Between the Lines Book Club: Meryl Streep plays Susan Orleans

Who do you wish would play you in a movie? Susan Orlean is played by Meryl Streep in Adaptation, This movie from 2002 was written by Charles Kaufman and stars Nicholas Cage as Kaufman and Kaufman’s (fictional) twin brother. Wikipedia describes it here:

Kaufman based Adaptation on his struggles to adapt Orlean’s 1998 nonfiction book The Orchid Thief while suffering from writer’s block. It involves elements adapted from the book, plus fictitious elements, including Kaufman’s twin brother (also credited as a writer for the film) and a romance between Orlean and Laroche. It culminates in completely invented elements, including versions of Orlean and Laroche three years after the events of The Orchid Thief.

Here’s a trailer:

Between the Lines Book Club: Interviews with Susan

Our book for March is The Library Book by Susan Orlean. Here is an interview with the author:

We have a new zoom link and will be meeting on March 27, 2021 at 10:30 AM. Join us!

Topic: Arden-Dimick Book Club

Time: March 27, 2021 10:30 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

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Between the Lines Book Club: The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Our book for March is The Library Book by Susan Orlean. This non fiction book tells the story of libraries, framed around the 1986 Los Angeles Public Library Fire. Here is the publisher’s description:

Susan Orlean re-opens the unsolved mystery of the most catastrophic library fire in American history, and delivers a dazzling homage to a beloved institution – our libraries. On the morning of April 29, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. Raging through the stacks, the fire reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. It was the largest library fire in the history of the United States: it destroyed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more, and shut the library down for seven years. The mystery remains: did someone purposefully set fire to the library—and if so, who?

Weaving her life-long love of books and reading with the fascinating history of libraries and the sometimes-eccentric characters who run them, award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author Orlean presents a mesmerizing and uniquely compelling story. With her signature wit, insight, compassion and talent for deep research, she investigates the legendary Los Angeles Public Library fire to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives, and reveals how these buildings provide much more than just books and are needed now more than ever.

We have a new zoom link and will be meeting on March 27, 2021 at 10:30 AM. Join us!

Topic: Arden-Dimick Book Club

Time: March 27, 2021 10:30 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Please download and import the following iCalendar (.ics) files to your calendar system.

Monthly: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/tZItdOigqD4tEtHkEOcbwPi9nucOCBOrw3QL/ics?icsToken=98tyKuGurjgrEtKQtxGCRpwAAojCd_zwpiVaj7d1lzrKACJEUgqvOPdBHZFdP8rH

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Meeting ID: 860 3186 5785

Passcode: M9KVgt

One tap mobile

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        +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)

        +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)

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Between the Lines Book Club: More Books About Being Unstuck in Time

Our book club meets tomorrow (February 27, 2021) at 10:30AM over Zoom to discuss Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore. If you still need a zoom link, email me at sessarego1@gmail.com.

If you liked the concept of Oona Out of Order, you might enjoy these books as well. These books are generally classified as “Speculative fiction,” and they explore lives that are lived in a non-linear fashion.

Woman on the Edge of Time, by Marge Piercy

A classic from 1976, this is about a woman in a mental institution who escapes her situation by travelling in time. Her travels explore utopian ideals and concepts around feminism, gender, mental illness, environmentalism, and more.

How to Live Safely in a Science-Fictional Universe, by Charles Yu

A funny, sad, mind-bending book from 2011

From Amazon: Every day in Minor Universe 31 people get into time machines and try to change the past. That’s where Charles Yu, time travel technician, steps in. He helps save people from themselves. Literally. When he’s not taking client calls, Yu visits his mother and searches for his father, who invented time travel and then vanished. The key to locating his father may be found in a book. It’s called How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, and somewhere inside it is information that will help him. It may even save his life.

Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

This classic from 1969 tells the story of Billy Pilgrim, who is “unstuck in time.” The book explores his life in a non-linear manner as he survives the Battle of the Bulge, the firebombing of Dresden, and develops a new philosophy.

This is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Motar and Max Gladstone

A touching love story between two time-travelers who work for opposing side that try to make small changes in Earth history to achieve victory. As these two enemies communicate with each other through history they develop a bond that throws the time war into question.

Music in Oona Out of Order

Our next book club meeting will be on February 27 at 10:30AM. We are reading Oona Out of Order. At the start of the book, Oona is an aspiring musician, and music plays an integral role in the book. Here’s a sampling of some of the music that is important to the characters.

Oona’s favorite song is Sunday Morning by “Velvet Underground”

The first time she jumps, she listens to Kate Bush’s album The Hounds of Love over and over again:

She meets Kenzie at a Suzanne Vega Concert and he breaks down when Vega sings “In Liverpool”

Later, Oona promises to take Kenzie to see Garbage – a good band, but a bad move, Oona.

Edward is a fan of Nirvana:

Finally, the last chapter brings us back to Velvet Underground with All Tomorrow’s Parties:

Tarot Tunes: Major Arcana Pt 1

I’ve been working on a playlist for all 78 Tarot Cards. Here are my choices for the first half of the Major Arcana. What do you suggest? I love having multiple songs to think about especially from multiple genres, so please leave your pics in the comments!

Fool: The Joker (Steve Miller Band)

The Magician: Sunny Goodge Street (Donovan)

The High Priestess: Mysterious Ways (U2)

The Empress: This is to Mother You (Sinead O’Connor)

The Emperor: You Should See Me in a Crown (Billie Eilish)

The Hierophant: Chicken Man (Indigo Girls)

The Lovers: We Found Love (Rihanna)

Chariot: Running Down a Dream (Tom Petty)

Strength: Leather and Lace (Stevie Nicks)

Hermit: Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin)

Wheel of Fortune: The Bug (Mark Knopfler)

Let me know your thoughts! The rest of the Major arcana will be showing up next month!

Between the Lines Book Club: Oona Out of Order Discussion Questions

Our book club discusses Oona Out of Order on February 27, 2021 at 10:30 AM. Ready for discussion questions? These come from Litlovers.com and from the publisher with a few thrown in by myself.

If you could write a letter to yourself in a past year, what year would you pick and what would you say?

If you could jump back (or forward) into any era of your life, when would it be?

Was this a good book club book?

How old are you on the inside and on the outside? How does this, if any, dissonance, affect your attitude and decisions?

1. Discuss the novel’s epigraph: “Time heals all. But what if time itself is the disease?” How do you interpret that question? How does the novel seek to answer it?

2. In the prologue, Oona reflects that her condition is the closest thing she could imagine to immortality. What do you think she means? Do you agree?

3. Oona has a “no spoiler” approach to time travel and takes precautions to reveal certain things about her future but keep others secret via her annual letters. Do you agree with her approach? If you were to switch places with Oona, how much of your future would you reveal. and what would you add/remove from the letters?

4. To counteract living her life out of sequence, Oona spends much of the novel searching for constancy. Who/what are some of the constants she manages to establish throughout her leaps?

5. There are moments when Oona laments mistakes she’s made in her life and considers trying to fix them. What mistakes do you think she has made? Do you think she was better off trying to prevent them or learn from them?

6. Oona and the people closest to her often describe her life as “bittersweet.” Do you agree that her time travel makes her life feel more bittersweet than it would if she were living “in order”? Why or why not?

7. Discuss the evolving role of music in the novel and in Oona’s life.

8. How much of Oona’s destiny do you think is predetermined? Do you think she’s capable of changing her future? What do you think this book ultimately says about fate vs. free will? Do you agree or disagree?

9. Did you have a favorite section in the novel? Why?

10. Let’s dissect this book by each of its parts. Starting with Part I in 1982 were 18-year-old Oona is in love with her boyfriend Dale and she deciding whether to tour with him or go to economics school in London. What were your initial impressions of Oona in this section?

11. Part II comes quickly and Oona is transported to 2015 and she’s age 51. Let’s talk about Oona’s jump to her future. What would you have done if you were Oona and went from being 19 to 51?

12. Oona says she’s never been susceptible to nostalgia and wonders: is this what it means to get older, replaying happy memories because the best times are behind you? Do you agree with this? Why or why not?

13. Oona goes from an unhappy and confusing year at age 51 to back being in her 20s again in 1991. What did you think about Oona partying in this era? Why was it important for her to let loose? 

14. After the ’90s, Oona is 40 and in 2004. And she’s married to a Brit named Edward. In this section, she never really falls for Edward and instead has feelings for her guitar instructor Peter. Let’s talk about Oona’s relationship with Edward and Peter in this section. 

15. And, in a twist, the next section is when Oona is 39 and in 2003—right before she meets Edward. So she experiences the romance with Edward backward. Were you surprised when she did actually fall for him, even though she knows how it ended up? 

16. Oona is then back to her 30s and in 1995. She’s grieving over her failed marriage to Edward and a fight with her mother. But in this time period, she goes with her mother to Asia. Let’s talk about how Oona matured throughout this year. 

17. When Oona goes to 1999 at age 35 she learns that Kenzie is not just her assistant but also her son she had with Dale. Did you suspect that he was her son or were you surprised by this? Do you agree with her mother that Oona wasn’t fit to raise him in her condition?

18. In 2017, Oona is 53 and has a repaired relationship with Kenzie but her mother dies of cancer. Let’s talk about this chapter. 

19. The chapter ends with her running into Peter, her former guitar teacher, and they agree to meet up in 2018 for a dinner date. Do you think they will get together?

20. And it ends with Oona back in 1983 and at age 19 where she’s learned from all the different eras. How did it change Oona for good?

February Poem: I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud

I’m so happy that my daffodils are up that I’m going with a classic, by William Wordsworth. Although credited only to Wordsworth, his sister and his wife both contributed. Wordworth’s wife, Mary, contributed the lines:

“They flash upon that inward eye/Which is the bliss of solitude”

Here is the poem:

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Between the Lines Book Club: Oona Out of Order

Time for our February book: Oona Out of Order, by Margarita Montimore. This is a light fiction book that raises some interesting questions about our inner age versus our lived age, and how we reflect on our past, present and future. We will discuss the book on February 27, 2021 at 10:30 AM. If you are on my mailing list and getting email from me, watch for a zoom link closer to the date. If you are new to book club, you can email me at sessarego@gmail.com for a zoom link.

Here is an interview with the author:

https://www.lapl.org/collections-resources/blogs/lapl/interview-author-margarita-montimore

This is a much lighter book than our last read, and at first I didn’t care for it, but it are on me. What would you tell your younger self if you could? How old are you inside? These are fun questions to explore.

What’s Up in February

I miss doing in-person presentations but I have to admit that running book club in pajama pants is pretty awesome. Here’s what’s going on in February:

I made a thing!

Check out my article on Peter Pan’s legacy and evolution in Clarkesworld Magazine!

Romance Book Club: 1PM February 13

Librarian Brendle Wells and I co-host this book club with the Sacramento Public Library. This month our book is Edge of Glory by Rachel Spangler. I was so impressed by this f/f romance between two Olympians – one a skier and one a snowboarder. I had low expectations but the story takes its time, the characters are layered and fun to be with, and all the glimpses into Olympic life are fascinating. Join us on zoom! Information on how to join can be found here at the Sacramento Public Library webpage.

Between the Lines Book Club: 10:30AM February 27

This program is also offered through the Sacramento Public Library. For Zoom information, email me at sessarego1@gmail.com. Our book this month is Oona Out of Order, by Margarita Montimore. Check on Fridays for more Between the Lines posts!

Between the Lines Book Club: Interviews

Our book club book this month is Hidden Valley Road, which we will be discussing on Saturday January 23, 2021 at 10:30AM over zoom. Here are some interviews with the author!

https://www.oprahmag.com/entertainment/a32758417/oprah-book-club-hidden-valley-road-apple-tv-

https://www.npr.org/2020/04/05/826695581/in-hidden-valley-road-a-familys-journey-helps-shift-the-science-of-mental-illnes

https://people.com/books/colorado-woman-on-having-six-brothers-diagnosed-with-schizophrenia-its-like-death-over-and-over-again/

San Francisco Stories

One of the things I miss in the Covid-Era is going to San Francisco and Oakland to see my friends, not to mention beautiful art and gardens and that glorious Bay. When a friend of mine asked about books set in San Francisco, I was only too happy to waste some time making her a list. Here are some of my favorites, with links to reviews when applicable:

The Heroine Complex series, by Sarah Kuhn

I love this contemporary paranormal series about a group of sisters and friends in the Bay Area who fight the supernatural even when the supernatural takes the form of demon-possessed cupcakes. Expect inclusivity, feminism, action, and romance.

The Fifth Sacred Thing, by Starhawk

In the year 2048, The United States has split into smaller nations. The utopian San Francisco must defend itself against invaders without losing its core values in the process.

Mama’s Bank Account, by Kathryn Forbes

This is a sweet collection of short stories about a Norwegian immigrant family living in San Francisco in the 1910s. A good comfort read.

The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan

This contemporary novel about Chinese immigrant mothers and their American-born daughters is a classic.

The Girl with Ghost Eyes, by M.H. Boroson

At the end of the 19th century, Li-Lin must protect Chinatown from mundane and supernatural threats.

Mr. Penubra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloane

During the Great Recession, a laid-off web designer gets a job at a mysterious bookstore in this gentle fantasy.

All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Anders

This is a near-future science fiction/fantasy book about a witch and a mad scientist who fall in love while saving the world.

Calico Palace, by Gwen Bristow

A young married woman and a hooker with, and I quote, “a heart of gold” become friends and help each other survive in Gold Rush San Francisco.

Tea with the Black Dragon, by R.A. Macavoy

This classic mystery has just a hint of fantasy as a Chinese man helps a woman find her missing daughter. It hasn’t aged well, but for its time was unusual and exciting for having a male Chinese romantic protagonist.

Passing Strange, Ellen Klages

Two women meet in 1940’s San Francisco and romance and adventure transpire in this poignant historical feminist and LGBTQIA-friendly fantasy.

Copy Boy, by Shelley Blanton-Stroud

In this historical novel set in the Great Depression, a woman reinvents herself in the journalistic world of San Francisco.

What are YOUR favorite Bay Area books?

Between the Lines Book Club: Hidden Valley Road Discussion Questions

Our book club will be held on Zoom on January 23, 2021. Here are discussion questions for our book, Hidden Valley Road, courtesy of penguinrandomhouse.com! I will be adding a few more before our meeting, but these should help you get started.

1. How does the Galvin family adapt when the boys develop schizophrenia? Do any of the family members handle it better or worse than others? 10. As the Galvin children begin having children of their own, how does their upbringing on Hidden Valley Road affect how they raise their own children?

2. At the time when the Galvin boys are being diagnosed with schizophrenia, studies in mental illness claim the parents are responsible. How do you think this affected how Don and Mimi handled the changes happening in their family?

3. How did growing up on an air force base positively or negatively affect the Galvin family?

4.. How did this book change your perception of mental illness?

5. Discuss how the youngest Galvins, Lindsay and Margaret, both came to terms with their family’s struggle with schizophrenia in different ways.

6. Did your feelings change about any of the characters during the course of reading?

7. What was your impression of Mimi at the beginning of the book? Did it change by the end?

8. Tragedies have the power to shape families to bring them closer or pull them apart. How is the Galvin family shaped by their own tragedies?

Finally, here is an interview with the author: