Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Book Group Recommendations

I recently joined a group on Goodreads.com called “clean reads.” It a like-minded group of women who enjoy books that are free of graphic sex, language and violence. Who wants to start a book, only to encounter a page/chapter/section full of gratuitous anything, I certainly don’t. And it would be nice if there were “warnings” on books that alert readers to the content (anyone want to write their Congressman??!!).

I’ve been a member of an LDS book group for 7 years. We meet once a month for 11 months out of the year (we don’t meet during December because of the holidays); so over the 7 years we’ve been meeting we’ve read over 70 books – most of which, I would consider “clean reads.” These selections would normally be posted on my Goodreads list or here on my blog, but they nearly all precede my participating in either cyber-venture, so for those who may be interested, here is the list in its entirety. I will try to post a comment next to the book if there is something that needs to be mentioned.

Please heed this warning: I don’t always remember EVERY word, sentence, scene of every book I’ve read. So, if you decide to read a book on this list and find something objectionable, I apologize in advance!!!

*(did not read due to new baby, sick baby, out of town)
**(exceptionally good book or discussion)

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

*At Home in Mitford, Jan Karon

*Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe

Tuesdays With Morrie, Mitch Albom

A Painted House, John Grisham

Fried Green Tomatoes, Fannie Flagg

**Expecting Adam, Martha Nibley Beck

The DaVinci Code, Dan Brown

Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell

Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes

Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier

The Red Tent, Anita Diamant (This book contained objectionable material – many members chose not to finish it).

In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card

The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd

Emily of New Moon, L. M. Montgomery

The Glass Blowers, Daphne DuMaurier

And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie

The Agony & The Ecstasy, Irving Stone

*A Return to Modesty, Wendy Shalit

**Jerusalem Vigil, Bodie & Brock Thoene (This was a great discussion!)

Evelina, Fanny Burney (I couldn't finish this book)

Song of Survival, Helen Colijn

The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros

**My Name is Asher Lev, Chaim Potok

**Life of Pi, Yann Martel (This was a great discussion!)

*Sarah: Women of Genesis, Orson Scott Card

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis

The Samurai’s Garden, Gail Tsukiyama

A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

My Side of the Mountain, Jean Craighead George

Mutant Message Down Under, Marlo Morgan

*The #1 Ladies Detective Agency, Alexander McCall Smith

*Family : the ties that bind -- and gag!, Erma Bombeck

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou (may contain objectionable material)

Rebecca, Daphne DuMaurier

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

The Secret Garden, Frances Hogdson Burnett

*Alas Babylon, Pat Frank

Light on Snow, Anita Shreve

*The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas (This was REALLY LONG!)

*The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax, Dorothy Gilman

Heavenly Village and Missing May, Cynthia Rylant

The Stolen Child, Keith Donohue

**Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

**The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom

The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom

*My Antonia, Willa Cather

The Memory Keepers Daughter, Kim Edwards

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lisa See

Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer, James L. Swanson

The History of Love, Nicole Krauss

Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer (may contain objectionable language)

The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (may contain objectionable material)

*A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith

Cold Sassy Tree, Olive Ann Burns

Peony in Love, Lisa See (may contain objectionable material)

In Search of Eden, Linda Nichols

The Gift, Richard Paul Evans

My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult

The Giver, Lois Lowry

Devil in the White City, Erik Larson

Prisoner of Tehran, Marina Nemat

Dreamers of the Day, Mary Doria Russell

**The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver

Moloka’i, Alan Brennert (may contain objectionable material)

**Julie, Catherine Marshall

Back When We Were Grownups, Anne Tyler (this book was BORING!)

Peace Like a River, Leif Enger

Enemy Women, Paulette Jiles

Pope Joan, Donna Woolfolk Cross

The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield (may contain objectionable material)

The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan

People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks (may contain objectionable material)

7 comments:

  1. I hate reading books only to have to stop midstream or feeling bad that I finished it when I the content was not "apprpriate" I REALLY appreciate this list of books. It is always nice to know ahead of time that I can read a book and not have to worry about the contents of it. Thanks!!!

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  2. two questions:

    Did you like the mitford series (do you have a review on your goodreads?)

    And how do you start up a bookgroup? do you have any specific rules?? thanks!

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  3. Amy:
    I've only read the 1st Mitford book. With the exception of Harry Potter, I'm not a series kinda reader (dont' get me started on Twilight!). It's a nice book, very safe, and homey. A "feel good" book. But doesn't stretch any brains cells. And, no, I don't have a review posted, sorry!

    Starting a book group:
    Gosh -- I flew by the seat of my pants! Long before there was evite, I sent out post cards to nearly every woman in our ward to see if they were interested. About 10 women showed up and we've gone from there! The only "unwritten" rules we have are:
    1. TRY to pick a book that you've read before, so we don't have any surprise objectionable material.
    2. Pick something readily available at the library, so people don't feel obligated to buy the book. The more people that have access to the book, the more successful the discussion. I hate the excuse, "I didn't read because I couldn't find a copy."
    3. Please don't pick something only available in hardback -- again, the cost issue. The Help won't be on our "to-read" list anytime soon, because there are 50+ holds on it at our library system and only available in hardback. The only time we've made an exception to that was when we picked The DaVinci code, and for some reason, enough people had copies, there were plenty to pass around.
    4. This is not necessary, but I'm the unofficial book group leader -- so I assign months for every member to discuss a book. It eliminates the blank stares that plagued us when we first started, and the questions, "whaddya want to read?" Fortunately, we have enough members that we usually pick one book a year. Then we all volunteer to host once a month. For those of us with small children it's more difficult to host, but I try to host during the summer months when school/bedtimes aren't an issue.
    I think I've covered the basics!
    Oh, and you need to decide at the beginning WHAT you want to read! Our ladies DO NOT want to read Deseret-type/church books, nor are they YA readers. We read mainstream fiction/non-fiction, with few exceptions. It's easier to start out all "on the same page" than to start hearing people complain about what you are or are not reading (been there, done that). We have a WIDE range of ages -- twentysomethings to seventysomethings -- so we have to appeal broadly. If you have any questions, let me know! sounds like I've just written my next blog post! Thanks in advance!

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  4. Do you keep a list of your books?! I'm so impressed!

    We've read a lot of these, too. And My Antonia, sorry--what a snooze-a-thon. Can't figure out why people love it.

    Thanks for this list. I will definitely be looking at it again when my turn to pick comes around.

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  5. Melissa,

    This is a great list. It's so exciting to me to find like-minded readers out there. We've got each others' backs. I'm Tracy, the one who started the "clean reads" group, and I'll be happy to pass along this list to anyone who asks. Your "rules" for starting a book group are really great as well. Thanks for sharing them.

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  6. This list is so helpful. I hope we choose some of these for our next set of books.

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  7. I know this list was put up years ago, but thank you. I'm always looking for well written clean novels. The ones on here that I've read, have been stunning. I think The Girl with the Pearl Earing had some objectionable elements, but it's been a long time since I read it.

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