War and Peace Challenge

My book clubbers inspired me to participate in a two-fer of challenges. The War and Peace Covid Challenge asks – can you read War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy, from start to finish prior to the end of the quarantine? The War and Peace in a Year Challenge asks: Can you finish War in Peace in a year by reading one chapter a day? I’m doing War and Peace in a year, but occasionally reading multiple chapters in a day so hopefully I’ll finish a bit ahead.

I’m finding the book to be surprisingly easy reading, and very gripping! The biggest challenge is keeping the characters straight and keeping momentum since every time the point of view character changes I have to shift interest to a new plot line and set of characters.

As of this writing (and I write these posts a couple of weeks ahead of time) I’m on chapter 87! If you want to join me, here are some resources:

Brian E. Denton’s meditations on each chapter

There’s No Better Time to Read War and Peace

Tolstoy Together

War and Peace: The Ten Things You Need to Know

The Guardian says that War and Peace has the worst first line of any novel. The line is “Well, Prince, Genoa and Lucca are now no more than private estates of the Bonaparte family.”

What do you think of this line – and are you inspired to tackle the novel?

Between the Lines Book Club: From Protest to Resistance

Dear Book Clubbers, we have been discussing the book From Protest to Resistance by Lilli Segal. Tomorrow (August 22, 2020) at 10:30 AM we will be meeting via zoom to talk about the book and hear from Margo Kaufman, the book’s translator and Lilli Segal’s niece. 

Here is the zoom info for Between the Lines Book Club. Please join us!

Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86962766383

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Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kbsawOZKmv

In other news, the Sacramento Public Library is also hosting the Quarantainment Adult Book Club. Here’s the information!

Quarantainment Adult Book Group

Date: Saturday, September 5 

Time:  11am-12pm

Book: Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adeji-Brenyah

The Adult Book Group invites you to escape your home through the pages of a good book. The September selection is Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adeji-Brenyah. At first glance, this powerful debut collection of short stories might register as speculative fiction, but current headlines umasking racism, injustice, consumerism, and senseless violence prove to be clear inspirations. This is invigorating writing in the tradition of Colson Whitehead or Marlon James that will grab you and haunt you long after you close the book.

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 915 0340 2657
Passcode: 776318

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A Quick Tarot Thought for a Busy Month

The Eight of Wands signifies that an abundance of opportunities are coming your way. Here it is – see how exciting!

It’s a sign of my lack of confidence and my lack of energy due to chronic health problems that my response this card is almost never “Hooray!” Instead, I always feel a need to duck. to me, this card looks like too much. I just want to take a nap on the chairs in the audience while this card says, “Get out there and BE A STAR!”

This card suggests that I need to grab my chances while I have them and nap later. On the other hand, the ten of wands says that we can’t really seize the opportunities we most want if our mental and physical lives are full of clutter. Here’s the ten of wands:

This card says that you are holding on to so much that you are about to drop everything. To switch metaphors, this card says that you have “too many balls in the air.” What can you put down?

The end of summer tends to bring a lot of new opportunities at work, with school, with politics, with family…even with Covid throwing everyone off rhythm I think this will continue to be true albeit in some different ways in 2020.

Planning 101 suggests that we start by thinking about priorities. What opportunities matter the most to us? What goals and tasks can we drop? For people with chronic illness, every day has to have a tier. For me, pre-Covid, my top priorities were to get my daughter to and from school safely and to make sure everyone in my house was fed, even if not by me (I’m blessed to have a teen who likes to cook). Now? I’m not sure. So I’ll be trying to put some thought into that and into what wands I can put down during a time period when everyone, especially parents, has a lot of pressure to pick more wands (emotional, physical, and logistical) up. What are you setting down?

From Protest to Resistance: Discussion Questions

Hello Book Clubbers! We will be meeting over zoom at 10:30AM on August 22. Our Book is From Protest to Resistance, by Lilli Segal.

Here are some discussion questions:

  1. How does Lilli’s personality as a child foreshadow her decisions as an adult?
  2. Why is Lilli’s family so slow to realize the danger they are in? Why does her father kill himself?
  3. What is Lilli’s motivation for working for the Resistance? Were you surprised that she kept her Resistance work going even after having a child?
  4. How does Lilli keep her spirits up in Fresnel Prison? What character traits do she and other prisoners display that help them stay resilient?
  5. Lilli is enraged at a guard who says that he only beats her because of orders. Why is that “the worst part of the whole business?” (157)
  6. How are Lilli’s coping skills in Auschwitz similar and different from the ones in Fresnel? How do personal relationships affect morale and survival throughout the story?
  7. The Germans pit different groups against one another in the camp to keep them from allying against their captors. Where has this tactic been used in other books we’ve read? How have you seen it play out during your own lifetime?
  8. Some people meet Anni and Lilli with kindness, some with rejection, some with hostility. Why do they react in the ways they do? What do you think you would do?
  9. Were you surprised that Lilli and Jascha ended up (at the end of the book) happily in East Germany? Why or why not?
  10. What lessons, if any, did you learn from the book?
  11. Why are memoirs like this important?

Here is an interview our book club member and book translator, Margo, gave to Insight on NPR!

August, by Dorothy Parker

Our August poem comes to us from Dorothy Parker, courtesy of Poemhunter.com:

When my eyes are weeds,
And my lips are petals, spinning
Down the wind that has beginning
Where the crumpled beeches start
In a fringe of salty reeds;
When my arms are elder-bushes,
And the rangy lilac pushes
Upward, upward through my heart;

Summer, do your worst!
Light your tinsel moon, and call on
Your performing stars to fall on
Headlong through your paper sky;
Nevermore shall I be cursed
By a flushed and amorous slattern,
With her dusty laces’ pattern
Trailing, as she straggles by. 

Between the Lines Book Club: Our Book for August

Welcome to the August edition of Between the Lines Book Club! Our next meeting will be held via zoom at 10:30AM on August 22. We will be reading the fascinating memoir, From Protest to Resistance by Lilli Segal.

From Protest to Resistance tells the story of a young woman who grew up in Germany, married a Lithuanian, became a citizen of the Soviet Union, and worked for the Resistance in Paris in World War II. She was captured and survived Auschwitz. Lilli describes her experiences with humor, conviction, and an eye for detail.

We will be joined by Lilli’s niece, Margo Kaufman. It is sure to be a fascinating discussion. Please join us!

A couple quick announcements

I guess for August my special project should be figuring out the new WordPress. Change is bad! Why must they baffle me? Why are there all these new buttons and still no spell check?

I’m happy to say there will be two book clubs this month:

On Saturday, August 8, Librarian Brendle Wells and I will be hosting Between the Covers Romance Book Club with the Sacramento Public Library via zoom. Our book is The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon. This book was incredibly popular and yet I felt nothing – join our zoom chat and explain what I missed! Click on the link above for info.

On Saturday, August 22, at 10:30AM Between the Lines Book Club meets via zoom. Our book is From Protest to Resistance, by Lilli Segal. We are very excited about this! Check out Friday posts for more about this amazing book!

Remember when we thought we had all this extra time because of quarantine? I feel pretty busy, don’t you? I hope everyone made it through July and is having a happy August, getting out in nature as much as you safely can and reading to your heart’s content! Love you guys!