Going Clubbin’ Tonight: My Take On Book Clubs

Until lately I have never been part of a book club. I highly enjoy talking about something I’ve just read. I geek out over all different types of books and wait for others to read it, so we can geek out together, but it’s never been an official book club. I’ve never even gone to a book discussion, like through the library. The only book talks I’ve ever been to have been mandated by college, high school, middle school, and elementary school. Other than that, it was all me, myself, and I.

In March, my friend and I decided to grab a bunch of our reader friends and make the love for reading official. We decided to have a book club. The first book club meeting was to be at 11:00 am, some day in April, at a coffee shop (cliche), and our first book was to be The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Now, don’t worry, I’m not going to go into detail about this book here. This post is solely about my first experience in a book club.

This book was one I hadn’t heard of previously, but after I started reading it, I saw it everywhere. It was in stores, people were talking about it, it was in libraries. It just exploded like uncovered soup in the microwave. I got this book as an audio from the library. It was a mistake. I read it super early because I wanted to make sure I would have time to finish. It was a mistake.

The mistakes I made and why they’re mistakes: 1. Audiobook. This is a mistake because when I do audiobooks I do them in the car. This means I’m not 100% focused at all times as to what is going on. This also means that I’m not taking notes or remembering key points and/or questions I want to ask. 2. Reading too early. I read this as soon it was decided to be the book for the month. It was a mistake because I couldn’t remember a lot of details. I was good on the major points of the book, but little things were fuzzy. Since I didn’t take any notes, it wasn’t helpful.

So I stroll into the coffee shop early because I want to get some blogging done. (At the time, I was working on Kicking Ass and Taking Names.) I went up to the counter, ordered my medium iced soy vanilla latte and got to blogging. After awhile people trickled in and we got down to business. I wasn’t really sure how this meeting would go. Is it going to be like college where I need to ask really deep questions, link other books I’ve read, and go into detail about how it’s against the feminist movement? Is it going to be simply saying whether I liked or disliked the book and then we go our separate ways? It was both.

We each said whether or not we liked the book and stated why. We talked about the fluffier subjects first, but somehow managed to sneak in talks about the changing healthcare system. I was worried that I would be left out, having not taken any notes. I wasn’t. Two of the four of us took notes, but they weren’t really used. We didn’t get into details like On page 48, when she mentions her anxiety of the cat, what do you think she was really saying? (This is a completely made up example. You can quote me on that.) It was a cool vibe going on. I’m not sure if it was the latte or the company, or the fact that we’re talking about books, but I was definitely digging the book club.

After talking about the material, we moved on to talk and plan when the next one would be. We made a facebook event and invited more people to this one. The book of choice was One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez. The next discussion would be over brunch. We also have the idea of doing a “Young at Heart” month featuring a YA book. We’re going to do a graphic novel month. The ideas kept pouring out and I kept growing in excitement.

Book Clubs are my thing.

While I won’t be able to make the newest one, (Elegance of the Hedgehog) I will definitely continue to read this book and keep accepting those book club events. I’m pumped. The reading community is a great one to be a part of!

So what about you? Are you part of a book club or are you a hermit (not necessarily a bad thing)? Do you want to be in/start a book club and are unsure on how to go about it? What has been your favorite book discussion and why? Let me know in the comments below! Like. Comment. Follow.

Until next time!

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YA Books That Aren’t Just For Teens And New Adult Book List

As promised my blog post Hot Debut Novels Book List, here is the list of YA (Young Adult) books that have adult appeal and an emerging genre, New Adult. This list is not something I came up with myself. It’s something I got from attending the Reaching Forward Conference. (You can read about my experience there in my blog post.) Again, like the previous Reaching Forward list, each bullet has a link. The link leads directly to the authors’ page on goodreads. This makes it easier for you to add these awesome books to your “To Read” list, as well as read a little blurb about what each book is about. I also put in a few notes that I hastily scribbled during the session. Bare with my as I try to read them. So, without further ado: here’s the list.

Not Just For Teens: YA and New Adult Books for Adults according to Lynnane Pearson

Phew that was a lot of figuring out what my notes said, linking, and formatting. This is it! The list of YA books with adult appeal and New Adult books. Check them out and remember to keep reading. That being said, this wraps up the Reaching Forward Conference Series.
What’s coming up next? A new series! My year in books. My goal on goodreads is to read 50 books this year. Stay tuned and I’ll give you the skinny of each book including how many stars, what I thought of it and if you should read it or not!
Until next time my bibliophiles!

Hot Debut Novels Book List

So, no one commented to say that they were interested in the list of “Hot Debut” novels or “YA/New Adult” books from my previous post (Reaching Forward Conference Review And Free Stuff Brag). Too bad. I’m going to post them anyway. Each title below is a link that goes to goodreads. There you can see the description of the book (and gives you easy access to add it to your “to read” list). If you have no idea what goodreads is or don’t think it’s your thing, check out my other blog post: Great Reads And Horrible Reads On Goodreads. Without further ado, here’s the list.

Hot Debut List According To Lynnanne Pearson

Well, there you have it. The list of hot debut novels I got from my session at the Reaching Forward Library Conference. Still to come is the list of YA books and New Adult books to check out (from the same conference), and that will be the end of my Reaching Forward stint.

Until next time darlings – Keep reading!

Reaching Forward Conference Review And Free Stuff Brag

Reaching Forward Blog
On Friday, May 9 I attended a Library Conference called Reaching Forward. This is a huge deal for me to nerd out with other book lovers and not-quite-librarians, like myself. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, but this conference definitely is not it. For good, I should add. It exceeded my expectations for good. Here’s a walk-through of my day.

I was supposed to be at the house of one of my co-workers and then all four of us would go together. The conference doors open at 8, so we were to meet at 7:30 to give us enough time. Silly me was thinking that early morning traffic is non-existent when I, myself, am not going to regular work. Mistake. There was traffic, of course. Everyone was going super slower than usual too on account of rain. (HOLY CRAP! What’s this stuff that’s falling from the sky? I need to go at least 10mph under the speed limit just to be safe. – All drivers everywhere) Off to a great start, I got there late. We zoomed to the conference and made it in plenty of time. On our arrival we were given a messenger bag and led into a big ballroom to get our breakfast. (I snagged up a mini bagel, mini apple danish, and the best coffee I’ve ever had in my life!) Sitting down, I went through my loot. 🙂 Best part about conference is the free loot (and all the experience, of course). In the bag was: 1. Lanyard for our badges. 2. Reaching Forward pin. 3. Pen. 4. Pad of paper. 5. Chapstick. 6. Leather portfolio, complete with notebook pad. I was giddy.

After a speech explaining the growth each year, and that this is the 25th anniversary, we were off to our first session. I went to “Passionate Promise: Storytelling for Young Adults”, with Janice Del Negro as the speaker. It was actually really cool. Talked about how to be a storyteller with the older, moody adolescents and how to keep them engaged. I went to this session with a co-worker and we decided to do a scary storytelling program in October for Halloween. I’m pumped.

With my new pumped energy, I saunter on over to the next session. (I did some in-between stuff that I’ll talk about later.) This session was called “The Next Big Thing: Hot Debut Novels” and had Lynnane Pearson from Skokie Public Library as a speaker. Every time she said “debut” I cringed a bit. She added the “t” sound at the end and it just hit me up the side of the head every time. In this session, she went through a ton of books in different genres that were the first books from an author. The coolest part was that she had giveaways of either early release copies of books she talked about or books that recently were out on the market. (I got Invisible City by Julia Dahl.) Boo-yah. More free stuff. (Loving this convention more and more.) This session basically was me writing down all the books she said, so I can add them to my goodreads “To Read” shelf.

With my new-book glow, I headed back to the ballroom for lunch. Lunch is an understatement. It was more of a feast. Salad, bread, chicken kabob, carrots and green beans, rice, cheesecake, chocolate cake, chocolate covered strawberries, and the best coffee I’ve ever had in my life. Award were presented. Speeches were given. Fire alarms went off. (This really happened. It only lasted about two minutes and we didn’t get a chance to leave before it was resolved. Yes, I shoved the rest of the cake in my face. I wasn’t about to leave that alone.) So, now that I’m nice and ready for a nap, it’s off to the third session.

“Not Just For Teens: YA and New Adult Books for Adults”, speaker Lynnanne Pearson, talked about young adult books that had adult appeal as well. There were a few that I had already read like the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, Antigoddess, and the Cinder series. Pearson also discussed a new upcoming genre called New Adult. Basically, she described it as young adult books, but with more sex. The examples she gave makes me think that I’ll pass on this one. They all seemed like the O.C. (TV show) or (I don’t even know) trashy novels. Not my thing.

With session four came “Effective Latino Engagement Techniques” with Elizabeth Stearns from Waukegan Public Library. The library I work at is in an area where a huge chunk of the population is Latino, so all my co-workers and I went to this one. Stearns explained how she got her community, which is mostly Mexican population, involved in the library. She talked about everything from getting volunteers to talk about their experiences around the neighborhoods, to having classes dedicated to the needs of the Patrons (ie. English classes).

Ok. Now that the learning part is out of the way, here’s the fun stuff. I didn’t just bolt to each session after one ended. There were a ton of different vendors set up that you could peruse. I got to pet a snake, turtle, and dragon-looking guy. I talked to a college about their online MLS program. Tried samples of different chocolates. Got a kitty bag. (Bag with a kitty on it, not a bag for a kitty that I don’t even have.) Looked at bats. Got our pictures taken in a photo booth. There was basically a ton of different places you could support and even have come in and do a program at the library.

So, how is this applicable to you? If your company has a convention or training or anything of that sort – go to it! Just do it. You might get free stuff. You’re getting paid to not work, and just have fun. You can network with other companies or others that are interested in the same things you are. You get to bond with your current co-workers. You’ll learn new things about your field or even about yourself. SO GO!

Alright, that about wraps it up. If you want me to post the huge list of debut novels and the YA/new adult books, leave me a comment. (Warning: there’s a ton and it will probably end up being a bonus post later in the week.)

Until later; Keep rockin!

Great Reads And Horrible Reads On Goodreads

Those who have come in contact with me, albeit in person or though the internet, know of my recent book-loving, nerdy obsession. I am obsessed with a new website. Now, when I say “new”, I mean that it’s new to me. What, you may be wondering, website could have little ol’ Megan in such a tizzy? It’s Goodreads.com, of course. Let me tell you, it’s not just some silly networking site that you only visit a few times and then get quickly bored with it. So, why do I love it so much? I’ll let you in just a few awesome features.

1. It’s about books!

First and foremost, this site is all about books. The whole book-loving community can come and love (or hate) books on this site. Oh, you’re reading this super old book that no one’s heard of? Well, hunny, Goodreads has, and it knows that there’s an audio version, kindle version, paperback, and hardcover.

2. Keeping track of your books!

If you’re anything like me, people recommend books to you when you’re just not in the mental capacity to remember the title or the author. It happens all the time: driving, walking, eating, taking a shower (not really). Point is, you don’t have anything to write down what you’re supposed to remember and you could be missing out on a book that could change your life. Goodreads puts a stop to this. If you have access to the internet, you have access to remember the book. Just search for the book and click “Want To Read”. It’s as simple as that. No mess, no fuss. Now, you may be thinking that you’ve already read a ton of books and want to show them off for all to see just how many you’ve read. There’s a button for “Read”. Boom. If you’re currently reading a book, just click the option of “Elephants with Bananas”. (Not really; just click “Currently Reading”.) Once you do these they’ll go to different virtual bookshelves!

3. You have virtual book shelves!

Need I say more? (Probably not, but that’s not going to stop me.) You can add shelves, delete shelves, and organize the books the way you want to. For instance: I have Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone on my favorites shelf, my junior readers shelf, and my fiction shelf. Yes! You can have books on multiple shelves! They’re your books, organize them how you want to!

4. You can rate them and write comments!

After reading eight books, you might forget how you feel about the first book you read. Not a problem. You can rate each book with stars. How much did you like the book? Was it just a one-star book or was it insane and deserves five? I’ll let you in on a secret. I’ll tell you how I base my rating system. 1 Star = Couldn’t finish it. DO NOT READ. 2 Stars = Finished it, but it sucked. 3 Stars = Finished it and it was a’ight. 4 Stars = Finished it and it was pretty damn good. 5 Stars = Finished this book, wish I could read it as if it was my first time again, and everyone needs to experience this masterpiece. Don’t remember why you wrote only two stars for something, or why this book was so awesome? Dude, just write-up some comments. Talk about the book. Revel in all that it had to offer.

5. You can see other people’s comments and ratings!

Say you heard this one book is super awesome. So, you are being diligent and looking it up on Goodreads. You read the mini description, but you’re still not sure if you want to read it or not. Scroll on down, mamma. You can see the comments and ratings of people who have already read it! Boom. It was a dud and everyone hated it = Don’t read. You just saved yourself a bunch of time and energy.

6. You have friends!

You have friends! Awww. And what’s so great about friends? You can see all of their shelves. You can see what they want to read, are currently reading, how they rated something and so much more. It all comes up on a super handy feed.

7. Recommendations!

You get recommendations based on how you rated books. Goodreads is all, oh, Megan loved The Zombie Survival Guide, perhaps she’ll like The Walking Dead. You can even recommend books to your friends right through this awesome site! Barb is totally going to freak if she reads 1984, now you can tell her to read it and she’ll get a notification.

Honestly, there are a TON of other reasons why I love this site. And if you really want to get into more details with me, I would definitely be happy to nerd out with you. BUT! I feel like my chatter is becoming a rant, and I don’t want to hype it up too much with the fear you might not even want to go check it out. So, final words: Goodreads.com is a ridiculous site for the book world and you should definitely investigate.

The Better To Hear You With, My Dear: My Take On Audiobooks

I am a huge traditionalist when it comes to books. I don’t like when books take on the cover of the movies. I prefer “real” books over downloading books any day. I always figured that audiobooks and Playaways were cheating. That’s not “reading”; it’s just listening to a book. How can that possibly be considered in the same caliber as picking up a book, turning pages, and reading an actual book. I like turning actual pages in an actual book. So why, oh why, did I get the urge to try an audiobook? My coworkers constantly read. They read an insane amount and they highly recommend books all the time.

So, adding my coworkers to my growing Goodreads list, I needed to do something. For every book I read, I add two more. Plus, I’m in the car for at least an hour every day on my commute to and from work.

At first I had a really hard time concentrating. I just wasn’t used to listening to someone talk to me all the time in the car. I’m more of a music person. I even change the channels, or tune myself out, when commercials come on the radio. I’m constantly hooked up to music in the car – CD, MP3, Radio. So, having someone talk to me and I needed to actually pay attention – that was challenging.

As I got deeper and deeper into the audiobook, I grew to like it. It wasn’t actually as hard as I was making it out to be. It felt like I was a kid again, gathering around for Storytime. The voice actor does different voices, just like when Mamma read to me before bed. Every time I get in the car, it’s like I’m the wide-eyed kid I once was, completely ready for someone to read to me. A huge bonus I found as well, I get to read more than one book at a time. I get my audiobook for the car, and my regular tried and true book for night-time reads.

So, what have I gathered from this whole experience? YOU NEED TO START DOING AUDIOBOOKS. In all seriousness, it’s really cool. Some have music, different actors, use of different voices, and other sound effects you just can’t get from books. I realized I need to just keep up with the times. New mediums, new me! Although it’s not technically “reading”, I’m definitely getting the same knowledge and experience. Long story, short: do it. Do the audiobooks.