted movement but not our ability to interrupt one another, talk at the same time, and laugh at each other. And they made us feel a bit like the book’s main character Orual, who wears an emotional and physical mask for most of the story. Sort of a modern Phantom of the Opera.

And our skin felt great afterward.

This month, we read C. S. Lewis’ last novel, an allegorical fantasy re-telling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. The book was un-stereotypical Lewis, told in first person narrative, from the eldest sister Orual’s perspective. Orual is the cunning, obsessive, conflicted child of an abusive king, with an ugly face and massive insecurities and control issues. She grows up with the knowledge that she is too ugly to be a woman, that she will never marry, and that her two beautiful sisters deserve admiration as much as she deserves to stay hidden.

Psyche, Orual’s youngest and favorite sister, is angelic in face, form, and personality. She garners everyone’s attention, admiration, and love. Oral is especially protective and caring of her–Psyche is almost her alter-ego, even though Orual is a character who transforms into a self-aware and charitable leader. Continue reading

A Piece of the World

Two days ago, I finished Christina Baker Kline’s novel A Piece of the World, based on the lives of two historical people who were friends. One was celebrated for his work as a painter. The other is known for her role in his most famous painting. I am still so moved by the story, I can’t stop thinking about it. Although I raced through it, I wish it hadn’t ended. I highlighted throughout. (Yes, I use a highlighter when I read a good novel because I can’t help myself.) Kline’s imagery and craftsmanship was so superb, I was reading and searching for a highlighter at the same time. And writing down lines in my reading journal. (Yes, I am that person.)

Kline tells the story of Christina Olson, the subject of Andrew Wyeth’s most famous painting, Christina’s World. The main character, Christina struggles to live in her small world even while she ached to leave it; she grappled with a crippling disease (apparently caused by polio); she struggled with love and jealousy in her relationship with her siblings and few friends; she became one of Andy Wyeth’s muses. The story was gripping, mesmerizing, and realistic, filled with flashbacks, history, and tender observances. Continue reading

Top 12 Book Club Reads

I started a book club in 2013 and invited several bibliophiles to join me so that I would read at least 1 book per month for pleasure.

Having spent the previous couple decades teaching English, I was an avid reader, but I found that most of my reading time was spent on A) reading student essays (no comment) and B) re-reading the same books again and again because I was teaching them and had forgotten the little details of plot. Trust me, no matter how good something is, after about 5 readings of The Odyssey, Animal Farm, Mythology, etc., you’d like to move on to something else. Especially something you’re not making study guide or test questions for. (Yes, I know I just ended a sentence with a preposition. I’m blowing away the confines of grammar today.)

I won’t tire you with our whole book list (you can go to my Pinterest to see the recommended reads)–I thought I’d give you a short list of my favorites so far, in case you’re compiling your own book club list for this year. These are all discussable, and many have book club questions/prompts in the back or online. I’m giving you 12–one book per month of great fiction and non-fiction (we generally don’t read Christian living titles for book club because we all do that on our own). You will laugh, cry, and think about them for days. You will grow.

(Just what a good book should compel you do.)

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