Tuesday, February 14, 2017

February 2017: The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

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Meeting Details: Friday, Feb 17th at Marion's Place.  

Discussion QUESTIONS:
  1. Did you like the book?  Why or why not?
  2. What are the differences—and similarities—between the two brothers? 
  3. What goes into making genius like the Wright brothers, aside from sheer intelligence? Consider traits such as perseverance, focus, and energy. What else? What about the role of imagination? 
  4. In his book, David McCullough reveals that when Wilbur Wright was in France, he spent a fair amount of time at the Louvre and that he was deeply moved by the great Gothic works he saw. What is the importance that the author ascribes to that interest—and why? What does it suggest about the importance of the liberal arts even in the fields of science and technology?
  5. Why were the Wright brothers dismissed in the United States but taken seriously in France? What was the difference in culture and/or politics that generated interest on the part of the French but not the Americans?
  6. Wilbur and Orville displayed few emotions. Do you think this hampered the author in his attempt to characterize the two men, to portray them as rich, fully-developed human beings? How does McCullough bring them to life—does he, or doesn't he? Do the two men come across as heroic? Why or why not?
  7. Why was the story of the Wright brothers' achievement so unlikely? Talk about the hardships, knowledge deficits, and other obstacles they had to overcome in order to get their invention off the ground, so to speak? 
  8. What struck you most in the story of the the Wright brothers? What surprised you or impressed you? How much did you know (or understand) before you read McCullough's book...and what did you come away having learned?
  9. In 1908, when the Wrights finally showed their plane to the press, one reporter wrote: "this spectacle of men flying was so startling, so bewildering to the senses...that we all stood like so many marble men." Imagine yourself in that situation: how might you have reacted? Can you think of a future technological advancement that might astonish you the same way?
  10. Were the brothers compensated fairly for their invention? As someone replied to Wilbur, "I am afraid, my friend, that your usually sound judgment has been warped by the desire for great wealth." What is your assessment of that remark—fair or unfair?
  11. Would you recommend it to someone else?

MENU Ideas:

BACON!!!! Since this is a primary ingredient that the Wright brothers missed on their first excursion to Kitty Hawk; try something creative with Bacon 


Something French

Something Signature Ohio. 

I will take care of Coffee and Drinks and...undecided...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

January 2017 - Riding the Bus with my Sister by Rachel Simon

Monday, January 16, 2017
Time: 7:30 (discussion to start at 8)
Location: Lindsey's house (28 Berko Ave)

Discussion Questions:

1. The memoir opens with Beth's annual Plan of Care review, and Beth's request of Rachel to accompany her on bus rides for an entire year. Discuss Rachel and Beth's relationship at the outset of the book: What kind of dynamic do they have? What kind of a role does Rachel play in Beth's life at this point (and vice versa)? What obstacles to their relationship are evident from the first? What do you think was the motivation for Beth's request? Did their tension reflect tensions that you have felt with family members? To whom did you relate to more, Rachel or Beth?

2. Why does Beth love riding the buses? What does she gain from this ad hoc community? Does our understanding of her devotion to the buses deepen over the course of the book, and if so, how does Simon make that happen? Do we come to certain realizations before the character of Rachel does? Examine your own reactions as you read, and when and why they changed. Have you known other people who are devoted to an activity that you do not understand? How did your understanding of Beth's bus riding affect your thoughts about those other people?

3. How do the italicized sections of the book, which relay Rachel and Beth's family history, inform the present-day chapters? Describe the tone of these sections, and the way in which Simon manages to convey their tragic and convoluted past. How does she deal with emotionally charged scenes from the past, and how do they inform our understanding of not only present-day situations and events, but also present-day relationships?

4. Discuss our perspective of Rachel's mother throughout the book: from her panic and despair over the baby Beth's mental disability, to her growing alienation from her children and husband, to her emotional collapse and marriage to "the bad man." How do we view her reunion with her children when they are grown? How does Simon deal with the way each child shifts from anger to forgiveness? At what points do you sympathize with her mother and at what points do you judge her? Discuss the extent to which this is due to the way Simon writes about her mother. How does the story of Rachel's mother shed light on other mothers you might have known who have reached the breaking point with their families?

5. Examine the relationship between all of the children growing up: Laura, Rachel, Beth and Max. Compare their relationships with each other as children to their relationships with each other as adults. What has changed, and what has remained the same? How supportive of one another were they as children, compared to their lives as adults? How did their dynamic shift over time? What do you think were the direct causes? Would things have been different if the family had stayed together?

6. Discuss the way that Rachel, Laura, and Max were affected by being the siblings of a person with special needs. How much of a role do you think Beth's disability played in their growth as individuals? How did their parents' feelings toward Beth affect the ability of the other siblings to accept her? What are some of the emotions that Rachel reveals she felt about her sister, starting with her being a little child, then a teenager and young adult, and finally a woman entering middle-age? What is the impact of her parents' own difficulties on her sense of her own responsibility toward Beth? Examine Simon's approach to the times when she was not feeling positive about her sister. Discuss the device of the "dark voice." Have you known other siblings of people with disabilities? How do their emotions and concerns mirror those of their parents, and how are they distinct or unique?

7. Discuss Jacob, the Christian bus driver who would have Beth "do unto others as you would have done to you." Consider how we see his role in Beth's life, which goes beyond bus driver to become a true friend (one who takes her to the beach with his family, and cares for her before and after her operation). What kind of a person is Jacob? What makes him likeable, and what keeps him from being an overly sentimental person, or "character," in the book? Compare his role in Beth's life with the friendship he begins to form in Rachel's life. He is clearly on a spiritual journey. Are other characters in the book also on a quest to live a more spiritual life? What is the role of spirituality in the book?

8. Now consider Rachel's relationships with the bus drivers. How does her need for their insight and kindness compare to Beth's? How do her relationships with them differ from Beth's, or do they at all? What do you think the bus drivers gain from their friendships with Beth, and subsequently, Rachel (for example, Jacob, Rick or Rodolpho)? How do we see their relationships progress from the opening of the book to its end?

9. Discuss Beth's romantic relationship with Jesse: How would you describe their dynamic? How does their relationship compare with what you know of Sam and Rachel's relationship? Is mental disability portrayed as being a significant factor in Beth and Jesse's compatibility? What did you think of the way Rachel's family handled Beth's burgeoning sexuality, and Beth's annual reminder to Rachel: "Its TEn years since I cant Have a baBy?" Did learning about Beth and Jesse's relationship affect the way you view adults with disabilities? How?

10. Is the book enhanced by the inclusion of Beth's letters? How and why? What about Jack's recipes? The references to music?

11. Discuss the ramifications of Rachel's outburst near the culmination of the memoir, where she blurts out "I hate you," in response to Beth's surly, inhospitable demeanor. What does this heat-of-the-moment admission do to both sisters? What kind of change does it invoke in Beth's behavior, and what does it reveal to Rachel about her own feelings? How does it alter their relationship? Why did Simon include it?

12. Compare the annual "Plan of Care" review at the end of the book with the one at the beginning. What kind of progress or change has been made in the way Beth lives her life? What relationships have altered between the people in Beth's apartment? Discuss Rachel's revelations at this meeting and her reaction to Beth's curt "The year's over."

13. Describe the impact of the epilogue to the book, "A Year and a Half Later." What does it demonstrate about Rachel's transformation over the year? What progress has Beth made? How satisfying is this ending, for both the reader and Rachel? What kind of message does Simon leave us with, and how effective is her story as a medium for that message? How did you feel when you finished the final paragraph?

(Questions from the author's website.)

Food - Beth's eating habits are often referred to in the book as a source of concern by some of her caregivers.  However, Beth cares more about riding the buses and therefore eats a lot of "on the go" foods.    I've included some of the different foods that Beth loves to eat, as well as the recipes that Jack shares with Rachel, as he plays an important part in Beth's life.   The list below is only some examples so feel free to be creative, bringing anything that you feel fits into a life that would include riding the bus daily!   Or if you want to take the role as caregiver you can bring food that her caregivers/family encourage (see pages 18/210-211). Ex: Vera tries to encourage Beth to include more veggies into her diet and teaches her to cook when she is in a group home setting.

Examples of Beth's eating and Jack's recipes
pg 18 chocolate pudding
pg 18 hotdogs 
pg 18 cream cheese on bagels
pg 186 - m&m cookies
pg 206 - Jack's chicken pot pie
pg 18/211  - spaghetti and meatballs
pg 212/290 pizza
pg 214 Jack's Red Beet Eggs
pg 218 Jack's chocolate mayonnaise Cake
pg 299 - ice cream 
pg 18 / 210-211 - take on a caregiver role (fruit/veggies, a food you would encourage a family member to eat)

Friday, December 30, 2016

January 2017 - Riding the Bus with My Sister by Rachel Simon

Date - Thursday, January 5, 2017 7:30 (discussion starts at 8p.m.) at Lindsey's house

Food - Beth's eating habits are often referred to in the book as a source of concern by some of her caregivers.  However, Beth cares more about riding the buses and therefore eats a lot of "on the go" foods.    I've included some of the different foods that Beth loves to eat, as well as the recipes that Jack shares with Rachel, as he plays an important part in Beth's life.   The list below is only some examples so feel free to be creative, bringing anything that you feel fits into a life that would include riding the bus daily!   Or if you want to take the role as caregiver you can bring food that her caregivers/family encourage (see pages 18/210-211). Ex: Vera tries to encourage Beth to include more veggies into her diet and teaches her to cook when she is in a group home setting.

Examples of Beth's eating and Jack's recipes
pg 18 chocolate pudding
pg 18 hotdogs 
pg 18 cream cheese on bagels
pg 186 - m&m cookies
pg 206 - Jack's chicken pot pie
pg 18/211  - spaghetti and meatballs
pg 212/290 pizza
pg 214 Jack's Red Beet Eggs
pg 218 Jack's chocolate mayonnaise Cake
pg 299 - ice cream 
pg 18 / 210-211 - take on a caregiver role (fruit/veggies, a food you would encourage a family member to eat)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

December 2016 - DATE NIGHT IN - Ashley Rodriguez

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Meeting Details: 

Karen's house
Thursday , December 15th, 2015  7:30 p.m.

* Check email for address and phone number.

Discussion Questions                                                                                                                                          

1.  Did you like the book?  Which was your favorite story?

2.  Have you  made any recipes, and which would be your favorite?

3.  Do you and your spouse have a regularly scheduled date night in?  How long have you been doing this?

4.  Has your style of cooking changed through the years?

5.  In "Feasting on Spring" while the author is making the homemade mayonnaise, she writes "I wonder if he thought I was crazy".  Do you have a comparable "making by hand is crazy"recipe?

6.  "His Birthday" - "I wanted to spend hours constructing a perfectly balanced cake with many components that each, in there own way say "you are loved".  Are there special treats/traditions that occur for your spouse's  birthday in your house?

7.  In "A Soup for Summer" the author says she is not a big propenent of habits, ritual, consistency.  Is that something that resonates with you?

8.  "A Taste of Home" - what does that bring to mind for you?

8.  In "Wooed by Fried Chicken" the author says that "whatever my mood is when I begin cooking, I always find that at the end I am more relaxed feeling, grateful and happy?  Do you enjoy cooking, is it a chore or something you truly enjoy?

9.  " A Winter BBQ" - what would your words to yourself on your wedding day sound like?

10.  Would your recommend this book to others?

MENU- Please post which recipe you will be bringing!

I will provide the Pineapple Rosarita, Thyme Lemonade and Chocolat Chaud

Friday, November 4, 2016

Book Choices for Jan-June

 January - Change Your World... (hostess: Lindsay)
 Riding the Bus with My Sister by Rachel Simon
           (bookoutlet.ca has this right now for $5.19)
      February - Be My Valentine... (hostess: Marion) - Couples Meeting
·         The Wright Brothers by David McCullough 
·      March - Reader's Choice... (hostess: Melissa) 
        The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

·         April - The Lastest Buzz ... (hostess: Shelagh)  
·         The Wonder by Emma Donoghue. 
                      (available right now at Costco)

·         May - Forgotten Favorites... (hostess: Sherrie)
-      - Sherrie will check into the possibility of us reading a children's book reading by a distant relative of hers on her mom's side of the family.  If not, our back up book is:
·         The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

·         June - Celebrate Canada... (hostess: Tamara) 
            Wenjack by Joseph Boyden

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

There was a divide in the room regarding this book. There were those who loved it, and those who didn't. One person said it was her most favourite book club book ever, and others couldn't wait to put it down.

What was loved:
-The enchantment of it all; you just wanted to be at there, going through different tents, meeting all the unique people involved
-Marco and Celia's classic love story
-The reveurs - the circus 'groupies' who followed the circus around, and/or kept in tune with all the details regarding the circus (from Celia Brown through Friedrick Thiessen). Even their attire of black and white with red scarves, which may seem like a small and insignificant detail, was really enjoyed.
-The enchantment of the entire story; it drew you in and one person said she'd even give up her firstborn in order to experience the wonder of it al1!
-The author was so good at describing things - you could just smell the warm cinnamon twists wafting in the air! Mmm

What was not loved:
-The non-linear sequence of events. It was at times very difficult to stay with the story because of the constant switch from past to present. This also resulted in some just not feeling the enchantment of the story; they were not drawn into the story line (and were not willing to give up their firstborn to experience it all! ;) )

It was decided that you really need to love/appreciate Fantasy-type books in order to enjoy and fully experience The Night Circus.

What we ate:
- We thought to experience a taste of the type of food one could buy at the Night Circus, and so we enjoyed chocolate drizzled popcorn, scones with jam, chocolate covered mice with licorice tails and almond ears, caramel apple dip with sliced apples (in place of caramel apples), mini cinnamon buns, chocolate covered pretzels and chocolate covered strawberries.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Nov 2016: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Meeting Details:
Thursday, November 3rd at Danielle's house; meeting starts at 7:30, with discussion beginning at 8pm

Discussion Questions:
1. Did you like the book? Why or why not?

2. The Night Circus is not written in a linear timeline. Did you find the structure of the book disorienting? Do you think it was effective in mirroring the nature of the circus or did it just annoy you?

3. Between the chapters that tell the story of The Night Circus are descriptions of the circus itself, written as if you are visiting it right now. What do these chapters add to the story?

4. What was your favorite part of the circus? Which character would you most want to meet? Which tent would you most want to visit? Which food sounded most appealing?

5. Why are Frederick Thiessen and the reveurs important to the story? Why do you think some people were so entranced by the circus that they devoted themselves to following it around?

6. Did you feel sorry for those who were being used in the game -- Isobel, the Burgess sisters, even Celia and Marco? Why do you think some people, like Mr. Barris, don't mind being trapped by the circus while it drives others, like Tara Burgess, mad?

7. Why do you think Bailey was willing to give his life to the circus?

8. Discuss themes of good and evil and free will verses being "bound."

9. What did you think of Marco and Celia's relationship? Why did they fall in love?

10. Why does the man in the grey suit feel so passionate about stories? What sort of commentary do you think the chapter "Stories" is on the novel? On life?

11. Would you recommend the book? Why or why not?

**I have not finished the book yet, so the questions may change. The above were taken from goodreads.com.

Menu: Let's go to the Circus!

Caramel Apple Dip (instead of caramel apples), pg. 50, 125-127, 385 - Emily
Scones with Jam and Clotted Cream, pg. 39 - Tessa
Mini Cinnamon Buns (in place of cinnamon rolls), pg. 195-196 - Melissa
Popcorn, pg. 51, 125-127, 143 - Danielle
Chocolate Mice (with almond ears and licorice tails), pg. 170, 195
Chocolate Covered Strawberries, pg. 228, 276 - Karen
Black and White cookies (as the Night Circus is all black and white)
Vanilla Meringues (they look like tiny circus tents!)

Drinks: (Danielle)
Cider, pg. 50, 109, 111, 143, 171-172, 175
Cocoa, pg. 195-197
Sparkling wine, pg. 58

Friday, October 14, 2016

Book Choices - January to June 2017

Here are our themes and some possible book choices for the next 6 month period.  We will be deciding book choices for January to June 2017 at our NOVEMBER meeting so come prepared!

This is simply our list from 2016 (minus the books we actually read)... if you have an additional suggestion, please add it.  If you remember that we discussed one of these books and definitely decided that we were not interested, please add a comment about which one and why and I will remove it from the list to save us time on decision making.  Thanks!!

·         January - Change Your World... (hostess: Lindsay) an inspirational book that could be a biography or autobiography
         - some options include:
·         Between Gods by Alison Pick... one woman's discovery that she is really Jewish and how she struggles to make sense of her heritage, faith and family in the midst of depression
·         Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng (the true story of one woman's sufferings during the Cultural Revolution in China... see review in July 2010) 
·         Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson (about building schools to educate women in Afganistan)... this book is also interesting in that it has been widely discredited
·         Night by Elie Wiesel (a classic memoir about one teen's struggle to come to terms with guilt and God after surviving the death camps in WWII)
·         I Hate to Leave this Beautiful Place by Howard Norman (a memoir)
·         Queen of the Air by Dean N Jensen (a biography that may inspire a new fitness routine for 2014?!)
·         An Invisible Thread (reminds me of Same Kind of Different As Me)
·         Some Assembly Required (a true story of a woman's first grandson and how he changes her life)
·         February - Be My Valentine... (hostess: Marion) In Feb 2012-2016, we had a couples book club meeting on a Friday in mid-February and picked something that we felt quite sure that the guys would enjoy to, as well as  a full meal - appetizers, dinner and dessert- and this went over really well. We need to decide if we are going to continue with a couple’s meeting or not. Some options for a book for the couples meeting include:

·         The Orenda by Joseph Boyden.. Canadian history, big adventure, amazing author
·         A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout (for the girls) and The Price of Life by Nigel Brennan (for the guys)... his and hers versions of their experience of being kidnapped in Somalia
·         The Martian by Andy Weir... on a mission to Mars, one man is left behind - presumed dead - but he isn't.  How will he survive alone until the next Martian mission can rescue him?    (The language is iffy at times, but an engaging read that is sure to spark lots of conversation!) 
·         here are a few manly book club lists to appeal to our guys: for men, top 100 for men,   popular men's books 
·         Do you or your hubby love Duck Dynasty?  How about this one?
·         The Wright Brothers by David McCullough (the story of the brothers of flight and the pivotal role of their sister in bring the dream of flight to life)
·         March - Reader's Choice... (hostess: Melissa) we usually give the hostess first dibs here, although anyone with a favorite that they are itching to read with us could step up here.
          - here a master list of favorite book club picks to inspire us!  Maybe a library book club kit? (HPL library kits)
·         April - The Lastest Buzz ... (hostess: Shelagh)  the most talked about novels of the year; any genre or age level as long as there is some buzz around the book lately
         - here's the NYT best-seller list to get us started
         - some options include:
·         The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (a murder mystery; a psychological thriller; a heart-pounding, can't put it down read - so the reviews all say, still on the bestseller list from 2015)
·         A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi (who also wrote The Pearl that Broke its Shell)
·         The Wonder by Emma Donoghue.  This is the  author also wrote “The Room” which several  of us have already read, although this book seems very different from "The Room".

·         May - Forgotten Favorites... (hostess: Sherrie) a classic children's novel; sometimes we push the boundaries on "classic" and read the hottest new book for Middle Graders instead.
         - some options include:

·         The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame... another classic with a subtext about the wonder of reading and writing books
·         The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate... a Newbery Medal winner; written as a gorilla's journey.  So well written!
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher... a modern classic for teens dealing with the after math of a suicide
·         Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool... a Newbery Medal Winner; Abeline discovers secrets that change her view of her father and herself; and she changes the town she's visiting too

·         June - Celebrate Canada... (hostess: Tamara) a Canadian author writing a story that takes place in Canada - past or present
         - some options include: