I wish to inspire readers, teachers, and book clubs to bake along with their reading and promote discussion about the books we've enjoyed.
Loveday is more than just an introvert who loves books and works in a used books store. She’s hiding from a childhood tragedy that no one needs to know, and she doesn’t want to discuss, though her kind, portly boss knows enough about it to shelter her and give her space to organize their second-hand books as she likes. Loveday is not completely isolated (though she does prefer the company of books over people), and has even dated a little, with her most recent boyfriend becoming a bit of a problem, not willing to take no for an answer. Then she meets Nathan, whose hosting of a poetry night saves her from another awkward encounter with the ex. But her own past is reappearing at the shop in the form of her mother’s old books, and she may have to confront what she left behind as a child. Snarky, broken, and completely endearing, Loveday Cardew of The Lost for Words Bookshop is someone you'd love to befriend. Her triumphant, tragic literary story will have you cheering her on through every page, and desiring your own book quote tattoo.
- Loveday said asked “how hard is it to find a bookmark? There’s always something to hand. Bus ticket, biscuit wrapper, corner off a bill.” What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever used for a bookmark? Do you have any favorite bookmarks?
- What books began to appear from Loveday’s mother’s collection? Who was supplying them and why?
- Loveday’s mother “used to put things in alphabetical order by the first word of the title.” Are there any book sections it might be smarter to do that with? Loveday’s books were just organized according to read and unread. How are your books organized?
- “What’s the point of a book that isn’t read?” Loveday asks about the wealthy first-edition buyers who place their expensive copies in glass cases, never to be read. Why buy it if they never intend to read it? Aren’t books meant to be read?
- Why did Loveday write a poem about wishing she could write a book about herself to hand to anyone new? Why wouldn’t it be enough; what would make it always changing? What do you think makes people who write stories about themselves choose to write about one thing versus another-what stories beg to be told?
- How did Loveday meet Archie, her boss, and come to work in the shop? What made her stay on, as an adult? Why did she choose not to attend college?
- What tattoos did Loveday have? What made her choose those (her criteria) and why first lines? Which bookish tattoos would you have chosen, and would they be quotes, first lines, or symbols? Why?
- How did a new tattoo cause a fight with Rob? Was she wrong to not have discussed it with him first?
- What were Nathan’s poems about? What were Loveday’s? How important a part did these poems play in the story?
- Did Rob use his mental health issues as an excuse to do bad things or take advantage of Loveday’s kindness? Do you think he had any control over his actions, especially the premeditated ones? Why was control such a big issue for him? What other things should he perhaps have chosen to control that might have been better choices for him? Why did no one report him sooner?
- How did an imaginary dial where her heart should be help Loveday to manage her pain and anxiousness? What are some other helpful techniques for dealing with deep grief, anxiety attacks, or PTSD?
- Why did Loveday feel that when meeting new people who always asked a lot of questions, that she had to be honest, which was too much for a new conversation, or tell lies? Was there a third option she may have missed? If you have a great tragedy that’s easily brought up in standard conversation (or know someone who does), how do you handle those questions?
- Why was it so difficult for Loveday to forgive her mother or to think of her past or talk about it to anyone?
- Was it really Nathan that Loveday had no faith in? Why? How was that connected to her “protecting my softest place”?
Loveday often ate a banana and cereal for breakfast, and sometimes for lunch as well; also the cafe next door sold banana muffins. Nathan would often surprise anyone new he met with a chocolate coin. Loveday also loved to bake with her mom and often made an English dessert called parkin or brownies when her father came home from jobs. To incorporate the banana muffins and chocolate, I created a recipe for: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins.
Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, melted
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 very ripe bananas
- 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt or sour cream, at room temperature
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon, optional
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine sugars and melted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (using the whisk attachment) on medium-high speed for two minutes. Add the bananas until they are fully mixed in, about two more minutes. Then add the vanilla extract and Greek yogurt (or sour cream, whichever you are using). In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder (and cinnamon if you are choosing to use it).
- Turn the mixer to low speed. Pour in the flour about a quarter of it at a time and let it mix in before adding more. Stop the mixer to scrape down any flour sticking to the inside of the bowl, using a rubber spatula. Then on medium-low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, just until they disappear. Finally, fold in the chocolate chips using a spatula, making sure to swipe from underneath the batter so all the chips distribute evenly.
- Bake in olive oil-sprayed cupcake tins (with a pinch of flour shaken on top of the spray in each tin) or paper-lined tins for 17-19 minutes. Makes about 1 1/2 dozen muffins.
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Other books by Stephanie Butland are The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae, The Other Half of my Heart, The Secrets We Keep, Surrounded by Water, and Letters to My Husband.
Books mentioned within this book were Grinning Jack, Lady Chatterley's Lover, Anna Karenina, Wuthering Heights, The Mill on the Floss, Penny Arcade, Jane Eyre, The Long Goodbye, Middlemarch, Great Expectations, Much Ado about Nothing, The Famous Five, Romeo and Juliet, Possession, The Da Vinci Code, Kate Greenaway’s Mother Goose, Who Moved My Cheese, Eat Pray Love, Heart of Darkness, The Colour Purple, After You’d Gone, The Railway Children, Harry Potter, Watership Down, A Suitable Boy, Sweet Valley High, Madame Bovary, as well as the author Daphne du Maurier.
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton is about a woman who works for a book publisher and researches an anniversary edition of her favorite childhood book, discovering that it is closely linked to her mother’s past as well.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is another novel about an emotionally broken, introverted young woman who overcame a troubling past to live on her own and find purpose through the help of strangers.
“Book Group is...briefly amusing but ultimately unsavory, like Swift.”
“Poetry has a difficult enough time without people throwing it away.”
“Archis says I keep all my interesting bits well hidden and getting to know me is an exercise in faith rewarded.”
“There’s the simple love of books...the knowledge that here is an escape, a chance to learn, a place for your heart and mind to romp and play.”
“Thanks, but I’m not really sociable… I’ve found this is the best way to stop people asking me to do things, because there’s not really a response, in the way that there is when you say you’re busy.”
“What’s the point of a book that isn’t read?”
“Changing and ruining are not the same.”
“I was still young enough to think/hope that love of books equalled fundamental decency. Librarians had always been good to me.”
I had always thought of university in terms of its impracticalities: the cost, the debt, the enforced sociability. I hadn’t thought about how you could pick a tiny part of the world...you are going to spend the rest of your days digging around in.”
“Books are mostly about the falling in love and the longing, the first kisses and the first nights spent together. So I hadn’t really thought about how there might be a sweeter spot, one where knowing someone, being familiar with them, meant that everything was better than it was in the beginning.”
“When you’re imperfect yourself and you come across someone more obviously broken than you, it’s both heartening and comforting.”
“Seek out the people you want in your life. It may not be as hard as you think.”
“I felt the way you feel when you go out for a walk when it’s just been raining: as though everything is different, better.”
“I wondered if I would become easier, now that I wasn’t protecting my softest place any more.”
Naude Lorenzo on July 11, 2018:
A truly good book, love it, a delicious cup cake recipe as usual, thanks Amanda
Amber H on July 10, 2018:
Looks like a great book!