Monday, November 18, 2013

Half Broke Horses

I really liked the book, although at the beginning and the end of it I was getting kind of restless and wanted it to be over.  I was looking at the things I highlighted to remind myself of the things that struck me the most, so here is my list:

1.  I really liked the theme of freedom/God's will.  I think I believe what she believes:  that God gives us choices, which means we can make bad choices if we want to, and sometimes when we ask for something the answer is no.  But that doesn't mean that He's not there, trying to help us out and make the right decisions.  It's just that ultimately, it's up to us to decide.

I loved the quote about the animals--how they're always trying to get free but they don't know what to do with their freedom when they have it and sometimes they end up getting killed.  I think guys are that way, too.  I know Jamie also wanted to break up and wanted his freedom, and I suspect he will not fare well, but I'm trying not to get involved again because it's too much work trying to help him and he's not really able to help me.  I feel bad, but I do believe that God is trying to help him, and if he doesn't listen, I guess that's his choice.

I also thought the relationship between Lily and Rosemary was interesting.  Although I am not a parent, I can appreciate how hard it must be to want your children to make good choices and not have a hard life.  I know many of you read "Glass Castles" because it's one of our book club books, and at the end of the book her mom and dad were squatters.  That's not what you hope that your children's life will be like.  I guess she didn't care since that's how she was living, and in the book it was pretty clear that she knew it might be like that if she married Rex but didn't care, either.  But then it didn't just affect her.  It also affected her children, and it wasn't so great for the author.  But then again, she became a famous writer and journalist, so I guess things turned out OK for her in the end.

I also thought it was interesting that, despite Lily's attempts to control everything and make wise choices, she married that loser guy, and it was clear from the beginning that he was a loser.  It proves my theory that women can be together in every aspect of their lives but still make bad choices in relationships.  Not sure why being smart doesn't help, but from counseling and personal experience I can tell you that it doesn't.  I think she was grieving over her friend and needed someone to help her with it.  We do need to be around other people during periods of grief.  Either that or be on antidepressants.  There's actually research supporting both of those statements.

Finally, I liked what she said about life's adventures:  you will encounter adventures whether you want to or not, so you don't have to try to make things harder for yourself.  I tell clients this about suffering, too, and it comes straight from Buddhism:  life is full of suffering that we can't control.  But we can at least prevent the suffering we can control--how we treat ourselves and others, the approach we take towards living. 

Actually, Freud said this, too.  He said that at best, we could hope to reduce our suffering to the psychopathology of every day living.  People thought that was a negative view of life, but I don't think it's actually any different than what Buddha said.  But I guess since Freud said a lot of crazy things and was crazy himself, it's easy to interpret that statement more negatively than what I think he intended.

Now that I'm writing all this out, I realize that all of  my comments are about free will.  I wouldn't have realized that this is what struck me the most about the book without this blog!  I encourage all of you to write your thoughts if you've finished the book; otherwise you'll forget them by the time we meet!

P.S.  I just thought of something else.  I was thinking about how at the end of the book Jeannette Wells said she wanted to write a book about her mom but her mom told her that her grandmother was the interesting person.  I was thinking about how in Tender at the Bone I thought Reichl's mom would probably be upset about how she was portrayed.  I had thought the same thing about Well's parents after reading Glass Castles.  But then here is Wells, wanting to tell her mom's story. 

And her mom Rosemary, who didn't seem to have a great relationship with her mom, Lily, also wanted her mom's story to be told.  Maybe this means that, despite the negative things that the aitjprs talked about in their upbringing, in the end they tried to have compassion for their mom's story and why she was the way she was.  And maybe that's really what most writing is about. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Reading List

Add books here that you've read between meetings that might be of interest to others!  Here are mine:

The Hypnotist's Love Story - Liane Moriarty

*What Alice Forgot - Liane Moriarty

Disaster Preparedness - Heather Havrilesky

Funny in Farsi - Firoozeh Dumas

*Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert

*Unwind - Neal Shusterman

*Art of Racing in the Rain - Garth Stein

*A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Housseini

*Change of Heart - Jodi Picoult

* Book Club books

Frequently Asked Questions

An interview with Christy, founder of The Remedial Book Club.

Q:  How did the Remedial Book Club get started?

A:  I was telling some of my tennis friends about how my mom was mentioned in the book Big Stone Gap (which is being turned into a movie right now!) and a lot of us read so we decided to form a book club and that this would be our first book.

Q:  Why is it remedial?

A:  Unlike most groups that aim to meet once a month, we are lucky to read a book once every two months.  And completing--or even reading--the book is not a requirement for participation.   And attendance is often a fairly low.

Also, we spend a lot more time gossiping about tennis people than we do talking about the book, although we were approaching a ratio of 50:50 until our meeting tonight.  In all fairness, though, the host's daughter got sick and she had to leave, so this meeting is an outlier.  Plus we also spend a lot of time catching up with each other's lives, which is really the most important thing.

Our discussions also tend to be more superficial.  We talk a lot more about tangentially related movies and who would play the characters in the movie version of the book (great actors selected for Big Stone Gap!).  However, we have several members who read a lot, so there's always discussion about interesting books that may or may not be related to the topic of book club.

Finally, the choice of venue is just as important as the book selected.  Our favorite venue was Teri's house because she cooked most of the food and there was space to do Karaoke or Just Dance or Wii.  We used to try to pick restaurants that fit the theme of the book, but our restaurant choices are pretty limited.  Plus when you read something like "Water for Elephants," it's hard to pick a place with circus food.

Q:  How do you choose your members?

A:  We usually extend an invitation to anyone who expresses interest in joining.  Some members have dropped out because of lack of participation.  Only two members from the original book club remain--Norma and myself.

Q:  How do you choose the books?

A:  Every meeting we choose a host for the next book--usually a new member to solidify their commitment to the group.  She chooses the book, organizes the meeting time, and chooses the venue. She is loosely responsible for leading the discussion of the book, usually by saying something like, hey we should probably talk some about the book now.

Q:  Why did you create a blog for the book club?

A:  Honestly, it's because I wanted to write a book about our club, and I thought it would be easier to develop material for it this way.  Plus it's a way for people who missed the meeting to participate in the discussion.  This is our first time trying it.  If I'm the only one who posts anything that's fine.  I like to do most of the talking anyway.

I will say that Marie really likes the idea and we have already begun discussions about who will play us when the book gets turned into a movie.

The Paris Wife Meeting

July 2013
Host:  Annette
Location: Wildflour

Friday, October 18, 2013

Tender at the Bone Meeting

October 18, 2013

Well, it was our lowest showing ever for book club, and the host, Denise, actually had to leave and tend to a sick child.  We decided to count this as a meeting anyway because we are on the verge of losing our book club status altogether.  So here were the highlights:

Venue:  Fork in the City.  Excellent!  Not the gourmet food described in the book, but you can't go wrong with gourmet hot dogs and pizzas!

Latest gossip: 
  • Lots of sad events:  my break up with Jamie, Marie's dad passing, Lauren's ectopic pregnancy, Annette's father is ill.  Send positive vibes our way.
  • Good news:  I am a freelance writer!  I am going to write short psychology articles giving advice on relationships.  With my 2 divorces and recent breakup, I should be well-qualified to tell people what not to do!  And I'm excited about my blog.  Please spread the word about it so that I can become a famous writer!  I'll be sure to mention you in it!
  • As of Jan. 2014, there may be changes to the book club list.  Be sure to attend the next meeting and/or participate in the blog to maintain your status!
  • We might have talked about you.  Better come to book club next time to keep that from happening!
Book discussion:
  • About the Author
  • We forgot our movie discussion!  I can't believe it!
  • Gina and I agreed that Reichl's parents must have been dead when she wrote the book and that if we had said those things about our parents, they would have been PO'ed.
  • We all agreed that it was easier to eat in a restaurant than to try any of those recipes from scratch--especially Annette and me.  Although coconut bread sounded good!
  • I said that Janette Wall's parents were homeless when she finished Glass Castles so they probably didn't read her book and therefore were not upset about their portrayal in it.
  • Which made us decide to do Half Broke Horses, by Jeanette Walls, as our next book.  Gina will host.  Since she's already read it, she will read Glass Houses so we can have a more intelligent discussion about the two books together.  We have some ground to make up after this poor showing for this meeting.
  • Annette and I shared some of the most memorable moments from Glass Houses with Gina--mostly about how crazy the dad was.
  • We had the waitress take our picture.  She seemed kind of PO'ed about it, but then she came all the way outside to give me my captain's gift, which I had left behind, so I guess that made up for it.

This is sort of like taking minutes. I wonder if I will always have to be secretary?  Denise, Gina, and Annette let me know if I forgot anything.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tender at the Bone

I haven't completed the book yet but I'm making steady progress.  Unfortunately, my main thought as I read each chapter is who in the world has time to cook all of these recipes from scratch?!  I was so stressed about having to cook something for the meeting that I had no room left in my brain for deep and meaningful book conversation.  Which is OK, I guess, since we're still at the remedial level.

Seriously, though.  The tart takes 5 hours, not including prep and cooking time.  3 hours to chill the dough.  2 hours to cool.  That's like the whole frickin' day!  Lemon Souffle:  I'm certain to contaminate the egg white and yolk.  Plus I don't know if I can get a bowl that clean.  Coconut bread:  do they even sell actual coconuts in the grocery store?  Cutting it up sounds stressful.  I might hurt myself.

I've decided I'm going to bring a tart from Fresh Market.  Unfortunately, so few people have indicated that they can make it that I'll probably eat too much of it.  Oh well.  The sacrifices you have to make for book club.

My deep and meaningful thought as I read the book is how amazing it is that so many authors had at least one crazy parent.  Or they're crazy.  Or the novels are about someone with a mental illness.  Do you think that there are that many people with mental illnesses but no one talks about it?  Or do you think only crazy people have interesting things to write about?  I know I never have anything to say in my journal when things are going well. 

I have been reading a lot of books on writers, the best one being Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamont, and she said that most of the authors that she knew were depressed, alcoholic, and suicidal.  So maybe there is something to the idea that writers have to be crazy.

My other deep and meaningful thought is about how American food really is kind of crappy.  We are known for fast food, which isn't that great.  American cheese is not even real cheese.  Everything has to be fast and ready-made, like my tart that I'm going to buy (although at least it will be from Fresh Market).  And when Americans are trying to eat healthy, they buy all this gluten-free, high fiber, vegan crap that can't possibly taste good.  No offense to any vegans out there.

I want to start eating like the French, where everything is really rich.  Not sure how they stay thin, though.  I think they walk a lot.  And they smoke, which I'm not going to do.  They drink a lot, so I can cut some calories there since I don't drink.  And I think they have a small breakfast and dinner but a big lunch.  Unfortunately, my job doesn't allow for that.  And I don't want to cook.  So maybe that won't work after all.

Hope other people share their thoughts on the book!

- Christy

P.S.  I think I can make the deviled eggs!

P.P.S.  Do you think her parents read the book?  If so, do you think they were upset?