Book ramblings…

Well  I ran out and saw the movie “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” last Tuesday, and it was good – well-made – but terribly simplified from the book.  The book is complicated, as I might have said before, and this movie focuses in on parts of it.  I’m glad that I read the book and I can’t wait to read the second.  I heard that there is another movie in the works already – maybe coming out this summer?  I talked with two people today who saw the movie last night and hadn’t read the book.  I’m not sure if they will read it after seeing the movie, and I wonder if it would enhance it either way?  The book is a lot less graphic than the movie was – a lot more “matter of fact” about what was happening.  I saw the preview of the movie and didn’t know if I’d even like to read the book – and there was a point in the book when I wanted to put it down and stop reading because I thought it was going to get too scary, but it didn’t.  It just kept going and kept me in there, wanting to know what was going to happen.

So, that’s that.  Can’t wait for more people to finish the book to have the discussion! **Hint Hint**

In the meantime I’ve been reading ‘Firefly Lane” by Kristin Hannah.  I’ve read a book or two by her and they are nice easy reads with unique stories.  This one is ok but I am a little frustrated with the characters.  Hmmm.

I found the Rochester Public Library Book store Blog and they are having online contests each month for “bluestockings.”  Evidently, Bluestockings are intelligent, educated women – so it’s the name they’re giving to women in book clubs.  July’s contest is to take a picture depicting beach books. I’m not sure I really get it, but I’ll keep following it and see if it’s something we can do.

I also emailed Jenna Blum last week about her book signing at Borders in Ridgeview or wherever.  I wasn’t able to go, even though it’s been on my calendar for months.  😦  I asked if she was going to come to Rochester and she asked that I contact B&N and recommend that they contact her publicist, so I did!  I hope they do!  She said she’d be around MN the month of August so hopefully we can get something to work out.  I ordered her new book, “The Stormchasers” and look forward to reading it.  She’s such a hoot.

Well, I’m going to finish “Firefly Lane” tonight or in the morning so that I’m ready when my package from B&N arrives!
Off to read!

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson *** SPOILER ALERT

Reader’s Guide

1. Who do you consider the novel’s protagonist, Lisbeth or Mikael? Why?

2. What point was Larsson trying to make with the themes running through this novel? How do issues such as man’s brutality to women, journalistic integrity, and more general notions of trust tie in with each other throughout the book?

3. What function do the sex-crime statistics on each section’s title page serve?

4. Re-read the passage from Mikael’s book on page 84. What is its significance, in terms of the plot?

5. On page 126, Henrik tells Mikael, “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s never engage in a fight you’re sure to lose. On the other hand, never let anyone who has insulted you get away with it. Bide your time and strike back when you’re in a position of strength—even if you no longer need to strike back.” Over the course of the novel, who puts this advice to the best use? How, and why?

6. How does the involvement of several Vanger brothers with Swedish fascist groups cloud Mikael’s investigation into Harriet’s disappearance? What role does Harald play?

7. Why does Henrik become an investor in Millennium? Does his plan succeed?

8. Discuss the character of Lisbeth. Some think she is a “perfect victim” (page 324), others find her intimidating, and Mikael wonders if she has Asperger’s, but the reader is allowed to see exactly how her mind works. How do you see her? How do you think she sees herself?

9. What do you think about the way Lisbeth turns the tables on Bjurman? Is it admirable, or a sign that she’s unstable?

10. On page 202, Lisbeth says her new tattoo is “a reminder.” Of what?

11. Several times in the novel, Mikae’’s journalistic ethics are challenged. Do you consider him to be ethical? In your opinion, is anyone in the novel truly honorable? Who, and why?

12. After reserving judgment for most of his investigation, on page 238 Mikael determines that Harriet was, in fact, murdered and that he’s hunting for a killer. What prompts this decision? How does this affect the rest of his investigation?

13. Discuss the role of parents in the novel. Who is a good parent, and why? How might Harriet’s story have changed if her mother had behaved differently? What about Lisbeth’s? Is Mikael a good father?

14. Blackmail is used several times in the novel, for different ends. Who uses it most effectively, and why?

15. On page 400, Mikael tells Lisbeth that to him, friendship requires mutual respect and trust. By those standards, who in this novel is a good friend? Is Mikael? What about Anita?

16. Discuss Henrik’s request that Mikael never publish the Vanger story. Is it a reasonable request? Does Mikael’s acquiescence change your opinion of him? Do Lisbeth’s demands mitigate his ethical breach?

17. What ultimately drives Lisbeth to take action against Wennerström on her own? Does she go too far?

18. Re-read Mikael’s statement about the media’s responsibility at the top of page 454. Can you think of a situation in the American media that is analogous to the Wennerström affair?

19. Discuss the ending. Was it satisfying to you? Why or why not?

Read up, everyone!

Finished “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” today.  Loved it.  It was a slow starter but once I got into it I didn’t want to stop!  I’m so tempted to break my rule of not seeing a movie for a few years after reading the book, since the movie is playing for this week only just down the street.  Such a dilemma.  But it’s also coming out on DVD in July, so I can wait a month or so and then watch it in the comfort of my own home.

I can’t wait to discuss the book with others, and I also can’t wait to read the next book in the series!

“The Girl…”

with the Dragon Tattoo” is the book we’re reading now.  It took me about 50 pages to get into it, but now I can’t wait to sleep in and read in the morning!  The movie is coming to Rochester next weekend.  It looked “hard,” so not sure it’s my type of book or movie, but it’s keeping me interested.

Getting ready for a Girls’ Night Out on Thursday!  I’m very excited for the sequel to Sex and the City.  I remember that Sunday night feeling I’d get every Sunday June to October – “my” time, me and the girls.  And I remember how sad I was during the whole second part of the sixth season, knowing that it was nearing the end.  I cried at the end of every episode as it got close.  And the first movie did not disappoint at all – the smart writing continued and the girls were just larger than life.  This movie looks like it will be a blast as well!  I just cannot wait.  Although I can wait until Thursday rather than a midnight showing… just think it’ll be more enjoyable during regular living hours!

Well, off to watch more SATC episodes and then to read!  🙂

Sisterhood

Well, it’s not Monday.  😦  What did I do last night to forget to blog?  Oh yeah, make food and clean the kitchen!  Visit with the Grimsrud family!  Worthy things…

Last week I met with my Fillmore Central book club at Los Gables in Fountain to discuss the Girls from Ames.  Most had similar reactions – not too interesting, slow, hard to keep track of the girls, etc.  I didn’t try to invest too much in the girls and found myself slightly irritated by some of them, although I did cry a few times, so had some investment in their lives.  But I did like reading about the importance of friendships for women.  I feel fortunate that I have a few “lifelong” friends.  I don’t see them often enough or talk often enough to some of them, but when we do talk there is an intimacy that is immediately brought back.

One of my goals for 2010 was to reconnect so I hope to be able to do that!  Creating that support network that keeps you young and healthy!  🙂

Who are your Satellite Sisters – the women that you connect with and who support you?

Off to read!

“The Girls from Ames” discussion questions *** Possible spoilers

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. At the end of his Introduction, author Jeffrey Zaslow repeats a question posed to him: “Could a man ever really understand women’s friendships?” How would you answer that question? Do you think Zaslow succeeded in his attempt to portray and explain the Ames girls’ long-lasting bonds?
  2. Also in the Introduction, Zaslow explains the basis of the Wall Street Journal column that gave birth to this book, saying, “The column focused on why women, more than men, have great urges to hold tightly onto old friends.” Do you agree that women stay closer to friends than men do? Why or why not?
  3. “E-mail has been a great gift to the Ames girls’ friendship, as it has to many other women’s friendships in recent years,” (page 76). Talk about how technology has changed friendships in the past decade or so. Are you in more regular or better touch with friends because of e-mail, texting, Facebook, Twitter, or IM? Have you formed new relationships—or, reignited dormant ones—as a result of social networking sites?
  4. Did you identify with one or more of the Ames girls, either in adolescence or adulthood? If so, what did you have in common with them?
  5. “Male friendships are often born on the athletic fields,” (page 54). What do you believe comprises male friendships? Do they form through activities like sports, or through something different? Do you know men who are part of a group much like the Ames girls’? If so, how does the male group differ from the female?
  6. Which of the Ames women do you think strayed farthest from her Midwestern upbringing, or defied the expectations of someone raised in her hometown?
  7. Cathy tries to explain the attachment between the women as one borne out of shared roots: “We root each other to the core of who we are, rather than what defines us as adults—by careers or spouses or kids. There’s a young girl in each of us who is still full of life,” (page 96). Do you think it’s common for people who were close childhood friends to maintain that bond in adulthood?
  8. “Researchers worry about this current generation of girls. Studies suggest that the average girl today is likely to grow up to be a lifelong dieter, to have a distorted body image, and to be emotionally scarred by cliques,” (page 114). How has adolescence changed from when you were young to what a teenager experiences today? Do you share the concern that the new generation of girls faces a tougher time than young women of bygone eras? What societal or cultural factors might account for this shift?
  9. In Chapter 10, Marilyn’s sister explains to her: “Men who’ve confided only in a spouse or a girlfriend can feel lost after a breakup or divorce, because they lose their only confidant. But for a woman with close female friends, the end of a romantic relationship is more bearable because they haven’t lost their entire support system,” (page 146). What do you think of this supposition? Can you think of examples in your own life that prove this statement to be true, or that dispute it?
  10. Talk about the mysterious death of Sheila, and years later the cancer that claimed the life of Karla’s young daughter. How did the Ames girls come together in each case? What are the ways in which having such a tight-knit network of friends helps people through crises like these? A broader question: When friends supplant family, is that a good or bad thing?
  11. Do you believe the closeness the girls experienced in childhood was in part a result of growing up in a small town like Ames, Iowa? Would they have been as tight a group of friends if they came of age in a big city, like New York or Chicago or Los Angeles? How much of a factor was Ames in the women’s relationships?
  12. Do you have a collection of friends similar to the Ames girls? Who is in your circle? What does this group and its bonds mean to you?

Next!

I have two new books on my bedside table:  “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “Best Friends Forever”!  I’m ready to dive into a story!  The last THREE books I’ve read were memoirs!  Crazy… Ann Bancroft, Jeannette Walls, and the Girls from Ames.  Good times, but I’m ready.

I did find myself in tears while reading The Girls over the weekend.  Loss always gets me.

But now I’d better head off to read.  I have book club Thursday night and I”M NOT DONE YET!  Close.  And the Walkie Talkies didn’t meet tonight or last Monday so I’m really lax!

Off to read!

If it’s Monday it must be…

time to blog!  There’s a movie in my queue with a similar name… “If it’s Tuesday this must be Belgium.” Just one of many movies in my queue…

I’m still enjoying “The Girls from Ames,” but took time away from it this weekend to sit in a lawnchair at baseball games and read April’s Oprah magazine!  I really try to finish them in the month for which they are written, but have been slacking terribly lately!  Still not quite done, but very close!  I’m also listening to the audiobook “You: The Owner’s Manual” by Oz and Roisen.  That’s been fun to listen to and then I get my copy of the book out and write down the notes that I want to remember – the amounts of vitamins I should be taking, etc.

And tonight I spent my “free” night at home in the movie theatre!  It’s the Rochester International Film Festival at the Wehrenberg and a friend called and said she wanted to go, so we went!  And we stayed for a second movie!  I’ve never done that before, although I’ve really wanted to, so I can cross that off my list!  The first film was “Upperdog” from Norway and it was so good.  Just heart-breaking and happy.  About children adopted from Asia into Norway and being separated, and the adults that they become.  A beautiful story.  The second movie was “Small Crime” from Greece, and it was a comedy about a police officer who wanted to move to the big city and be a cop there, but ends up staying in his small town.  It was a hoot, especially because the theatre was filled with the Rochester Greek contingent!  They were laughing hysterically at the movie and it was a joy to be in the crowd with them!

A great start to the week!

And now, off to read!

Friends

I just started “The Girls from Ames,” and I’m excited to read it and think about my own friendships.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about that lately, anyway, so maybe it’ll give me clarification? or maybe it’ll just confuse and cause melancholia!  or maybe it’ll inspire reconnection and reaching out.  At any rate, I’m excited to read it.  It’s been on my bedside table for months.

I looked up Jeffrey Zaslow’s Wall Street Journal column (might be monthly?) about “Moving On.”  The most recent column was about men’s relationships and their basis in activity rather than sharing details of their lives.  I haven’t read “The Last Lecture,” another of his books, but might have to look for it.

I feel fortunate that I do have a friendship that I’ve had for almost 40 years – goodness!  It was almost 37 years ago when my family moved to Rushford and I met Deadra and her family.  It’s amazing to think about and maybe I’ll write about it more while reading this book!

What do you notice about your friendships as you get older?  And that age old question: Do you think men and women can be friends?

Well, I had better get some reading done if I hope to have the book finished by next Monday!  I’m up for the challenge and found the first 50 pages pretty easy to get through.

Off to read!

Judgments

A beautiful walk around Silver Lake today for the Rochester Walkie Talkies!  It was mostly a Talkie about things other than “The Glass Castle,” but a little discussion was held.  I just finished the book and am still processing my anger at the parents.  One of the discussion questions below is about her ability to be nonjudgmental about her parents.  Wow! that’s hard for me.  I do have empathy for them – the addiction, the mental illness – and am amazed that the children turned out at all, but I still am mad.  As I said while walking, I didn’t find the book to be depressing at all and I could even compare it to “Angela’s Ashes,” although I LOVED “Angela’s Ashes.”  Frank McCourt was a true character and his voice in that story is so interesting.  Less “matter of fact” and more “colorful.”

Was it as hard for everyone else (!) to be nonjudgmental about the laissez faire way of parenting they practiced?  Is it really laissez faire?

Anyhoo… must read a bit before bed, but wanted to get my Monday night blog in!
Off to read!