Tag Archives: Any Bitter Thing

SUMMERHOUSE BOOK CLUB PICKS FOR WINTER 2015

images-3

SUMMERHOUSE WINTER BOOK CLUB PICKS FOR 2015

This week is the first meeting of the Summerhouse Winter Book Club. The season begins with a discussion of Any Bitter Thing by Monica Wood, a novel published a few years ago. It’s worth knowing about if you missed it.

This post was prompted by a reader’s comment. Many of us like to know what book clubs other than our own are reading. So, here’s rundown of the Summerhouse List for 2015. This time I share a professional summary or book blurb rather than one I wrote. This will give readers a different look at a book from what I previously posted on this blog about the book. Hope this gives you some ideas for your book club or your own reading.

Any Bitter Thing by Monica Wood
From the back cover of the paperback edition. “After surviving a near-fatal accident, thirty-year-old Lizzy Mitchell faces a long road to recovery. She remembers little about the days she spent in and out of consciousness, save for one thing: She saw her beloved deceased uncle, Father Mike, the man who raised her in the rectory of his Maine church until she was nine, at which time she was abruptly sent away to boarding school.”

Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
From the back cover of the paperback edition. “A powerful, sweeping novel, inspired by real events, The Invention of Wings is a vivid evocation of the American deep South in the nineteenth century and the story of an impossible friendship against all odds.”

The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
From BookPage. “A spirited sales rep and an abandoned baby bring hope to a widowed bookseller in this emotional story that is also a tribute to the power of books.”

Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain
From Goodreads. “Bestselling author Diane Chamberlain delivers a breakout book about a small southern town fifty years ago, and the darkest—and most hopeful—places in the human heart.”

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
From Amazon. “Orphan Train is a gripping story of friendship and second chances from Christina Baker Kline, author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be.”

Your book club has perhaps read some of these books. Do share ideas from your book discussions. I’m sure blog readers would like to hear about the book list of your book club. Click on “Leave a Reply” and let us know.

MEET MONICA WOOD

Unknown-1

Note: This month some of my book club colleagues are reading the novel Any Bitter Thing by Monica Wood. This is a repost of a short essay posted on the Writing page on July 10, 2014. Monica Wood is an author worth meeting. I hope Book Club members and other blog readers, who may have missed this post, will enjoy meeting Monica Wood.

“There’s no such thing as wasted writing.” From Monica Wood

Because I recently read her novel Any Bitter Thing, because I expect to read more of her writing, and because I hope to learn something about her, here’s a short information piece on author Monica Wood.

Unknown-2

Monica Wood was born in Mexico, Maine into a devout family of Irish Catholics who worked in the paper mills. She has said she believes in the importance of a person’s first family––the family one is born into. She is a reader and she advises writers to read. Now that’s a song I love.

Ms. Wood recently wrote a short piece for Oprah Magazine titled “My Sister, The Best Person I Know.” It exemplifies the best of her writing. Her characters and in this case her sister kick against the heart, crawl under the readers’ skin and live in the reader’s memory for a long, long time. She writes varied characters so clearly it is as if she carries a torch to light the way, and they arouse deep sympathy and empathy. The unexpected turns of the plot in Any Bitter Thing may startle the reader. The places she writes rise from the page and allow the reader to enter. Often-falling snow muffles and softens some of the hurt she writes so well. Perhaps the story’s resolution is her strongest arena. This is realistic fiction at its best.

Her latest book, a memoir When We Were the Kennedys: A Memoir from Mexico, Maine, won the May Sarton Memoir Award for the best woman’s memoir published in the United States and Canada in 2012. She has also written Ernie’s Ark, a book of connected stories, My Only Story, a novel and The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspiration for Writing.

Unknown-3

She conducts events and appears at speaking engagements, often in the Portland Maine area. Find more information at her website www.monicawood.com. It includes a section: Tips for Writers.

I recommend her work. Choose the book that’s right for you.

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION: BOOK CLUB PICKS

photo[21]

What factors lead to successful Book Club Reads? Book clubs are made up of individual readers; so as we might expect, choices can be personal and passionate. Are there common denominators that make for successful book club choices? Discussion and deeper understandings are goals for most clubs. Does the book offer the possibility of varied viewpoints? Are there points to discuss? Seems to me there are always aspects of character, plot, writing, ideas, you name it, to be discussed. When experienced readers get together it’s likely varied viewpoints will attend the meeting.

Broad appeal and availability are usually considered important. These days with electronic readers becoming more and more popular, access to particular books is less of an issue. Members usually consider a book more successful for their group if the majority of the members find it interesting and enjoyable. If too many hate it, not a good choice.

Is the book well-written? Is there interesting structure? What of clearly and beautifully written sentences? What do you think adds up to a successful book club choice?

Whether you personally are looking for a good read, or your book club is making decisions, I offer the recent choices of two book clubs for your consideration.

Unknown-5

Any Bitter Thing. Monica Wood.
Here are characters who struggle with heartbreak and loss. Different voices create a moving experience for the reader. A profile of Monica Wood was posted on the Writing page of this blog on July 10, 2014 under the title “Meet Monica Wood.”

Unknown-2

Annie’s Ghost. Steve Luxenberg. Non-fiction.
Chosen as a notable Michigan book for 2010. Memoir, mystery, history. A story of searching family secrets and family heartbreak at Eloise Hospital, a bygone psychiatric facility in Wayne, MI.

Unknown-3

Chaperone by Laura Moriarty.
This historical novel tells the story of a woman who accompanies the young Louise Brooks to NYC in the 1920’s and the changes that await them. Readers I’ve talked to are enthusiastic about this book and this author.

The Invention of Wings. Sue Monk Kidd. Unknown-3
This novel has been on the NYT Best Sellers List for a number of weeks. It is about the relationship between a wealthy girl who will become a prominent abolitionist and the slave who is a gift to her on her eleventh birthday. Those who have read this book liked it very much.

Unknown-3

Necessary Lies. Diane Chamberlain.
A young social worker defies conventional thinking in 1960’s North Carolina. Ms. Chamberlain is a popular author with many novels to her credit. To my surprise, this story and its characters have stayed with me.

15818107

Orphan Train. Christina Baker Kline.
This novel can be placed on the shelf titled: Made Popular By Its Readers. It tells the story of the past and present of an orphan taken from the streets of New York and transported west to a new home in the 1920s.

Unknown

The Secret of Raven Point. Jennifer Vanderbees.
Book review available on this blog under the title, “Mystery, History, Romance” posted on Aug. 4, 2014

photo[1]

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry. Gabrielle Zevin. Novel.
This story is set in a bookstore. I recently heard from a reader who loved this book. See “Five Things to Like about The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry” posted on this blog on June 4, 2014.

Unknown-6

Molokai. O. A. Bushnell.
This is a work of fiction based on the history of a leper colony in Hawaii during the late nineteenth century. Not a new book and an unexpected pick, perhaps. We shall see if book club readers like this one.

Do let us know if you would recommend one of these for your book club? Everyone likes to hear ideas on book picks.