Friday Morning Bookclub

April 16, 2012

What Is Wrong With The Friday Morning Bookclub?

This past weekend we held our annual “couples” meeting, an evening we all look forward to. A lot of thought goes into choosing the book for this special meeting. No Chick Lit allowed! We search for that perfect book. A book that the men and the women will enjoy. Apparently this is no easy feat as we have gotten it wrong the last two years! Perhaps wrong is too strong a word, however we definitely have not gotten it right!

Last year we read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. It seemed to be THE book to read. Everyone was talking about the amazing story of Louie Zamperini. Yes, it really was an amazing story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption, however The Friday Morning Bookclub did not seem to be as impressed with the book as the rest of the world! Surviving 47th days at sea on a raft, fending off sharks and eating raw fish is quite impressive, but even that gets old after umpteen pages. Although some of our members enjoyed the book, others struggled to finish  it. On a scale of 1-5, we gave Unbroken 3 omelets.

This year we went with In The Garden Of The Beasts by Eric Larson, yet another highly acclaimed book, and yes another WWII non fiction book. Reading about William E. Dodd, America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s regime and his wild daughter Martha sounded fascinating.  Unfortunately some of us were disappointed. Different book, same results. This certainly was an interesting topic yet several of our members didn’t even bother finishing the book.

So what is wrong with The Friday Morning Bookclub? Are we more critical than most? Are we that hard to please?  It looks like in our quest to find a book that the men will enjoy, we end up with a book that no one actually loves. Maybe next year we should try something totally different. Enough with the heavy-duty non fiction!  Enough World War II! What about a good mystery or even a little fantasy. We have a whole year to work on it and try to get it right.

And here they are. The men in our lives.

Complete review of In The Garden of the Beasts coming soon!


February 22, 2012

Is Your Book Club All Business?

Filed under: Literary Tidbits,The Friday Morning Book Club,Unbroken — susanbright @ 6:07 pm

Yesterday, while on vacation I had the pleasure of attending a local book club meeting. When I saw that they were reviewing the book Unbroken, I couldn’t resist. Why not go? I had read the book close to a year ago but it was one of those books that you don’t quickly forget. I was not sure what to expect and thought it would be interesting to see how another book club operates.

The BallenIsles Book club met in their club house and sat around a huge, formal conference table which had to fit at least 16 people as opposed to the relaxed living room atmosphere of the cafe where we meet.  Unfortunately there were more people than spaces at the table so several of us sat along the wall on the outskirts of the table. As I was there for the first time and wasn’t sure how much I would actually have participated in the discussion this was fine with me.

After a brief discussion about future books and meetings and the announcement that they were no longer going to go around the table, asking each person what they thought of the book (the leader mentioned that he wanted to avoid hearing the “I didn’t read the book” comment) the discussion began.

The book was introduced by the member who had recommended it in the first place. A brief bio of Laura Hillenbrand was read as well as a few glowing reviews of the book and then the discussion took off. The group was much more diverse than our all ladies between the age of 50-65 group. There were actually men in this group!  The discussion was very enlightening and in additional to a discussion of the book itself seemed to focus on war in general, Japanese/American relations, world power and yes even politics.

Thrown in were some personal stories, one woman whose brother piloted the same type plane as Zamperini and a grandmother who mentioned how her grandson was bullied, comparing it to how prisoners of war are beaten down. Another member talked about a psychological experiment conducted at Stanford University where students were assigned the position of prisoner or guard. This experiment which was supposed to last 2 weeks was ended after only 6 days because of the way it affected the participants.  The “prisoners”  became depressed, whereas the “guards” actually became sadistic. What does this experiment say about human nature in general? Does this help explain why throughtout history people have been willing to do such horrific things to others?

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this group of articulate, thoughtful people. Amazingly, even with this size group, there were no cross conversations. Our book club tends to break down into little groups every once in a while!  They didn’t hang around after discussing the book and talk about their kids, their vacations or where they were going for dinner. No talk about diets, movies or husbands and no food!  This book club was all business.  Next time I am going to arrive early and sit at the big table!

Tell us about your book club.  Are you all business?

August 15, 2011

Unbroken:The Movie

Filed under: Books Into Movies,Movies,Unbroken — susanbright @ 1:14 pm

Finally, the book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption is being made into a movie. For those of you who did not read the book, Zamperini was a former olympic runner whose plane crashed at sea.  He floated on a raft for 47 days only to end up in a Japanese POW camp where he was brutalized by the prison guards. His story is truly amazing.

  Universal Pictures actually bought the rights to Louis Zamperini’s life  as well as his memoir Devil at my Heels in 1957. At that time there were talks of a movie and Tony Curtis was being considered to play Zamperini. The movie was never made amd once again in 1998 discussions began about making a movie based on Zamperini’s life. This time Nicholas Cage was being considered for the star role. Again… no movie!

Laura Hillenbrand’s book has brought new attention to Louis Zamperini and this time it looks like there is actually going to be a movie. Zamperini’s son-in-law Nick Garris is the executive producer.  There are rumors of a 2013 release date. Who would you like to see play Louis Zamperini?

Patty recommends Gerard Butler. What do you think?

April 27, 2011

The Friday Morning Bookclub Gives Unbroken By Laura Hillenbrand 3 Omelets

Filed under: Polls,Rate The Book,Unbroken — susanbright @ 5:02 pm

Amazon readers gave Unbroken 5 stars

Barnes and Noble readers  gave Unbroken  4  stars

 Unbroken has been on the The New York Times bestseller list for 22 weeks and outsold Seabiscuit in its first four weeks. Shockingly, not one person who voted on our blog gave Unbroken 5 omelets! Whereas  nearly all agreed that it was an extraordinary story, many found the book repetitive and difficult to get through. Clearly we are in the minority!

April 26, 2011

Unbroken: A Review Of Our Meeting By Hal, One Of The Friday Morning Bookclub Husbands

Filed under: Book Discussions,Couples meetings,Unbroken — susanbright @ 4:39 pm

                 Recently, the Friday Morning Bookclub met on a Sunday night.  Why was this meeting different from all the other meetings held throughout the year?  It is the one meeting for which the spouses also read the book and join in the discussion. (You thought I was going to mention something about dipping our herbs twice – but that is a different story.)   Despite the fact that several readers expressed mixed feelings about “Unbroken” by Linda Hillenbrand, I thought it was interesting that this book inspired one of the more spirited discussions we have had at the FMBc plus spouses meetings I have attended.  Perhaps readers of this Blog would be interested in some of the opinions expressed at the meeting.

                Most of us remarked on how much history we learned from the book about the war in the Pacific, Japanese treatment of prisoners of war, and the vagaries of war.  One participant pointed out that the wartime experiences Louie endured all began because one guy flipped the wrong button in a moment of inattention in an airplane.  It is often the most seemingly inconsequential things that change everything.

                Several commented that the style of the book was more like a long piece of journalism rather than an artfully told story.  Others felt that sections of the book were unnecessarily repetitive, particularly the detailed description of Louie’s time in successive Japanese POW camps.  Given these comments, some of the group thought it was remarkable that this book is and has been on top of the best-seller list.

                One or two readers were almost hostile in their suggestions that the level of detail about the POW camp experiences made them question its authenticity, given the conditions in those camps and Louie’s post-war alcoholism.  Perhaps this questioning is the result of so many recent revelations that authors have “faked” or embellished supposedly true stories.

                Many of us thought Louie’s religious awakening was difficult to understand and believe.  It seemed so out of character and sudden.

                One reader pointed out that despite the incredible physical hardships and repeated near starvation that Louie experienced, he lived longer than most of his comrades and substantially longer than an average life expectancy.  This suggests that genetics rather than environment may play a larger role in determining longevity.      

                Finally, there was an interesting discussion about whether each of us would have had the spirit and wherewithal to survive what those soldiers survived.  Very few, if any, of those in attendance were confident that they would have lived through it.  Perhaps even Louie would not have survived if he had known at the beginning of his ordeal, what fate had in store for him.

                Any time a book (or a play or a movie) can generate as much discussion as this one did, it is usually worth experiencing.  In the case of Unbroken, my own view is that while you may not “enjoy” every minute of reading it, the experience is worth having on many levels.

April 15, 2011

Rate The Book: Unbroken By Linda Hillenbrand

Filed under: Polls,Rate The Book,Unbroken — susanbright @ 9:18 am

Help us rate our books. All votes and comments are welcomed!

April 14, 2011

Unbroken Trivia

Filed under: Trivia,Unbroken — susanbright @ 5:17 pm

What was the name that was painted on the nose of Phil’s B-24  plane that although riddled with 594 holes, managed to land at Funafuti?   All answers and comments are welcomed!

Thank you Audrey! Super Man is correct and here is a picture of the plane!

April 12, 2011

Meet Laura Hillenbrand Author Of This Month’s Book: Unbroken

Filed under: Unbroken — susanbright @ 6:55 pm


 Laura Hillenbrand was born in Fairfax, Virginia. She attended Kenyon College in Ohio and  planned to major in Psychology. Ironically, when taking a creative writing course, one of her professors wrote her a note on the back of her essay telling her “You should be a writer.” While a student at Kenyon, Laura was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and was forced to drop out of school. Because of this condition, she rarely leaves her Washington, D.C. home where she lives with her husband who is a professor at American University. Hillenbrand is the author of Seabiscuit: An American Legend which won numerous awards and was made into a movie starring Jeff Bridges. The movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards. According to Laura Hillenbrand it took seven years, working seven days a week to write Unbroken. Earlier this year Universal Pictures acquired screen rights to Unbroken.

  To learn a little more about Laura and her illness, check out this short story which appeared in The New Yorker.

A Sudden Illness – How My Life Changed, by Laura Hillenbrand

March 30, 2011

This Month’s Book: Unbroken

Filed under: Unbroken — susanbright @ 9:49 am

Well, I am about to start reading Unbroken and I am more than a little hesitant! Why, because my husband who just finished the book and probably knows me better than anyone else in this world tells me “this is not your kind of book and you are going to hate it!” How can this be, after all it has been on the best seller list for months. Everyone seems to love it.

 So, I gave the book to someone else who I’d say knows me pretty well, my father! Now I am really concerned. Hi response “I don’t think you should read this book”. Now, I have to admit that although I am an adult woman with grown children of my own, my father is still very protective. According to him, I am going to be very upset.  He does not want me to read about what goes on in the POW camps. My father, who was also on Kwajalein Island or Execution Island as it was referred to by American Soldiers during WW II was that affected by the book! In fact he said that “he hoped that the book was an exaggeration”. I guess it was too painful to imagine his comrades going through what Louie Zamperini went through.

So can you understand why I am not so anxious to read this month’s book? Give me a little encouragement, if you can!

March 25, 2011

Meet Louie Zamperini!

Filed under: Unbroken — susanbright @ 8:54 am

Reading Unbroken? Be sure to check out this short video!

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