Monday, May 22, 2017

THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie: Week Three Discussion

Welcome to the third week of discussion for THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie!  This week we are chatting about the chapters through, but not including, IN LIKE A LION.  Let's do it!

"You have to dream big to get big."  This is what Arnold's dad told him to encourage him to try out for the basketball team.  What is one thing that your parent(s) said to you to provide you encouragement when you were doubting yourself.

Let's talk about the chapter REINDEER GAMES.  Within this chapter, there were so many little quotes and themes that we can chat about.  We will stick with two . . .

Arnold writes, "I've learned that the worst thing a parent can do is ignore their children."  There was really so much more to the parenting conversation than this comment, but let's stick with this quote for now.  Do you agree or disagree with this statement?  Why or why not?

Family was a huge theme to this chapter.  Family values differ across groups and cultures.  What are one or two values that you hold in regards to family?  How is this important to your own culture?

Let's end with on lighter note.  At the end of this section, Arnold begins sharing lists; writing lists were his way to grieve through his loss.  Choose one of these lists, and share what would be on your own list:  people who have given you the most joy in life, musicians who have given you the most joyous music, favorite foods, favorite books, or favorite basketball players.

Next week, we will be discussing the rest of the book!  Read to the end, and let's chat about our overall thoughts on the book.

Monday, May 15, 2017


Welcome to the second week of discussion for THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie!  This week we are chatting about the chapters through, but not including, DANCE, DANCE, DANCE.  Let's just dive in!

Throughout this section of the book, we really get to look in on an Indian's point of view because Junior heads to Reardan for school ... the only Indian in the school besides the mascot.  It is here that we get this first exchange between Junior and his dad . . .
"Just remember this," my father said.  "Those white people aren't better than you."
But he was wrong.  And he knew he was wrong.  He was the loser Indian father of a loser Indian son living in a world built for winners.
Shortly after this exchange, Junior shares one of his comics featured in the photo below.

These two items are in the first chapter from our reading for the week and speak so loud to a theme found throughout.  Share your thoughts on these two items, as well as your first reactions to Junior's first exposure to Reardan High School.

Junior meets Gordy, and eventually they become friends.  One of the conversations that helps to cement their relationship is one about books.  Gordy shares with Junior that books give him a boner!
"Well, I don't mean boner in the sexual sense . . . I don't think you should run through life with a real erect penis.  But you should approach each book - you should approach life - with the real possibility that you might get a metaphorical boner at any point."
What was your reaction to this passage?

Lastly, compare and/or contrast the friendship between Junior and Rowdy versus Junior and Gordy.

Next week, we will be discussing through, but not including the chapter, IN LIKE A LION.  

Monday, May 8, 2017


Welcome to the first week of discussion for THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie!  This week we are chatting about the chapters through, but not including, HOW TO FIGHT MONSTERS.  Let's just dive in!
  1. Have you previously read any work by Sherman Alexie?  If yes, what books have you read?  If no, what do you think about his writing style so far?
  2. Alexie does not beat around the bush in his writing, and is not afraid to tackle some hard topics.  In the first chapters of the book, he addresses race, poverty, and masturbation, to name just a few.  Did any of these (mentioned or not) cause you discomfort while reading?  Let's hear the details, as you feel comfortable sharing.
  3. Hope.  Junior's parents define hope as white.  He believes it to be nothing more than a mythical creature.  How would you define hope?  How has your experiences contribute to this definition?
  4. We end our weekly reading with Junior's best friend, Rowdy, becoming his worst enemy.  How did you respond to these words?  Now, let's consider his illustration that accompanies these words?  How did this addition affect your reaction?

Next week, we will be discussing through, but not including the chapter, DANCE, DANCE, DANCE.  I find the book to be an easy read, so it will be hard to stop reading here!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


It's May, and what better way to celebrate the beginning of a new month than with the beginning of a new readalong!  Woohoo!!

This month, we will be reading THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie.  Before I get to the schedule, let me share the description of the book courtesy of Goodreads . . .
Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.
Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

I believe this will be a fairly quick read, but I want us to take it slow and really appreciate the work of Alexie.  Therefore, we will be breaking the book up throughout the entire month.  If you cannot resist and must read on, feel free to do so.  Just be cautious of sharing spoilers within our conversations here on the blog based upon the selected readings.

Now, for the schedule . . . In this book, the chapters are not numbered; therefore, the chapters listed are what we will read TO each week. Once you get to the chapter noted, STOP reading (if you can) and join in the conversation.

May 8: How to Fight Monsters
May 15: Dance, Dance, Dance
May 22: In Like a Lion
May 29: END!

Grab your copy of THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN, and come join in the reading fun!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Discussion: THE VEGETARIAN by Han Kang

the vegetarian

Welcome to the April readalong discussion of The Vegetarian by Han Kang. I managed to read the whole thing during the Readathon, which officially makes it the first and only book I've ever started and completed in one Readathon. Yay! If you chatted about it online with me, thank you! I hope you had a chance to read it and that you'll participate in our discussion.

There is A LOT going on in this under-200-pages novel. Like any brilliant story, the setup is deceptively simple: Yeong-hye, a seemingly ordinary wife, decides to stop eating meat. NBD, right? Well, as her husband says, it wouldn't be a big deal if she was doing it for "socially acceptable" reasons like losing weight or because her doctor told her she should. Instead, she does it because she had a dream–a dream that gradually seems to infect and wreak havoc on the lives of those around her.

And now, onto the discussion questions! Feel free to answer any or all of these, or post your own burning questions in the comments.


  • First of all! What did you think of the book in general?
  • We never get to hear directly from Yeong-hye except in brief snippets of dream and memory. Why do you think the author tells her story through the lens of other people? Do you think this is effective?
  • Yeong-hye says she stopped eating meat because she had a dream. What do you think the dream was actually about?
  • Vegetarianism and fasting has been used as a form of social protest in the past, particularly among women (see, for example, "The Awakened Instinct: Vegetarianism and the Women's Suffrage Movement in Britain" by Leah Leneman and The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol J Adams). Do you think this is what Yeong-hye is doing? Is she refusing to eat meat in order to stick it to the goddamn patriarchy?
  • As the story goes on, Yeong-hye seems to be transforming into a plant herself (or at least wanting to). Is this an art-imitating-life situation? It seems like her husband treated her as little more than a plant to begin with.
  • Yeong-hye's brother-in-law may seem more sympathetic to her than her husband, but is he?
  • There's a surprising amount of violence, both sexual and physical, in this book. Why do you think that is?
  • There are a lot of themes in the novel: obsession, dreams, conformity and acting "normal," choosing to act morally and choosing not to. Which of these themes stood out for you the most?
  • Finally, what did you think of the ending? Does it negate the previous sections of the book?

Before putting this discussion to rest, I HIGHLY recommend you read this review of The Vegetarian by an actual vegetarian familiar with Korean culture.

Thanks for your patience this month and get ready for May, when Tif will host a readalong of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Announcing Our First Ever Live Readalong!

the vegetarian

One of the reasons why I picked The Vegetarian by Han Kang for our April readalong was because it sounded like the perfect Readathon book: something short and fast enough that you could read it in one sitting.

Well, the Readathon is only a few days away and, because the library holds gods have not been kind to me, I haven't had a chance to read The Vegetarian yet. So I had a thought: since the whole idea behind The Vegetarian was to read it during the Readathon anyway, why not do a live readalong on Saturday??

I'll be using #TheVegetarianBBI during the Readathon to track my progress (in addition to the #Readathon hashtag) and I hope you'll join me on any platform you prefer: Twitter, Facebook, Litsy, Instagram, whatever!

Already read the book or aren't planning on participating in Saturday's 24 Hour Readathon? No worries, I'll have a traditional discussion post up here, hopefully before Sunday.

Thanks for your patience this month and chat with you all on Saturday!

Monday, March 27, 2017

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Colson Whitehead: Week Four #12mos12rals

It's the final week of discussion for THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD!  Can you believe it?  Time flew by this month!  This week, we are finalizing our discussion with the last three chapters/sections of the book, including INDIANA, MABEL, and THE NORTH.  As usual, I encourage chatter addressing these questions, but you can always bring up your own topics that I may have missed.



  • In this section, we slowly discover what happens to Cora after Ridgeway.  How does Cora change once arriving at Valentine's farm?
  • Throughout the story, the underground railroad created by Whitehead features actual trains.  At the Tennessee location, we see "the most splendid locomotive yet" complete with a passenger car and jolly engineer.  What is the significance behind Whitehead's interpretations of the railroad and the differences among the different forms of transportation?
  • "Work needn't be suffering, it could unite folks . . . Freedom was a community laboring for something lovely and rare."  Respond to this quote.
  • "We are not one people but many different people.  How can one person speak for this great, beautiful race - which is not one race but many, with a million desires and hopes and wishes for ourselves and our children?"  How can this quote relate to our modern day?

  • We finally learn the fate of Mabel, Cora's mother.  How does knowing her fate affect the rest of the story?

  • Each of the sections titled by a location begins with a sort of classified ad looking for lost property.  Let's talk about this final ad, Ran Away.
  • Homer stands by Ridgeway's side until the very end, creating a complicated relationship throughout the story.  What are your thoughts on his character?  Do they change throughout the story?
  • Cora's travels through the underground result in her miraculous escape.  What hopes do you believe she holds in her future?  What hopes do you have for her?


Stay tuned for our next readalong in April ... THE VEGETARIAN by Han Kang hosted by Tasha!

Monday, March 20, 2017

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Colson Whitehead: Week Three #12mos12rals

Welcome back to another week of discussion for THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD!  This week, we are going to discuss the three more chapters/sections of the book, including ETHEL, TENNESSEE, and CAESAR.  Please read on for specific questions to address, but please feel free to chat about anything beyond these questions that you deem fit.



  • We get a little glimpse into Ethel's life in this chapter.  Does this change your initial impressions of her based on the last section?  Why or why not?
  • Last week, I asked if you thought Ethel had give Cora kisses while she was sleeping through a fever.  We discover here that those kisses are real, but are accompanied by "two kinds of feeling."  What kinds of feeling do you think they might be?

  • The appearance of Homer adds an interesting relationship to Ridgeway and the story in general.  Share your thoughts on his appearance and/or role in the story.
  • Cora was rescued by three "runaways."  What do you believe was their story?

  • We finally get to learn more about Caesar, his past, and his intentions.  With this new information, what do you take away regarding the man and his character?


Next week, we will be back on Monday to chat about the next three sections:  INDIANA, MABEL, and THE NORTH.  This is our last round of chapters, and I am looking forward to reading the conclusion and chatting with you all.

Monday, March 13, 2017

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Colson Whitehead: Week Two #12mos12rals

Welcome to another week of discussion for THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD!  Today, we are here to discuss the next three chapters/sections of the book, including SOUTH CAROLINA, STEVENS, and NORTH CAROLINA.  Please read on for specific questions to address, but I encourage you to take your own route if you so desire.


  • Cora's life changed drastically after getting on the underground railroad.  In addition to getting used to her new name of Bessie, what other changes did she have to get used to?  What do you believe would be the hardest change to become accustomed to?
  • "Stolen bodies working stolen land."  Comment.
  • Dr. Bertram shares the truth of the hospital's work with the black population, and Sam passes on the information/warning to Cora and Caesar.  While reading this, my mind flashed to the biography THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS.  What similarities do you see between the medical stories?

  • A new character is introduced: Stevens, a medical student and body snatcher. What are your impressions of this man? 
  • What is the meaning of the following quote in your own words? "And if you could make a study of the dead, Steven's thought from time to time, you could make a study of the living, and make them testify as no cadaver could."

  • Martin's father left him a treasure when he died.  "The treasure, of course, was the underground railroad.  Some might call freedom the dearest currency of all, but it was not what Martin expected."  What do you imagine was Martin's initial reaction to discovering this treasure?  Comment on freedom as currency, and the underground railroad as treasure.
  • Cora did not see Ethel beyond the first night she arrived.  That is, until Cora became ill and Ethel became her caregiver.  Cora imagined a motherly kiss while she was in the midst of fever.  Do you think the kiss was real or imagined?  Why or why not?
  • What are your thoughts at the conclusion of this chapter?  Do you feel any hope for Cora?  How about Martin and Ethel?


Tell me what you are thinking of the story so far, whether you answer the specific questions or not!  I am excited to chat more about this book!  

Next week, we will be back on Monday to chat about the next three sections:  ETHEL, TENNESSEE, and CAESAR.  This is a shorter week of reading, so if you are behind in reading it's a great time to catch-up.  See you all back again next week.

Monday, March 6, 2017

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Colson Whitehead: Week One #12mos12rals

Welcome to the first week of discussion for THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD!  Today, we are here to discuss the first three chapters/sections of the book, including AJARRY, GEORGIA, and RIDGEWAY.  Please read on for specific questions to address, but I encourage you to take your own route if you so desire.


  • In this first chapter, we are first introduced to Cora.  What are your first impressions?
  • The bulk of the chapter explores Cora's grandmother, Ajarry and her story.  How much of Ajarry's story influences Cora?
  • Comment on the opening and closing of the chapter:  "This was her grandmother talking." vs "This time it was her mother talking."

  • Let's talk about Jockey.  What is the importance of his character to the story within this chapter?
  • How did the Hob affect Cora, both positively and negatively?
  • What was it that caused Cora to step in between Chester and Terrance at Jockey's party?  Why did Chester not want anything to do with Cora after she tried to save him?
  • What attracted Caesar to Cora?  Why did he choose her to run away with?
  • Comment on your initial reaction to the underground railroad.  Was it described as you expected?  Why or why not?

  • In this chapter, we meet Ridgeway.  What are your first impressions of him?
  • It was Ridgeway that was the lead behind finding Cora's mother when she escaped.  Now, he is on the case of Cora herself, and is determined more than ever to destroy the underground railroad.  Why does he feel so strongly about this destruction?


Feel free to answer any or all of the questions listed above.  Feel free to address any that you feel that I have missed.  Feel free to link up below, or feel free to just comment here at the bottom of the post.  

Next week, we will be back on Monday to chat about the next three sections:  SOUTH CAROLINA, STEVENS, AND NORTH CAROLINA.  See you all back again next week.

Friday, March 3, 2017


ICYMI:  We are reading THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Colson Whitehead this month for our #12mos12rals.  What could be better timing than a little FREE copy of the audiobook?!?  You have only 18 days left to take advantage of this offer (from the time this post goes live)!

I discovered this fun little surprise thanks to an announcement from Book Riot, but you can find the direct link here.

Click here for our full reading schedule for the month.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Introducing THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Colson Whitehead #12mos12rals

Today is the first of March, which means another readalong for #12mos12rals here at Book Bloggers International!  During March, we will be reading and discussing the National Book Award Winner, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.  For those who may not be familiar with the book, here is a description from the publisher, Double Day Books . . .
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted. 
In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom. 
Like the protagonist of Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey—hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre–Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

For those joining in the week-by-week reading, here is the official schedule.  Feel free to read just the selected reading listed below, or read ahead because you can't put the book down.  Then, come back and discuss the book using the guided questions and conversation that I will share every Monday.  The only thing we ask is that you do not share spoilers past the noted readings for those that read ahead.

Monday, March 6: p. 1-82 (Ajarry, Georgia, Ridgeway) 
Monday, March 13: p. 83-188 (South Carolina, Stevens, North Carolina) 
Monday, March 20: p. 189-236 (Ethel, Tennessee, Caesar) 
Monday, March 27: 237-306 (Indiana, Mabel, The North)

If you have questions, just let us know in the comments section below.  If you are joining us, give us a little wave.  I look forward to reading with you this month!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Week 4 Discussion: BORN A CRIME by Trevor Noah #12mos12rals

born a crime

Welcome to our fourth and final discussion of Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. I hope you all enjoyed reading this book this month! I know I did. Be sure to come back Monday for our March readalong of The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.

But before that happens, let's wrap up Born a Crime!

  1. Did you like the book? What were some of your favorite passages or chapters?
  2. In Part III, the book's chapters get longer, and darker, as Noah goes from being a teenager to a young man. What struck you most about these chapters? Would you call the book a coming of age story?
  3. In Chapter 16, "The Cheese Boys," Noah writes,

    ...crime succeeds because crime does the one thing the government doesn't do: crime cares. Crime is grassroots. Crime looks for the young kids who need support and a lifting hand. Crime offers internship programs and summer jobs and opportunities for advancement. Crime gets involved in the community. Crime doesn't discriminate.

    What do you think Noah meant by this and do you agree?
  4. In "My Mother's Life," Noah says children have to learn how to love their parents unconditionally and that it's not automatic or instinctive. Do you agree with this statement?
  5. Do you watch The Daily Show? If you do, has reading the book changed how you see Noah in any way?
  6. Are you left with any unanswered questions you're wondering about?
  7. Anything else that caught your attention or you want to discuss?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Week 3 Discussion: BORN A CRIME by Trevor Noah #12mos12rals

born a crime

Welcome to our third discussion for our Born a Crime readalong. This week we'll be discussing Part II. To check out our previous discussions, please see our week 1 and week 2 discussion posts.

  1. This past week was Valentine's Day, and appropriately Part II features not one, not two, but three stories from Noah's tragic misadventures in romance. Which one of these was your favorite? Which the saddest? Did they remind you of any of your own teenage heartbreaks? Juicy details pls!
  2. In Chapter 9, "The Mulberry Tree," Noah says that's it's easier to be an outsider trying to fit in than an insider who doesn't. Do you think this is true? How do you think that experience shaped how Noah related to the world going forward? How did you react to the actions of Abel?
  3. Trevor Noah: entrepreneur or hustler?
  4. One of the most tragi-comic stories in the section, I think, is Chapter 13, "Colorblind." What were some of your reactions to the story? Noah never tells us what happens to his friend–why do you think that is?
  5. Anything else you found interesting or want to discuss?

Thanks for participating in the readalong so far! If you posted about this section on your blog or anywhere else on the internets, be sure to link back to it here so we don't miss it. Otherwise, feel free to discuss the book in the comments section.

Next week Tuesday, the last day of February, we'll be closing our readalong with a discussion of Part III. See you then!

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.

Monday, January 9, 2017

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

Welcome to the first week of discussions for our new 2017 project, #12mos12rals!!  Let's get to it!

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman:  Week One
Chapters 1-9, Pages 1-85

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

A Man Called Ove is a book that I have found to be surrounded by lots of hype.  Everyone that I have talked to that has read this book has raved about it.  Going into the book with such high expectations can sometimes result in a not-so-great rating by the time you read the last page.  Within the first 85 pages and/or 9 chapters, what are your initial thoughts about this book?  Does it live up to the hype?

The main character, Ove comes across as a grumpy old man.  The neighbors do not follow any of the policies, despite the many notices posted.  The customer service rep at the tech store has no clue about selling computers.  The new tall lanky neighbor cannot even back up a trailer.  It appears that no one can meet his standards or do anything right in his eyes.  Have you ever met a grumpy old man like this?

Speaking of a man with set expectations in life, this quote appears on page 37, chapter 5:
He was a man of black and white.
And she was color.  All the color he had.
Comment on this quote.  

And, the final quote I want to share is from page 78, chapter 8:
"Men are what they are because of what they do.  Not what they say."  said Ove.
In this quote, Ove is sharing a moral code that was passed down from his father.  In your own words, what exactly does this mean?  Do you see this code as being a bit old-fashioned, or do you still see it carrying over into our modern world?

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 10-18, pages 86-170.  

Monday, January 2, 2017

Introducing 12 Books, 12 Readalongs! #12mos12rals

Here at Book Bloggers International, we like to change things up a little each year to keep things interesting.  In 2017, we have decided to go to the heart of book blogging and spend more time with the books.  Each month, we will be hosting a readalong for a different book.  We are hoping to span all different genres and formats, and to really bring all of you book bloggers together around one great book every month.

At the beginning of each month, we will be announcing the book for the month and we will be spending all month reading and chatting about the book.  If you have already read the book, stop by and join in the conversation.  If you have not, but want to, then join in and read along with us.  You can even follow along on social media with the hashtag #12mos12rals.  If you would like to see a book read or would like to host a readalong for a month, let us know by emailing us at bookbloggersintl (at) gmail (dot) com.

Now for the month of January!!  We will be reading A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman!  The reading schedule is below.  Please note that I have included both pages and chapters for those who may not have the same copy of the book as I do!

  • January 9:  chapters 1-9 or pages 1-85
  • January 16:  chapters 10-18 or pages 86-170
  • January 23:  chapters 19-29 or pages 171-257
  • January 30:  chapters 30-end or pages 258-end

On each of the days listed, questions and discussions will be posted.  We encourage you to stop by and chat it up, leave your own links, and more.  Throughout the week, you are also welcome to contribute to and follow the conversation and thoughts via #12mos12rals.  

Looking forward to having you all join us!