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As frequent readers may recall a few months ago I got a new phone after years with what I called a “dumb phone,” which was only good for calls and texts, and a Blackberry that I only used for email as it was an older model and too slow to do much else. For the first couple of weeks I was frustrated as I was on a  learning curve with my smartphone, but soon I was tapping away on my Samsung Galaxy S5 with ease. I did not even miss the Blackberrry keyboard that I had coveted so much.
June 10, 2014

Breaking Into a Genre: Neil Gaiman Style

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Just before we launched our current feature for Neil Gaiman's THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE, one of our readers, Sue from the Wordsworth Book Club, contacted Carol and asked for a guide for this book, as well as other materials that would enhance her book group's discussion. In her email she said, “Our book club is discussing THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE and whenever I select a Fantasy/Myth/Fairy Tale there is a lot of discussion about ‘what the book is about.’” She went on to say, “I enjoy the books just for the enjoyment of reading it and really don’t try to ‘figure it out.’  I try to select books for our discussions that cover different genre than they would normally read with good response and success. This is one genre they do have a problem with, so I am asking if you can direct me to a good review or discussion on the book that can help them understand the meaning of the story.” Sue’s sister and brother-in-law are published writers and both “have been very insistent that I try all genres to truly enjoy reading, fantasy or science fiction being among those choices.” We shared our guide and this New York Times review that the publisher suggested but, intrigued, we asked her more about her group and their discussion.   
At last week’s Random House event, I had the nice opportunity to meet three of our readers --- Augusta from Glendale, NY; Diana from Staten Island, NY; and Erika from the Township of Washington, NJ. After the event, I sent them some questions to answer so they could share their thoughts on the day. Here is what they had to say.
April 29, 2014

Luncheon - 4 - Literacy and the Girls of Atomic City

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A few weeks ago, Anna Robinson, one of our readers, shared with us that she and her book group attended Oak Ridge, TN’s “Lunch – 4 – Literacy” --- an annual event that raises money for literacy. Anna's group contributed $1,280 toward literacy, and were a part of over 400 people attending the event. Here, Anna shares details about the “social event of the year,” including highlights and an appearance by Denise Kiernan, author of the bestselling THE GIRLS OF ATOMIC CITY.
 As the winners of the ReadingGroupGuides.com contest selected  to have dinner with Robyn Carr and discuss her latest book, FOUR FRIENDS, The Spinebreakers book group had their monthly book club meeting last Friday evening at The Monaco Hotel in Portland, Oregon. Joining Robyn, who was a wonderful host for the discussion, was her daughter Jamie. FOUR FRIENDS touched on many different subjects, and it was difficult for the group to talk about them all while containing their excitement at having the author sitting across the table from them. They were trying their best not to cause Robyn to resort to taking a big dose of Dramamine as they were lobbing question after question at her from every side of the table and, heaven forbid, asking numerous questions all at the same time.
Last October we gave 150 groups a copy of THE PRESERVATIONIST by Justin Kramon, as well as the chance to meet the author. Justin visited the “Red Pages Book Club” of Secaucus, NJ on February 26th, and the members were so pleased that founder Valerie Giambona was kind enough to share their experience with ReadingGroupGuides.com. Here, Valerie talks about Justin, THE PRESERVATIONIST and why having an author visit is “the icing on the cake.”
What’s it like to have your city flooded with book people? Not so bad, according to Bookreporter.com reviewer Amy Gwiazdowski of Washington, DC, who was among the thousands in attendance at the National Book Festival on September 21st and 22nd. Luckily, Amy was willing to share her experiences about her day at the festival with all of us who weren’t there. Read on to find out which books she’s most excited about after attending, the interesting literary question the Library of Congress posed to the world at their pavilion, and the best part about getting together with fellow readers.
On September 21st and 22nd, thousands of book lovers gathered in Washington, D.C. for the 2013 Library of Congress National Book Festival. Among those in attendance was Bookreporter.com reader Denise from Rockville, MD, who tries to make it to this national celebration of all things reading every year. Luckily, for those of us who weren’t there for the fun, Denise agreed to chat with us about her experiences. Here, she gives a recap of her favorite panels, shares which authors she was dying to meet most, and chimes in on the Franzen-Weiner Twitter controversy, which, in case you missed it, is the most recent literary spat grabbing headlines. She also reveals what surprised her most and gives advice for folks thinking of saving the date for next year.
After the success of last year's Hachette Reading Group Day, ReadingGroupGuides.com couldn't resist partnering with Hachette Book Group again to give readers the opportunity to meet some of their favorite authors and hear them speak about --- what else? --- books! Diana from Staten Island, NY was one of the lucky readers who attended the event on Saturday, September 7th, and was kind enough to answer a few questions about it. In this Q&A, Diana shares some of the highlights of the day, including her favorite panels and the authors who impressed her the most. She also talks about which book included in her swag bag she's most interested in reading --- and why she's lucky it's not Nicholas Dawidoff's football nonfiction, COLLISION LOW CROSSERS, which was immediately stolen by her husband!  
After the success of last year's Hachette Reading Group Day, ReadingGroupGuides.com couldn't resist partnering with Hachette Book Group again to give readers the opportunity to meet some of their favorite authors and hear them speak about --- what else? --- books! Valerie of the Red Pages Book Club in Secaucus, NJ was one of the lucky readers who attended the event on Saturday, September 7th, and she was kind enough to share some of her experiences with Bookreporter.com. Here, she talks about the panels she attended --- including her favorite, the New Adult/YA crossover, which featured effervescent authors A.S. King and Kate Locke --- some of the interesting things she learned about writers' writing processes, and all the free books she received (as well as the ones she couldn't help but buy).