author writer Andre DuBus III Newton Free Library Townies a memoir ILoveNewton I Love Newton speaker at Newton library events

Newton Adult Book Clubs: Best Book Recommendations- UPDATED

author writer Andre DuBus III Newton Free Library Townies a memoir ILoveNewton I Love Newton speaker at Newton library events

Since becoming the administrator of an existing mom neighborhood book club, I’ve discovered that Newton moms like to read. Some moms are even in multiple book clubs! My husband is even in a “book club” — that is to say it’s actually a drinking club that takes an annual golf trip in the guise of a book club.

My Moms’ book club struggles to pick a book each month. I think it’s a combination of factors. Some moms are extremely well read, so it’s hard to find a new (or good) book for them. Some moms want newly published top selling books. And some, like me, don’t like to read books that are violent containing nightmare inducing imagery such as child abuse and/or rape.

My book club also likes to alternate between a serious read and a “beach” read. I’m listing the books that we’ve reviewed, but PLEASE make suggestions!!

Reader Suggestions

Roberta says, “a friend’s just-completed book: One Writer’s Garden, Eudora Welty’s Home Place, by Jane Roy Brown and Susan Haltom. It’s about Welty as an iconic writer, as well as her skill as a talented gardner. A gorgeous, big coffee table book with beautiful photos for just $35 in the stores….less on line!”

Sue suggests, “Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen, this book was so funny, have you read it?”

Best Serious Multi-Cultural Novel

The White Tiger: A Novel by Aravind Adiga
The winner of the 2008 Booker Prize, it’s a riveting story of an ambitious servant with deep insight into what life is like for the rank and file in modern day India.

Best Light Romance/Mystery Novel

Following Polly by Karen Bergreen
My college stand up comedienne turned author writes a delightful and sweet love story set in New York City with flashbacks to undergraduate life at Harvard that turns on a murder mystery plot of a college queen bee bully who is found dead by our endearing but not fully self actualized heroine.

Best Yummy Hybrid Cookbook Romance Memoir

Cooking for Mr. Latte by Amanda Hesser
A romantic memoir cookbook based on the real life happily ever after story of New Yorker writer and author Tad Friend and New York Times food critique turned social media entrepreneur Amanda Hesse. Their story is based in New York City but they also have collegiate roots near Newton. Tad went to Harvard as is detailed in his book Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor . Amanda has blue blood roots as well; she got her marketing and business chops at Bentley College. Check out her home cook foodie website Food52. Her frenchie foodie memoir looks fun too, The Cook and the Gardener : A Year of Recipes and Writings for the French Countryside.

Most Popular Mom Book Club Book of 2011

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

If you looked at what women were reading around any pool or beach last year, you could always find someone reading this book.

 Best Eclectic but Beautifully Written Book That Everyone is Talking About

Swamplandia by Karen Russell

This was our most recent selection though not too many people make it through it. Our issue is that our last book club meeting was spaced to closely together. Newtonville Books has a review here and they discount books by 20% if you buy in quantity for your book club!

Best Comedic Memoir of a 30 Something NYC Society Mom

Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut: Essays and Observations  by Jill Kargman

Abby in our Mom Book Club is good friends with Jill nee Kopelman, the daughter of Chanel CEO Ari Kopelman. She’s a riot if you can understand her NYC hip mommy slang. Lucky for us, there’s a dictionary included in the book.

Best Local Bad Boy Gone Good Memoir

Townie: A Memoir by Andre Dubus III

Andre Dubus has come to several Newton Free Library events including Book and Author and ladies in my book club have had the opportunity to meet him several times and they SWOON about him. Apparently, he’s not only a warm, funny and lovely person but extremely easy on the eyes (and happily married!). My husband read this book and was so blown away that he’s ordered more books by Dubus.

“Telling his story straight from the heart and relating for the fi rst time the role that violence played in his life, how it kept him alive until he was able to channel it into writing and how it served as a guide in his father’s absence, Andre Dubus’memoir Townie is a riveting, visceral and profound meditation on physical violence and the failures and triumphs of love. Join him for a compelling author talk on Tuesday, October 25 at 7:30 pm. The talk will be followed by a book signing with books provided by New England Mobile Book Fair.

After their parents divorced in the 1970s, Andre Dubus III and his three siblings grew up with their exhausted working mother in a depressed Massachusetts mill town saturated with drugs and crime. To protect himself and those he loved from street violence, Andre learned to use his fi sts so well that he was even scared of himself. He was on a fast track to getting killed, or killing someone else. Nearby, his father, an eminent author, taught on a college campus and took the kids out on Sundays. The clash of worlds couldn’t have been more stark, or more diffi cult for a son to communicate to a father. Only by becoming a writer himself could Andre begin to bridge the abyss and save himself.

Andre Dubus III is a National Book Award fi nalist and the author of the novels House of Sand and Fog andThe Garden of Last Days, a New York Timesbestseller. His writing has received many honors including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Magazine Award and a Pushcart Prize.” from Newton Free Library

If  you now feel motivated to keep up with Newton Free Library events, here’s the February 2012 schedule.

Andre Dubus III

Best Insight into Growing Up Latino in America Book

 The Maid’s Daughter: Living Inside and Outside the American Dream by Mary Romero

“In The Maid’s Daughter, Mary Romero explores this complex story about belonging, identity, and resistance, illustrating Olivia’s challenge to establish her sense of identity, and the patterns of inclusion and exclusion in her life. Romero points to the hidden costs of paid domestic labor that are transferred to the families of private household workers andnannies, and shows how everyday routines are important in maintaining and assuring that various forms of privilege are passed on from one generation to another. Through Olivia’s story, Romero shows how mythologies of meritocracy, the land of opportunity, and the American dream remain firmly in place while simultaneously erasing injustices and the struggles of the working poor.” from Newtonville Books

Thu, Feb 16, 6:30 PM – Las Comadres & Friends National Latino Bookclub meets to discuss this book at Newtonville Books.

What We Are Reading Next

The Chateau by William Maxwell

“It is 1948 and a young American couple arrive in France for a holiday, full of anticipation and enthusiasm. But the countryside and people are war-battered, and their reception at the Chateau Beaumesnil is not all the open-hearted Americans could wish for.” from Amazon

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8 Responses to “Newton Adult Book Clubs: Best Book Recommendations- UPDATED”
  1. roberta martone pavia says:

    As a member of Pragmatic Mom’s book club I have to say I think we’ve done pretty well selecting our books. Personally, I pretty much don’t care what I’m reading as long as I’m reading….hence the reason I am a member of three book clubs. And even tho there is no pressure at any of these clubs to finish the book, I am my own worse (or best) task master and do feel driven to complete each book….sometimes reading the last page while simultaneously ringing the host’s doorbell! Might also have something to do with my roots as an English major.

    Anyway, here’s a shameless plug for a friend’s just-completed book: One Writer’s Garden, Eudora Welty’s Home Place, by Jane Roy Brown and Susan Haltom. It’s about Welty as an iconic writer, as well as her skill as a talented gardner. A gorgeous, big coffee table book with beautiful photos for just $35 in the stores….less on line!

    • Pragmatic Mom says:

      To Roberta,
      Thanks so much for leaving a comment. You are one of the few members of our book club who actually reads the entire book! I can’t say the same for myself!

      Thanks so much for you suggestion!!! I’ll add it to the post! Sounds wonderful. Not sure why WE are reading it for our book club. Maybe this should be our March selection. Actually, that’s perfect. In time for spring!

  2. Sue says:

    Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen, this book was so funny, have you read it?

    • Pragmatic Mom says:

      To Sue,
      Thanks you so much for your suggestion. I am bad about reading adult lit; I blog on children’s lit on my other blog ( and that is all the time I have for reading (actually, I am way behind in my kidlit too!). But it sounds great. I love a book club book that is FUNNY! I will suggest it at our book club. We always seem to have trouble picking a book!

  3. Max says:

    I had high expectations of Swamplandia! based on the buzz; I’m a lover of southern gothic and thought this would be right up my alley. It’s the story of the Bigtree family, a “tribe” who runs the alligator-wrestling park Swamplandia! in an island chain off of Florida. Having the island to themselves except for the tourists, the Bigtrees inhabit a very different sort of world; they have a museum filled with family artifacts, children who are homeschooled and rarely set foot on the “mainland,” and a mother who wrestles alligators. Things hum along nicely until their mother, Hilola Bigtree, succumbs to cancer, throwing the entire family into a tailspin.

    The writing is very descriptive and quite lovely, but at times it almost feels like too much–or perhaps just feels misplaced, as sometimes it felt like you had to wade through a great deal of description to get to the plot. The switching of chapters between Ava and Kiwi’s perspective also felt a bit jarring at times; it felt you’d just gotten into one storyline when you were yanked back into another. The novel itself has a very original feel while also recalling some other great works of literature; Ava’s character is sometimes reminiscent of Scout from “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Unfortunately while there were moments I couldn’t put the book down, there were also moments I wanted to walk away from it forever, which made for a disjointed reading experience. Overall this scores major points for originality, but the originality is compromised by the uneven character and pace of the novel. It was worth the read, but didn’t quite live up to the hype for me.

    • Pragmatic Mom says:

      To Max,
      My mom book club had a hard time with Swamplandia too. We picked it because everyone seemed to rave about it but when we tried to read it, most didn’t connect with the book. The few people who finished it didn’t love it either.

      Thank you for your insightful review. Sounds liken the book was less than the sum of it’s parts. For a great Southern read, try Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. It won a Newbery. It’s for ages 9 and up but it’s a wonderful read and captures Florida southern gothic in a pitch perfect way. It’s one of my favorite books and why I think KidLit is better than adult lit.

      Another great Florida author, Carl Hiaasan. Ok, he’s KidLit too but it’s Florida Eco fiction from an ex- newspaper reporter. Try Hoot.

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