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Book Club Musings

I belong to a small book club- there are only 3 of us.  There was one I'd been in for years (it was a bit larger with 6 members which is very ideal), but I've fallen out of it since Fast Eddie was born.  I think a lot of this has to do with the other members either not having children, or having grown children.  Most didn't understand my need to meet a bit later for a while, and after a while stopped asking me to meetings or updating me on the books.  I still moderate the online Yahoo group, so I do see their messages.  Perhaps it's selfish of me to want to be considered or updated.  However, these are people I've known for about 7 years, and I considered them close friends at one time.  Oh well, I'm not upset about it.  Our family has a rule that weeknights from 5:30-7:30 are family time.  If you are a working parent who doesn't get to see your child much during the day, I'm sure you understand how sacred I consider this tradition.

But, I digress...   This other book club branched off from another branch off of the original group, and ended up with completely different members.  We met this week at Russ' for dinner and dessert, and engaging discussion.  To be honest, usually our discussion isn't that engaging.  However, when we were choosing the book during our last meeting, I suggested we all take notes on the novel, and bring them with us.  I had a hunch it would make a world of difference, and it did!  Our notes included questions for each other, themes, symbolism, and more.  All 3 of us are literary types, but I think we had gotten lazy by printing off reading guides from the Internet.

My theory is that Internet reading guides are bunk.  The questions don't really generate a lot of discussion (in my experience), and lazy book club members think they're done once the questions are answered.  What really needs to happen is that members need to bring discussion questions that they have written. This way, they are personally invested in the discussion.  I can't remember a more enjoyable book club experience than this week, and I really feel it was all of the work that we did going into it.  After all, isn't that supposed to be what book clubs are about?  Sure, the community and food is important, but at the heart of the meeting should really be the book.

Here's to getting back on track, continued work on critical thinking skills (isn't this what I harp on my students about?), and engaging discussion!
  

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Chapter 2

Maryam is trying to be the perfect Mother-in-Law.  This actually may prevent her from getting close to Ziba.  This makes me wonder- should relationships be so self-conscious?  Do I have relationships that are this self-conscious?  I am a person who often struggles in friendships. I hate small talk and anything superficial or on the surface.  As I get older, and definitely since I've become a Mom, I've found myself abandoning those relationships that aren't "real". 

Other themes from this chapter that resonate with me:  the subtle and not-so-subtle competitiveness of motherhood; the ugly American trying overly hard to be politicall correct.

Chapter 3

This chapter opens with the Donaldson's perspective, and we see our first "planned" gathering.  The beginning of the arrival party for the adoptive girls showcases discord within the Donaldson family.  I love Tyler's description here- she shows family discord like it actually happens within most families.

the theme of competition within parenting styles continues to resonate with me throughout this chapter.  Tyler illustrates working vs. stay at home parenting styles really well- Ziba and Bitsy are still friends, but you can see some subtle cattiness on Bitsy's part, and overcompensating on Ziba's.  At the end of the chapter, it seems Bitsy is beginning to realize she needs to be herself as well as a Mother (She struggles with identities it seems.  I also wondered here if this was a parallel with the way her first marriage ended.  Does she lose herself in relationships by trying to be perfect?  is she similar to Maryam in this way?)

Recurring theme: So far, the entire book is taking place at gatherings.  Tyler also demonstrates cultural differences by rotating gatherings and having them hosted by each culture.

First Impressions: The description in the scene at the airport is amazing.  It's to the point, yet still manages to convey the emotion of waiting for an adoptive infant to arrive.  I was struck by the contrast between the families.  The tone was one of nervousness, excitement, tension, and anxiety.

Relating Personally: The carseat debacle.  I fuddled around with Matthew's for weeks before I figured it out.  This was the perfect way to show a new parent's uncertainty and inexperience.

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Getting Started

Usually I try to keep up with my commonplace book offline. However, I'm going to attempt through this blog to record my thoughts on my reading online.  I'll post ideas as I read, reviews, passages that speak to me, and more.  I may occassionally comment on current events as well.  

As if that's not enough to keep me busy, I'll also be keeping up with my other blog to chart Fast Eddie's growth.  

Wish me luck!