First discussion notes from a book club

The 1st Wed Reading Group had their first meeting in 2011 last week. The group discussed two books – Skipping Christmas by John Chrisham, What I loved by Siri Hustvedt.

From the database NoveList Plus, it says ‘Skipping Christmas‘ is a book that offers a hilarious look at the chaos and frenzy that become part of our holiday tradition. Accountant Luther Krank is a Scrooge for the new millennium. He calculates that he and his wife, Nora, can take a Caribbean cruise during Christmas for much less money than they spent during the previous year’s Christmas season. But Luther doesn’t just want to take a vacation during Christmas; he wants to take a vacation from Christmas and skip it altogether. This means that the Kranks will not buy a Christmas tree or calendar, put up any decorations, send any Christmas cards, give any gifts, or attend or host any parties—much to the chagrin of their hyperfestive neighbors. However, an unexpected phone call at the last minute leads to a change in plans. Hilarity ensues, but the poignant conclusion is unforgettable. Grisham astutely captures the way many people spend the holiday season, from fighting the crowds to commenting on their neighbors’ Christmas trees. A Painted House (LJ 3/1/01) was Grisham’s first departure from the legal thriller genre, and this further demonstrates his ability to tell a story with nary a courtroom in sight. Highly recommended for all public libraries.— Samantha J. Gust, Niagara Univ. Lib., NY –Samantha J. Gust (Reviewed December 15, 2001) (Library Journal, vol 126, issue 20, p170)

Half of the reading group members didn’t like the book very much as they commented that the book was poorly written. They didn’t like people’s reaction and it was probably only for the America market. ‘Lot of rubbish’ as one commented. But some of them enjoyed the reading. It was a quick and easy reading. some said the descriptions are good and there were moments one had to laugh out laudly. It was hilarious.

What I loved” is a book about love and loss. Still from NoveList Plus, ‘Art historian Leo Hertzberg happens upon an extraordinary painting in New York City in 1975. When he tracks down the artist, Bill Weschler, the two become such dear friends that they end up blending their small families into one tight unit of shared milestones and close living quarters. For years, the men and their accomplished wives and bright young sons flow in and out of each other’s lives until a numbing tragedy destroys the infrastructure. As they struggle to regain some sort of professional and personal equilibrium, the adults are faced with another impossible blow when the surviving child, dangerously and bafflingly defiant, engages in ever more frightening behavior. Parents can lose their children in all sorts of ways, and when they do, their lives forever revolve around that fatality. Hustvedt (The Enchantment of Lily Dahl ) beautifully captures the devastation of such loss as she immerses the reader in the lives of two families who, hobbled by their shared wounds, desperately search for salvation in the accomplished world of art and intellectual brilliance in New York City. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/02; Hustvedt is novelist Paul Auster’s wife.—Ed.]—Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI –Beth E. Andersen (Reviewed January 15, 2003) (Library Journal, vol 128, issue 1, p154)   ‘

Most of members enjoyed this reading. They commented that there was too much love and loss, which made some of them cry. They could picture the characters as the book was so beautifully written. The book offered deep insights into life that they could relate. They would recommend this book to others.