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I’ve written pretty frequently about my book club, aka the Monday Night Page-Turners.

I’ve posted about why I love book club and about most of the books we’ve read, but we’re about to hit our first milestone and I just want to incorporate MNPT into the Triple T feature this week.

When I first put out the invitation to join me for this idea of a monthly book club, I was really surprised at the enormity of the response. We started with 9 committals, and have kept 7 regular members since the beginning. In addition to the 7 of us, my daughter and her bff cousin Emma also meet on book club nights.

So, since the number is ALMOST right, here is a little recap about the books that have been covered this inaugural year of MNPT, and a little bit about the members that chose them.

1. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (Chosen by Allison)

I got the recommendation for this selection from another book nerd friend who had also been in a book club. She always makes solid recommendations so I thought this easy read would be a great one to kick off the club.

All of my reviews are listed on our Facebook page or here, under the “Page-Turners” or “Book Club” tabs. I’d link to them here if I was not such a lazy blogger and my internet was not being quite so sketchy.

The Storied Life is the quintessential book club book. It’s not too hard, not too easy, and there’s lots of pretty uncontroversial stuff to discuss from its pages. It was a good icebreaker.

That being said, I wondered how shy people would be to share their opinions on certain topics, but after our first meeting, it really felt like these women had all known each other for years. There was some immediate bonding, which, to me, only proves the power of art and books to unify while also making room for discussions about differences.

As far as stuff about me, this whole BLOG is pretty much about me. If you read it at all, you know I’m a reader and a writer and I love all the words. Even the dirty ones. =)

I’ll just say that my book club which has now become our book club, is one of the best ideas I’ve ever implemented.

2. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (Chosen by LaRue)

In my humble opinion, as far as subject matter, this has been our hardest read so far. We lost our first member at this point and had one other that didn’t finish this selection.

It’s definitely not a “light” read, and the entire dystopian genre can be downright weird, but it is considered to be an important piece of modern literature by a lot of smart people and we were laughing last night about how we use the title to impress people!

With this selection, we went straight from easy read fluff to some hardcore discussion.

LaRue is one of my dearest friends. We became connected through her work as a graphic designer, and the rest is history.

I love the way she picks apart a book in many of the same ways that I do. We read between the lines and think in similar patterns about underlying themes. She’ll be picking our selection again in a couple of months. I’m mentally preparing now, because I think she likes to challenge us all!

3. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (Chosen by Anna)

This selection was a good palate cleanser after Brave New World. It wasn’t a heavy read, though the subject matter itself was based on true (and pretty sobering) events.

It was here that I learned that not all historical fiction is 800 pages long! But, for most of us, Orphan Train focused too much on current events and not enough on the history it was trying to share. There were missed opportunities all over the place with the writing. We critiqued the hell out of this book so I give high kudos to Anna for taking it all in stride.

Anna is my cousin, but I call her my niece. At almost 17, she’s our youngest member. And probably the only reason we keep our discussions as…..acceptable…as they are! Because they do get interesting!

I’ve written about Anna before, and she’s just one of my favorite people. Considering we were only 3 meetings in before she had to pick a selection and then we tore into it like a bunch of hyenas into a wildebeest carcass, I’m sometimes surprised she still likes any of us! But that’s the great thing about these women. Nobody is taking any of this stuff personally about their selection, even if they liked it and someone else didn’t.

I love to hear Anna’s perspective on things. As our youngest member, hers is one of the most unique opinions we get, I think. But she is usually pretty quiet. I know she loves book club, but I wonder sometimes if she isn’t taking notes on how to NOT turn into a crazy 30+ woman!

4. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (Chosen by Meredith)

Honestly, and I probably shouldn’t do this, but if I had to pick a favorite selection thus far, this would be it.

It’s also the first and only book I didn’t finish before a meeting.

The book itself is a bit depressing and deals with some heavy subject matter. But it’s an excellent read. It combines a lot of heart and humor, and the characters were great, though not as fleshed out as I normally prefer. But it wouldn’t have really served the books purpose for them to be more of a focus because the book is about Ove. The author describes him very well and gives a lot of dimension to the man over the course of the story.

Meredith is just…..lovely. She’s funny. She’s sweet. She’s sassy. And the woman can COOK like nobody’s business. I’ve known her for 18 years but didn’t know she was such an avid reader until she became part of my book club.

See? Book soul mates can be right under your nose and you never know it!

5. Fall of Giants by Ken Follett (Chosen by Kacie)

This is the first book in a historical fiction trilogy. Set during WWI, this 900 page epic novel is one that downright haunted some people over the summer break we took from our MNPT meetings.

We had a couple of people not finish this one.

It’s an undertaking to devote the time to a book like ‘Giants’. I’m personally a fan if Ken Follett so I was geeking out about the selection. But, second to Brave New World, this has been our hardest read simply for its enormity and the incredible number of storylines happening at once.

Kacie and I also met through professional circumstances, but it was really through our mutual friend, LaRue, that we became more than acquaintances.

Kacie is my writer kindred spirit in MNPT and her perspective on the writing itself is one that I always love to hear. Of all the folks in our club, I probably know the least about her. But that changes more and more all the time. Books can gain you friends for life, and Kacie is definitely a keeper.

6. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Chosen by Jennifer)

Even though my daughter reads a lot and I’m pretty well informed about a lot of YA books, I had not heard of this one. By far, it was the most fun out of our selections thus far and had some great points to ponder about virtual reality, technology, and relationships. I won’t say much more because I’ve really got to get this post finished and I’m going to write a full review of this one by the weekend so you can just stay tuned and be watching for that.

Jennifer and I have known each other for about 22 years. But, again, I wasn’t really aware of her love for reading until she signed up for MNPT.

Jennifer is a teacher, and her experiences with children and her quirky sense of humor never cease to entertain and send us all into fits of giggles.

She really has one of the most fun personalities of anyone I know and she’s a wonderful writer herself. Her summer break diaries on Facebook are legendary!

7. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (Chosen by Rebecca)

Two things:

1. We just got the title yesterday so I’m not going to write about it.

2. I’ve already read this one so I’m holding back my spoilers.

I will simply say that this is going to be a great discussion and I really, really enjoyed this book and several others by this author as well.

Other than Jennifer, I have known Rebecca the longest of any of our members. She is our hopeless romantic, as well as our comic relief. Of all the people to sign up for MNPT, she surprised me the most. And I can’t imagine our book club without her.

8. The Help by Katherine Stockett (Chosen by Reagan)

I love Mississippi authors. They’re special. I personally loved this book so when Reagan and Emma read it for their own little book meeting, I was so excited.

Reagan actually did her summer reading project on this selection and her paper was really well written, if I do say so myself. I love that she loves to read. I tried my best to imprint that love into her soul by reading to her a LOT when she was very little, as young as 6 months old. I think it made a profound difference in her development and her ability not just in her education, but in life. New mamas: read to your babies.

9. Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells (Chosen by Emma)

Another great southern story, I read this one MANY years ago, but it’s a powerful story of love, friendship, family strife, and overcoming childhood trauma through the healing of sisterhood.

Emma is like another daughter to me. In fact, my husband and I tend to refer to her as such, mainly to tease Reagan. But Emma is so very special to me and she’s been close to Reagan since they were little bitty girls. As close as I was and still am to many of my cousins, their relationship makes me extraordinarily happy and thankful.

10. Unread

One of the best things about book clubs and the friendships within them is all of the books still to come and all of the good times yet to be shared.

I have always loved to read. And I have always loved to talk about books. And I have always enjoyed hosting people in my home. But this is one of the best parts of my month, and I am so glad I didn’t talk myself out of this idea for fear no one would respond to my invitation or that I’d end up with a lot of members that really….well, just didn’t “mesh” well with me or what I was trying to accomplish.

It turns out my fears were unfounded. And it was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.

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