more about: books

Water for Elephants: The Conclusion (Spoiler Alert!), Plus Sara Gruen

Jeez, Water for Elephants really picked up toward the end of the story. The first part of the tale was interesting, informative, and had a nice, easy going pace. But things switched gears for about the last third and I liked it.

I knew a brawl had to break out between Jacob and August at some point, but it was a lot more intense than I thought it would be. Their fight was brutal, vivid, and went on and on and on. Sara Gruen’s detailed writing again caused me to visualize the entire scene. Could you just about see, hear, and/or feel every blow delivered? Could you virtually see all the bruises and cuts on Jacobs face? I couldn’t stop the visuals from coming.

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And Your June Book Is . . .

Busy Woman Seeks Wife. Later this week, Melissa Parrish,’s director of community strategy, will introduce herself and Annie Sanders’ role-reversing romantic comedy. Please join her!

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Have You Voted for June’s Book?

Voting ends this Sunday, May 24, so make sure to vote for one of the following selections if you haven’t had a chance to yet:

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Water for Elephants: Chapters 7 to 15

Phew! I made it through Chapters 7 to 15 of Water for Elephants, and I have to say the story had me on edge in quite a few places. How about you? I got quite caught up in the tale of Jacob Jankowski this week. One minute I was hot and bothered at something cruel August or Uncle Al did, and a few pages later I was relieved Rosemary (elderly Jacob’s caregiver) was back on the scene.

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Water for Elephants: Chapters 1 to 6

Hi, all:

I read Chapters 1 through 6 (including the prologue) of Water for Elephants and really enjoyed them. How about you? I could hardly believe the unfortunate to horrific events that kept happening to Jacob Jankowski. Good grief, young Jacob: loses his parents in a car accident, finds out they were totally broke, has the bank foreclose on the family home—and take everything in it—drops out of veterinary school, and gets mixed up with a low-end traveling circus that makes him sleep on dirty, smelly blankets and feeds rotten food to its animals. The older Jacob is miserable living in an elder care facility: He hates the food (calls it pap) and doesn’t particularly like the help or other occupants (he called one gentleman a liar), and was forced to take medication against his will. Were you surprised at all at what kept going wrong for this guy? I was. I was also impressed by his will to keep getting up—blow after blow—and keep pressing on.

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Vote for Your June Choice

Melissa Parrish,’s director of community strategy, will lead the group next month. What will you be reading? Pick your favorite of the three books and—for the first time!—one play below by Sunday, May 24.

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Water for Elephants : An Introduction


I’m Jackie Monk, and I’m the deputy managing editor of Real Simple. What does that mean? Well, at Real Simple it means I’m in charge of making sure the trains run on time and on budget. In other words, I set and enforce deadlines and manage the money. I have done so for almost eight years.

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My Abandonment: Peter Rock Answers Your Questions

Drumroll, please. Author Peter Rock has responded to our questions—and has sent a personal message to you, the members of the No-Obligation Book Club. Enjoy! —Jaimee Zanzinger First, thanks so much for choosing and for reading my book. It’s heartening to think that all that time I spent alone, in Caroline’s mind, might have entertained or provoked people I don’t […]

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And Your May Book Is . . .

Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen’s tale of a 21-year-old veterinary student who ditches Cornell to join the circus. Please join Real Simple’s deputy managing editor, Jackie Monk, later this week as she introduces herself and the book.

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Have You Voted for May’s Book?

Voting ends on Sunday, April 26, so pick your favorite of these four books, if you haven’t already:

Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell: Why do some people succeed while others never reach their full potential? Gladwell builds a riveting case that “superstars” are the beneficiaries of hidden advantages—some deserved, some not, some earned, some just lucky.

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