Tag Archives: book clubs

Book clubs in the time of social distancing

One of the first events in my life that the pandemic disrupted was the monthly bookclub I’ve belonged to for more than twenty years. In early March, as more and more public places closed, it began to seem like gathering in one house for discussion (and snacks) wasn’t the best idea.

To judge from what we’ve been hearing through social media, a lot of book clubs are having the same problem.

If you’re missing entertaining literary discussion, be sure to check out Time to Read, the Library’s book club podcast. Each month our charming and funny staff read a book (this month’s title is Little Women) and discuss it on air, along with questions sent in by Winnipeggers reading along with them. And today they released a bonus episode about book-to-movie pairings focused on The Hound of the Baskervilles. The great thing about a podcast is that you can participate whenever and wherever is convenient for you!

If you want to keep your regular book club going, how can you make sure  everyone can get the same book?

My book club has been relying on free online classics and old favourites that all of us happened to have around. Check your shelves; you may find that everyone in your group has a copy of Larry’s Party, for example—or The Da Vinci Code! Be creative in your choices.

Some other potential sources:

  • WPL’s Overdrive collection includes a few Express titles that are always available
  • Our RBdigital service has so many ebooks and eaudiobooks
  • Project Gutenberg offers more than 60,000 ebooks!
  • several local bookstores are still open for social distanced browsing or curbside pickup of online purchases

And these days, video conferencing technology is pretty simple and straightforward. On almost any kind of smartphone, tablet, or computer, you can use one of these free apps to chat with multiple friends at once.

In the end, my book club held our meeting online using a video conference app and had a wonderful time! It was heart-warming (and hilarious) how excited we all were to “see” someone other than our families during this time of social distancing.

Danielle

It’s Time To Read: The Princess Bride

Dear readers, I’m here to tell you that I’m not the person to tell you about December’s Time to Read podcast book club selection. How is such a thing possible? I’ll do my best to explain. You see, last week my friend and colleague Aileen wrote an amazing blog post about The Princess Bride—which, of course, is December’s selection. 

Now, this isn’t Aileen’s fault. How was she to know what Time to Read would be reading in December? It’s not like she was able to read this blogpost announcing The Princess Bride as December’s selection. I hadn’t even written it yet! And now that she’s done such a great job of praising S. Morgenstern’s classic tale of true love and high adventure, I’m in a bit of a pickle. What more is there to say?

I suppose I could tell you about Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman. William Goldman, as Aileen correctly points out in her most excellent blog post, being the person who penned the screenplay for the film adaptation of The Princess Bride. But for some reason, were you to read Billy’s first-hand account of his time in Hollywood, you would find nary a mention of his involvement with The Princess Bride. I guess he wanted to focus on his lesser known works: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All The Presidents Men. So really, I would only recommend it if you’re interested in such niche films.

If you do want a little bit of insight into what it was like to film The Princess Bride, I do recommend the 30th Anniversary Edition of the book, as Willy talks about the film in the introduction. Which, coincidently, you’ll want to read anyways so you can share your thoughts of the whole book on our Time to Read Facebook group, our website wpl-podcast.winnipeg.ca, or by writing to us at wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca

And don’t forget to check out this month’s episode in which we discuss dishwashers and  The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro!

~Alan and the rest of the Time to Read team

It’s Time to Read: The Remains of the Day

Let me tell you, dear readers, it’s weird when a book has “Winner of the Booker Prize” written on the front cover and yet, you still feel some apprehension as to whether the book will be good. Especially, when you’ve read other works by the author and have loved them. But, for me, such is the case for The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – November’s read for the Time to Read podcast.

My experience with Kazuo Ishiguro exists solely with Never Let Me Go, which was recommended to me by a dear friend who put it amongst their favourite books of all time. A coming of age novel, with the slightest bit of science fiction thrown in, the ending punched me in the gut and I tried really, really hard not to cry. And not really succeeding and it being awkward because I was in my mid 20s and trapped in a car because I was in the middle of driving across the country with my mom. And no son in their mid 20s wants to cry in front of their mom, especially trapped in a car, and especially because of a book. But it was that good.

So good, in fact, that the thought of reading another Kazuo Ishiguro book was daunting because of the fear that it wouldn’t live up to the high praise I felt for Never Let Me Go. What if The Remains of the Day doesn’t bring me to tears?

Dear readers, I hope you’ll join me as we find out. We’d love to hear your thoughts on The Remains of the Day. Did it make you cry? If it didn’t, what books have? Let us know on our Time to Read Facebook group, our website wpl-podcast.winnipeg.ca, or by writing to us at wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca.  Then listen in to see if your comments made it on the air.

And don’t forget to check out this month’s episode in which we discuss Slaughterhouse-Five and where it fits among our favourite Vonnegut novels. Available now!

~Alan and the rest of the Time to Read team

It’s Time to Read: Slaughterhouse-Five

Dear Readers, when I was in high school and bored to tears reading The Stone Angel I did what many teenagers did, I turned to the internet.  But, being the weird child that I was, I did something that maybe not a lot of my peers were doing online:  looking up the curriculums for other English classes in other countries.  Because in my mind, at the time, there had to be something better on offer than Margaret Laurence.

It was during this hunt that I first discovered Slaughterhouse-Five (This month’s Time to Read podcast book club selection).  A novel whose title I recognized from my mother’s expansive bookshelf, but it was the internet that told me Slaughterhouse-Five was a popular choice among U.S. high school curriculum.  And I quickly grew envious as descriptions of the novel spoke of time travel and aliens, topics that spoke more to my teenage heart than a reflection on life in a small prairie town. 

I wish I could say I was blown away by Slaughterhouse-Five.  But, honestly, I don’t remember too much about it other than it being just weird, dark, and funny enough for me to try other Kurt Vonnegut novels.  Novels like God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater or Cat’s Cradle with which I fell in love.

But, I am excited to read Slaughterhouse-Five, having learned since my teenage years that sometimes it takes time, experience, and context to fully appreciate an author and their work.  A lesson learned, in part, with my experience with Margaret Laurence, whom I wrote off in high school but came to appreciate years later when I discovered The Diviners.

But those are just thoughts going into this.  We’d love to hear your thoughts on Slaughterhouse-Five or Kurt Vonnegut.  Let us know on our Time to Read Facebook group, our website wpl-podcast.winnipeg.ca, or by writing to us at wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca.

And don’t forget to check out this month’s episode in which we discuss the burning question:  Why doesn’t “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” have a question mark in its title?  Available now!

~Alan and the rest of the Time to Read team

Time to Read: Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Dear Readers, one of my favourite things about book clubs is the chance to read something you probably wouldn’t otherwise pick up. That’s why I’m excited to join you in reading this month’s Time to Read podcast selection: Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple.

From what I can tell, the book is a whimsical account of Bernadette, an architect and agoraphobe who, you guessed it, goes missing. It then falls to her 15-year-old daughter Bee to figure out where her mother went and why.

On my own, I probably wouldn’t read this book; not because it doesn’t sound appealing, but because there are just so many other books to read that Where’d You Go Bernadette wouldn’t make the cut. But now that I am reading it, do I ever have some questions!

  • Usually, a 15-year-old protagonist is a dead giveaway that a book is for teens.  Why is this book aimed at adults?
  • When something is very popular it makes me very curious to know why.  What makes this book so compelling that it spent one year on the New York Times Bestseller List?
  • The book is creative in that it uses emails, memos, and transcripts to tell the story. Will this be an effective story telling strategy?
  • Most importantly, why is there no question mark at the end of the title?

But those are just my questions going into this.  Do you have questions or comments of your own?  Be sure to let us know on our Time to Read Facebook group, our website wpl-podcast.winnipeg.ca, or by writing to us at wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca.

And don’t forget to check out this month’s episode in which we have a weighty discussion about The Changeling by Victor LaValleAvailable now!

~Alan and the rest of the Time to Read team

It’s Time to Read: All Systems Red

Dear Readers, would you believe I’m worried? I’m worried about whether or not I can sell you all on a sci-fi novella in which the main protagonist is called Murderbot. Oh, and did I mention the cover looks straight out of the video game Halo?

Not that I’m against sci-fi, novella’s, or things named Murderbot (as long as they’re not murderbotting me). I’m not even against Halo—though, truth be, I’ve always been more into PlayStation than Xbox.

I’m worried because my formative years were spent in a particular space (Northern rural Manitoba) and a particular time (The 90s) and the resulting space-time was not particularly kind to nerd culture. In this space-time one read sci-fi in dark corners of the library, lest one be seen; and anything that ended in the suffix ‘ella’ was seen as pretentious. Recommending a sci-fi novella was not something done with abandon.

But here we are, nearing the end of the twenty-teens, and nerd culture is all the rage. Fantasy is cool. Science Fiction is cool. Keanu Reeves is cool. So, by all logic, this month’s Time to Read selection: Martha Wells’ Hugo and Nebula award winning novella All Systems Red should be cool!

Do you agree? Do you disagree? At only 152 pages, it would be almost painless to find out. And once you do, be sure to let us know on our Time to Read Facebook group, our website wpl-podcast.winnipeg.ca, or by writing to us at wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca.

And to ease you into hardcore science fiction, be sure to check out this month’s Time to Read episode in which we discuss the urban fantasy Trickster Drift with special guest host Jordan Wheeler. Available now!

~Alan and the rest of the Time to Read team

It’s Time to Read: Trickster Drift

Dear Readers, we are about to embark on new territory for Time to Read—a sequel. This month we will be reading Trickster Drift by Eden Robinson, sequel to Son of a Trickster which we read way back in episode 7.

Sequels are always an interesting undertaking. They often come with high expectations set by the original and the stigma that ‘sequels’ are never as good as the original.

They are also a great opportunity to reconnect with your favourite characters. Without giving too much of Son of a Trickster away, I’m wondering how Jared is doing now that he’s found magic in his life. Will Jared’s relationship with his mom, Maggie, be any different from last time around? And what nerdy endeavours is Crashpad up to these days?

It was also fun to go back and listen to the Son of a Trickster podcast episode and remember we had our very first podcast special guest: Information Services librarian Monique! Fitting then, that we will also have a special guest on this episode: author and former WPL writer-in-residence Jordan Wheeler.

And of course we’d like to hear your thoughts on Trickster Drift. Let us know on our Time to Read Facebook group, our website wpl-podcast.winnipeg.ca, or by writing to us at wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca.

Don’t forget to check out the latest (and very special) episode of the Time to Read podcast which features author Margaret Sweatman as we discuss her novel Fox. Available now!

~Alan and the rest of the Time to Read team