Tag Archives: Amor Towles

Book Club Reflection: Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

7 Nov

Sometimes, I’m overly excited to talk to my book club about a book I liked and that was the case with Rules of Civility. I may or may not have skipped out on another meeting to come to this book club. (OK, I did.) I was so glad to hear that a lot of the other readers really enjoyed it as well. Sometimes I think I’m in my happy reading bubble and it will be popped at the meeting, but not this time.

We all agreed the writing was great. It was clear Towles is very well read. There were loads of literary references dropped into the book but it never seemed forced or snobbish. The one complaint a reader had about the book was that the end was not satisfying because a lot of the characters’ plotlines didn’t have sufficient closure. They seemed to wander off on their own paths but, in reality, that happens in life sometimes. Another small complaint was that it was harder to relate to the characters because of the period. That can be a struggle when writing a period-specific piece. I personally didn’t have that problem but I can see how some would.

Many of us felt Katey was far too modern to be believable in the 1930s. Her rebellious attitude and confidence are more reflective of young women today than those 80 years ago. Some of us hoped for a little more insight into her background and why she was the way she was. We wondered if her father had more to do with it than we gathered. Katey rubbed us the wrong way a few times. The first was when she was cruel to Charlotte, the other secretary on the train, and the other (which bothered me most) was when she used Dickey. She was social climbing but she was slow to admit it to herself and to the reader. It hurt that she left other people in her dust in the process.

Tinker was such a central character in the book. One scene that stuck out to us as a good reflection of Tinker is one he wasn’t even in. When Wallace and Katey are looking at the picture of the boys’ years in school, Katey sees two Tinkers. He had run so fast that he appeared in the picture twice. We thought that was a very true reflection of how two-faced he was. He was somber-faced on one side and blurry and smiling on the other. You had to wonder, which was the real Tinker. I’ll argue it was the solid and stoic one.

A lot of us were put off by the scene where Anne hit on Katey. She’s a woman who aggressively goes after what she wants, but we didn’t understand why she wanted Katey. Anne’s appetites were confusing and, if I’m going to be honest, I started getting hits of a 50 Shades of Grey relationship between the two of them. It was surprising when Anne turned her eyes to another woman.

We started to speculate on why Eve left so suddenly. We understood that she didn’t want to marry Tinker but she moved very suddenly from being happy with him to fleeing to the other side of the country and trying to forget about her life in New York. One of our readers speculated that Eve might have found out about the relationship between Tinker and Anne. I think it makes a lot of sense. We read in an interview somewhere that Towles is looking to write a book about Eve’s time in Hollywood. (He previously wrote a short piece but is looking to turn it into a longer one.) Maybe we’ll get some answers.

This was a great discussion and we used our entire allotted time to discuss it. I’m looking forward to our discussion again next month (and I’m glad it’s a short read).

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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WWW Wednesday, 1-November-2017

1 Nov

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison is still my ebook and I’m really enjoying this during my lunch breaks. It jumps around a bit more than I like, but the short snippets of the story make for good lunchtime reading.
I started a new audiobook, The Book of Fate by Brad Meltzer. I’ve read a few Meltzer books before so I’m pretty sure of what I’m getting into with this one. It’s fun to see how similar an author’s books can be and yet how different. This is a long audio so I suspect this will be on here for a while.
I also started a new physical book, My Jesus Year by Benyamin Cohen. I love memoirs and memoirs about travel and religious understanding are always top in my book. Especially when my favorite non-fiction writer, A.J. Jacobs, has a blurb on the cover.

Recently finishedI finished Rules of Civility by Amor Towles on Friday and really enjoyed it. The characters were very real people and Towles writes amazing little details about them. My book club met to discuss this on Monday so I’ll have a summary of that up next week. You can take a look at my review, posted earlier this week, in the meantime.
As I expected, I flew through Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom. It was short and sweet and I understand why this one is consistently on the bestseller lists. I couldn’t stop thinking about how much time and money went into Mitch visiting Morrie for all of those weeks but I think what both men got out of it was more than worth what was put into it. I posted a review earlier this week so please check it out.

Reading Next: I got my next book club pick, which is going to be Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. I’ve seen a lot of positive reviews for Haruf’s novels but this will be my first. I’ll pick it up as soon as I finish Cohen’s book.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (5/5)

31 Oct

This was another book club gem that I knew nothing about when I picked it up and by the time I was done, I never wanted to put it down. The story and writing were amazing and I’m so glad to have read it.

Cover image via Goodreads

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Summary from Goodreads:

On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar with her boardinghouse roommate stretching three dollars as far as it will go when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker with royal blue eyes and a tempered smile, happens to sit at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a yearlong journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool toward the upper echelons of New York society and the executive suites of Condé Nast–rarefied environs where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve.

Wooed in turn by a shy, principled multi-millionaire and an irrepressible Upper East Side ne’er-do-well, befriended by a single-minded widow who is ahead of her time, and challenged by an imperious mentor, Katey experiences firsthand the poise secured by wealth and station and the failed aspirations that reside just below the surface. Even as she waits for circumstances to bring Tinker back into her life, she begins to realize how our most promising choices inevitably lay the groundwork for our regrets.

It’s been a while since I let the writing of a book woo me and let me forget about the plot. Towles has a way with words I haven’t experienced for a few months and I loved it. I also loved Katey which made falling in love with this book easy. She was brave and forward while still being likable. It was only her time with Dicky I didn’t like. I thought the book was a great depiction of life in New York City during the period as well. I really appreciated the historical detail and the descriptions of ethnic subcultures that the characters ran into. It felt so real as if this novel was written in the 30s instead of set there.

The characters jumped off the page. I think we’ve all known a Katey and an Ann and a Tinker and a Wallace and an Eve. None of them felt like a stereotype and each of them felt like someone I went to high school with. I really enjoyed a male author’s ability to write a strong and believable woman. I know that can be hard and I think Katey was spot on.

I adored Wallace. I wanted him to last longer in Katey’s story. I thought he was sweet and shy when he first showed up. His stutter was so endearing and I enjoyed his forwardness despite the handicap. The friendship he and Katey formed was wonderful and was my favorite part of the plot. He was really good to Katey, too, and I appreciated someone who wanted to give her something rather than take something from her.

Katey wanted to move up in the world and had things dashed around her several times to get there. The accident, Tinker’s truth, and her fall-out with Dicky kept knocking her down, but she kept getting up. That’s someone who’s easy to cheer for. We all feel knocked down in life and it’s easy to stay down, but Katey gets back up; why shouldn’t I?

Amor Towles
Image via Goodreads

Katey’s rise in her own career won me over. There were much more limited career options for women in the 1930s than there are today and Katey, though she started on a traditional path, moved into a company where she took risks and where she was rewarded for those. She became influential and a pioneer in her field and I kept rooting for her.

I felt Katey treated Dicky poorly and it was my least favorite part of the book. He was a sweet kid and it was so obvious she was using and manipulating him that it hurt to read. I was glad she finally told him the truth but I was also sad it took her so long to get it out. I didn’t want to see him hurt but you knew it had to come.

Katey was passive at the beginning of the book but she came into her own when she realized she missed out on Tinker because she was too quiet. She decided to start going after things then and really take an initiative in her own future. I liked how Katey grew in the book and how her aggressive pursuit of and investment in her future paid off in the long run. I thought it was a great message.

Writer’s Takeaway: There’s no one thing I can say about why this book was such a joy to read. There were descriptions that made me sigh with pleasure and the way the characters were brought to life was incredible. I’d have to study Towles writing more to put my finger on what was so special about it and I’d be glad to do it! This book was a joy to read.

A great book which makes it clear why this author is so celebrated. Five out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Post:
RULES OF CIVILITY by Amor Towles | Only Good Books

WWW Wednesday, 25-October-2017

25 Oct

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I’m getting close to half-way in The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison but a few busy weeks at work is likely going to make for slow going. I will endure!
I’m really enjoying Rules of Civility by Amor Towles and I think I’ll finish it this week, time permitting. It’s hard to put my finger on what makes his writing so great but this story is amazing.
I started a new audiobook and it’s a quick one! I’m embarrassed to admit I’m a Detroiter who’s never read Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom. I know this is going to be a quick one so I expect it will be on my finished list next week. Fingers crossed!

Recently finished: I finished Year of Wonder by Geraldine Brooks on Friday during a run. I wish it had ended without an epilogue! I think the story was really good but the epilogue ruined it. I wrote a review and posted it Monday if you want to check out some more of my feelings on the book.

Reading Next: I had another book club selection here, but I might not be going to book club now. I know, I’m a terrible person having missed the last three for this group! I’ve had good reasons each time, I promise. In my defense, it’s an annual meet-the-players night for the Detroit Red Wings. I’ve gone the last two years and loved it and I think I’m going to have to go again in the new arena! TBD still, so I’m saying I don’t know what I’ll read next.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 18-October-2017

18 Oct

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I’ve been able to read The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison only one more lunch time so I haven’t moved much in it. So far I like it but I think I’m still coming to the main plot. I know this is a short read so I hope i can get through it pretty quickly.
So far, Rules of Civility by Amor Towles is really great. I wish I had more energy before bed to read it becaue I think it’s one I could lose myself in. Too bad school reading and workouts have me falling asleep without getting many pages in.
Year of Wonder by Geraldine Brooks has been good so far. I wanted to listen to music on my half marathon this weekend but I should have given myself time to listen to this one! I’m about halfway through but I keep thinking I could be farther into it.

Recently finished: Nothing! I recently started all three of my books so there’s no surprise to me that I don’t have anything on this list this week. I’m working on finishing something for next week but we’ll see what life has planned.

Reading Next: My next book club pick will be Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. I’ll start this as soon as I finish Civility which I hope is sooner rather than later.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 11-October-2017

11 Oct

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I started reading The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison last week. It seems to be going fast because my ereader already says I’m 10% of the way through it after only two lunch readings. I’m thinking this one will move very quickly.
I started Rules of Civility by Amor Towles and I’m very engaged so far. I know it’s set in the 30s but it has a very 20s feel of it to me so far. We’ll see how this goes!
I started Year of Wonder by Geraldine Brooks on audiobook very recently. It’s still a bit too early for me to make a call on it so stay tuned!

Recently finishedI made great progress to finish Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins. I’m glad I read this one and sorry it took me so long to get to it! It was a better version of Edan Lepucki’s California and I’m glad I found it. My review went up Monday so please go take a look.
I was able to wrap up The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory as well. I can’t say this was my favorite of Gregory’s books, but I still liked it. This was a little heavy on the history and didn’t seem to have much drama to it. I like when Gregory invents scandals (or embellishes the ones that are already there) and romances. This one seemed too teemed in history. A review went up yesterday so you can see my complete set of comments there.

Reading Next: No plan now as I just started three books! I’ll see how these progress before I decide on the next one to pick up.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 4-October-2017

4 Oct

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I’m still making good progress with Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins. If I wasn’t in school, I’d likely plow through this one a lot faster but as it is right now, I don’t leave a lot of time to read before bed at night because I’m so exhausted! I’ll keep on trucking through this one.
I took some time out from The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory to finish another book (see below). I’m back on this one now and I think I’ll have it finished up by next week! And yes, I’m only reading two books right now. Do you even believe me?

Recently finished: I lost my ebook hold on Armada by Ernest Cline but I was able to find it as an audiobook and I finished it up! I was so excited about this. I had a long run and a long car drive on Saturday and I had only twelve minutes left when I got home. Pretty perfect. I wrote a review which was posted yesterday. Please go check it out! I heard this one was sold as a movie already but no definitive timeline for when it will come out. I wonder if Ready Player One doing well as a movie will help this move forward.

Reading Next: I’ll still get to Year of Wonder by Geraldine Brooks as an audiobook, no change there.
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles is sitting next to my bed, waiting for me to pick it up.
I haven’t started a new ebook since I finished Armada. I think it’s going to be The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. I won this in a giveaway ages ago and never had a chance to pick it up


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 27-September-2017

27 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: Armada by Ernest Cline is still really fun. It’s an ebook I’m going through quickly which means I’m making time to read it. Yay!
I’ve made good progress with Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins. I’m ready every night before bed but I’m not going to take this one out of the house because it’s autographed, haha. I’ll probably need another 2-3 weeks to knock it out.
I made good progress on The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory this week. My running is up a lot as I prepare for the Detroit International Half Marathon next month. I had a record week for miles which means a record week for listening time, too! This is a long one, but I think I’ll get through it fast.

Recently finished: Nothing this week, unfortunately. After two last week, it’s not a surprise to me. I did post my review of Still Life by Louise Penny last Thursday. I gave it 4 out of 5 Stars. Please let me know your thoughts!

Reading Next: I plan on Year of Wonder by Geraldine Brooks being my next audiobook as soon as I finish with Gregory. It’s fun to knock out these last historical fiction books for my reading challenge!
My book club met this week and gave me my next physical read, Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. Even more historical fiction! This is going to be fun.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!