Miss book club meetings? Ever read an amazing book and want someone to talk to about it? Or maybe you have never been involved in a book discussion, however have been curious about them.
We got you.
Books Burgers and Brews originally was a full in-person monthly event held on 3rd Mondays at a local restaurant. As we all know… times have changed.
This monthly event continues to thrive as a ZOOM event. While not ideal (I miss seeing people face to face for this) – it works well. One of the things I do love about this is that I can invite all of you to a Central Minnesota event that you do not even have to leave your house for.
Heck, you don’t even have to wear pants.
Ummm…. well you get what I mean.
So please consider joining us! Tonight’s discussion of The Nickel Boys is a book that will speak to you if you have read it or not. The Nickel Boys is a 2019 novel by American novelist Colson Whitehead. It is based on the real story of the Dozier School, a reform school in Florida that operated for 111 years and had its history exposed by a university’s investigation. It was named one of TIME’s best books of the decade.
Tonight, at 6 pm Central time LIVE on the Books Burgers and Brews Facebook Page, Laurel from the Brainerd Public Library and I will be talking about a few Summer Reads that would make for good discussion. We are doing this to choose what we will read in June and July forBooks Burgers and Brews. All are welcome to join in and add to your own reading list. We will be offering a few giveaways as well.
I can not give a hint because we have not announced yet, but I am pretty excited about what we have come up with. Pop in if you can and say hi!
Do the book you choose to read change depending on the time of year?
MAID, Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will To Survive is the true story about Stephanie Land’s struggle to make ends meet as a single mom. Stephanie works as a maid, cleaning homes to earn a living while she balanced bills, housing, food and higher education.
“Due to my self-employment, I had to report my income every few months. Earning $50 extra could make my co-pay at day care go up by the same amount. Sometimes it meant losing my childcare grant altogether. There was no incentive or opportunity to save money. The system kept me locked down, scraping the bottom of the barrel, without a plan to climb out of it.” ― Stephanie Land, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive
MAID is a book that has been on my mental “To Be Read” list since it was published in 2019. I am fascinated by personal stories of peoples jobs – it could just as easily have been called “Window Washer, Conductor, School Teacher, House Painter, Librarian, or Elephant Trainer“, and I would have been interested. I love reading about the inner workings of what someone does for a living.
MAID piqued my interest not only because of the job itself, but also Stephanie’s story. Prior to reading, I could imagine the struggle of being a single parent trying to work and take care of a young child, all the while trying to find assistance and jumping through the hoops to qualify as well as dealing with the stigma.
MAID had all of this and more. While listening to this book on audio (narrated well by the author), I found myself remembering why autobiographies/memoirs are hard to review.
They are personal.
“Single parenting isn’t just being the only one to take care of your kid. It’s not about being able to “tap out” for a break or tag team bath- and bedtime; those were the least of the difficulties I faced. I had a crushing amount of responsibility. I took out the trash. I brought in the groceries I had gone to the store to select and buy. I cooked. I cleaned. I changed out the toilet paper. I made the bed. I dusted. I checked the oil in the car. I drove Mia to the doctor, to her dad’s house. I drove her to ballet class if I could find one that offered scholarships and then drove her back home again. I watched every twirl, every jump, and every trip down the slide. It was me who pushed her on the swing, put her to sleep at night, kissed her when she fell. When I sat down, I worried. With the stress gnawing at my stomach, worrying. I worried that my paycheck might not cover bills that month. I worried about Christmas, still four months away. I worried that Mia’s cough might become a sinus infection that would keep her out of day care… . I worried that I would have to reschedule work or miss it altogether.”
Whether I agree or disagree with what the author writes, it is their personal story, thoughts, and feelings. I even had a few flash backs to a review I had written in 2009. I wondered while reading MAID what others thought of some of what was in this book regarding:
Admitting she snooped in peoples drawers and personal spaces while cleaning their homes
living in a rental that had black mold that made her daughter very sick
Naming the homes she cleaned, the Clown House, the Sad House, the Porn House (not a typo)
Receiving a tax refund and buying herself a diamond ring
Not acknowledging the services she did receive – child support, food stamps, rental assistance, daycare allowances…
I am not here to rip this book apart by any means. Have I always made the best choices? Certainly not. Have I spent money on something that I should have used for a bill or for my home? You bet.
I am glad I listened to MAID and I can only imagine how hard it is for a single person with no family support to try to make ends meet and provide a stable home for their child. I refrained from reading any reviews on the book until I had finished so I could base my thoughts on my own experience. When I did read some of the reviews, I found many of them reflected my thoughts as well. The system is by no means perfect. I feel there was a way to tell this story on single parenthood and the struggles in a way that was…. well… in a different way.
If you have hung around here any amount of time, you have most likely heard me talk about out local Friends of The Library group as well as our Library. I have volunteered with this group over 10 years now and have watched us grow in so many ways.
One of our big wins has always been our book sales. We have worked hard to be ingrained in our community and it has paid off in so many ways. We take used book donations all year around and have an amazing hard working book sale team that sorts through the donations making our sale one of gorgeous, gently used books in all genres. Literally something for everyone.
Our Spring and Fall Sales were legendary. Truth. People would drive hours to attend this well organized sale waiting in crowds for the doors to open so they could peruse through the tables and pick their selections at 50 cents per book or a quarter for a children/YA book, or a newly released title for $5 or less.
The Friends book sales in the three days they were open would make around $7000 per sale. THAT is a lot of 50 cent books. This money in turn would go into supporting our local library programs, Author Events, Children’s Reading Initiatives, additional copies of best selling books, the “Book In The Bag” program for reading groups to check out, Community Book Clubs, and more.
times have changed.
I am hopeful that the above picture did not make you cringe to see people so tightly packed into a space. I absolutely loved seeing the book lovers of all ages leaving the sales with bags and boxes of good reads. That picture is from our last sale in the Fall of 2019.
In the Fall of 2020 we set up our online sale options to put gently used books into our communities hands by ordering on line and picking up curbside. Now Spring of 2021, we have our first in person sale with a limit of 5 pre-registered shoppers per hour at the sale.
Below is my haul from yesterday evening after volunteering from 3 to 6 pm.
Yeah… I did a little damage, in a positive way. Some of these I have listened to on audio and did not have a book copy. Some are collection additions. Some, I have someone in mind who is going to love it.
The sale continues for its final day today. The book sale team has made incredible progress through this – continuously finding ways. The community continues to donate their gently used books – and I am so thrilled.
Have you read any of these? Any favorites? Books and/or Authors?
Calypso by David Sadaris: I have listened to almost everything this guy has written. I have never read him. Out of all the books I purchased yesterday, this is the only one I flipped through the beginning and laughed and said, “yeah”.
The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams: This is an author I feel is so underrated. I don’t know if I am living under a rock and just missing it but I find her writing brilliant and engaging and wonder why movies are not popping up.
The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand: I am hopeful I have not read this book. I might have. In fact it may already be on my shelf which is ok as I have the perfect home for it if it is. LOVE this author.
The Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda: Book Rescue. That is when I find a book I have read and loved and rescue it to find it a new home with someone I know will love it too. Hey…. no judging. There are worse things I could do with my money. 😉
The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews: MKA is one of those go to authors I love to read on a sunny day on the deck or at the beach. Fun characters, easy reading – and I love discussing her with my Aunt.
Innocence by Dean Koontz:Did you know that back in the day Dean was one of my very favorite authors? In my early 20’s I read everything he wrote. I don’t love-love all of his books but I do most of them.
Under The Dome and The Stand by Stephen King: There are books that I have always wished I had read… and have not. These are two of them. They are HUGE books and I picture a solitude winter week at the cabin… snowed in and left to read… a girl can dream.
Dracula: The Undead by Dacre Stoker: First… I love classics. Second…. I had no idea that Dracula had a follow up book. Did you? This apparently is written based off Bram Stoker’s handwritten notes. I am kind of excited.
Sara Medlar, Famous Romance Author, finds herself returning to her home town of Lachlan Florida taking on a project of remodeling a home that she had admired as a child. When Sara’s niece Kate is offered a real estate job in Lachlan, Sara is thrilled to have her come and stay with her until she gets settled.
Kate is thrilled to have time with her famous Aunt, yet finds a surprise when she discovers her Aunt has another houseguest, Jackson Wyatt is also staying there. Good looking and charming, two things that Kate has absolutely no time for.
When two skeletons are discovered growing into a tree on an investment property recently acquired by Jack, the three are thrown into solving a long buried town secret, that the town seems to want to keep buried.
My first experience with Author Jude Devereaux was with The Summer House in 2008. This was a book club read and became one of my all time favorite books if not for the book itself, then for the discussion it brought forth. I read and reviewed it again in 2020.
At the time of the first reading of Summer House, I caved to read something else by this author in hopes of making lightning strike twice. I can not recall now what I tried to read however I do recall it did not stick.
A Willing Murder was a book I listened to on Audio. I enjoyed getting to know the characters and was especially intrigued by the skeletons that had been buried under the tree and the story entwined within. Perhaps the fact that the skeletons were almost immediately identified added to my interest of wanting to know the whole story.
An interesting story with great bones (pun intended), I enjoyed the mystery and had no idea until the very end as to who did it. Not too heavy and not too light, for this girl the book was a great fit for these spring days.
I have a few of her other books on my shelves that I look forward to reading.
Sloane, Ardie, and Grace have all worked for the Truviv Law Firm for years, earning high salaries and doing what they can to keep up in the ever changing and competitive corporate world. When you work this long with a group of women, friendships develop over working lunches and after work cocktails. And often the topic on the table is their boss, Ames, who has been at the company as long as the girls and now is looking to be next in line for CEO.
These women have heard the whispers circling around Ames and the liberties he takes as boss around the women who work with him. Sloane, Adie and Grace have their own stories as well – both known, and unknown – things they have seen and/or heard. Advances that were made… actions that were taken, most unwanted.
When a new girl is hired at the company, young, pretty, energetic Katherine, Ames takes her under his wing and the ladies feel their spidey senses tingle. When a ” BAD MEN of DALLAS” list starts to circulate of men in power positions who take liberties that are not theirs to take, Ames name is quickly added to the list.
As the women begin to open up more about what has happened to them, a camaraderie starts to build that empowers them to take actions they never would have considered on their own.
What unfolds is a powerful battle that not all will survive.
A whisper network is an informal chain of information passed privately between women. It is typically a list of powerful people in an industry alleged as being sexual harassers or abusers. The information is often shared between women by word of mouth or online in private communities, forums, spreadsheets, and crowd-sourced documents. The stated purpose of maintaining these lists is to warn potential victims of “people to avoid” in their industry. Whisper networks also purportedly help victims identify a common abuser and come forward together about a serial abuser.
The term “whisper network” was newly popularized during the #Me Too Movement after several private lists were published outside of private networks.
The Whisper Network was a book chosen for one of my reading groups. I was intrigued by the comparison to the movie 9 to 5 , a movie from 1980 starring Dolly Pardon, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin, where they turned the tables on their inappropriate boss. (And yes, I realize I just dated myself).
The Whisper Network is of course way more intense then the above mentioned movie. It is not 1980, and the powers of the workforce have certainly changed since then and not necessarily for the better.
What we have here is a powerful story that ties right in with the Me Too Movement. Whisper network is told in a way that is unique and engaging. As the story unfolds, pages of Deposition Transcripts are sprinkled throughout, mostly prior to even a mention of is a case so you know something big is being alluded too.
Admittedly, I did not have this book finished by the time we discussed it as a group on ZOOM. While the discussion was good about the content, the book overall did not rate high with the group. I was invested enough at the time of the review to not be discouraged. Even though I learned some things about the ending of the book, I was still curious how it all played out.
I am glad I continued. Whisper Network is a book of heavy dialogue and many characters – two things I do not normally find myself drawn to as I like to really feel I know the characters and often when there are many different voices I feel some do not get flushed out well. I did not feel this way in this book and felt every voice was heard which is a way, is really what the book is about. Being heard.
While the book at times felt long, I would still recommend it. There is much to think about in this book and I have thoughts on all involved. I wish I had completed this in time for the discussion. Having finished it I now have a lot to say.
Boston Medical Specialist Nora Stuart knows all about set backs. After a freak accident puts her in the hospital and hovering near death in her hospital bed, she overhears her boyfriend hit on another doctor.
On a leave of absence to take time to recover from both of these blows, Nora heads back to her home town in Maine to recharge and reconnect to a place that didn’t exactly embrace her 15 years ago. Hashtag #TheOtherDaughter. Reconnecting with her hardened mother and an angst filled niece who stays with her grandmother while her own mom/ Nora’s sister sits in a Women’s Correctional Facility.
Well, if you are going to do it. Do it BIG.
“I was hit by a car, and according to the Hallmark Channel, I’m supposed to come home.”
“I opened the night table drawer and closed it fast. Okay, then. Mom still had womanly needs. Good for her. I’d get some eye bleach and erase that memory, stat.”
“the harsh world of junior high, where cliques were carved in stone, and cafeteria seating was more complex than the British peerage”
Kristan Higgins is an author that every time I read her… I wonder why I don’t do that more. I purchased this book on audio during the Audible sale. It’s always nice to have feel good not overly hard reads in my arsenal at all times. These are books that I turn to when I need a mind break or something good to wrap my head and heart around during intense calendar times in my life (and that is completely another topic). By no means do I mean to make light of Higgins books. They are from my experience quite wonderful and I want to gush a little on this one.
First up. Xe Sands as the narrator was spot on. The perfect voice for this read. She brought the words to life and hit just the right tone for the many “punny” moments in this books and quick wit responses in dialogue that I so love.
Secondly… and honestly maybe even a second firsty… the Harry Potter references sprinkled within did this girls heart good. Kristan Hannah I have to know… are you a Harry Potter fan? I think you are. I LOVED it.
Third. There were several laugh out loud moments and that does not happen often. Event this morning as I finished this listen, shortly after I had awoken and in the bathroom washing my face with half open eyes I burst out into very not me at the moment of waking laughter. Honestly, I think I want a sequel.
That all said, the book is more than punny moments, quick whit, and just the right sprinkle of teenage sarcasm. Its also a legit story of family, relationships, and some serious fear as well. Higgins put together a cast of likeable characters that felt three-dimensional. As in, yes I would go visit them in Maine and wouldn’t mind hanging out with Nora and Poe. Just waiting for my invite….
Loved it. Recommend this book to those who love a good story, a good mix of humor, and of course…. Harry Potter.
Happy Sunday! It’s been a FULL week, 6 days of people and honestly – this introverted girl is wiped out.
Don’t get me wrong… I love people, I love being out there, love my family/friend time, I love everything I do and wouldn’t change a thing… however, because of the way I am wired – even hanging out with people and not doing anything more than sitting and chatting, wipes out my energy. I need a day of alone time just doing what I want… things like this… blogging, cleaning, raking, walking the dogs, and recharging my batteries. Seriously. That’s how it works.
By the end of today I will be firing on all cylinder’s again and planning out my week and itching to connect.
What. A. Weirdo. ;P
The best book I ever read (really listened to) about this was The Power of An Introvert by Susan Cain. Seriously, highly recommended to anyone who sometimes feels guilty because they just don’t want to, craves an evening or weekend of not leaving the house, or feels drained after meetings and group participations.
“Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. often feelings they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.”
“The highly sensitive [introverted] tend to be philosophical or spiritual in their orientation, rather than materialistic or hedonistic. They dislike small talk. They often describe themselves as creative or intuitive. They dream vividly, and can often recall their dreams the next day. They love music, nature, art, physical beauty. They feel exceptionally strong emotions–sometimes acute bouts of joy, but also sorrow, melancholy, and fear. Highly sensitive people also process information about their environments–both physical and emotional–unusually deeply. They tend to notice subtleties that others miss–another person’s shift in mood, say, or a lightbulb burning a touch too brightly.”
The books in the picture are those that graced my door step this weekend.
The Kristen Hannah books, Firefly Lane (I read so many years ago it was before I was writing reviews) and Fly Away the follow up book that I honestly may have read… and can not recall. Neither of these books were on my book shelves (until now). The renewed interest is of course due to the Netflix series, Firefly Lane that I recently watched and fell in love with the story line yet again. (I have this long ago memory of being on a bus in Honduras and crying as I finished what I recall as Firefly Lane… it may have been the sequel… )
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead: Promises to be an interesting and probably hard read about the true story of the horrors that happened in the 1960’s in Tallahassee at the reform school for boys, Nickel Academy. This is our Books Burgers and Brews ZOOM discussion on April 19th. Anyone is welcome to join in.
Wolf Kill by Cary Griffith: LOVE Cary Griffith! Gunflint Burning is a book I recommend for anyone who loves history, Minnesota history to be specific and the famous Gunflint Trail and the fire that destroyed so much. This new book I am very excited about as well. Thank you Cary for dropping that in the mail for me!
Have you read any of these? Have you read QUIET? What books are in your world this week?
Robin is the biography of Robin William, a portrait of the life and time of one of the world’s greatest comedians.
From his early stand up comedian days to his first break out role with Mork and Mindy, Robin Williams was one of a kind. Said to have a photographic memory, Robin could reads lines to a script and have it down. His comedy acts were mostly unrehearsed and he could switch gears and go off on a completely different direction and be hilariously funny all the way.
Robin’s brilliance did not come without demons. He feared the days he would not be funny, the days when he did not receive the approval he very much craved. He struggled with addiction and divorced twice.
Yet for a time, he was a brilliant shining actor and comedian, a household name and someone not to be forgotten.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived here. This is to have succeeded.”
I grew up in the time of great comedians such as Eddy Murphy, Billy Crystal, John Candy, Ellen Degeneres, and of course Robin Williams.
I listened to this book on audio (fantastic narration by Fred Berman) and loved the trip down memory lane to movies I loved and now after listening to this, I want to have a Robin Williams day (or possibly week) where I watch all these greats:
Dead Poets Society – interesting to hear in the book the struggle not only to get Robin to do the part, but to get someone to make this idea a movie, only to become an Oscar Winning movie.
Good Morning Vietnam – a movie where Robin really was allowed to be himself, off the cuff humor what required little direction.
Mrs. Doubtfire: Interesting to hear the poor review from Roger Ebert comparing Dustin Hoffman’s Tootsie to being brilliant acting as opposed to Robin’s Mrs. Doubtfire basically just being Robin playing a woman with yet another of his voices. (personally I loved it and still laugh)
Good Will Hunting: Robin won an academy award for best supporting actor
Jumanji – so so good
And these are just to name my favorites.
He was of course not always politely correct (what comedian was/is) and a lot of his material he would not have got away with in todays world. There is one part where the books talks about a running joke he would use regarding the Hell’s Angels – until, at one show, Robin encounters some of the Hell’s Angels who tell him in no uncertain terms that his bit about them – has to go. And, it does.
If you enjoyed Robin Williams I highly recommend listening to or reading this book. I really found his life story interesting. As the book closes in on his final days and you start to interpret how he was saying good bye, you can not help but be saddened. He was a brilliant man and we were lucky to have had even just a piece of his magic for a little while.
I love the early days of winters end. It’s not quite spring, yet you can smell that it is coming. The air is crisp yet inviting. There are moments when the sun hits you just right and you know…
spring is on the way.
It’s been a crazy week of Beta Testing recipes, heavy work loads, friend time, dog walking and book discussing. There were a couple of nights I did not head home until 7ish. Full days but not complaining – the opposite I know all too well does not work for me.
The above pic are the books that found a new home with me this week.
Aiden Bishop knows the rules. Evelyn Hardcastle will die every day until he can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest at Blackheath Manor. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others. With a locked room mystery that Agatha Christie would envy, Stuart Turton unfurls a breakneck novel of intrigue and suspense.
For fans of Claire North, and Kate Atkinson, The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a breathlessly addictive mystery that follows one man’s race against time to find a killer, with an astonishing time-turning twist that means nothing and no one are quite what they seem.