Sunday, January 1, 2012

Reading Along on I-94 - A Monster Calls - Part 1

After the epic fun and exhilarating excitement of NCTE in November, Colby Sharp from sharpread asked me if I wanted to join him on a book adventure. He proposed that each month we read a book together. One month he gets to pick the book for me to read and the next month I get to pick the book for him to read. Since we both live along I-94, but in totally different states, we're going to call this feature Reading Along on I-94. You are invited to read along with us and respond to our conversation in the comments section.

In December, we read Hound Dog True by Linda Urban. We discussed the book and recorded our conversations in a Google Doc (which, by the way, has helped me see the awesomeness of Google Docs in a whole new light).

If you want to read our December Hound Dog True read-alongs you can see our installments at Colby's blog: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

I totally forgot to send this pictures to Colby, but you can see them now. 
This was the excitement of me getting Hound Dog True:
Colby wouldn't tell me what book we were reading so I had to wait until it arrived in my mailbox.

Unfortunately, it wasn't as easy to keep a secret from him. First of all, he guessed the book I picked for January...and even though I didn't tell him he had guessed it, we both knew he had guessed it. And then he threatened to read it...and then someone sent him the book because they had an extra copy and he threatened to read it again...which is when I finally had to tell him in my most disgruntled-but-nice way that it was, in fact, the book I had picked from the beginning. 

So here we are and the book will be reading in January is:
A Monster Calls By Patrick Ness

Here's the discussion we have had so far before we've even read the first page of the book!! 
(My comments are in pink and Colby's are in black.)

Jen: When you wanted to start our book club, Monster Calls by Patrick Ness instantly came to mind. I was fairly sure you hadn’t read it yet and I know it’s a book that is going to take your breath away. Over the summer the ARC was passed along to a lot of our Twitter friends and everyone was amazed by it.

I’m eager to read this book again myself and to be able to think more about the writing than about going along with the story like I did when I read it the first time.

I have never cried as much or as hard as I did when reading this book. My husband tried to console me when he saw me blubbering as I read but I had to tell him it was a good cry. Sometimes we need those kind of cries: healthy cries that let us release feelings for others rather than ourselves. This book is the definition of catharsis.

This is also a book that had me freaked out when I started reading because I didn’t know if I was going to have the same experience with it that others had. Monster Calls makes you think, well, it really made me think. Sometimes I read a book that I have heard others rave about and I don’t feel the same way about the book - which I have learned is what sharing books is all about. It’s good that we all have different opinions about what we read. I am anxious to hear what you think though because I have only heard great things about this book.

Colby: I too, am worried about having the same experience as others. Sometimes I worry that I won’t like it as much as others, and sometimes I don’t want to like the hot book as much as others. It seems like all of my reading friends love this book, so I am super pumped to give it a read. It will be the first #nerdybookclub YA winner for me. Do you think it is YA or MG? I am a little scared of YA.

Jen: Don’t be scared of it being YA...honestly, as I read it I didn’t think of it as YA at all. I definitely would have said it was middle grade until I was looking for it at the book store and they led me over to the YA section. I was so surprised. I’ll have to reassess as I read to decide if it really is a YA book. It did win a YA Nerdy after all. From memory, the only reason why I would say it is YA is because of the intense content.

I remember when I first read Twilight that I was so excited about it. We have a consultant for our district who is from Arkansas and he is always talking books. At one workshop he said, you will want to read Twilight. He didn’t say much about it but I wrote it down because I write down every book that comes out of his mouth. I got the book on audio at the library and put the first disc in without even reading the back cover (I was a bad reader and did not preview the book that day...) and then after I was listening for a bit, I grabbed it because I was so confused. What was up with this Edward guy?

I told lots of book-loving friends about Twilight and their faces would become confused frowns when I said she falls in love with a vampire. Everyone thought I was crazy.

And then all of a sudden everyone was reading Twilight and then I wasn’t so crazy...but at the same time, I wasn’t so excited about Twilight any more. When the first Breaking Dawn movie came out I just shrugged at seeing it after having seen Twilight and New Moon at midnight (I think I went into the hospital to have Danny the night Eclipse started in theaters so that doesn’t really count...but I don’t think I would have gone to the midnight showing anyway). I’m sorry but I’m so over Twilight. It’s somehow not as cool now that everyone loves it. (Although, I still did enjoy the series and was a huge Edward fan before R Patz made his appearance.)

But I do think you will love this book. What I’m afraid of is that you will devour it in one sitting and we won’t have time to discuss it before you have finished it. Somehow you’ll have to pace yourself a bit...just enough to stop and at least write something or our read-along book-club won’t be all that exciting for people to read!

Colby: This is getting me excited! I will read it in installments. If you could take a quick look at the book and let me know where you think I should stop, that would be fantastic.  The only thing that I am worried about is not liking it as much as you want me to. Were you feeling that at all with Hound Dog True last month?

Okay, I will begin reading January 1. Let me know how much I should read before I stop.

Jen: I’ll look at the book and see if I can come up with some good spots to stop for you!

I was a bit worried with Hound Dog True but not at the same time. I can’t say it was my all-time favorite book, but it was definitely a great book and a superbly written book. I definitely appreciated it more having read it and talked about it. Knowing we were going to talk about it really made me think intentionally about the writing instead of just reading along for fun. The reason I wasn’t worried was because I trust your opinion about books. I know books you have loved and books you didn’t really care for and we’re usually on the same page. Although, it wouldn’t be interesting if we agreed on everything and I think we grow most from talking about books and what we like and don’t like so we can see how our perspectives differ. Case in point: I Want My Hat Back.

I can’t believe we’ve just written (well, it’s me mostly...) about just thinking about reading our January book. It’s so #nerdybookclub!

Colby: You do tend to write a lot more than me. I think it is a gender thing:)

Now it's time for the reading to begin. 
All I have to say at this point to Colby or anyone who is reading along with us is this:
Grab a box of tissues!!!!


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