Saturday, December 17, 2005

I now pronounce you ....

If you see a certain member of the book club around town beaming and smiling, congratulate him! Today at 3:00PM is a really big day for him.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

No Meeting In December

Best Books of 2005

Mary Ann Gwinn, the Seattle Times book editor, has an interesting article with her list of the ten best books for 2005. Here are some of the titles:

The March by E.L. Doctorow (Random House)
Teacher Man by Frank McCourt (Scribner)
1776 by David McCullough (Simon & Schuster)
Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie (Random House)

Two of the books on Gwinn's list are also on James McGowan's list:

The Year of Magical Thinking
by Joan Didion
On Beauty by Zadie Smith

James Mcgowan of the Ottawa Citizen made his recommendations in an article titled, Ten Books That Can't Miss , published December 4,2005. Also on Mc Gowan's list is The Tender Bar by J. R. Moehringer

Hmmm lots of books to read so little time to get to them.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Do you remember Slave by Mende Nazer?

In November 2004 we read a fascinating yet shocking book called, Slave by Mende Nazer and Damien Lewis. CLICK HERE for more information on what is happening in Darfur today. If you are moved to take action, here are somepractical things you can do.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Golfing with God by Roland Merullo

Suzanne Beecher has an email bookclub with over 30,000 members. Once you sign up, she sends out emails with 5 minute samples of a book. The idea is to get you hooked on the first two or three chapters so that you will go out and borrow the book from a library or purchase the book yourself.

Suzanne has some suggestions on her blog in case you want to give books for Christmas gifts. Golfing with God by Roland Merullo sounds like a very interesting title.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Thirteen Steps

We have never chosen a book by British murder mystery writer Ruth Rendell. She has a new book out titled, Thirteen Steps Down. Publisher's Weekly calls it the best novel she has written in years. I found an interesting article about the 75 year old Ruth Rendell. She says in the article that the traditional detective story is dying - killed off, in part, by DNA technology and CSI-style forensics.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Stiff Dead

Roberta is recommending a book called Stiff:The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. by Mary Roach. It is about cadaver research. I know, I know, it sounds morbid but it is supposed to be a really funny book. Roach is a journalist who writes a humor column regularly for Reader's Digest. She has also written for Outside, GQ, Vogue, and The New York Times Magazine. What compelled her to write this book?" READ ON.

Guess what her latest book title is? Spook:Science tackles the afterlife.

Monday, December 05, 2005

It's December 5 Y'all!

Remember today is the day to meet the writer,Claire Hamnet Matturo, at the public library at 6:00PM.

Take a look at the gorgeous Christmas trees on display in the public library. I am sure you will agree with me that the most creative one there is the Waycross College library's tree featuring the work of talented book club member, Charlotte. The trees will be donated to needy families just before Christmas.

I think next year Charlotte will have to conduct a class called, Creating Your Own Christmas Ornaments. I will be her financial manager.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Christian Allegory or Not?

Lewis always insisted that his seven Narnia books were not a point-by-point Christian allegory. Much of The Lion, the Witch owes more to English folktales or Norse and classical myth than to the New Testament. READ MORE by David Van Biema

Narnia News on

Narnia Comes to Life
Douglas Gresham has dreamed of seeing Aslan on the big screen since he was a little boy. Now that his dream is about to become reality, C. S. Lewis's stepson talks about the new movie, and his role in it.
by Mark Moring | posted 11/01/05

The Man Behind the Wardrobe
C. S. Lewis, author of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe—a feature film coming to theaters soon—was "the best Christian I've ever known," says Douglas Gresham, stepson to the famous writer.
by Mark Moring | posted 10/31/05 READ MORE

Into the Wardrobe and Straight to Hollywood
Narnia makes a splash in Newsweek, while author C.S. Lewis is honored in Hollywood.
by Josh Hurst | posted 11/07/05READ MORE

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Book vs. The Movie Version

Which is better, the book (plus your imagination) or the hollywood version of the book? Hmmm. These writers in an article published in the Time online edition have come up with an answer. They discuss 6 books and the movies based on those books. Read the article to see what they think about the book and the movie version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Narnia Fans

Hope you all did not overeat on Thanksgiving.

Did you know that since the Chronicles of Narnia was first published in 1950, more than 85 million copies have been sold?

Don't forget that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe will premier on the big screen on December 9. Now the Hallmark Channel has announced that it is going to show the life of the writer, C.S. Lewis, on the small screen in C.S. Lewis: Beyond Narnia, also on Friday, December 9 at 8:00 PM. Set those VCRs. Don't miss it!

We will discuss the movie, the book and the Hallmark docudramawhen we meet in January 2006.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Meet Legal Thriller Author

Here is another opportunity to meet a writer right here in Waycross. Claire Hamnet Matturo will be at the public library during the Festival of the Trees on Monday, December 5 at 6:00PM. She is the writer of two legal thrillers: Skinny Dipping and Wildcat Wine.

Claire started writing in 2002 while she was an unemployed lawyer living in rural southwest Georgia. Her third book Bone Valley will be available next year.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Wonderful Meeting

Hot Toddy

At 4:00PM I realized that Andrew's Grill was not going to be available for our usual meeting. We gathered at Andrew's and made our way to Hot Toddy nearby. The decor was lovely there and we had privacy upstairs to discuss our book. Eight of us met to discuss The Glass Castle. It was a wonderful meeting as usual.

Welcome back Gloria

Welcome Gloria! This was Gloria's second meeting. The last time she came to the book club we were meeting at KD's. It's been a while. Gloria will be going off on retreat shortly to write her own novel.

We have not yet chosen our books for February and March. Gloria wants us to think about a book by a Latin American writer. Her first choice is the writer Isabel Allende.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


TUESDAY, November 15
This is the week that we meet the writers of RING OF LIES. The event will take place on Tuesday at 12:15PM in the common area in front of the Waycross College Library.

FRIDAY, November 18

Remember we also meet this Friday at Andrew's Grill at 6:00 PM to dicuss the memoir The Glass Castle.


Aside from her Southern accent, Jeannette Walls bears no outward traces of the extremely poor, nomadic childhood she chronicles in her brilliant new memoir, The Glass Castle. The tall, elegant MSNBC columnist bravely bares her lifelong secret of growing up with her three siblings and having to eat butter for dinner, make her own braces, and suffer the whims of her artistic, intelligent and utterly selfish parents, one she thought would get her kicked out of polite society and leave her socially ostracized once it was revealed.READ MORE

In this online interview, Jeannette offers an explanation for her mother's behavior, "Arrested development I guess is what it is. I think psychologically mom is around 4-years-old. Intellectually, she’s incredibly advanced. People say she was selfish with the candy; she was selfish in the way that a child is. “This is mine and I don’t want to share it!”

Personally, I think her mother was bipolar!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Small town faith-based novels

Did anyone see the article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution dated Tuesday, November 8, 2005 about Jan Karon's Mitford series? According to the article, millions are sadly but eagerly awaiting the release of Karon's final Mitford novel titled, Light From Heaven. Jan Karon has paved the way to success for other Christian fiction writers using a small town as the setting for their stories:

Life Goes On by Philip Gulley, Harmony series
Setting: Harmony, Ind.
Friendship Cake by Lynne Hinton
Setting:Hope Springs, N.C.
Cape of Light by Thomas Kinkade and Katherine Spencer
Setting: Cape Light, New England
Mercies and Miracles by Sharon Downing Jarvis
Setting: Fairhaven, Alabama
On a Wing and a Prayer by Katherine Valentine
Setting:Dorsetville, New England
Aprons on a Clothesline by Traci DePree, Lake Emily series
Setting: Lake Emily, Minn.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Many Rooms, Many Doors, One Leads to Narnia

Take a look at the very exciting film trailer for the extremely popular parable 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' which comes to life on cinema screens on December 9.

This is our book choice for January 2006.

New Book by Anne Rice

The big news in the media about Anne Rice is her switch from writing about vampires to writing about Jesus the Christ. Her latest book is called, "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt," and is written from the point of view of a seven year old Jesus. Click on Newsweek published October 31, to read about the major changes in Anne Rice's life

Monday, October 24, 2005

Meet the Writers

Meet the writers Christine Vanchella and Rebecca Frier on November 15 at Waycross College from 12:15PM to 1:15PM. These are the ladies I mentioned in a previous post. They have written a mystery novel called Ring of Lies under the pen name of Sophia Hollis. The setting of the novel is naturally southeast Georgia.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

News! News!

Book Selection for January 2006

It's official. We have decided on Lynn's book choice for January. Our first selection for 2006 will be The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia) by C. S. Lewis. We need to think about a non-fiction selection for February then perhaps we will discuss The Known World by Edward P. Jones in March.


We had a wonderful meeting as usual last night and Linda brought her friend Elinora from Blackshear. Elinora is a fan of Jan Karon's Mitford series and an avid quilter. Welcome, we were delighted to meet you and enjoy your company.


Our thoughts are with Shelly and her family at this time. Her Mom passed away in Ohio.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Best Sellers

This is no surprise. According to USA Today, Oprah's selection for her book club, A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, is the number 1 best selling book in the nation. This is supposed to be Frey's very honest memoir about his struggle to overcome his drug addiction.

Top Five Best Sellers

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan
Northern Lights by Nora Roberts
London Bridges by James Patterson
The Colorado Kid by Stephen King

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Secrets Revealed on Oprah

Be sure to watch the Oprah Show today when she interviews Jeannette Walls, writer of A Glass Castle.

Monday, October 17, 2005

New Novel

Rebecca Frier and Christine Vanchella have recently published a novel called, Ring of Lies. The pen name they used is Sophia Hollis. Christine Vanchella is a psychologist and freelance writer who has written many non-fiction pieces. Rebecca Frier is a college professor who has worked as a newspaper reporter and columnist. You can purchase the book from the publisher's site or from major online booksellers.

According to text in my email from Christine's husband the story is about LaDon Jones as she faces a trial for the murder of her son-in-law:

"She¹s been in predicaments before, always managing to come out on top, but she¹s not so sure this time. Samantha Peterson, LaDon¹s cool, intellectual daughter, struggles to put distance between herself and her mother, as well as the rural community in which she was raised. Everything is going according to plan until she finds herself at the center of the trial. What she can salvage will depend on her testimony. With the trial forcing a melding of past and present, the story asks, will they break the Ring of Lies?"

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Update: Most Borrowed Books in US libraries

Top Five Books as listed on Library Journal

New on the fiction list for the week of October 1, 2005 is Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich. True Believer moved into the fourth spot. The Broker now ranks number 6. Moving into the top five on the Non-fiction list is The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell.


1. 4th of July, James Patterson
2. The Mermaid Chair, Sue Monk Kidd
3. Lifeguard, James Patterson and Andrew Gross
4. True Believer, Nicholas Sparks
5. Eleven on Top, Janet Evanovich


1. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, Stephen J. Dubner
2. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell
3. French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure, Mireille Guiliano
4. 1776, David McCullough
5. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Malcolm Gladwell

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Janice Meredith Karon

Our book this month is At home In Mitford by Jan Karon. Click on the author's name and you will be directed to her website. You will read that this book, the first in the Mitford series, won an American Booksellers Book of the Year (ABBY) award in 1996, 1997 and 1998.

Take a look at the reading guide. The very first question is about the role that Barnabas plays in Father Tim's life, the characters that wear down his spirits and how Father Tim comes to terms with these characters.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Glass Castle has been nominated!

Our November selection, The Glass Castle, is one of five books in the Biography/Memoir category that have been nominated for a Quill Award. The books eligible for nomination had to be published in their original format in North America between August 1, 2004, and July 31, 2005, and marketed in the United States

The Quills say they are the first national book awards program where the readers, and not the critics, decide which books are the best of the best. Readers cast their ballot online, between August and September, and now The Quills Awards ceremony will be aired on NBC on October 22, 2005.

Here are the top five nominated in the Biography/Memoir category:

Chronicles: Volume One
Bob Dylan
The Glass Castle: A Memoir
Jeannette Walls (Click on the author's name to read an interesting interview)
His Excellency: George Washington
Joseph J. Ellis
Magical Thinking: True Stories
Augusten Burroughs
Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare
Stephen Greenblatt

Make sure to check the Quills website for all the books that won in all categories.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Ever Read a Banned Book?

Since 1982, the American Library Association has been celebrating the freedom to read by promoting Banned Books Week during the last week of September. The message that libraries want to communicate is that Free People Read Freely. From time to time individuals or groups, for one reason or another, have challenged our right to read certain books or have retricted access to those books. One such book is the Bible. Here are some others.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

This year Banned Books Week is September 24 to October 1. See the American Library Association site for a list of 100 of the most frequently challenged books.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Most Borrowed Books

Here is a list of the Most Borrowed Library Books in the U.S.A., for the week of September 15, from Library Journal. See the complete list at that site.

1. 4th of July, James Patterson
2. The Mermaid Chair, Sue Monk Kidd
3. Lifeguard, James Patterson and Andrew Gross
4. The Broker, Grisham, John
5. True Believer, Nicholas Sparks

1. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, Stephen J. Dubner
2. French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure, Mireille Guiliano
3. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell
4. 1776, David McCullough
5. My Life So Far, Fonda, Jane

Favorite Selections

What were your top five best book club selections? It's difficult for me to select just five; I think these were my favorite ten:

My Sister's Keeper
The Da Vinci Code
Savannah Blues
The House Next Door
The Glass Castle: A memoir
Lovely Bones
Three Weeks With My Brother
West of Kabul, East of New York
Dear Senator
Dreams from My Father

Sunday, September 18, 2005


1. Meet the writer, Janisse Ray on September 26 at 6:30 PM at the Okefenokee Regional Library. She has just had her third book published, Pinhook:Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land. Pinhook is the swamp in northern Florida that connects Okefenokee Swamp to the Osceola National Forest. Ray's other books are Ecology of a Cracker Childhood and Wild Card Quilt.

2. Thanks Shelley for joining us at Andrew's Grill on Friday. We enjoyed telling you all about Ansary's book, West of Kabul

3. Rebecca has been rehearsing for a musical Sing Hallelujah. It opens the last weekend in September at the Ritz Theater, downtown.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Our Selections for 2005

2005 Selections

January 17
Inside the Kingdom: My Life in Saudi Arabia by Carmen Bin Ladin

February 21
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

March 18
Salem Falls by Jodie Picoult

April 15
Dear Senator: A Memoir by the Daughter of Strom Thurmond by Essie Mae Washington-Williams

May 20
The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons

June 17
Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama

July 15
Death Match by Lincoln Child

August 19
Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield

September 16
West of Kabul, East of New York: An Afghan American Story by Tamim Ansary

October 21
At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon

November 18
The Glass Castle: a memoir by Jeannette Walls

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Okefenokee Book Selections 2002-2004

2002 Book Selections

Reach for the summit by Pat Summitt

So Far Back by Pam Durban

Mississippi Solo: A River Quest by Eddy Harris

The Woman Next Door and Lake News by Barbara Delinsky

A Man Named Dave by Dave Pelzer

Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich

The Silent Bride by Leslie Glass

Stupid White Men and other sorry excuses for the state of the nation by Michael Moore

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

2003 Book Selections:

Savannah Blues by Mary Kay Andrews

Cane River by Lalita Tademy

The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum

Prey by Michael Crichton

Portrait of a killer: Jack the Ripper by Patricia Cornwell

Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

Revenge: A story of hope by Laura Blumenfeld

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Beautiful Mind: the life of mathematical genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash by Sylvia Nasar

The Amber Room by Steve Berry

Seabiscuit: an American legend by Laura Hillenbrand

2004 Book Selections:

Jekyl Island Club by Brent Monahan

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

The Last Juror by John Grisham

Living History by Hilary Rodham Clinton

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodie Picoult

Three Weeks with my Brother by Nicholas Sparks

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Slave by Mende Nazer and Damien Lewis

Sunday, September 11, 2005

At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon


At Home in Mitford is the first novel in the Mitford series by Jan Karon. Mitford is peaceful and described as a village with turn of the century charm and beauty. This small town discourages tourism and the Mayor would like it to be known as "the pause that refreshes". In other words, the town welcomes visitors but expects the visitors to just pass through.

Father Tim

The story centers around Father Tim, a 60 year old Episcopalian rector, who is longing to get married. We learn a lot about Father Tim. He is diabetic and has a sweet tooth. His church office is organized by Emma, his 58 year old Secretary. His home is organized by Puny Bradshaw, his housekeeper. Strange name. Even more strange is the name Mule Skinner, one of the minor characters in the book.

Father Tim becomes attached to a dog as big as a Buick that he calls Barnabas. Barnabas is the only boisterous and quirky character in the book. Barnabas responds positively to quotes from scripture and to poetry. Scripture is quoted throughout the book.

The tone is light and funny. The first major challenge that Father Tim faces in the story revolves around a gift to the church; a painting which may or may not be a valuable Veneer. He spends his time doing the expected duties such as praying for the sick and visiting the elderly but has unusual tasks as well. This includes matchmaking,praying for single women to find a husband, solving mysteries such as the missing marmalade cake, missing 11 year old boy, missing Bible, and missing diamonds.

Interestingly, Father Tim has a new and very attractive neighbor who is a writer, artist and cat owner; Cynthia.

Final Comments

I read Garden of Eden by Eve Adams recently and I see some similarities with this book. First, both books are about life in small town America. Secondly, both the village of Eden and Mitford have Ministers who are the voice of reason in the community and are confidantes to the residents. However, whereas life in Mitford is sugary sweet, life in Eden is much more rowdy. Rambunctious is actually the word that comes to my mind. Also, the characters in Eden are far more quirky. Interestingly, one of the minor characters in Mitford is named Evie Adams.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

West of Kabul East of New York: An Afghan American Story

The E-mail

September 11 happened. Enraged radio listeners called radio stations demanding the US Government nuke Afghanistan, the birth place of the writer, Tamim Ansary. He wrote an e-mail to a few friends and the next thing he knew, within days his message had reached a worldwide audience. What did he write? Who is Tamim Ansary?

The Man behind the E-mail

Tamim wrote that the Taliban were a bunch of ignorant psychotics and Bin Laden was equal to Hitler. Suddenly the writer was called upon to be spokesperson for Afghanistan, a country he left at age 16.

This book is Tamim's way of explaining who he is and what he percieves Islam is all about. And what a story this Afghan American, writer of children's books, ironically married to an American Jew, has to tell.

This book reminded me of other books we have selected for our book club discussion, specifically Inside the Kingdom by Carmen Bin Ladin, Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama and Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. This does not make Tamim's story less interesting. He has his own unique life story with vivid descriptions of his travels and meaningful lessons on the Islamic way of life to pass on.

I noticed that Tamim's mother and Barack's mother have some things in common. Both were educated American women who were attracted to the exotic, so they married outside their culture. They both relocated to extremely underdeveloped countries, birth places of their husbands, then suddenly it dawned on them that they wanted to raise their children with American values. Both women home schooled their children using an American curriculum.

Both Tamim's mother and Carmen bin Ladin spent their married life pining after the western lifestyle to which they were accustomed.

Tamim and his siblings were exposed to American food, records, books and families so for all of Tamim's sixteen years in Afghanistan he lived in two worlds. He chose the American world yet could not quite separate from the Afghan world. In America, Tamim chose the hippie lifestyle of the sixties which allowed him to live in a commune similar to his old communal life with the clan in Afghanistan.

What I liked

The writing was good and some of the stories taught important life lessons. The book made world history come alive for me.

I found Tamim's early life in Afghanistan interesting. He stated that the ideal marriage in that culture was between first cousins. Ironically, he married a woman who he was so close to that he thought they had a relationship similar to that of cousins.

The cultural aspects were interesting. Love for the clan in Afghanistan, as in the Saudi Arabia described by Carmen Bin Laden, reigned supreme. When Tamim's father was faced with the choice of his wife and children and living in America versus the clan and living in an oppressive Afghanistan, he chose the clan.

I enjoyed the account of Tamim's travels to the Islamic world: Morocco, Algeria, Tunis, Turkey. The encounter with fellow American Jake and his experience at the Iranian embassy were fascinating.

It was interesting to read what Muslims in other countries had to say about Islam. In Tunis, one said the core of Islam is the separation of the sexes. In Morocco, one opined that European ways rule Muslim lands: Algeria follows France, Egypt follows America. In Turkey, a Puerto Rican Muslim explained Islam in a single phrase: Greet the guest, feed the stranger.

Final Comments

What happened to Jake? Jake was like a tick on Tamim's back during his travels then suddenly he disappeared from the story.

I would have liked to see photos in the book of the family.

It was just coincidence that we chose this book for discussion so close to the anniversary of September 11. This in itself reminded me of the book we selected last month called Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. That book made a big deal out of coincidences.

Just this morning I heard President Bush saying we need to learn more about the language and cultures of the Middle East. Our book club selections covering Iran, Saudi Arabia and now Afghanistan are certainly giving me a good education on the culture of the people in these countries.


Welcome to the blog of the Okefenokee Book Club in Waycross, Georgia. We are an informal group of book lovers and first started meeting in January of 2002. The first book we selected for discussion in February 2002 was Reach For the Summit by basketball coach, Pat Summitt.

What is the criterion for membership? Anybody can join. Numbers at the meeting vary from 4 to about 10 persons. We first started meeting at KD's Restaurant and now we meet at Andrew's Grill and Cafe at 6:00 PM on Elizabeth Street, downtown, Waycross. We meet on the third Friday of the month. We do not meet in December.

What do we do? We meet, discuss what we liked and disliked about the book, socialize and eat. The person who recommends a book, leads the discussion.

What kind of books do we read? All kinds. We decided we would try to select books that were about 300 pages or less, and avoid self-help books as well as books about vampires. We also try to alternate fiction and non-fiction.

Join us. These are the books we have selected for the rest of the year:

West of Kabul, East of New York: An Afghan American Story by Tamim Ansary - September 16, 2005

At Home In Mitford by Jan Karon - October 21, 2005

The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeanette Walls - November 18, 2005

If you have read the books, write your feedback. To avoid spam, only members can comment.