The Benefits of Joining a Book Club

Benefits of Joining a Book Club

I strongly believe in literature. The best way to pass time is with an iced coffee in the summer/hot latte in the winter, and a great book in your hand. When I was 5, I sat on the couch with my mom – who valiantly homeschooled me for two years before my dad begged her to give up homeschooling and ship my social butterfly self off to a public school – practicing phonics and learning to read. As soon as I started, I was “hooked on phonics.” Ha. Get it? Anyway, I love reading and can spend many an hour submerged in an alternate universe. In fact, I would get in trouble as a child for reading too much. If I was supposed to clean my room, maybe I would clean for a little bit, but then I would get distracted by reading. Whoops.

There was a time or two I legitimately was grounded from reading. Now that I’m an adult and married, I can read all I want – as long as I feed and water my husband daily.

Two years ago, I graduated with a B.A in English with an emphasis in creative writing. It is my lifelong dream to get paid to drink coffee, read, and discuss literature. Ever since I graduated, I wanted to start a book club. So as soon as life settled down (aka I wasn’t wedding planning anymore) I started the book club, A Novel Idea. I can’t take credit for the name; I googled clever titles.

Once a month/once every six weeks, between 6-10 women meet up at a local coffee shop, book in hand, caffeinated, ready to discuss our most recent pick.

I knew I needed intellectual discussion to enlighten my life, and I must say I leave quite invigorated from our book club meetings.

The Benefits of Joining a Book Club

The benefits of a book club are immense.

First of all, you discover new genres you didn’t know you liked.

Book clubs are a great way to pull you out of your literary comfort zone. While I love a good poet, I’m not one to pick out a collection of poems for a book club. But as some of the ladies in our group were going through finals week, we picked Milk and Honey one month and I found it to be one of our favorite reads. Each of us came armed with a poem and our analysis of it, and I was in awe of how we each picked apart our respective poems.

You see the world through multiple lenses.  

One of my favorite things about getting together in groups is the discussion that lights a fire under our idealogies. Because I come from a liberal arts background, I prefer to learn through engaging in discussion rather than a lecture based atmosphere. An aspect I enjoy about book clubs is that we see something one way, and someone else comes at it from a different perspective. Our personal stories shade the way we view the world, and the way which we view literature. We get to grow and honor each other as we learn to see through someone else’s lense.

Likewise, books open our eyes to see the world a different way. We recently finished Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I absolutely adore her writing style, but even more so, I appreciate that she speaks so vulnerably about something like immigration and the cultural nuances between the American and Non-American Black. As a white lady in the South, if I’m not surrounded by diversity,  I’m not going to know or understand immigration or the cultures associated without opening a book (or a journal article, etc.)

Your vocabulary expands. 

For instance, I can now identify when a Coquette. Of course, I could always identify when a lady was particularly flirty, but if I had not read “Lady Susan” recently, I would not associate “coquette” with a flirt because I didn’t even know the word “coquette” existed until yesterday. Had I not taken the moment to look up this new word, I would have assumed “coquette” was the same as “etiquette” because they sound similar. Thank goodness for smart phones, because now we have a dictionary at the flash of a few typed letters. Back in the olden days, I had to get off my couch, pick up the dictionary and thumb through an actual hard copy of a dictionary.

(I am now envisioning Rory Gilmore’s dismay at the smart phone; no one appreciates the old OED anymore! Remember when her dad tried to buy her the entire Oxford English Dictionary set? I kind of drooled at that scene.)

You form deeper relationships. 

There are friends, and then there are book club friends. When you have traipsed through the emotional roller coaster of an intense 600 page novel, you emerge finding yourself in a deeper community. I loved all the ladies in my book club, but now that we have been together for going on six months, exploring the depths of our society, femininity, and racial tensions through the written word, I am acknowledging a relationship that can only come from sharing a love for literature and discussion of novels and the world around us.

Benefits of Joining a Book Club

I am, of course, feeling slightly romantic as I type because I signed up to audit a Jane Austen seminar for the next month. It will be like a book club on steroids and give me the nostalgia for my collegiate days. I set up in our dining room last night surrounded by notebooks, books, pens, high lighters, and of course potato chips, and coffee, and fell in love with learning all over again (much like I do each time I open a good book.)

I will do my darndest to be consistent with posting in this little corner that I love so much, but if you find that I’ve fallen off the earth, never fear, I’ve fallen into the arms of Mr. Darcy. (Mr. Darcy, consequently, being my super supportive husband who encourages me to chase my dreams and is very appreciative of this course I’m auditing because it means I will be holed up in our dining room, allowing him more FIFA time.)

Until then, I bid you adieu.

Have you ever participated in a book club?
What are your top 3 favorite reads?

Tuesdays with Morrie + a Spring Giveaway!

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So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-slip, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning. (P 43)

Last fall I ventured past an antique shop that had books sitting on a table outside. I picked up Tuesdays with Morrie because it was only a dollar; I hadn’t the slightest inkling that my life would be forever changed. 
The older we get, the more we think about death. I don’t think about death that much right now because I’m in my early twenties. But I went a couple weeks thinking about death a lot, especially when the woman with terminal cancer chose to end her life on November 1st. My heart was broken for her and her family. I didn’t try to understand her reasoning, and I had no desire to get into the debate on physician assisted suicide, but instead I tried to empathize. . . With her, with her mom, her dad, her husband, her best friend. What would it be like to know your life is coming to a close, and to suffer through that? 
Tuesdays with Morrie gives us a glimpse of what that life is like. I think if Morrie had a choice to go with euthanasia, that he would have thought long and hard about it. I believe that Morrie would weigh the pros and cons – it would allieviate the suffering of his family, but he would also feel like he was cheating life. Morrie, the main character of Tuesdays with Morrie approaches life with a vibrance and love to learn, grow, and teach others about the beauties of life. In his prime, he was a sociology professor who poured into his students by day and went dancing by night. He attacked life with wonder, awe, and vigor. And then he is diagnosed with ALS.
Morrie doesn’t live in denial that his life is coming to an end, but instead he embraces dying – a new season in life – and even uses his circumstance to ponder the truths, ugliness, and realities of the world, and impart his final wisdom to his star student, Mitch Albom.
Mitch Albom, the author, sees Morrie on an episode of Dateline NBC. At this time, Albom had lost his job. But even more than losing his job, Albom had lost his direction, his college ambition to change the world and do something he loves. Instead he did what brought the most money and power to him – a mistake we are all tempted to make.
In the final fourteen weeks of his life, Albom flies in to visit Morrie every Tuesday, because they were “Tuesday men.” Morrie ventured into death as his final project (p 10). Unfortunately, we don’t really ask ourselves the hard, important  questions until we are in a place where there may be no way to change the answer. But once you get your fingers on the important questions, you can’t turn away from them (p 175).
What are the important questions? Well, Morrie dives into the important questions along with providing pearls of wisdom on questions that have to do with love, responsibility, spirituality, awareness (p 175). 
Have you found someone to share your heart with?
Are you giving to your community?
Are you at peace with yourself?
Are you trying to be as human as you can be? (p 34) 
When we are on our death bed, we might not like the answers we have to give ourselves. Beating ourselves up over our lack of life near the end will do us no good, though. Morrie writes what Albom calls bite-sized philosophies about living in death’s shadow: ‘Accept what you are able to do and what you are not able to do; Accept the past as past without denying it or discarding it; Learn to forgive yourself and to forgive others; Don’t assume that it’s too late to get involved’  (p 18).
Don’t assume it’s too late to get involved” reminds me to reach outside of myself; stop sitting on my butt and lamenting the fact that I’ve done so little. I still have a lot of life to do, and I have to be proactive and reach for it. “Accept what you are able to do and what you are not able to do” encourages me; I DON’T HAVE TO BE EVERYTHING. “Learn to forgive yourself and to forgive others” Oh how this reverberates in the chambers of my heart. I have the forgiving others thing down pat, but I don’t know how to forgive myself. But for a fulfilled life, I must learn. “Accept the past as past without dying it or discarding it” – when we forgive, we are told to “forget.” But we can’t forget. The past made us who we are, the past shaped us. We are not our past anymore, we don’t have to live in our past, but we do recognize that it happened, and we are stronger because of the inevitable pain that accumulates in each of our pasts. 
If you want a book to stop and make you think; if you want a book that will cause you to take a hard look at your life as you go to sleep instead of scrolling through Instagram (it’s all the same: coffee, painted nails, dogs, cocktails, and smiling lovers), then I highly suggest, nay encourage, no! Implore you to pick up Tuesdays with Morrie. 

My world was shattered; tell me yours was too.

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On a brighter note, how about some free stuff?!


With spring just around the corner, we could all use a little extra money for some spring-y things: spring shopping, spring cleaning supplies (yuck!), Easter baskets, treats for yourself. Instead of dishing out all of your own hard-earned money, the people of The Blogging Elite Facebook group are giving you the opportunity to win a $180 Amazon.com gift card, and I think we all already know that Amazon pretty much has everything we could possibly want. 

Enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter below, and don’t forget to visit the awesome bloggers from The Blogging Elite! The giveaway is open through the end of March, so don’t miss out!




Tiffany | Nina | Tianna | Ashley | Kati

Kirsten | Heather | Kylea | Dana | Jessica 

Erica | Rosa | Tiffany | Neli | Katie

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24 Books in 12 Months

I’ve noticed a lot of bloggers have been posting their book goals for the year, and I wanted in on the fun. With all this time on my hands after I graduate (read: I won’t have homework anymore and I’ll be a boring adult with hopefully a 40 hour a week job), I’ll have all this extra time and I’ll need to occupy myself. 
I have this goal of becoming a lifelong learner. I don’t ever want to stop. Thankfully, my mom instilled in me the desire to read. I remember being five years old and sitting on our black couch in our evergreen living room while Mom made me go over my Phonix homework. I kept brushing my blonde bob cut hair out of my face, and giving mom a very frustrated look, maybe it was because she had cut my hair into a bob, or maybe it was because I had better things to do on a hot day than sit inside and learn how diphthongs work. My jaw began to hurt from clenching it so tightly with annoyance, and my throat had a huge lump in it. (I’ve been cursed with this desire to cry when I’m frustrated.) 
I am so thankful that my mom made me learn phonics, though, because where would I be now? Ever since then, I’ve had a love for books. Book Fair day was my favorite day of school back in elementary school. I had all the kids versions of the Classics. 
Since college started, I don’t have as much time to read for fun like I used to. But soon that all will change. I hope. And these are the books I want to read this year! 
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years – Donald Miller
 Ok, it was on the list, but I already finished it last week. Still counts, right?

Jesus Is – Judah Smith
 I have had this book on Kindle for a couple years now. I saw Judah Smith speak at Passion and I loved how he portrayed the gospel so bluntly and realistically. I’ve read a few chapters, but I definitely want to finish it this year! 

Jesus Feminist – Sarah Bessey
 I used to read Sarah Bessey’s blog daily. In this day and age, “feminist” has a bad connotation, but I believe Christian women can and should be feminists. I want to explore more on the topic.

Yes, Please – Amy Poehler 
I’m in love with Amy Poehler. If Bossypants by Tina Fey made me laugh out loud, I have no doubt Leslie Knope will crack me up as well.

Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neal Hurston 
This has been on my shelf since my amazing second-hand bookstore finds back in the summer, and I have still yet to finish it! 

Evidence Not Seen:  A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of WWII – Darlene Deiber Rose
My Aunt suggested I read the book, so read it I will!

The Art of War for Writers – James Bell Scott
Because I’m a writer, duh.

Life of Pi – Yann Martel
Because my boyfriend’s name is Pai, duh. Just kidding. 

The Waves – Virginia Wolf
Yet another bookstore find that I haven’t even opened yet.

Jacob’s Room – Virginia Wolf
This is in the same book as The Waves. Two for the price of one? Ok ok, I feel you Ms. Wolf.

The Road – Cormack McCarthy
I tried to read The Road back in my early high school days, but it went wayyy over my head, so hopefully with a more mature lens I can appreciate the art of McCarthy’s style.

Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand
Everyone’s obsessed, and I need to know why.

Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
Because food and Jesus. (I know, she’s Hindu or something of the sort.)

Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom
I found this book outside an antique store for $1, and so I said, “Why not??” I’m currently reading this one, and so far I am absolutely loving it. 
Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? – Mindy Kaling
Mindy Kaling is hilarious, and I’ve heard amazing things about it. If her Instagram feed makes me smile, then I know I definitely have to check out the book.

The Silver Linings Playook – Matthew Quick
I love love loved the movie, and even though I’m a book –> movie snob, I’ve seen it recommended on Goodreads.

The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
I remember a lot of my friends talking about this book in high school, and I really enjoyed the movie, so now I want to try the book as well!

A Land of a Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini 
Because I heard this one was even better than The Kite Runner

The Divergent Series
I really really really didn’t want to read these books, but my curiosity is taking over. Hopefully it’s as good as everyone says it is.

The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith
I bought this book once I found out the author was actually J.K. Rowling, and I got half way through and quit. It’s not as good as Harry Potter, but it definitely deserves a second chance. 

No Country for Old Men – Cormack McCarthy
Yet another second hand bookstore find that I have heard wonderful things about. This is another book I’m halfway through and haven’t finished. 

The Shack – WM. Paul Young
Because my boyfriend wants me to read it.

I Know why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou is such a timeless and influential author that I really want to read something of hers, so here I am finding out why the caged bird sings. 

Scary Close – Donald Miller
I’m in love with Donald Miller and his books. I almost pre-ordered this book, but I have so many books on my plate I can wait until it’s been out a few months. 
Looking at all these, I guess the theme should be: “Finish all the books I’ve started over my life in 2015.” Almost half of these books I’ve started and quit. I admit, I’m a total book snob. I’m hard to please.
But what about you? 

What books are you reading this year? If you have a whole post about it, leave me a link in the comments so I can check it out! 

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Chicken Soup for the Soul: BOOKS

I’m just in one of those incredible moods today – you know the ones where you’re giddy for absolutely no reason? 

 

I saw the sunrise this morning, then went back to sleep for three more hours, got in a good thirty minute swim, a lunch date with my dad, and now I’m back out by my pool by myself with  my Sonic Raspberry Limeade and some glorious “Me Time.” I have my 50 SPF + my tanning oil so maybe this white girl will get a teensy bit more bronze by the next time I have to take a picture with someone darker than me.

 

You know what else is also awesome?? Books.

 

Books are so good for the soul, and good for your brain, and are just bundles of learning and happiness (or sadness, depending on what you have in your hands.)

 

Now I must admit, college has turned me into a bit of a book snob. I can’t do trashy romance novels anymore (not that I ever read any, MOM), and I like to glean something out of what I read these days. 

 

I signed up to do the Book Swap with Tiffany & co this month, and I must encourage all of you to do something like this at least once in your blogging lifetime. 

 

I was paired with Lissa from all the way across the country, but you can find her little corner of the internet: Here

 

Lissa and I took some time to get to know each other, and we both found out that even though we have different tastes, we have read a lot of the same books! She’s more interested in the Dystopian mysterious side of things, while I prefer realistic literature. She even had made surveys for us to fill out to get to know each other better! What a smart cookie is she.

I got so excited when I alighted upon a package from her this week. I received not only one, but THREE books! So obviously I have not had time to read them all yet, but they’re the perfect coffee table books. Note to self: Get a coffee table.

 

Aren’t those page clips adorable?!

 

Lissa is definitely more creative than I am; I’m even in love with the adorable thumb print card she sent.

 

She picked the Eat, Shoot, and Leaves book for me because I am an English major. It’s a comedic explanation of why we grammar nazis are the way we are.

 

Stuff White People Like is based off of my Signs You Might be a Typical White Girl blog post.

 

Letters from a Nut is this RIDICULOUS book of outrageous complaints and requests from this Ted L. Nancy. I’ve been reading this book at break, and I’m LOL’ing, which I’m sure my co-workers think I’m the nut, because they don’t read much English and don’t understand what I’m laughing at, or quite possibly they don’t even understand me half the time. Which, that isn’t saying much because I don’t understand me half the time. 

 

Lissa was probably the best partner in this swap, so I feel sad for all of you who didn’t have her. But besides being an awesome partner, it’s been lovely getting to meet and get to know someone new. Creating new friendships is really what this blogging community is all about, right? 

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Summer Blog Swap