“A Man Called Ove” book response and January selection!

Virtual Book ClubTo finish out the year we picked A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, a book that has been making its way around many book club circles especially in the latter part of this year. The blurbs on the cover of this book pitched it as touching and heartwarming. I am generally a fan of Swedish things, so I was looking forward to reading this Swedish best-seller.

I will admit that this book did not win me over until the last couple of chapters. I’m not one to not finish books, but if I wasn’t reading it for book club, I might have set this one down and moved on to something more exciting. I found that Ove reminded me too much of people in my life who’ve let the process of following rules to the letter, and sticking to rigid principles instead of practicing flexibility, rob them of so much joy. I understand that is the point of the book, the word “curmudgeon” is right there on the cover, and yet when I dove in I really underestimated Ove’s curmudgeonliness.

[Spoilers in the next two paragraphs, I guess]
Ove’s preoccupation with ending his life really rubbed me the wrong way. Yes, his wife died and he doesn’t know how to adjust to the world at large without her. Suicidal tendencies are not out of the question when the most important person in the world is taken away. I know that depression is a crushing and inescapable feeling and I think the author treated the protagonist’s three failed suicide efforts (one serious, two more half-hearted) too lightly, as “day in the life” episodes instead of life-shattering moments which they would be.

It is revealed bit by bit that Ove has had a hard life. Growing up very poor, losing his house, his wife’s accident, losing his wife: these are all things that can make a person’s heart hard. However, the way the story is presented, it seems like Ove’s heart has always been hard even from childhood. In this way it is not like Ove’s diverse group of neighbors are helping him rediscover a version of himself that was lost long ago, but instead totally change his whole personality. Of course, the end where he does change himself to being open to his new neighbors and knits himself into the lives of those in his cul-de-sac is the best part of the book, and once we reach that point, it feels more like an epilogue than part of the story itself. So, aside from the fact that an elderly man changing his whole personality seems far-fetched, the end is by far the best part of the book and it does live up to the “touching” and “heartwarming” blurbs on the back. But it’s kind of too little, too late.

A Man Called Ove

There have been one or two book club reads that I’ve been “meh” about but this was the first one I actively disliked as I was reading it. Looking forward to what my fellow readers have to say in their responses! I know Libby will be posting one up and Steph might be posting one too so make sure to check out their blogs.

As always leave your comments below or link me to your review if you’ve already posted it on Goodreads or Amazon. I would love to read your take.


The Secret History of Wonder WomanA reminder that we started a facebook group for the book club if you would rather discuss our monthly reads over there instead of in the comment section here. Message me on facebook to be added.

To start the new year, we decided to read a non-fiction book since the majority of what we tackled in 2016 was fiction work. Our facebook group voted on three choices and picked The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Havard professor and New Yorker writer Jill Lepore. This book was Steph’s choice, which I voted for over my own nomination! The Amazon synopsis sounds really great so I am very much looking forward to this glimpse of feminism in the comic book industry.

“Someday, Someday Maybe” Book Review and December Selection!

Virtual Book ClubGreat news! We made a facebook group for the Virtual Book Club. We are going to be doing some discussion over there regarding the monthly book and other books that we happen to be reading, too. It’s currently a closed group, but if you are interested in joining, let me know and I will be happy to add you.


Hey guys! I can’t believe November went by so fast. I feel like I just finished writing my response to The Graveyard Book but here we are. We picked something light to read, since as the holiday season gears up, time somehow becomes more scarce. Someday, Someday Maybe definitely was light. I finished out in about five or six hours, which was nice.

The book is written in the first person. Through the eyes of our heroine, Franny, we get a glimpse of what it may have been like to be a struggling actress in New York city in 1995. The author, Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls, Parenthood) has a lot of personal experience to draw on, I’m sure.

Someday, Someday Maybe

A really cute thing in the book were these little pages from Franny’s day planner. Some weeks were meticulous and full; others were dust and tumbleweeds. It reminded me of my own planner. Another cute thing was the use of the answering machine. I totally remember the days before I had a cell phone and the only way to get important information was to hunt someone down or leave them a message. Sometimes I think it would be really freeing to only check my phone messages (and email) once or twice a day instead of constantly.

Franny has a lot of self-doubt, something that doesn’t come in handy for an actress, I’m sure. We all have self-doubt, but we don’t all work in industries where the goal is to stand out or face total failure. As a result of these insecure feelings, she makes a bunch of questionable life choices. She picks the sleazy agent over the friendly agent, she picks the superficial and pretentious dude over the nice guy, etc. She tries to derive her strength from others instead of from herself. Her strongest moment of personal growth comes when she turns down a job that (after lots and lots—too much—hemming and hawing) she decides compromises her values. I guess that was the point of the book! Pull your strength from within instead of trying to attach yourself to others that seem successful.

There were a few points in the book that I found pretty meta, particularly the conversation between Dan and Franny about love triangles as a tired trope. I think it was the author’s way of winking at us readers, “yeah, love triangles are a bit tired but still cute and compelling, so I’m using one anyway.” Franny was a little annoying, but I saw some of myself in her immature, rambling inner monologues. We can’t all be perfect. ;)

Actually, Lauren Graham came out with another book this week, Talking As Fast as I Can, which is about herself. It would be interesting to read it and compare her stories of breaking out as an actress to the fictionalized version in Someday, Someday Maybe.


Our final book of 2016 will be A Man Called Ove. It’s supposed to be a “feel-good” story and my coworker compared it to the movie Up, which I haven’t seen but everyone seems to like. Lately I have been getting into all things Scandinavian so I’m looking forward to reading this (a movie adaptation is coming out, too).

As always, hop over to Libby’s blog to read her take on our monthly book (spoiler alert: she didn’t like it)! And again, let me know if you want to join our facebook group!

“The Graveyard Book” Review and November Selection!

Hey pals! Coming at you one week late with the October virtual book club review.

book-club

What a fitting book to read on Halloween. I really had fun reading Neil Gaiman’s spooky The Graveyard Book, the kind of fun I had when I read Ready Player One earlier this year. I suppose that tells you what kinds of books I can really get sucked into—young adult adventures with a dash of alternative reality. I mean, I do read all kinds of books: I purposefully force myself to read a wide variety of genres, but this is the kind I quickly devour.

Not sure why I put off cracking The Graveyard Book since I knew from the inside flap description that I was going to like it. The story follows a young boy from toddlerhood to adulthood (older-teen-hood?) as he grows up in a graveyard, raised by ghosts. His family is murdered when he is a baby (no spoiler there; that is the opening scene) and he toddles to a graveyard where two old ghosts by the last name Owens decide to raise him. They name him Nobody, and he goes by Bod for short. While growing, Bod learns life lessons not unlike a normal boy would learn, but just in a different way.

The Graveyard Book

Bod’s other guardian is a man named Silas. Silas is a mysterious person whose true nature is revealed bit by bit until the climax of the book. Something I liked about this book was that instead of spending a lot of time providing background information, details, and nitty gritty on things like, “What makes ghosts and ghouls different? What is the layout of the graveyard? What kind of trees are there?” (Think Harry Potter, and the encyclopedic fictional knowledge the reader comes away with) the reader is just dropped down into the story and things (concepts, creatures) just are. And it doesn’t detract from the story, in fact it makes things move along much more quickly, hoping the reader doesn’t get distracted by not knowing specifics on something.

Yes, the book takes place in a graveyard, and the majority of supporting characters are ghosts, but I wouldn’t call it a scary book. There are a few creepy (maybe even scary) parts, but each chapter is pretty short. I don’t know how 10 year old Staci would have reacted, but Younger Me read some books with some scary parts and I turned out just fine. Knowing that it was loosely based on Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book adds a fun element to the reading experience as well. I haven’t read The Jungle Book but I saw the Disney animated movie (I know, not nearly the same thing), but I was able to draw at least one connection to the movie—Bod’s caper with the ghouls definitely reminds me of when Mowgli gets kidnapped by King Louie and the apes.

I read Stardust, by the same author (aaaages ago, before the movie came out) and zoomed through it. I guess it’s a safe bet that I’d like other Neil Gaiman books, so I will definitely have to see what else my local library has.

somedaycoverThis month, another shift of gears. Our book club seems to be jumping around from genre to genre each month, and that is one of my favorite things about it, I think.

Thanks to a circumstance of “right place, right time” (the book is on sale currently on Amazon for 1.99) we chose Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham. You might know Lauren Graham better as Lorelai on Gilmore Girls! I was looking for something lighter since Unknown Americans was really heavy and The Graveyard Book was kind of creepy, and November has the potential to be a busy month, and the book literally fell into my lap inbox  via a BookBub daily email. Oh, and don’t forget… the new Gilmore Girls episodes come to Netflix on Black Friday!