Book Club + Giveaway

Welcome to the Cup of Coffee Book Club. A book club for travellers around the world to share their current read and exchange recommendations.

I am book obsessed.

One of my favourite things to do is rummaging through thrift stores and book swaps around the world and picking up some well read, battered books for my next read!

Before the days of Kindle, I would only ever take one book with me when I travelled, and once finished I would swap it out at a hostel book swap (most have them) and then do it again and again. I usually ended up taking home an old, coverless book which smelt funny!

But I also love to talk about books. I studied English at uni, and from then I loved talking to my friends about what we were reading and swapping recommendations. That is why I started my online book club early this year on Goodreads so that I could meet and chat to other travellers around the world about whatever book I was reading that month.

This is your official invitation to join!

Invite to CoC book club

About the Cup of Coffee Book Club

Firstly, Cup Of Coffee Book Club is an informal online discussion about whatever we are reading. You can opt in and out, and it is just a nice way of having a book chosen for you! I download most of the books on Kindle when I’m travelling, but sometimes I do a giveaway and we get to read a brand new book before it has even hit the shelves.

How it works

I select a book each month to read, and we talk about it the following month. You can send suggestions, and participate in the discussion as much or as little as you like. Some of the members just enjoy reading that months suggestion, whereas others love to get involved with the discussions.

It Is Easy To Join

You just need to have a Goodreads profile – either the app or using the website, and then join the Cup Of Coffee Book Club!

What we read

Everything! I love travel books, however often I pick a book which is something that you might just enjoy reading whilst on your travels, vacation, or tucked up in your own bed at night. I usually choose something that will spark an interesting discussion, and am always open to suggestions from active members.

For this months read I am doing a giveaway!

The book in question doesn’t come out until this week in stores and it is Wilde Lake by New York Times bestseller Laura Lippman. A suspenseful family thriller, it is the perfect travel read, great for a vacation or long plane journey.

I have 6 first edition hardback copies to give away, and it is super easy to enter. All you have to do is join the Cup of Coffee Book Club on Goodreads, and once you have done this you can enter below!

Please note that you must have joined the book club to be able to enter, but once you have done you can enter! This giveaway is only open to US residents only – sorry to all you none-americans. I will try my best to do a worldwide giveaway next time so that everyone can enter. 

GIVEAWAY CLOSED

Cup Of Coffee Book Club

The winners will be drawn on Tuesday 17th May

Please feel free to email me if you have any questions – emily@luxurybackpack.com

Thank you to William Morrow for supplying the complimentary books for this months read. If you are a winner of the giveaway please be sure to write your review of the book once you have read it on Goodreads!

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March’s Book Club Review

Hello fellow book lovers!

If any of you are following the book club via my blogon Goodreads, or are just passing by looking for some reading inspiration, for our March book of the month we read Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders by Julianna Baggott and it was a fantastic read.

Julianna Baggott

Harriet Wolf’s seventh novel has disappeared. The characters are on an unintentional sudden quest to find it. As more truths about themselves are unearthed along the way, they discover the book was a lot closer than they thought.

Firstly I wanted to say how much I enjoyed the book. I found it very easy to read due to the very well devised, complex characters. Each were immensely flawed, and therefore you were racing to the end to see how these jagged pieces of a jigsaw fit together as a family.

There was an extremely tender and raw storyline running throughout, in that the whole family was healing from their break up and from Harriet’s death. They had come unravelled as a family and seemed to be incapable of putting themselves back together in any new form. The three women were left rather blindly trying to navigate through their lives, and were much in need of finding the book if anything for the connection to the ‘leader’ and strong force over their family.

I really enjoyed the fantastical elements to the novel (did anyone else see so many references to harry potter! – Tilton was extremely like the HP character Luna – ‘pale golden skin and luminous hair – silken girl’. Also the references to her being ‘a piece of my own soul being returned to me’ reminded me of the horcruxes which are pieces of Voldemorts soul – anyway, just putting this out there!

I am not usually a fan of several narrators – as we discussed about Where’d You Go, Bernadette for February’s book of the month, but I must say this worked SO well. In fact i think this was the reason that the book was so addictive, you were so ready to devour whatever the new narrator had to say – you didn’t want to miss a trick.

I thought the structure was really interesting – leaving so many things hidden, yet revealing new things continually, and always leaving the audience and the characters in the dark in someway so as to keep everyone guessing.

We are discussing the book over on the book club now, so do join in!

April’s book of the month is American Housewife: Stories, by Helen Ellis. I am really looking forward to reading and discussing short stories next, so due grab a copy and join the conversation!

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Until next time,
Emily xox
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5 Books That Changed My Life

Today is World Book Day, and unless you have been indeed trapped in a cave, or a shed (something Room-esque) then you would know this fact.

This week I have been writing hard on my novel. I choose ‘writing’ rather than ‘working’ as writing a novel does not always feel like work and this is a subject that I am in an on-going battle with. One I proud to say I am now winning. It is always important, as a writer, to remember that writing is working. Sitting in front of a computer day by day, watching the word count mount up and my patience down is one of the hardest jobs I have ever done. But, it is my absolute favourite. It is the job I was supposed to do, the job I have been waiting my whole life to take on once I could finally wrap my head around the fact that it is a job.

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Clementinum Library, Prague

Reading is an extremely important part of being a writer. Now this one is harder to justify – but there is justification –  that lying on your back on a hammock for the day reading is also work.  Stick with me. True, reading is a great pleasure and enjoyment, but it is also part of my job to read as much as I possibly can whilst churning out my own novel. In devouring every genre, everything that is considered great, good, not so good, and pants, I am continuing my literary journey and at the same time hoping that my own work in doing so might not be total drivel.

Drivel – like the many “Best books in the world” and “50 books you need to read” lists that you see in abundance –  today especially. In literature, as with everything else in life, there are the greats and there are the not so greats, but there is so much in-between, and as with every other creative genre, comparison is not black and white. What surprises me is that the people who make these lists seem to want to speak for everyone –  ‘this is what you should think of as a good book’. If they entitled such lists as “According to me” that would be fine, but they never do. Reading is subjective – and in creating these lists instead of assuming a position of authority on the subject they are in fact making themselves appear rather naive. When you study literature and these supposed ‘greats’ you do not compare one with another, but rather aspects – style, storyline, character. And you do so  to enjoy discussion – not to say which was better. I promote discussion about books wholeheartedly. Reading the novel itself is just one part of the process, and in discussing it only then do you being to uncover what it was really about. We all read. And yet it is surprising that people spend more time discussing what they ate for dinner (along with countless instagram photos) more than they do the book they are reading. One of the reasons for this is that there are so many books out there – finding someone who has read or is reading the same book is often no easy task. That is why book clubs and online reading communities such as Goodreads are so great. And that is why I started my own book club ‘Cup Of Coffee Book Club‘ – simply to gather a little group of like-minded people who might fancy reading the same thing, and have a chat about it.

So in order to both commemorate World Book Day and to cease my witterings that have now become close to rantings, I am presenting five books that shaped my life. These are not my favourites necessarily, but each presented to me something that a book had not done before. Plainly said – they changed my life in some way.

 

Truman Capote – A Capote Reader

Capote

As someone who has read all of Capote’s work, it was this initial collection that hooked me. Capote’s short stories are remarkable, and were my first real introduction into the genre. I was so compelled by every aspect of them that I studied him throughout my degree and they have in turn influenced my own work greatly. Twisting the Southern Gothic with his influences as part of New York’s high society, Capote is the true master of character. He hooks you with their quirks and charm within a few of his resounding descriptions, and his characters really do live on well beyond the page. Not many people haven’t heard of Holly Golightly from his infamous Breakfast at Tiffanys, and this novella along with his essays and observations sit among his short stories in this remarkable collection. I devoured this book, and then I devoured in again, and will continue to do so for the rest of my life.

Virginia Woolf – A Room Of One’s Own

VW

This was the first and only book that I have read from cover to cover in a book shop. We were studying it in university at the time, and I set out to get my hands on a copy. I could only find it in a huge anthology, and began skimming the first few pages quickly before planning on finding another book store. Two hours later and I was still nestled on a bean bag in the centre of the busy book shop. Firstly this is an extended essay and if you have ever read any Virginia Woolf you will know she could write 300 beautifully crafted pages on paint drying (she wrote a short story entitled ‘The Mark On The Wall’ which is quite similar to the subject of paint drying) and present it to you in such a way that has you enthralled. The fact is, no one can be so politely articulate about something they want to scream from the rooftops as well as Woolf. This was the first feminist text that I had really ever read, and is as relevant today as it was in 1929. She created a philosophy on the creative spirit in general but specifically in a woman over the course of this essay, and is so powerful and intellectual it really leaves you slightly changed just in reading it. “Damn the patriarchy, find your own way and your own voice in life, seize the day, just DO something. How dare you waste the opportunities that so many others would have died to have.”

 

Sylvia Plath – The Bell Jar

belljar

When I read The Bell Jar I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t what I was reading. Plath’s poetry has always struck me as dark and conflicted, despite being beautiful, and yet The Bell Jar seemed the opposite. It starts light, amusing, and is the tale of the everyday worries of a girl. Nothing dark – just boys, clothes, food. But what is astounding is how delicately this simple tale unravels over the course of the novel. You don’t notice a lot of the unraveling until it is too late and it has gone too far. You believe that, along with her mother and everyone else in society at the time, that she isn’t crazy – that it is circumstantial. And then you doubt yourself. What you are left with is exactly the message Plath seeks to give about the grey area that is the mind. It is semi-autobiographical, and both a feminist text and a novel about psychology. But the most astounding thing about Plath’s novel is that when you put it down you realise how dark it really was all along. And how conflicted. All just masked very well in a story about a girl.

 

George Orwell – Down and Out in Paris and London

Orwell

Another semi-autobiographical novel, this book is a tale of a struggle, of travel, of a culinary adventure, and of poverty. It explores the underbellies of both cities, and the reader learns some very sobering Orwellian truths about society and what it really is to be poverty stricken. I found it fascinating and it has always stuck with me. As both a writer and a traveller it is interesting to discover the struggling story of one of the literary greats, and his journey to becoming the published creative talent he became. Whether it be the tale that influenced his writing, or if infact his writing influencing this tale, it is intriguing from both aspects and a book that I will return to again and again.

 

Audrey Niffenegger – The Time Traveler’s Wife

Niffenegger

This book had me hooked. I often found myself unable to put a book down, but with this one I literally couldn’t. I read it over Christmas one year, and don’t remember much about the turkey or the family, but I remember everything of how I felt as I tore through this book. What really struck me then about this book, and strikes me even more so now as a writer, is how intelligently weaved the story is. It was the first book I had ever read that had the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it style that ran through its entirety – and it is 500 pages! As the reader you have to work hard and pay attention. And I felt completely in awe of the writer the whole way through, as to how well written and well imagined it was. If I can write something half the length that delivers the same passion and imagination that Niffenegger has then I will be very proud.

 

I hope you enjoyed this snapshot into my reading journey, and if nothing else I hope it has encouraged you to discuss literature in some way – and maybe even join a book club! Reading is a personal thing, and for that is a salvation – a form of meditation. However in discussing books we learn more and grow. And what better day to start than World Book Day when the world become one great book club.

What books have inspired you, or changed your life in some way?

Weekly Witterings – 2nd Edition

To Witter: to chatter or babble pointlessly or at unnecessary length. n. pointless chat; chatter.

Presenting my weekly roundup in order to spread the love and keep you updated with my adventures. This is a way of sharing my inspiration, music, books, and thoughts that have been a part of my week in addition to my blog posts. Think of it as a coffee and a quick natter with an old pal.

Website of the Week

I have to be biased here, because this week I have been working really hard on a new blog that I have created, Luxury Backpack. Its a BRAND NEW concept that I dreamed up whilst on my road trip around Florida as a way of sharing my travel hints, tips and tricks (I’ve got thousands!) which make a budget trip feel more luxurious. Read all about it here, and of course follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Insty.

Enough plugging, but on the same theme of budget luxury travel, I found this great website Budget Traveller which is a great website for finding the best experiences for your buck; such as alternative budget travel experiences, cheap eats, and money saving tips from the experts. Highly recommended!

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Song of the Week

This week brought us The Grammy’s, and exhausted from our day of travelling, our first night in Miami was spend eating sushi and watching the whole ceremony. So after watching it I couldn’t get James Bay out of my head. Have a listen to Let It Go here.

Book of the Week

It’s been such a busy week on our road trip that I have hardly had time for reading, and am still gripped by Valley of the Dolls (nearly at the end now). I have just completed my review of the book I have been reading for my Cup of Coffee Book Club on Goodreads which you can read here. The next book for March is Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders which I can’t wait to start! On my travels I found the cutest book which I am dying to get started on called Chomp by Carl Hiaasen which is set right here in Florida. It is about Wahoo Cray and his father, Mickey Cray, both professional animal wranglers, who are hired to assist with the latest episode of a reality series titled Expedition Survival! Mickey is injured by an iguana falling on his head (only in Florida!) and so Wahoo takes it upon himself to accept for both of them. I’ll review it once I’m finished!

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Food of the Week

We found the most amazing little farm shop style food markets on the road, where we bought local honey, bee pollen (which I’m now raving on about to anyone who will listen!), and fresh fruit and veg which I’ve been whizzing up in my blender.

 

Working Out this Week

This week we didn’t have too much time to work out, but we spent a lot of time wandering around Miami beach and watching everyone else doing active things! I did have a few minutes of my day that weren’t jam packed, so I’ve been doing 7 minute ab work outs. I call it the Miami Beach Workout! 1 minute of each ab work out back to back for 7 minutes:

Sit ups – flutter kicks -bicycle kicks – crunches – scissors – leg ups – plank

Now tell me you don’t have 7 minutes to spare?

Film of the Week

I recently watched the comedy Trainwreck. I wasn’t looking forward to it as I really can’t stand these stupid American comedies, but it was pretty funny, and now I finally get the whole Amy Schumer girl crush everyone has got going… she’s basically me and every girl friend I have ever had rolled in to one!

Adventure of the Week

This week I’ve been to Miami, the Florida Keys, and through the Everglades. The Everglades were so intriguing, and learning all about the history and wildlife there was really interesting. I couldn’t get over the colour in Miami. So many candy colours, from the buildings to the ocean to the sky. I really haven’t seen anything like it before. Have a look on my Instagram for lots more pictures from my road trip.

 

Shopping of the Week

Please Santa, I know it’s early, but I would LOVE something from this beautiful marble crafter Allegra Stone. I am in love with her designs, especially the trays. Check out images of her pieces here.

allegra Stone

Love, Emily  x