Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Holiday Giving and Enjoy Some Love!

Hi friends & family! Happy Holidays!

Join me by donating and spreading the word for supporting this incredible project through America's Giving Challenge. Any donation counts! $10, $25, $100 or more! The Challenge will give $50,000 to the 4 top projects with the most donations. I met Prudence, the director of Positive Women's Network (PWN) last summer and was greatly inspired by her work with PWN and its support to HIV-positive women in South Africa. I encourage you to read what the project is about at the blogger panel.

Thank you so much for your support and please pass the message along!

Also, please join our next book discussion for January 27, 2008 where we'll talk about "Love in the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Happy New Year and start 2008 by giving!

Mr Maguire: We would like some answers please!

Last time we met was to discuss our fantastical book "Wicked, The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West" by Gregory Maguire. For those who don't like books where animals start talking, then this fantasy novel might not be for you. However, if you look closer the book highlights how a society usually runs bringing themes of government power, racism and mass manipulation. There were also a lot of random moments that occur in the book where many of us wondered, "where did that come from?" and "what will happen next with that story?" yet left us with no answers.

The author has written a sequel to this book, making us think we will find our answers to our questions. But we're not in such need to know them. However, I think for those of us who finished the book, if we came across the sequel, we probably wouldn't mind reading and finding out what did actually happen after the death of the witch.

Even though the message of the book is not clear, I think we all agreed that we did see another side to the Wicked Witch, where she does seem misunderstood.

In any case, we all definitely are looking forward to the day that Wicked the Broadway play comes back to San Francisco, as we will definitely be wanting to make a field trip for it!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Cane River - a glimpse into African-American history

This month WOW Exchange book group is reading the wonderful historical fiction book, Cane River by Lalita Tademy, a book sponsored by San Francisco Public Library's One City One Book Program.

In the small Louisiana farming community of Cane River, Lalita Tademy's ancestors were women whose lives began in slavery, who weathered the Civil War, and who grappled with the contradictions of emancipation through the turbulent early years of the 20th century. Through it all, they fought to unite their family and forge success on their own terms.
In Cane River, an accessible novel that combines painstaking historical reconstruction with unforgettable storytelling, Lalita Tademy presents an all too rarely seen part of American history, complete with a provocative portrayal of the complex, unspoken bonds between slaves and slave owners. Most of all, she gives us the saga of real, flesh-and-blood women making hard choices in the face of unimaginable loss, securing their identity and independence in order to face any obstacle, and inspiring all the generations to come.

Come join our discussion of this interesting book at Cafe Kaleo (Hawaiian theme) in the Inner Sunset on Sunday October 28 at 2pm.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Reading Lolita in Tehran in San Francisco

Our next book for September is "Reading Lolita in Tehran" by Azar Nafisi.

An inspired blend of memoir and literary criticism, Reading Lolita in Tehran is a moving testament to the power of art and its ability to change and improve people's lives. In 1995, after resigning from her job as a professor at a university in Tehran due to repressive policies, Azar Nafisi invited seven of her best female students to attend a weekly study of great Western literature in her home. Since the books they read were officially banned by the government, the women were forced to meet in secret, often sharing photocopied pages of the illegal novels. For two years they met to talk, share, and "shed their mandatory veils and robes and burst into color." Though most of the women were shy and intimidated at first, they soon became emboldened by the forum and used the meetings as a springboard for debating the social, cultural, and political realities of living under strict Islamic rule.

Join us on Sunday, September 30 at 2pm in the Lower Haight district at Bean There Cafe.

Discussing the life of Ayaan Hirsi Ali

We had an incredible discussion on Sunday July 22 at the Revolution Cafe to exchange what we took away with us from reading the life of Ayaan Hirsi Ali in her book Infidel.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali tells her astonishing life story, from her traditional Muslim childhood in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya, to her intellectual awakening and activism in the Netherlands, and her current life under armed guard in the West. Ayaan Hirsi Ali burst into international headlines following an Islamist's murder of her colleague, Theo van Gogh, with whom she made the movie Submission.

Infidel gave us the opportunity to discuss the author's life in Africa and then post-Africa and how she achieved to find residency in the Netherlands and become part of its political system. Among other things, we discussed how her voice in the book was trying to be objective as she did not want to be perceived as a victim of female genital mutilation (FGM).

Her main message towards the end was that "the mistreatment of women is not an incidental problem in the Muslim world." This point led to more discussion in our group.

A great book to recommend to any book club!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Much more than a story about the plague!

When people ask what Year of Wonders is about, the first answer is "it's a story about the plague in England" and as a result, people respond with, "why do I want to read about that?" BUT, you will be pleasantly surprised at how engaged you are when you read the first pages of the book.

Geraldine Brooks brings you back to 17th century England through the eyes of Anna Frith, an ordinary housemaid, who is constantly challenged by tragic events that emanate from the famous plague outbreak in Eyam, Derbyshire. Through her journey, we come across the struggle between religion and science, the practice of herbal medicine, the strength and ability of human nature to self-sacrifice as well as the desperate actions humans are capable of when fear overpowers reason. It's a wonderful book to discuss about!

It's fascinating that this book was based on a true event, where a village decided to voluntarily put themselves in quarantine to prevent the plague from spreading to surrounding areas.

What did we think about the end? We didn't want to spoil it for those who hadn't finished the book, so discussion of the ending was posponed. We will have a brief recap in our next meeting.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Next book choice for WOW Exchange book group

For our next book meeting, we are going to be reading "Year of Wonders" by Geraldine Brooks.

Geraldine Brooks is an Australian Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist. Brooks is a former war correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Post, and bestselling author of the nonfiction Nine Parts of Desire. Many of you might have also heard of her through her second novel, "March," where she chronicles the war experiences of the March girls' absent father in Alcott's Little Women.

We'll be reading her first novel, Year of Wonders, which follows a young woman's battle to save her fellow villagers and her soul when the plague suddenly strikes the small British village of Eyam.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Eat Pray Love book meeting

Our first meeting discussed the spiritual journey of Elizabeth Gilbert as she traveled for one year to Italy, India and Indonesia. It was a great conservation among women that highlighted our memorable parts in the book, relating it to our present lives. A few of us read out loud parts in the book that impacted us.

Personally, my favourite parts in the book were the author's concept of happiness on pg. 260 and relationships on pg. 286. I also loved the idea of "prayer is the act of talking to God, while meditation is the act of listening." (pg. 131-2)

This book encouraged so many themes in our meeting such as: the simple act of receiving gratitude, your inner voice guiding you, self-reflection and a new idea of what a soulmate is, among others.