Monday, February 13, 2017

Week 2 Discussion: BORN A CRIME by Trevor Noah #12mos12rals

born a crime

Welcome to our second discussion of Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. Today we'll be finishing up Part I of the book. To check out our first week's discussion, go here.

  1. What do you think were the themes in Part I of the book? How were the essays tied together? Asking for a friend.
  2. In Chapter 4, Noah talks about the power of language and how it can overcome–or at the very least confuse–racism. He says if people speak the same language, they recognize one another as members of the same "tribe," even if they look completely different. "Maybe I didn't look like you, but if I spoke like you, I was you." Do you think this is true?
  3. What would you do if you came home and found out your kid had burned down someone's house?
  4. In Chapter 7, Noah talks about his dog Fufi and how she basically formed his entire philosophy regarding relationships. What do you think of this philosophy, and does this simile really work after you start thinking about it?
  5. Which chapter made you cry more, the one where Noah meets his father as an adult or the first chapter?
  6. Anything else that surprised you or you want to discuss?

Thanks for joining our discussion! If you posted about Born a Crime on your blog, please link back to it here so we don't miss it. Or feel free to post your responses in the comments.

Don't miss our next discussion on Monday, February 20th, where we'll cover all of Part II. See you then!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Week 1 Discussion: BORN A CRIME by Trevor Noah #12mos12rals

born a crime

Welcome to our first discussion of Trevor Noah's memoir, Born a Crime. This discussion covers chapters 1-3. It's a short segment, only about an hour's worth of reading, so if you're just joining us now you have plenty of time to catch up for our next discussion next Monday!

Here are a few questions to get the discussion started. Feel free to respond to any or all of them, or pose your own discussion points here in the comments, on Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog. If you do write a blog post for this week's discussion, be sure to post a link back so we don't miss it!

  1. Easy peasy question: are you enjoying the book so far? What do you think of Noah's writing style?
  2. What did you know about South Africa and apartheid before going into this book? Is there anything that's surprised you so far or that you've learned?
  3. How have you responded to each chapter? 
  4. Do you have any favorite quotes from the book you'd like to share?
  5. What's your initial impression of Noah's mother? What about Noah himself?
  6. Noah says that everything that's gone wrong in his life has been because of a secondhand car. Have you ever felt like that about anything?

We hope you're enjoying Born a Crime so far, and look forward to seeing what you think of it! Be sure to stop by next Monday for our discussion of the second half of Part I.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Introducing BORN A CRIME by Trevor Noah #12mos12rals

born a crime trevor noah

The second book in our year of 12 Months 12 Readalongs is Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. You might recognize Noah as the host of The Daily Show, but way before that he was a kid growing up in South Africa as "a crime": his very existence was illegal under Apartheid because his mom was black and his father was white. Born a Crime tells the story of his childhood.

Here's the blurb from the publisher:

The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man's coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Trevor Noah's unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents' indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa's tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man's relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother: his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother's unconventional, unconditional love.

The memoir is quite short, so this should be a low-pressure readlong. If you read 10 pages a day (or listen to 20 minutes of the audiobook every day), you'll be able to easily keep up! Here's the schedule:

  • Monday, February 6th: Chapters 1-3 Discussion
  • Monday, February 13th: Chapters 4-8 (End of Part I) Discussion
  • Monday, February 20th: Chapters 9-14 (Part II) Discussion
  • Tuesday, February 28th: Chapters 15-18 (Part III) Discussion and Wrap-Up

Feel free to join in the discussion on your own blog, here in the discussion post comments, or even tag us on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #12mos12rals.

See you back here in a few days for our first discussion!

Monday, January 30, 2017

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman: Week Four #12mos12rals

Welcome to the final week of discussions for our new 2017 project, #12mos12rals!!  Be sure to stay tuned in for more information on our next read coming later this week.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman:  Week Four
Chapters 30-End, Pages 258-End

Today marks our final conversation about our first book of 2017.  If you have read the book, feel free to link up your overall thoughts or reviews in the linky below.  I would love to hear more about your thoughts on this book.

I loved this quote from the book . . .
"Loving someone is like moving into a house," Sonja used to say.  "At first you fall in love with all the new things, amazed every morning that all this belongs to you, as if fearing that someone would suddenly come rushing in through the door to explain that a terrible mistake had been made, you were actually supposed to live in a wonderful place like this.  Then over the years the walls become weathered, the wood splinters here and there, and you start to love that house not so much because of all its perfection, but rather for its imperfections.  You get to know all the nooks and crannies.  How to avoid getting the key caught in the lock when it's cold outside.  Which of the floorboards flex slightly when one steps on them or exactly how to open the wardrobe doors without them creaking.  These are the little secrets that make it your home." (p. 305-306)
Comment on this quote, or share one of your own favorites from the book.

The truism “it takes a village to raise a child” has some resonance with A Man Called Ove. How does the eclectic cast of posers, suits, deadbeats, and teens each help Ove in their own way?  (From Backman's reading group guide.)

Much of the story of Ove’s life remains untold. Imagine a scene from Ove’s life that we didn’t see, and try your hand at writing it out. Short or long, funny or serious, do your best to get into Ove’s head and depict an event that led him to become the lovable pain in the neck that we meet in the book. (From Backman's reading group guide, enhance your book club.)


Thank you to all you have participated in the first book of #12mos12rals!  We look forward to reading with you all this year, and hearing your thoughts on our selections.  Stay tuned for more information on our next book, Born a Crime by Trevor Noah.  And, don't forget to enter to win in our surprise giveaway linked above!

Monday, January 23, 2017

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman: Week Three #12mos12rals

Welcome to the third week of discussions for our new 2017 project, #12mos12rals!!  We only have one week left before this great conversation comes to an end.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman:  Week Three
Chapters 19-29, Pages 171-257

Before we begin, please note that this conversation only covers the noted chapters/pages above.  Please do not share any spoilers beyond this point!

Let's talk about the significance of the cats in this story.  The first one we meet is the one that simply does not leave Ove alone, and frequently sits outside his house.  The second, yet the first to come in a chronological timeline, was actually his late wife's cat.  What is the importance of both of these felines?

We finally learn about what happened with Ove's wife.  Throughout the previous chapters, we get some hints, but we are mainly left in the dark.  What are your thoughts about receiving only bit by bit until we are two-thirds of the way through the book?

Parvenah.  She is quite the character that adds so much this tale.  Without her, the story would simply not be the same.  What stands out to you as a reader about her?

That's it for this week! Share your thoughts below in the comments section and/or feel free to link up in the linky below. Next week, we will chatting about chapters 30-End, pages 258-End.


Until next week, happy reading!

Friday, January 20, 2017

A Man Called Ove: Surprise!! #12mos12rals

I am so excited to announce a special surprise for our #12mos12rals participants!  Atria Books and Simon & Schuster got word that we were featuring A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman this month, and they have graciously decided to share three signed bookplates in honor of the event!  Thank you so much Atria Books and Simon & Schuster!!  Be sure to check out the author's website for more information on our featured read as well as more books by Backman.

To be entered to win one of these special surprises, complete the form below AND comment on at least one of the discussion posts throughout the month.  Entries will be accepted through Monday, January 30 at 11:59 PM MST.  Winners will be announced via email and here on the blog on Tuesday, January 31.

Best of luck to all of you, and thank you for joining in the readalong fun!

Monday, January 16, 2017

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman: Week Two #12mos12rals

Welcome to the second week of discussions for our new 2017 project, #12mos12rals!!  Be sure to be watching for a fun little surprise coming later this week!

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman:  Week Two
Chapters 10-18, Pages 86-170

Before we begin, please note that this conversation only covers the noted chapters/pages above.  Please do not share any spoilers beyond this point!

At the end of last week's chapters (through chapter 9), I was not sure if I wanted to keep reading.  I was scared to know what would become of dear ol' Ove.

I was not aware when I began this book that a trigger warning may have been warranted.  Suicide recurs again and again, or at least attempts too.  And, suicide for me can be a difficult topic to come across unexpectedly in a novel.  Were you affected by this in any way?  How do you tend to react when you experience triggers while reading a book?

Ove's wife, Sonja once said, "You only need one ray of light to chase all the shadows away" (p. 108).  This quote really struck a chord with me.  Do you notice it while reading?  If not, what are your thoughts reading it outside of the story?

Comment on your reaction to the interaction between Ove and Beppo the Clown.  How did this exchange transform the relationship between Ove and the neighbor girls?

Was there anything else significant that you would like to discuss within this latest bout of reading?  Anything that stood out for you that I have not yet addressed in my discussion questions.

That's it for this week! Share your thoughts below in the comments section and/or feel free to link up in the linky below. Next week, we will chatting about chapters 19-29, pages 171-257.

In case you missed last week's discussion, click here.