Tag Archives: Book Discussion

Book Club Reflection: Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King

13 Nov

In a quick follow-up to my Tuesday review of Ross King’s Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling, here’s our book club discussion! And yes, this does mean I’m behind on reviews again. Darn.

I walked into the meeting room and saw the woman across from me holding the movie I was picturing the entire book, The Agony and the Ecstasy starring Charlton Heston. I watched this at a church movie night when I was in high school and I remembered vividly seeing Heston painting while on his back, paint dripping on his face. Of course, that’s not the image King paints. Instead of a lone Heston lying supine, King gives us a Michelangelo with assistants galore who’s standing tall, leaning back.

I believe I was the only attendant who had read the book in its entirety. Many had skipped around and glossed over parts they didn’t care for, but I suffered my self-inflicted curse and finished the whole thing. (I hope this is setting the mood well.) So the basic question: Did you like the book. We tried to put a positive spin on everything. There was a lot of detail and it was well researched, there’s no denying that. King didn’t leave out a single name, even when one can argue he should have. He had a lot of terms used in painting and was able to detail the processes very well. We thought it was interesting that we knew so much about these people because of their letters. A lot of the quotes King used were from letters and there’s a fear that my generation won’t have that because of the digital age. Maybe we’ll be another dark ages.

We talked about who might enjoy this book more than us. Perhaps art history students or friends very interested in either Roman or Catholic history. I think if I were about to go to Rome, this would be more interesting. We saw on the cover that it’s a New York Times best seller. My quick research finds that it reached a high of 22 on the Hardcover Nonfiction list in March 2003. (In the same week, The Devil in the White City by Eric Larson was #3 if that puts it in perspective.) While this is impressive, I understand why I missed it.

One of our members pointed out a passage she found horrific. It comes from the beginning of chapter 19, page 188 in our copies:

The Roman carnival that took place in February of 1510 was even more jubilant and unruly than usual. All of the familiar entertainments were on show. Bulls were released into the streets and slain by men on horseback armed with lances. Convicted criminals were executed in the Piazza del Popolo by a hangman dressed as a harlequin. South of the piazza, races along Via de Corso included a competition between prostitutes. An even more popular attraction was the “racing of the Jews,” a contest in which Jews of all ages were forced to don bizarre costumes and then sprint down the street to insults from the crowd and sharp prods from the spears of the soldiers galloping behind. Cruelty and bad taste knew no bounds. There were even races between hunchbacks and cripples.

This is not exactly the typical church festival. We were shocked at a few of the things King describes as being associated with the church and the Pope. He had illegitimate children and the church went to war. This doesn’t exactly jive with my image of the current Pope, Francis. It’s no wonder that Martin Luther, after visiting Rome, found it unpleasant and was disgusted. In truth, I might be, too. Erasmus, upon returning to London after a Roman visit in 1509, wrote The Praise of Folly in which he mocked Rome under Julius II’s command. It seems very few were as impressed with Julius as he was with himself.

The relationship between Michelangelo and the Pope was really weird to us. The Pope would summon him, and then ignore him for months so that Michelangelo would leave and go back to his family, at which point the Pope would demand he come back. At one point, Michelangelo was throwing boards at the pope to get him out of the chapel. At some point, Michelangelo knew he wouldn’t be fired because he had to finish his work and knew the Pope wanted to see it finished. He took advantage of that relationship more than once.

A lot of emphasis was placed on Michelangelo’s use of the figure. He drew a lot of large and muscular nudes in each of his paintings, making them the central focus of his art more than other artists at the time. It’s interesting to us that he used only male models (and maybe some prostitutes) to do the models, even for women because of the ideas around sexuality at that time. We thought it was really cool that he would study cadavers to learn the structure of bone and muscle. It makes sense that he was very drawn to the figure because of this.

Many of us hadn’t realized that Leonardo da Vinci, Rafael, and Michelangelo were contemporaries let alone rivals. We thought it was interesting how King was able to draw so many distinctions between Rafael and Michelangelo. Michelangelo had a terrible self-image and didn’t bathe much while Rafael spent his time with the most beautiful courtesan in Rome It’s a good thing they only competed in fresco and not on a runway.

We continued to be unimpressed with Michelangelo’s family. His father stole money from him twice yet they continued to treat his disrespectfully because he was a craftsman. His brothers, who depended on him to start a business, thought less of him because his painting was considered manual labor. We felt bad for him in light of how his family treated him.

We argued if Michelangelo was more famous for the Sistine Chapel or the David. It’s really a toss-up between these and some of his other great accomplishments. Michelangelo was not confident when he started the ceiling because he didn’t consider himself a painter. He thought of himself more as a sculptor and he would probably consider the David his greatest accomplishment. As he continued to paint, however, he grew more confident. He used cartoons less and painted by freehand more and more. Something he started almost hesitantly is now arguably one of the greatest art works of all time. He didn’t seem to care much for the details at first and things were almost haphazard but as he went, he tied in his own little jokes and flourishes. The only way to learn is practice.

I’ll refer you to my book review for my real feelings on this book. A lot of my fellow readers felt the same way: Good book, not good for book clubs.

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!

Book Club Reflection: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

20 Oct

I love when I find a winner with my book club and this is definitely a winner. I wrote a glowing book review of Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline a few weeks ago and this is my book club follow-up. A lot of the women in this group liked the book (along with our strong male contingency of one) but  not as much as I did. It made for a good discussion.

Two of us had heard of Orphan Trains before reading this book. That’s it! Kline picked a very small part of American history to focus on and I think that’s a winning combination because people feel they are learning while they read. After finishing this book, we all know so much more about a topic we didn’t know existed.

The book made several members want to know more about their family history. We can only learn as much from our grandparents as we gather before they die. I don’t know anything about my great-grandparents and its my grandparents who could tell me those stories. One member brought up a hypothetical question about if you could have dinner with five people, living or dead, who would they be? She’s always said her grandmother would be on that list because there was so much she wanted to ask that she never had a chance to do before her grandmother died. Vivian’s daughter was finally given the chance to talk to her mother and find out about her family history, even if it’s only the bit Vivian’s able to tell her.

A few of the readers thought the book was going to be about Kindertransport before World War II. (If you, like me, don’t know what this is, here’s the Wikipedia page.) In short, this was an effort to remove mostly Jewish children from areas that would soon be occupied by the Nazis and place them in the United Kingdom. Many of these children became orphans and in a sense, their story is like Vivian’s. They were adopted by those around them if their families didn’t survive the Holocaust.

The idea of trains going west reminded a few of us of Jim Fergus’s book One Thousand White Women. The idea of going west seems very permanent, as if those making the journey know they are leaving behind everything they once knew. I’m sure there are other books with this mentality, but these two stuck out to us.

Vivian’s life as an orphan reminded us too much of indentured servitude for us to be comfortable reading it. 200,000 children went through this train system and we only hear the story of a handful. Parts of the stories are wonderful and parts are frightening. It would be great to be able to say that Vivian’s story is unique, but it doesn’t seem that this is the case. This was the beginnings of social work and the system was not yet well established and the employees didn’t know how to deal with it. Take, for example, how Vivian’s near-rape was handled. Did the employee not want to admit something like that would happen, did he not want to deal with it, or did he not know how? Any way you look at it, the system did not have a way to deal with a child in Vivian’s situation.

A few members were bothered that the orphans were expected to work for their stay, but it was pointed out that in the Midwest with big farms and a lot to do, children were an asset because they could do work that the parents didn’t’ have to pay a servant to do. If the orphan had been treated the same as a natural child of the parents, they would still be expected to work the farm. In that sense, it makes sense that the children would be picked for their ability to work. It was the fact that the children were almost advertised for their ability to work that bothered us most. We found it interesting that, like today, babies were so high in demand. This is directly opposite to a child being able to work the land and pull their own weight. These children were wanted because the parents could raise them as if they were their own and shape their lives growing up.

Not everyone was a big a fan of Molly’s parallel story as I was. Though all together, we were able to draw a lot more parallels. Molly didn’t have the best placement life, much like Vivian, but it’s obvious that what’s considered livable has changed slightly since Vivian’s day. Molly was also hard to place because of her rebellious nature, not because no one was looking for a child like Vivian ran into. Maybe the system knew that Dina and Ralph weren’t ideal, but, like the Grotes, they were so desperate to place her that they did it any way.

Molly didn’t seem rebellious by nature, but she marked herself as one. Her Gothic clothing choices made her an outcast and it was a way to set herself apart without having to even talk. It was the easiest way to be alone.

Vivian and Dutchy finding each other seemed almost too perfect to be true. To me, it was the one part that was bit too much to believe. Their marriage seemed to be more about commonality and a shared history than it seemed to be about real love. We wonder if it would have lasted had Dutchy lived. Maybe having someone she could share her history would have been enough.

It seemed odd to us that she would give up her child when it was the only thing connecting her to Dutchy. Especially since she knew what a life without a biological parent could mean for a child. One thing that bothered a few women in our group is how Vivian would have explained to her friends what had happened to the baby. Would she have said she gave it up, or would she have led them to believe the baby was stillborn? A pregnancy isn’t normally something that can be swept under the rug so easily.

Maybe the reason Vivian didn’t have as much remorse about giving up her baby is because she knew babies were adopted by people who wanted a child, not a laborer. Like Carmine, Sarah would be adopted as a baby by a couple who wanted to raise a child.

Were orphanages a better solution to parent-less children than foster care? In foster care, a child can only stay in one house for a certain amount of time before they’re moved to avoid emotional attachment. In an orphanage, a child can be there for a long time, growing attached to other children and those who work at the orphanage. Today’s system works with foster care instead of orphanages, and while some aspects of it seem better, there’s undoubtedly drawbacks.

We felt that adoption is less common in today’s society than it was in the time of Vivian’s childhood. The main reason is that single motherhood is more accepted. Vivian couldn’t stand being a single mother but I think if my husband died in a war, I would still want to raise our child. I know I would be well supported and there wouldn’t be a negative stigma against me.

We wondered why children in books, movies, and real life are always looking for their mothers. Why not their fathers? Is there some attachment we have to the woman who birthed us than we do to the man who contributed the other 50% of our genes? I think I’d be equally interested to know who my father is. I think it ultimately comes down to knowing for certain that the person who gave birth to you is your mother while paternity is sometimes in question.

With so many books being turned into movies lately, we wondered how this book would look as a movie. We don’t think it would do well in Hollywood, but might be successful as a made-for-TV movie, something on Lifetime. It cleaned up almost too nicely at the end and had a perfect bow around it, which we don’t think mass audiences (including ourselves) would take too kindly to.

I apologize to the ladies in my group for how long this took! I’ve been busy moving, but I’m finally settled in my new place. We’ll be meeting to discuss our next selection, Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King, in a short time.

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!

Book Club Reflection: The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

11 Apr

As a special birthday gift to me, my book club met last Monday to discuss The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. I brought cupcakes to celebrate. I absolutely loved this book, as you can see from my review I wrote a few weeks ago. We stuck to the discussion questions pretty well and there were some really great discussion starters.

One of the over-arching questions of the entire book is, “Why did Henry loose his throw?” It affected all of the other characters in one way or another but we never really get a definitive answer. We have a bunch of different theories, but they all wind together into one. The game where he first miss-threw and hit Owen was the first one where the scouts were watching him. Henry was just a boy from South Dakota who never thought he’d amount too much but had his world rocked with the opportunity to play in college. The further opportunity to play in the pros might have stressed him out. In Aparicio’s book, he says, “There are three stages: Thoughtless being. Though. Return to thoughtless being.” We felt that Henry wasn’t able to make the return to thoughtless being because he felt so much guilt at what happened to Owen. For most of the game, he’s stuck in ‘thought.’ I suspect that he wasn’t thinking when he sacrificed himself for the team in the championship game and that finally allowed him to return to ‘thoughtless being.’

The summary of the book lists the five people affected by Henry’s stray throw as Guert, Pella, Mike, Owen, and Henry himself. Of these characters, Owen is the only one whose point of view we do not hear. Most of us never thought about this consciously, but it affects what we thought of him. It made him seem more wise and sage than he would have had we heard his thoughts. It helped him become the Buddha his teammates thought of him as. We admitted that we didn’t know Owen as well because he never narrated, but at the same time, we didn’t know Henry very well even thought we were in his head sometimes. I personally feel that Owen was affected the least by the throw (you can argue if you want) and that’s part of the reason he never narrates.

Mike and Henry have a very unique relationship. We questioned if Mike gives too much of himself to Henry and why. I think Mike gave too much before the main action of the story, but by the time the book began, he had stopped giving so much. He was keeping his school acceptances secret from Henry and then later his relationship with Pella. I feel he had given too much and no longer had much to gives. We suspected it had to do with how Schwartz grew up, with an absent father and his mother dying. I think he wanted to care for someone in a way no one else cared for him.

After Henry’s miss-throw, he punishes himself physically in a way he’s never pushed his body before. Why would he do this? We believed that hard work was the only frame of reference he had to improve himself. When he wanted to move from a scrawny farm boy to a college athlete, it was by hard work and eating well. To move from his error back to error-less ways, the only thing he could think to do was work harder.

The part of the book (as I mentioned in my review) that bothered me the most was the time when Henry and Pella had a ‘relationship’ together. I hesitate to say it was a real relationship because of how dysfunctional it was, but they were together in a loose sense. We asked each other why this would happen. We suspect that Pella was willing because she was being driven away from Schwartz because of Henry. All Mike would talk about for a long time was how Henry needed him to improve and how Henry was going to be okay. Pella was sick of feeling like the mistress in her own relationship. Henry was looking for something to cling to that he could see as ‘normal,’ something that would make him feel like things were going to be alright after all. He was completely using her, but I think she was using him as well. (I still like my theory that he was trying to become Schwartz, but I don’t have much evidence to back this up.)

We talked a lot about Guert and Owen’s relationship. For much of the book, we felt that it was one-sided, with Guert putting a lot more of himself out in the open and risking a lot more to be with Owen. At the very end, when they bury Guert at sea, I finally saw Owen’s emotional attachment to Guert and understood that they had a mutual understanding and caring.

Even though Guert is so much older than the students, there are several ways in which he was a lot like them. He was rather immature in a lot of ways and still acted like a student. He had been in academia his whole life, never even moving off campus. He still lived in a glorified dorm, spent money like he was poor (except the Audi), and didn’t recognize life outside of campus. He never really had to fend for himself and could stay hidden in the bubble of Westish. I feel this is part of the reason Owen could relate to him so well.

We talked about if Owen goaded Guert into their relationship and there was some disagreement. Owen was the more obvious flirt but as the older and authoritative figure, was Gert responsible? I personally feel that at 20 or 21, Owen was fully aware of what he was doing and the risks it involved. I think Guert was confused about his feelings for most of the book but though Owen might have pushed him, he was better off for it.

We talked a lot about Harbach’s decision to have a gay teacher-student relationship and how it affected the story. Many of our members felt that if Owen had been female, the punishment would have still existed, but the stigma wouldn’t have been so harsh. Some also felt that this book is a product of its time because has this been forty years ago, not much would have happened if a male administrator was having a relationship with a female student. But this was a modern gay relationship. Was Harbach trying to ‘make it different?’ Why would he choose this tool? I personally think a part of it was to flip Pella’s world and change her view of her own father completely. We also brought up how Owen fit a lot of gay stereotypes and we couldn’t reach a conclusion as to if this was rude or not. I usually find blonde stereotypes rude but if they’re true of one character, are they really stereotypes? Guert didn’t have many of these characteristics (clean freak, well dressed, etc.) yet he was still gay.

Do others besides athletes go through what happened to Henry? Of course. Writers and artists can have a writing or creative block. But unlike athletes, writers and artists suffer through their block alone and in private. Athletes have to suffer through it in front of an audience watching their every move. Even though I’m a writer, I still feel that what athletes have to go through is worse.

The term ‘monomania’ means the pursuit of a single thing. It’s a big theme in Melville’s Moby Dick. In The Art of Fielding, some of the characters are chasing whales as well. Henry in pursuit of his throw and Guert in pursuit of Owen come to mind. Schwartz is an interesting character when one considers this question He had high standards for himself as to what he would do in life. He wanted to be a politician and would only attend one of the best law schools in the country. He wouldn’t work as an athletic director at Westish because he was going to do better on his LSAT. Some of our group felt that he was setting himself up for failure by having such high expectations. I think he wanted as much for himself as Henry did and had the same single-minded way of going about it. As for what Owen and Pella are chasing, I think it’s less clear. However, I think Henry’s single-mindedness affects them all.

When Henry sacrificed himself for the team, I argue that was when he returned to ‘thoughtless being.’ Until then, he had never had to give anything up for the team before. They other boys were a platform where he could show how good he was and give himself the opportunity to go pro. When they made it to the national championships without him, Henry realized he had to give something up for the team they way they gave up for him.

We were surprised that Henry went to the game at all. He had eaten so little that he could barely walk. We thought it was a flaw in the plot of the book that Henry deteriorated so much physically at the end yet was still able to function. It seemed almost unreal that he could absorb so much with so little food or activity.

When the characters exhume Guert at the end of the book, it’s a strange tribute to pay to the man most affected in the novel. It’s also amazing they did it while so intoxicated. I believe the reason Pella wanted to do it was so that she would have some control over her father’s death. What she knew about him had changed so extremely right before he died that Pella must have felt she knew him less than she had thought. When the Dean told Pella about the timing surrounding Guert’s death, I feel she felt that she knew his death less than she did before. She’d believed a heart attack and yet again everything she thought she knew was thrown into the air and rained down around her in a beautiful mess. If she buried her father, if she knew where he was and no one else did, she would finally have some control over their relationship and he couldn’t surprise her any more.

This book was great for book clubs and if you’re looking for a good read right at the beginning of baseball season, this is a great one. You don’t have to know baseball very well to appreciate it. I hope you can pick it up and enjoy.

Until next time, write on.

Book Club Reflection: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

4 Mar

I had highly anticipated our group discussion of Wild by Cheryl Strayed. If you recall, I wrote a highly enthusiastic review of it really shortly after we were assigned the book. I’ve been giddy for the group meeting ever since!

Mostly everyone in our group enjoyed the book. Strayed did a wonderful job at melding her back story and her adventure on the hike together so that the flashbacks never seemed sudden or out-of-place. A lot of us enjoyed how she started the book with the scene in which she loses her shoe over the side of a cliff because it gave us a lot of tension. As we followed her on the start of her journey, we were already weary of a conflict she was going to face down the road.

Despite this, we didn’t find Strayed very likeable as a person. We wanted to empathize with her, but she was in such a unique situation that none of us could relate to her. I personally found I understood her better by the end. One thing that bothered us was that her decisions seemed so reckless, especially the way she would spend the little money she had on the trail. Using $18 of $20 to buy dinner at one stop? That seems a bit over the top.

There were more than a few things she did that seemed foolish to us. The most obvious is the amount of stuff she carried. When Albert went through her pack, there was so much that seemed obviously unnecessary and as she hiked, the things she didn’t have became very apparent. Though she got a lot of advice from the guys are REI, she really should have done some more research about the conditions she would be hiking in and the terrain she would cover. Those seemed to be her weaknesses. Though she admits she should have practiced with the weight, we still faulted her for not listening to the most basic advice. Not breaking in her shoes? Rookie traveler mistake; I wouldn’t go on a weekend trip with shoes I hadn’t broken in, yet alone a three-month trek the width of the US.

One thing we thought she should have brought and didn’t was something more to protect herself. Besides the loud whistle, she didn’t have much and I think it became obvious when the day-hiker seemed sexually aggressive toward her. Someone from our group suggested that mace or pepper spray could have been a good idea.

Someone volunteered that the only thing she did seem prepared for was to find a hook-up on the trail. Strayed had brought a roll of condoms with her for the hike. Having commented that the PCT is one of the lesser-hiked trails in the US, this seemed a strange thing to pack. I don’t think she even met enough men to use one for each. But then when she did actually need one, she was too embarrassed of her scabs to even consider using it. What an irony that is.

Her time with Jonathan the Bartender was probably not the highlight of her life, but it was something that Strayed didn’t try to hide. She doesn’t seem at all embarrassed by the casual sex that she admits to having. There’s really not anything about her time on the trail she seems embarrassed about. We wondered if she’s really proud of the things she did; if this book is one she would want her children to read. If I’d written it, I wouldn’t want my offspring to read it.

All of the people who Strayed met on the trail were very giving, which was very refreshing after hearing multiple news stories about how those trying to help someone in need will frequently fall victim to assault. We felt that in a situation like hiking, people are generally nicer to those they fun into. Ed, the trail angle, was my favorite example, and one of our favorite characters, along with Jonathan. Because they have the same shared experience, they feel a sense of camaraderie that strangers wouldn’t feel otherwise. Though, we felt the others on the trail didn’t have the same drive as Cheryl; they had other lives to go back to, options they could take if the trail defeated them. Strayed was very stranded on the trail.

We questioned why the PCT seemed attractive to Strayed at that stage in her life. Now, as a wife and mother, we doubt that she would be so willing to go hiking alone for three months. We think she wanted to get as far from her life as she could; she was unhappy with her divorce and felt she had nothing left in Minnesota that was worth sticking around for. She was desperate to do something on her own and hiking alone is probably one of the most solitary things a person can do. We believe she wanted to do it as a sort of confidence booster as well. We felt she’d lost a lot of faith in herself when her mother passed and that hiking alone helped boost her self-esteem. One of our members suggested that she might have done the hike to have something to write about, being a writer after all. Whatever her motivation, we were all amazed she never gave up.

Strayed seems to pinpoint her reason for going as the death of her mother. We felt that her mother was the only thing giving her life direction before she got sick. Without the rudder of her mother to hold her on course, Strayed didn’t have a paddle to steer with. She gave up her life to grieve for her mother. Having the ability to stop living to grieve is a luxury and after dropping out of school and getting a divorce, she couldn’t afford that luxury any longer. Her time on the trail finally gave her the time to grieve. She was so angry on her mother’s 50th birthday, anger being the second stage of grief, a long-awaited step for Strayed to take.

Even before her mother’s passing, Strayed seemed a little off the beaten trail. Her mom and she didn’t have the most stable relationship, either. Her mom was somewhat in-and-out of her life, never around because she had to work and then coddling her children when she could afford to. We never understood her mother’s financial responsibility, which might explain Cheryl’s recklessness as well. How could she insist that she needed a horse when her family couldn’t afford running water?

Strayed never seemed to take responsibility for her actions, something she may have gotten from her mother. She didn’t finish college, even though she was only one class from graduating. Now, we see that she’s gone back to finish it, but at the time it wasn’t something that crossed her mind. Her younger brother, Leif, was only eighteen when their mother died and Cheryl didn’t provide comfort or any means to him when he was left alone. The thing that bothered our group the most was how she abandoned her relationship with Paul. She began acting like he didn’t exist or matter, cheating on him with every chance she had. Being on the trail forced her to take responsibility for her actions.

We debated if the hike helped her get over Paul and our consensus was that she didn’t need to get over him, he needed to get over her more than anything. They were still very involved in each other’s lives after the divorce, something that I think hurt Paul more than Cheryl. I’m glad that they were able to move on, but I still think it’s weird that they got ‘divorce tattoos.’

One of the reviews we saw for the book called it ‘funny,’ but not many of our group agreed with that statement. There were a few funny moments, when she urinated on the road because there was no one around and seconds later a car went by being one example. We also laughed when she ran into the stoned hippies looking for a music festival, when she was covered in mini frogs, and when she shook someone’s hand minutes after putting a natural sponge in for a tampon. Overall, we didn’t find it that funny.

One of our members did think there were a few eerie moments that almost seemed supernatural. The first was when she saw a fox on the trail and called out to it, ‘Mom!’ It felt like she had felt the presence of her mother in the animal. The other was when the Swiss woman said she was her calling to rub Cheryl’s feet (244). I think this reflects Strayed’s sentiment that she was supposed to be hiking the trail.

Someone compared this book to Bill Bryson’s book A Walk in the Woods. I’ve never read Bryson, but I’ve been told this title is very funny; probably as funny as the lone reviewer found Strayed’s book to be. It got me thinking a lot about how I’d like to go hiking, but geographically it would make more sense for me to hike on the Appalachian Trail. One of our members had done what’s called ‘hut hiking’ on the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire. I don’t know about you, Reader, but I think this looks incredible.

There is a moving coming out soon based on this book with Reese Witherspoon playing Cheryl. We talked about how we’d expected someone younger, but that movie magic can take off years. We pictured someone more like Ellen Page, Amy Adams, or even Dakota Fanning to play the role. Who do you think would be good in the role?

Our next book for this group is Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding which I’m currently listening to on my phone. I think that will make for a wonderful discussion as well.

Until next time, write on.