June: The Secret Garden

Book: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodges Burnett
When: June 29, 2012 @ 7pm
Where: Veronica’s House (See Pingg Invite)

Synopsis: When orphaned Mary Lennox, lonely and sad, comes to live at her uncle’s great house on the Yorkshire moors, she finds it full of secrets. At night, she hears the sound of crying down one of the long corridors. Outside, she meets Dickon, a magical boy who can charm and talk to animals. Then, one day, with the help of a friendly robin, Mary discovers the most mysterious wonder of all — a secret garden, walled and locked, which has been completely forgotten for years and years. Is everything in the garden dead, or can Mary bring it back to life?

May 2012: Moonwalking with Einstein

Book: Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
When: May 25, 2012 @ 7pm
Where: Amanda’s House (See Pingg Invite)

Synopsis:

The blockbuster phenomenon that charts an amazing journey of the mind while revolutionizing our concept of memory

An instant bestseller that is poised to become a classic, Moonwalking with Einstein recounts Joshua Foer’s yearlong quest to improve his memory under the tutelage of top “mental athletes.” He draws on cutting-edge research, a surprising cultural history of remembering, and venerable tricks of the mentalist’s trade to transform our understanding of human memory. From the United States Memory Championship to deep within the author’s own mind, this is an electrifying work of journalism that reminds us that, in every way that matters, we are the sum of our memories.

 

March 2012: Book Club Photo

It was a good time ladies! Looking forward to next month!

March 2012: Deluxe

We ate Guinness and Cheddar Cheese Spread, Sea Salt Caramel Filled Brownie Cookies (better without the caramel just with some salt sprinkled on top), chai panna cotta with honey jelly, parmesan stuffed bacon wrapped dates, cheesy zucchini and red onion flatbread, and of course champagne to go with the luxury theme!

April 2012: The Sun Also Rises

Book: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
When: April 27, 2012 @ 7pm
Where: Ellie’s House (See Pingg Invite)

Synopsis: The Sun Also Rises first appeared in 1926, and yet it’s as fresh and clean and fine as it ever was, maybe finer. Hemingway’s famously plain declarative sentences linger in the mind like poetry: “Brett was damned good-looking. She wore a slipover jersey sweater and a tweed skirt, and her hair was brushed back like a boy’s. She started all that.” His cast of thirtysomething dissolute expatriates–Brett and her drunken fiancé, Mike Campbell, the unhappy Princeton Jewish boxer Robert Cohn, the sardonic novelist Bill Gorton–are as familiar as the “cool crowd” we all once knew. No wonder this quintessential lost-generation novel has inspired several generations of imitators, in style as well as lifestyle.

Jake Barnes, Hemingway’s narrator with a mysterious war wound that has left him sexually incapable, is the heart and soul of the book. Brett, the beautiful, doomed English woman he adores, provides the glamour of natural chic and sexual unattainability. Alcohol and post-World War I anomie fuel the plot: weary of drinking and dancing in Paris cafés, the expatriate gang decamps for the Spanish town of Pamplona for the “wonderful nightmare” of a week-long fiesta. Brett, with fiancé and ex-lover Cohn in tow, breaks hearts all around until she falls, briefly, for the handsome teenage bullfighter Pedro Romero. “My God! he’s a lovely boy,” she tells Jake. “And how I would love to see him get into those clothes. He must use a shoe-horn.” Whereupon the party disbands.

But what’s most shocking about the book is its lean, adjective-free style. The Sun Also Rises is Hemingway’s masterpiece–one of them, anyway–and no matter how many times you’ve read it or how you feel about the manners and morals of the characters, you won’t be able to resist its spell. This is a classic that really does live up to its reputation.

March 2012: Deluxe

Book: Deluxe: How Luxury Lost It’s Luster by Dana Thomas
When: March 30, 2012 @ 7pm
Where: Beth’s House (See Pingg Invite)

Synopsis: Newsweek reporter Thomas skillfully narrates European fashion houses’ evolution from exclusive ateliers to marketing juggernauts. Telling the story through characters like the French mogul Bernard Arnault, she details how the perfection of old-time manufacturing, still seen in Hermès handbags, has bowed to sweatshops and wild profits on mediocre merchandise. After a brisk history of luxury, Thomas shows why handbags and perfume are as susceptible to globalization and corporate greed as less rarefied industries. She follows the overarching story, parts of which are familiar, from boardrooms to street markets that unload millions in counterfeit goods, dropping irresistible details like a Japanese monk obsessed with Comme des Garçons. But she’s no killjoy. If anything, she’s fond of the aristocratic past, snarks at “behemoths that churn out perfume like Kraft makes cheese” and is too credulous of fashionistas’ towering egos. Despite her grasp of business machinations, her argument that conglomerates have stolen luxury’s soul doesn’t entirely wash. As her tales of quotidian vs. ultra luxury make clear, the rich and chic can still distinguish themselves, even when Las Vegas hosts the world’s ritziest brands. Thomas might have delved deeper into why fashion labels inspire such mania, beyond “selling dreams,” but her curiosity is contagious.

March 2012: Deluxe

Book: Deluxe – How Luxury Lost it’s Luster by Dana Thomas
When: March 30, 2012 @ 7pm
Where: Beth’s House (See Pingg Invite)

Synopsis: Thomas has been the fashion writer for Newsweek in Paris for 12 years and writes about style for the New York Times Magazine and other well-known publications. She traces the origins of luxury from the mid–nineteenth century, when Louis Vuitton made his first steamer trunks and custom-made clothing was strictly the province of European aristocracy, through the fashion boom of the 1920s, when names such as Dior, Gucci, and Yves Saint Laurent came into prominence, and buyers with expendable income could afford exquisite clothing and perfume. Sadly, today most of the well-known names are owned by multinational groups, and luxury items have become commodities, where buyers crave name brands for what they represent rather than their inherent quality of manufacture and design. Thomas takes us into the streets of New York, where counterfeit items are sold that look so much like the real thing that it takes an expert to tell them apart, to the Guangzhou region in China, where children make knockoff goods under appalling conditions. She manages to remove the veil from the fashion industry with a blend of history, culture, and investigative journalism.

‘Divergent’ Group Photo

We had some good food and good discussion on Friday night! Thanks for coming everyone! And for those of you who weren’t feeling well, we hope you feel better soon – you were missed!

February 2012: Divergent