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  • Jeff Somers 2:53 pm on 2017/07/19 Permalink
    Tags: be the book club you wish to see in the world, , , , , , into the water, , paula hawkins, the jane austen book club, , wine   

    The Introvert’s Guide to Being a Book Club for One 

    Reading is usually a solitary activity (unless you live in New York City and ride the subways, in which case you have been subjected to either some deranged person reading out loud from a book or someone reading along with you over your shoulder on a packed train). That’s one reason reading remains a powerful experience—you’re not part of a hive mind audience, you’re all alone, just you and the words someone else created, crossing space and time to find you.

    Sometimes that solitude gets to be a bit much, and naturally we all have the urge to discuss the books we’ve read, to share our insights and be exposed to someone else’s (or, possibly, just to make fun of the author’s penchant for ellipses or their dreadful Marty Sue addiction). Which is fine if you’re someone who enjoys being with other people—you can join or start a Book Club. A few friends, a bottle of wine, and a book and you’re set to go.

    But what if you don’t like being with other people all that much? What if the thought of offering up an opinion on a book in front of other people makes you nervous? Well, you can still get the benefits of a Book Club all on your own. Here’s our step-by-step guide to setting up an Introvert’s Book Club.

    Step One: Choose a Book

    Obviously you can’t have a book club without a book to discuss. And you might be tempted, out of efficiency or laziness, to choose a book you’ve read already, but we advise you to read a new book for this endeavor. Reading a book knowing you’re going to Book Club it is a different experience, because you’ll be reading with a slightly sharper focus, you’ll be keeping an eye out for discussion points. And, most importantly, you won’t have the option of being lazy and assuming you’ll remember a book you read five years ago. So, pick a new book, like Into the Water by Paula Hawkins.

    Step Two: Choose a Bottle of Wine

    The biggest mistake people make when setting up a Book Club is assuming that the book is the most important aspect of the Club. This is provably false. Book Clubs are all about the free exchange of ideas and the vigorous debate concerning the artistic merit and success or lack thereof regarding a work of art. Alcohol is a helpful lubricant here, a way of loosening you up so you don’t hold back about your opinion of the flashbacks. Choose the wine (or beer or whiskey or whatever) wisely. Of course, books can help here, too; why not read up on wine in Wine by Andre Domine?

    Step Three: Make Notes
    Reading a book with an eye towards discussing it formally is different from just reading it for pleasure. Make notes as you go, circle passages that affect you, scribble insults to the author in the margins, tear out whole pages and pin them to a corkboard—whatever works for you. This isn’t just an exercise; making notes as you go will force you to read thoughtfully instead of passively. You won’t just be enjoying the flow and surprise of the story, you’ll constantly be reading between lines and making connections. Which you’ll need because of…

    Step Four: Locate Discussion Questions

    While some Book Clubs, we’re sure, become mere excuses for some friends to sit around and drink with an air of literary sophistication, the point is supposed to be to expand your understanding of the work (if you’re not certain how Book Clubs work, you can read about them in novels like The Jane Austen Book Clubextra Meta Points if you choose that for your first Book Club read). That’s where the questions come in. Some books come with Book Club Discussion Questions already worked up in the back, and many more have Book Club questions available at the author’s or publisher’s website.

    If there are no prepared questions for you to use, make your own! There are plenty of suggestions for generic Book Club questions (here’s one link), but of course since this is a One Person Book Club, you can do whatever you want, so we have a few suggestions:


      • Did you ever experience the urge to throw this book across the room? Did you? Actually throw it, we mean? If you had the urge, but did not follow through, what restrained you?
      • At any point while reading this book, did you find yourself weeping uncontrollably? Were you on public transportation at the time? Did everyone get up and move away from you?
      • On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to anonymously leave this book on someone’s desk at work with a note suggesting they would enjoy it?
      • If this book were adapted into a film, would you totally go to that theater downtown that’s always empty at one in the afternoon, sit all the way in the back, and watch it unless some kids came in and sat near you?
      • How likely are you to a) name pets after the characters in this book; b) begin dressing like a character from this book; c) use familiarity with this book as a way of judging new people?

    Step Five: Start a Blog

    The key to a Book Club is the expression of ideas and the debate thereon. If you don’t actually comment on the book you’ve read, there really isn’t a club, not even a club of one. So, set up a blog—anonymously if you wish—to be the repository of your bookish thoughts. It doesn’t matter if anyone actually reads it. You don’t have to promote it or send out links to everyone you know. It’s just going to be where you formally organize your drunken thoughts about a book. If you keep it anonymous and turn off comments, you won’t ever even know what other people think, so you won’t have to worry about arguing with people who turn out to be tireless 15-year old trolls whose idea of fun is to argue anonymous with people until they burst into tears. Not sure how to start a blog? Luckily, there’s a book for that.

    Book Clubs can be raucous, fun gatherings of like-minded people seeking to elevate their conversation. Or, they can be one-person efforts to be more mindful of your reading. What do you say—will you start a One Person Book Club?

    The post The Introvert’s Guide to Being a Book Club for One appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 8:00 pm on 2016/12/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , , paula hawkins, psychological thrillers, suspense, ,   

    5 Reasons We Can’t Wait to Read The Girl on the Train Author Paula Hawkins’ Next Book 

    If you needed one more reason to fervently await spring fever, here you go: Paula Hawkins just announced that her follow-up to smash hit thriller The Girl on the Train will hit shelves May 2 of next year. Titled Into the Water, this forthcoming novel of psychological suspense is set in a small riverside town where the bodies of a woman and a teen girl are discovered a few days apart. The investigation that follows begins to uncover a complex connection between the two murders, with, we assume, a whole new pack of the kind of delicious twists and turns that made Girl an ongoing literary phenomenon.

    The announcement has us giddy with anticipation, and not just because it’s confirmation Hawkins is sticking with the twisty thriller tales we love. Here are five reasons we just drew a big red heart around May 2 on our calendars.

    The Slipperiness of Truth
    One of the most brilliant aspects of The Girl on the Train was the way Hawkins played with perception in a variety of ways. Rachel’s alcoholism made her an unreliable narrator to begin with, but also degraded her ability to see things clearly even in the moment. This not only made the surprises of the plot more powerful, but gave the book a depth many thrillers lack. Based on the descriptions of Into the Water, Hawkins is exploring similar themes; the story concerns “family secrets and ‛the slipperiness of truth.'” Her U.S. editor says the book will “interrogate the deceitfulness of memory,” which is a fascinating extension of the themes that made Girl sooooo good.

    There’s Gonna be Witchcraft
    When most of us think witch hunts and trials, we think Salem and America. But Scotland saw its own rash of women being accused of witchcraft, and in an interview last year Hawkins said, “I wanted there to be something about women being accused of witchcraft” in her next novel. That works perfectly with those themes of unreliable memory and slippery truth and adds a macabre element of hysteria and creepiness that makes us even more excited. (The only thing that could make us more excited about the witch angle is if Hawkins announced a starring character named Black Philip.)

    The Focus on Women
    Hawkins has taken a genre often dominated by men and focused it on women—flawed, complicated women. In The Girl on the Train, Rachel is weak, crippled by her addiction and making awful decisions based on loneliness and obsession. She’s also the victim of psychological abuse, and the story is as much about her slowly crawling out of the hell created for her—by men—as it is the mystery. Hawkins doesn’t simply write the so-called “strong female character,” but rather writes about women who feel real, complex, warm-blooded people with problems, frailties, and a difficult relationship with the modern world. We frankly can’t wait to meet the females Hawkins has created for us in Into the Water.

    Those Twists, Tho
    All right, let’s be honest: Hawkins is a modern master of the twisty plot. When The Girl on the Train dropped it was one of those books your friends pushed into your hands, telling you you simply must read this. The book has sold more than 15 million copies worldwide because it surprised everyone who read it. Even if you went in with your eyes wide open, seeking clues and trying to outsmart Hawkins, chances are pretty good she shocked you at least once or twice. We’re absolutely thrilled to repeat that experience, and since no one does the twists like Hawkins, no other novel can get us quite as excited as Into the Water.

    The Feels
    Finally, our biggest reason for being excited about a new book from Paula Hawkins is the emotional power of her writing. In a lot of thrillers and mystery stories, the victims exist mainly to kick the story into motion. They’re a spur for an avenging detective, or a toys for a horrifying villain. In Girl Hawkins told a story in which every single character had a life, a back story, ambitions and real depth. It’s a rare writer who can spin a great mystery that also tells more than one story that kind of shatters you. Hawkins is that writer, and as a result we’re buying every book she writes forever.

    In other words, if Into the Water is even half as good as The Girl on the Train, we’re in. Go to your boss and schedule your reading vacation days for next May right now—you’re going to need them.

    The post 5 Reasons We Can’t Wait to Read The Girl on the Train Author Paula Hawkins’ Next Book appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jen Harper 3:00 pm on 2016/09/27 Permalink
    Tags: bnstorefront-holidaypagetoscreen, , gone again, , paula hawkins,   

    4 Reasons to Read The Girl on the Train Before You See the Movie 

    Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train has all the elements of a page-turning thriller—unreliable narrators, a missing woman, lies, affairs, alcoholism, voyeurism, love, obsession, secrets, and more. Naturally, those qualities made it a riveting cinematic experience when it hit theaters this fall, with Emily Blunt in the title role—but this is one story you want to see play out on the page first.

    The book follows Rachel, an unemployed, divorced alcoholic, who takes the train along her former work commute route every day in an attempt to hide the fact that she lost her job. During her rides, she drinks and fantasizes about the lives of a couple whose house she passes. She’s named them Jason and Jess and sees them as an idyllic pair living a charmed life, just a few doors down from the home Rachel used to share with her husband, who now lives there with his new wife. One day, Rachel sees—or thinks she sees—something from the passing train that will explode the lives of both couples…as well as her own.

    Here are four compelling reasons you should definitely make time to read the book before you buy your tickets.

    You’re the casting director. And the set designer, the director of photography, location manager, and even the head of craft services (if you like to snack while you read). Sure, we all know Blunt has been cast in the lead role. But one of the beautiful things about reading the book first is that you don’t automatically insert images of Blunt as Rachel—or any of the rest of the cast—in your head as you read. Your imagination teams with Hawkins’s words to create the mysterious people, shadowy places, and shady situations in this spellbinding story.

    You can make the pleasure of the story last even longer. A movie is only a couple of hours, but the book is deliciously so much more. Even if you’re a super-fast reader, you can stretch out these 336 pages over a few commutes of your own. And all that extra time benefits the storytelling greatly—heightening the monotony of Rachel’s typical day-to-day life, the powerlessness she feels in her addiction to alcohol, and the black hole of Rachel’s memory surrounding one tragic night.

    There’s more to the story. There’s only so much detail that can be packed into a film. Plus, the novel employs trickery with its unreliable narrators, alternating points of view, and careful doling out of information via methods that only work word-by-word and page-by-page. The movie will naturally have its own modes of deception to keep viewers guessing, but it’s valuable to get the story the way the author intended it first, and then check out the film for the sake of comparison, as it can often differ greatly.

    You get to be that person who walks away from the movie proclaiming, “The book was better.” Or maybe you’ll be that person that says, “Wow, the movie really did justice to the book,” or, “Was that movie really based on this same book?” Regardless of your take on the film, you’ll be on solid ground to compare the two. And when someone at the office says, “What did you think about that character they added/totally left out/completely changed?,” you’ll know exactly what to say.

    The post 4 Reasons to Read The Girl on the Train Before You See the Movie appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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