Author: Stephanie Brown Bowen

Shelf-ish Pursuits: April

A day late and a dollar short.  Story of my life.  🙄

Anyhoo, April’s Shelf-ish Pursuits book selection is “The Boys in the Bunkhouse” by Dan Berry.

I’m roughly halfway through this one already.  Yes, I may have cheated a smidge and jumped into this book just as soon as I’d finished last month’s, but with no one paying me nary a bit of attention, who’s to know?  I am loving this book and hope y’all will too.

From the very start of our book club, I had it in mind to alternate between fiction and nonfiction.  I even had the entire year’s selections picked out and in a stack all their own.  But things happen and new titles catch my eye and…squirrel!  You get the idea.  For the most part, I’ll try to stick with my plan so there’s no burnout.  Variety, after all, is the spice of life.

Toward the middle of the month, I’ll announce May’s book 📚 and post in EVENTS our next discussion.

Please keep your book suggestions coming!  I promise I really am keeping a list and will choose a book from it on occasion for everyone to enjoy.

Happy reading! 👓 ☕ 📖

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SHELFISH PURSUITS: A two-fer

I feel like time is moving at warp speed.  Is this another one of those perks of aging: parts start to wear out and sag; you refer to anyone under a certain age as “kids”; and you wonder if your neck wrinkles are the body’s equivalent of bunnies, multiplying rapidly and seemingly overnight?

I’m staring at the end of another month like trying to stare down at my feet.  Except my stomach is now in the way and I’m not even pregnant.  How did this happen?!  Yikes!

February’s book, “The Seamstress” , proved to be a slow-starter for me and I had to force myself to keep at it.  After all, it wouldn’t do for me to not read the book I picked out, amiright?  Just as I thought.  Fortunately, it finally picked up steam and I was hooked.  I’m looking forward to hearing what y’all thought (I hope it’s good) or if I’ll be out on my ear for picking a stinker.

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Are you excited for March’s book?

Have you read each book, following along with related posts, or have you found yourself finally ready to dive into the book club and this one is the first for you?

It really doesn’t matter: veteran or newbie, we’re glad you’re here.

As posted earlier, this month’s book is “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” by Kim Edwards.

Off to a running start, I can already see a few parallels to my own pregnancy experiences.

Back when I was pregnant with His Awesomeness, our soon to be high school graduate, we were asked about genetic testing.  The outcome didn’t matter, but it was “the thing to do” and so, we did it.  By the time I was pregnant with The Diva, we’d already decided against it, knowing we’d play the hand we were dealt and go on.

The second thing I can already relate to is a statement made by Norah Henry, the birth mother in the book, speaking about the birth of her twins with her sister.  Thinking the girl baby had died, she said of visitors to her home who didn’t even mention her, “They act like, since I have Paul, I ought to be satisfied.  Like lives are interchangeable.”

During The Diva pregnancy, I began lobbying for a tubal ligation because two babies were plenty for Himself and I.  I mean, God gave me two hands, one for each of ‘em, and this struck me as divine logic.  My Ob/Gyn tried to talk me out of it because “what if one of your children dies?  You’d want another child to replace the one you’d lost.”   I thought the world of this man, himself a father to a severely disabled child, and replied they were human beings, not tires.

I know some of you are moms to special children and I’m eager to hear what you think of this one at the end of March.

I hope announcing the book earlier has helped y’all put hands on a copy sooner, whether it’s through your local library or as a purchase.  Please remember if purchasing through Amazon Smile, to choose The 70273 Project as your charity of choice, thereby helping to raise some funds to help continue this worthwhile endeavor.

If you have a title you’re especially fond of and would like to see as a potential Club selection, please PM me the details.

Happy reading, y’all!

 

 

 

SHELF-ISH PURSUITS: Roasting January’s book

January, wherever did you go?  To say it’s flown is an understatement for our household as we hurtle toward not one, but two graduations in May.  Our daughter makes the jump from middle schooler to high school while our son shakes the dust of high school off his boots and makes for technical school and, eventually, he hopes, the U.S. Navy.   People keep asking me if I’ve started crying yet and I can’t quite figure out why.  Isn’t that the whole point…to raise them up so they can fly?  But just in case I’ll start stocking up on Kleenex and the makings of a few of my favorite cocktails.  A girl’s gotta have priorities, amiright?!

Family is what’s at the heart of January’s book selection, The Accidental Book Club.  Reading the dust jacket, I thought I’d found just the book to launch The 70273 Project’s book club!  What title could be more apropos to a disparate group of folks gathered together to share in a common interest?  Perfect!  And absolutely no pressure to choose something we’ll all love.  None whatsoever.

Somehow I’d pictured Jean as a blue-haired, cookie baking, bridge playing, novel devouring widow who’d assembled a support system from a coterie of friends and acquaintances all of whom, interestingly enough, shared similar hobbies and had hair colored in various garish hues (think the mother from Bewitched), to keep herself occupied and her mind off the fact that she felt adrift and rudderless.  Please don’t ask me why.

What I found, for the most part, was a cast of characters I basically hated on sight.  Or word.  Whatever.  Can you see why I’m not a fan of movies based on books?  Leave me my illusions (delusions) of how the characters look, thanks very much.

A little background first.  My Dad’s parents lived only about 35 miles from us.  Granmommie was a homemaker; and after serving in the armed forces, my Granddad worked as a brick mason.  They were both quiet people who knew family history all the way back to when Noah set forth in the Ark (I’m kidding, but just barely).  I spent weeks with them during summer vacation and never got bored.  There was land, animals, and floor to ceiling bookshelves with glass-fronted doors custom built by my Granddad to hold the hundreds of books he and my grandmother read and re-read.  I remember them reading Webster’s dictionary for fun.  Then again, I read an entire set of encyclopedias for kicks.  My Mom’s parents, who lived in Arizona, both served in the military.  My Nana was a go-getter who was in her element when surrounded by a house full of people.  She loved card games, Rummikub, and Nicholas Sparks (gag).  My Papa ventured wherever she directed, made fairly regular trips to the hardware store (Jeff’s Pub), or hid out in his corner of the breakfast nook with a cigarette in one hand and the fingers of his other tracing the words down and across the pages of the local paper.

Back to the book.

Jean was unlike either of my grandmothers or any grandmother I’ve ever encountered.  From the get-go I found her stiff, chilly and utterly unlikable.  I have similar feelings about that vile shredded carrot and raisin salad a now-closed eating establishment from my childhood used to offer. This book was going to be as pleasurable as a trip to the dentist.  I never understood what attracted Jean’s friends to her and vice versa.  They all seemed like fairly well-rounded, lovely women.  Go figure.

Then there was The Dysfunctional Duo, Laura and Curt.  Some people were born to have kids.  Others do well with their pet rock collection.  What a wretched pair.  And their daughter, Bailey.  Bless her heart, how unutterably miserable she was…and with good cause.  I guess if she’d been a block of granite, she might’ve been A-ok.

SPOILERS-SPOILERS-SPOILERS!!  SKIP THIS IF YOU HAVEN’T FINISHED THE BOOK YET.

My first “what is wrong with this woman” thought came when Jean spied her granddaughter huddled in the loft.  Why didn’t she say something?  Do something?  How difficult would it have been to make even a small gesture of concern?  But, no, there was nothing.  I certainly didn’t feel like she did it to maintain Bailey’s privacy.

And what about Laura’s drinking?  Granted, my kids aren’t grown, but I’d like to think if they had a habit that could kill them or someone else I’d have the chutzpah to say “um, ya gotta problem there, Bobby Ray”.  Yes, her daughter was a grown woman, but still…

As miserable as Bailey was, I couldn’t help rooting for her to make life as unpleasant as humanly possible for every adult that came her way.  Any attention was better than none.  Three cheers, a high five, and a gold star for stashing the pot in Granny Jean’s vase!!

Well, enough of my kvetching.  What’d y’all think?  Did you love it, hate it, not finish it?  Are you ready to string me up by my thumbs and use me for a piñata for picking such a stinker…or do I get a crown with a smashing princess cut diamond?  For the record, I prefer emeralds.

Inquiring minds want to know!

~Stephanie


 

One last note:

February’s book is The Seamstress by Sara Tuvel Bernstein.

Please remember if you’re using Amazon Smile to designate The 70273 Project as your charity of choice and they will receive a portion of the proceeds.

Join in or skip this month and pick it back up in March.

Feel free to PM me with title suggestions.  I don’t know if this heading up the book club is a 12 month gig or mine until I cry “uncle”, but I’ll try to incorporate someone’s book suggestions here and there throughout.

I’ll post an EVENT when we’ll do a pulse check on where everyone’s at with February’s book.

And last, even if you haven’t finished January’s book, you can still comment on the posts.

Happy reading!!

 

SHELF-ISH PURSUITS: Where’s she going with this?

It’s my weekend off and I am up by 3 am thanks, in part, to a wee dachshund’s wee bladder.  We aren’t even going to talk about the Fireball I consumed last night.  No headache, but plenty of sound sleep and snoring (if you believe a dainty dame such as myself actually snores).

Today’s forecast calls for a high in the mid-60s, a welcome change from the cold and wind we’ve experienced over the last several days.  We even had cold temperatures over Christmas which hasn’t happened since I was about eight years old.  A long time ago, indeed.

Today I wanted to touch on something I’ve been getting messaged about.  I assume (yes, I know that’s bad…) that if one person asks, others may feel similarly but haven’t spoken up.

Book selections.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say I bet, considering the diversity of our group, that we have very eclectic tastes in reading material.  As I’ve said before, I’m a sucker for cozy mysteries, CJ Box, and the WWII genre (fiction or nonfiction).  I also like romance novels.  Not Fifty Shades, but tawdry to say the least.  I had two coworkers who referred to them as “loin-burners” or “he cupped her breast novels”.  I can’t help it; I’m a sucka for luv!  Point being, we all like what we like and reading something outside of our usual fare can be difficult, if not at times, impossible.  I get that.  If you plunked down anything by Dickens, I’d tell you to take a long walk off a short pier. Yuck.  Same with Hemingway and Ayn Rand.

So why is Stephanie picking *these* books?!

As I said about The Accidental Book Club, we aren’t an accident, but we are a club.  Each of the women are different, have different trials, different coping mechanisms.  That’s us!  Can you see us there?  Can you see people in your life, yourself even, in this story?  Are you Jean?  Was your mom Laura?  Was your dad harried and distant?  Is your child like Bailey?  What do these people make you feel?  With the exception of Bailey, who is still a child, albeit a teenager, I dislike them all and it’s making for difficult reading.  I could quit, but I’m soldiering on!

Some have mentioned they’d prefer all nonfiction, T4 or Holocaust centered; those tomes focused on the disabled; something of a more meaty subject.  I get it.  But there’s only so much I can take before I have to fall back to a no-brainer, quick read.

February’s book, The Seamstress, is meatier and I’m sure it’ll be difficult to digest in spots.  I encourage you, if something in there is simply too much to take, to skip a few pages.  But I picked this one because of the feistiness of the author, her willingness to stand up and say “this isn’t right”.  Now, how willing are you?  If you heard about it or saw it with your own eyes, what would you do?  Would you be shamed into silence; stunned by embarrassment, your face flushing bright red; or would you, like Sara Tuvel Bernstein, say “hell, no!”?  Can we even know until it happens to us?  And isn’t that a scary thought?

I am, with Jeanne’s permission and approval, considering posting articles related to T4 to The Campfire page.  More bite-sized than king-sized, so we aren’t overwhelmed and left wrung out.  Thoughts?

I also intend to continue to flip-flop from lighter to weightier topics, but there will always be some connection from the current book to the what-wases and what-ifs of the WWII era.  Please be on the lookout for those.

As for the discussion of January’s book, I’ll post it as an event probably for next weekend.  I’d like everyone to have a chance to delve into it since I know some of you just got your copy.

I hope all of this makes sense.  If you have questions, suggestions, or concerns, please PM me and I’ll get back with ASAP!

Carry on, book dragons!

~Stephanie

 

What Happens in Book Club…

Hello from Texas!  👋🏻  As I type this, it’s the last Friday night of 2017 and the state is anticipating a frigid start to 2018.  Local weathermen are breathlessly calling for snow flurries and the dreaded “I-word”…ice, making the local Walmart teem with shoppers looking to score bread and milk before the next Ice Age commences.  Clearly these people are amateurs as any woman worth her salt stocks up on chocolate and coffee.  Priorities!

Me?  Well, I’m safely ensconced at home, already sporting my comfy pajamas, a dachshund at my side.  And under my feet.  What better way to spend a three-day work sabbatical than with a good book?

Which brings me to why I’m here and why you’re reading this.

As you may already know, Jeanne asked me to spearhead the formation of The 70273 Project Book Club and after mulling it over, I, the-always-a-follower-never-a-leader introvert, said yes.  Y’all, I have no idea what I’m doing.  Be gentle.  Thankfully I’m not a surgeon or mechanic, so it can’t go too terribly wrong.  Right?!

So find a spot on a log, one close to the fire, and enjoy a cup of something warm while I give you the details.

Our main purpose here is to learn more about WHY an atrocity like Aktion T4 came about and HOW we can, individually and collectively, educate others to insure that it never happens again.  Jeanne has mentioned there are very few books dealing directly with Aktion T4; I didn’t come up with a single one myself.  What I did find, however, were a lot of books on my own bookshelves that I think can speak to our hearts.  From them, we can learn lessons that, though they aren’t specific to Aktion T4, definitely have lessons we can learn from or themes that speak to the whys and hows of human nature.

Every month we’ll kick off the start of a new book.  If it sounds interesting, join us on a read-along.  We’ll meet back on the Facebook group- The Campfire  from time to time to discuss our thoughts on what we’ve read.  None of them are particularly lengthy.  They’re fiction and non-fiction; most written for adults with a few culled from the young readers section of a local book store.

I’d like to have everyone at roughly the same spot so there aren’t any spoilers for those who don’t read quite as fast, so I think we should aim to reach a certain number of chapters read by a particular date.  I’ll announce all of it in Campfire and we’ll see how it all plays out.

You may choose to sit it out if a book just doesn’t blow your skirt up.  That’s fine, too.  This isn’t school and I’m not Sr. Brigid forcing Beowulf down your throat.  Who wants to read something that just makes your eyes roll to the back of your head in boredom? Not I!

Read it as a “real” book; an e-book; or listen to an audiobook.  It doesn’t matter.  Just read, enjoy, share, and repeat.  Like eating cookies only without the calories.

As we go along, I hope to post polls you’ll enjoy and  also look to group members for their reading recommendations.  Maybe you’ll see your favorite as the next book club selection!

Let’s have fun, enjoy one another’s company, and maybe read something we’d never have considered picking up otherwise.

Welcome to “Shelf-ish Pursuits”, the official book club of The 70273 Project! 📚

~Stephanie