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Posts Tagged ‘Book Groups’

Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacob – Book Group Reading Selection

Posted by Kyle Design on February 28, 2009

This Knitting Tape Measure is a cute gift for knitters who enjoy other crafts as well.

This Knitting Tape Measure is a cute gift for knitters who enjoy other crafts as well.

Our book group selection was The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacob. Overall we all liked it and were able to have a good group discussion, a big plus. Each member of our group related to a different member of the Friday Night Knitting Club – I naturally related to Georgia, the skilled craftswoman with a small business and a 12-year-old daughter who likes to cook, because that is exactly my situation. (But unlike Georgia, I also have a husband and 10-year-old daughter.) A talkative member of our group was the first to volunteer that she saw herself in the outgoing K.C., others responded to Anita, Georgia’s supportive, older friend.

Pretty Cooking Ornament - A great way to acknowledge a girls budding culinary interests

Pretty Cooking Ornament - A great way to acknowledge a girl's budding culinary interests

It was fun discussing how Darwin, the doctoral student writing a thesis on what a throwback knitting is, evolved over the course of the book. (If it’s fun, enjoy it, and don’t be intimidated by others who have different interests. It wouldn’t be a skill that is still practiced if it were true drudgery – anyone prefer to wash clothes on a washboard?) Knitting is meditative, it feels good in the hand, you can immediately have a sense of accomplishment and it’s practical – what’s not to like?

Learn to accept the twists and turns ones life takes with a River Name Badge Holder

Learn to accept the twists and turns one's life takes with a River Name Badge Holder

We discussed the fact that most characters in the book did the opposite of what was expected of them and whether this was realistic. I think the group was mostly against it in the beginning, but came around to the fact that this not unlike real life in many cases. If you think about what you were like in high school and what you thought your life was going to be like in future and compare, well, you too may discover that there definitely were unexpected twists and turns. Not everyone leads a predictable life, and quite often you don’t end up where you thought you’d be.

Fairytale Castle Bookmark - A lovely gift for the young reader who is enchanted with books

Fairytale Castle Bookmark - A lovely gift for the young reader who is enchanted with books

Even the ending of the Friday Night Knitting Club was not predictable, and this was a refreshing change from so many books one reads. It gets to the point when reading other books that half way through you’ve already figured out where it is going, know the neat tie-ups that are coming – that someone will keep a baby, get married to a long-time friend, be successful in business or whatever feel-good, fairytale endings the author comes up with. Not with this one. I think the characters have stayed with me for that very reason.

Maple Leaf Pill Box in Fall Colors - Reminds transplanted Canadians of home

Maple Leaf Pill Box in Fall Colors - Reminds transplanted Canadians of home

BTW, she was born and raised in Canada, which may account for why she comes across as such a nice, friendly person with whom you could quickly become good friends. Her characters, too, are quite believable that way.

Monogram Money Clip with the Letter K - for Kyle or Kate or Knitting! At Kyle Design, we now have gifts with all letters of the alphabet.

Monogram Money Clip with the Letter K - for Kyle or Kate or Knitting! At Kyle Design, we now have gifts with all letters of the alphabet.

Side note: Kate exclaimed when I said my name was Kyle, because that was what she had intended to name a female character in her latest book, Knit Two. But she was discouraged from using it by her manuscript readers as being not believable. So now she said she’s inclined to use again if it fits a future character.

So, the bottom line – good book that I would definitely recommend for book groups in particular.

If you’re shopping online for unique gifts, please visit Creative Knitting Gifts, Enchanted Castle Gifts, Gorgeous Monogram Gifts, Inspired Cooking Gifts and Meaningful River Gift Ideas. You’ll find a huge selection of distinctive Christmas ornaments, tape measures, name badge holders, pill boxes, bookmarks, money clips and more.

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Reading Group Book Review: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Posted by Kyle Design on May 20, 2008

Foot Pattern Light Switch Plates in Nickel and WhiteOur recent book group selection was Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. Brushed Chrome and Aluminum Sewing Tape MeasuresI started out not liking the book much but by the end found myself enjoying it, and as a mark of a good book, find myself still thinking about it. It is an interesting look at the lives of women in mid 19th-century China, replete with foot binding, harsh mothers-in-law and a highly structured society that places a low value on women.

Some members of our group were bored by the first part and never finished the book, but in discussion we wondered if the monotony of this section was intentional by the author. Perhaps it was her way to hit home what it was truly like for these women who spent most of their lives in the upstairs women’s chamber, embroidering or sewing, with just a window to look out of. They seldom traveled, rarely even going outside.

One concept that struck us in book group is the idea of “sworn sisters”, a group of women with whom they make a pact to stay friends and support each other through their often hard and unhappy lives. Our book group has been going strong for over 7 years now and, in a way, we feel like a group of sworn sisters. Each book affects individual members in different ways, sparking strong emotions, bringing back memories, causing debate, relating to our own upbringings or families, so that we are revealing a part of our lives in each discussion.

There was a conflict in the book based upon a miscommunication. This caused a rift between Snow Flower and Lily and resulted in a showdown of sorts at a gathering. In an example of books paralleling life, our group faced our first conflict while reading this book when one member chose to invite someone new whose family were outspoken in their disregard for another member’s family. This threatened to disrupt the intimacy and sharing that goes on within our group, with one member feeling violated. It was quietly handled behind the scenes (not without a lot of drama), thereby avoiding a showdown at our meeting. Whew!Sworn Sisters Beaded ID Badge Lanyards A recommendation was made to the group to think about whom you’re inviting, whether there is any family history between two people and whether this new person would cause unwanted conflict.

Asian Fan Business Card Holder in GoldMinor Gripe: The inside cover of the book shows glossy color photo of an Asian fan with writing, but written straight up and down, rather than on the folds of the fan as described in the book. I wish the publisher would have shown a fan with actual nu shu writing with the accompanying designs at the top, whether an authentic one or a reproduction based on descriptions by those who made them, rather than this misleading image.

If you’d like to see more of my unique gift-giving ideas, please visit Unusual Asian Fan Gifts (like the business card case), Foot Gifts (like the light switch plate), Family and Sister Gifts (like the Beaded Necklace Lanyard) or Sewing and Embroidery Gifts (like the Tape Measure).

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How to Start a Reading Book Group – What’s Worked For Us

Posted by Kyle Design on April 15, 2008

Book Group Pillbox in Silver with Teal AluminumI started the Moms’ Reading Group over seven years ago with my friend Robbie. She and I were discussing books in my living room one day and we decided we should start our own book group. We had young children and were really feeling the need to make time to read and also to have a designated day where we’d be able to get out without the kids. We mentioned the idea to friends whom we knew enjoyed reading and got a small group together. Here’s what’s worked for us:

Getting Started: Robbie contacted local book stores, and Barnes and Noble generously welcomed us to meet in one of the sitting areas in their store each month, and they even make us a big pot of coffee. Beaded Coffee Cup EarringsIn addition, they list our reading group in their monthly newsletter, and new members have found us this way over the years. We chose contemporary fiction as our main focus, however we will sometimes read a non-fiction book if one peaks our interest. We have about 10 core members, but usually end up with about 6 – 8 members who can make it each time.

Stained Glass and Metal House Night LightLocation: Having the group away from home removes the burden of any one person having to prepare to receive guests. It also allows all members to speak freely without fear of being overheard or interrupted. This works best for our group at this stage of our lives, but certainly is only one way to structure a group. I know most groups meet in a different member’s home each time, Wine Bottle and Glasses Switch Plates in Nickel Silver and Blackand for those who love to entertain and have the time and energy to do it, I’m sure that works great. Some groups make food, chocolate or wine part of the experience, although we only bring treats for our anniversary each year.

Our members are just happy when we can make it to group, whether we’ve finished the book or not. We are a group of busy, active moms, with some who work and others who don’t, and some months it is just tough to do it all.

Another benefit to holding it in a book store is that we are able to quickly find reference material of we want to check facts or find out background information to flesh out our understanding of a subject.

Frequency: Our book group meets once a month at the local Barnes & Noble. We meet at 7:30 p.m., late enough to have gotten home from work or classes and made it through dinner. We have on occasion moved the date when it fell on a holiday weekend or when several members would all be gone, but for the most part stick to the second Monday of each month.

Engraved Custom Bookmarks in Gorgeous Colors and DesignsStructure: Robbie was willing to take on the task of leading the discussion, but when she can’t make it, it falls to me. My contribution, as an artist, is to give each new member one of my handcrafted bookmarks as a welcoming gift. We usually compile a list of questions to get us taking. Sometimes our books have questions in the back, other times we’ll get questions from, others are just ones that occur to us.

We start off discussing the book for about and hour or so. After that, we choose a new book. Holding our book group in a bookstore makes it easier when it comes time to pick our next selection. We all fan out to peruse the bookshelves and tables for books we’ve heard about or to find something new that peaks our interest. Our approach is to have each member pitch a book and then all vote on which one we’re interested in reading. The book with the most votes becomes the next month’s selection, but if it is a split vote, we might make them the next two month’s choices. Usually around 9:30 we conclude the discussion and have time to chat, share pictures or play games.

Robbie sends out a reminder email before each meeting as well as a follow-up one letting everyone know what was chosen for next time.

Include the Kids: Once a year we select a book that we will read to our kids, then bring our kids to our book group to discuss it. We all really want to instill our own love of reading to our children. They are always so excited to come meet the other members and their kids, plus they enjoy seeing exactly what Mom does each month. The discussions have been really fun, and it is especially interesting to hear what all the kids thought and see each family’s reaction to a book.

Our group has been going strong for seven years now and I feel this structure has worked really well for us. I hope some of these ideas will work for you as well. Happy Reading!

If you’re a member of a book group and would like some gift ideas for your fellow members, please visit Cool Reading Book Group Gift Ideas or click any of the photos above to learn more.

Posted in Bookmarks, Books, Hobbies, Parenting, Unique Gifts | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Celebrate National Library Week – Check Out A Good Book

Posted by Kyle Design on April 14, 2008

Librarian Christmas OrnamentApril 13 – 19 is the 50th Anniversary of National Library Week 2008. This event, sponsored by the American Library Association, encourages everyone to visit and support their libraries and librarians. Many libraries are sponsoring special events this week, so be sure to check out their schedules.

Library Week was started in 1958 because research at the time was showing that Americans were spending less on books than they were on radios, TVs and musical instruments. Ha! And that was 50 years ago! One can only imagine how skewed that ratio is now.

Library Book Beaded Neck LanyardI’ll be celebrating by going to my book group tonight where we’ll be discussing Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, and attending the Livermore Library’s Newcott-Caldebery Book Writing and Illustrating Awards Ceremony for young authors and illustrators on Thursday, an event sponsored by the Friends of the Livermore Library to encourage young writers. Both of my daughters submitted books again this year.

Elephant BookmarkGood Book: My oldest daughter checked out Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen from the library. I loved this book and felt she was old enough to handle the more mature themes in the book. While my daughter read most of it to herself, I enjoyed rereading sections out loud to her. It is a funny, unusual love story with a distinctive writing style and an unpredictable ending.

If you’d like to encourage reading or honor a favorite librarian with a holiday ornament, beaded ID badge lanyard or bookmark, please visit my Unique Gifts for Librarians or my collection of Unusual Custom Bookmarks.

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Book Group Expo in San Jose, CA – June 2007

Posted by Kyle Design on June 14, 2007

The second-annual Book Group Expo in San Jose, CA,Open Book Refrigerator Magnet Clip was held this last weekend and my friends and I had a really wonderful time. This event provides a forum where one can see favorite authors, listen to their thoughts on writing, and hear about the experiences that were the inspirations for their books. This fair was a magnet for avid readers, writers with questions and members of book groups looking for ideas for selections that would make for lively book group discussions.

Book Group Expo organized “salons” around particular themes with three authors on a comfy sofa and a host who interviewed them. After an interesting question and answer session, the authors answered questions posed by audience members. This was the second year that this organization has offered the Book Group Expo for those of us in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was also amazed at how many people flew in from outside the area to attend – I’m sure they found the experience well worth it.

Book Group Expo SalonFor those of us who pre-ordered tickets, we received a handy tote bag with a least 4 books, samples of tea and other goodies. In the marketplace area, vendors were selling or sampling (or even giving away) books, jewelry, chocolate, tea, cookies, wine, even bras(!).

We attended the salon featuring Sara Davidson, author of “Leap!”, Po Bronson, author ofAuthor Elizabeth Gilbert and her book “eat, pray, love” “Why Do I Love These People?”, and Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “eat, pray, love”, shown from left to right in the photo above. Afterwards, we were able to buy their books and have them signed by the authors. At right, we have just had our “eat, pray, love” books signed. I found Elizabeth Gilbert to be quite funny and wise, and am looking forward to reading her book. My friends LOVED “eat, pray, love”. Another author who impressed me was Carolyn Jourdan, writer of “Heart In The Right Place”. She was a high-paid Washington lawyer who left to become the receptionist in her father’s small town medical practice. She was alternately touching and hilarious as she described her experiences.

If you missed this year’s book expo, be sure to sign up for their mailing list for next year. Tickets are cheaper if you order ahead, and then you’ll be sure to get tickets to the most popular events. This year’s hot ticket was the sold-out Friday night salon with Khalid Hosseini, author of “The Kite Runner“, who was introducing his new book, “A Thousand Splendid Suns“.

If you are are part of a reading group and are looking for fun gifts for other book group members (or something for yourself!) be sure to check out our artistic Book Themed Gifts for Book Groups and Readers.

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