View Full Version : EoFF Book Club - August - The Glass Castle

07-26-2017, 06:20 PM

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Hello! And welcome to the first book we'll be reading as part of the EoFF Book Club. If you missed the initial thread, it can be found here, but don't worry if you haven't, as the point of the book club is that you can drop in and out depending on time and other commitments. Having said all that, let's open up with our first book!

The Blurb

The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette's brilliant and charismatic father captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn't want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

The Glass Castle is truly astonishing--a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.

Where to find a copy

- Try your local library first of all. Nothing beats free reading!
- If they don't have a physical copy, check to see if they have a digital library and see if they have a eBook or eAudiobook.
- If that fails, check used book shops or used book websites online. You can often get a good deal. You could also use eReaders and apps to check their prices, like Kindle or Kobo.


Unlike regular book groups, I'll keep this thread open for discussion throughout the month for people to post first impressions and ongoing thoughts about the story.

Obviously, put such talk in spoiler tags. At the end of the month (I'm going to set a date for the 25th August), discussion no longer needs to be put in tags. Think of that date as the time we would meet up normally if this was a physical book club.

Anyway, I hope you all manage to find a copy. If someone's really struggling, post about it and I'll see what I can do.

Book Order

Jinx - August - The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Mr. Carnelian

07-26-2017, 06:26 PM
My library has this book on super hold and I wont be getting it for months at this rate! So I'll have to buy it x.x

07-26-2017, 06:35 PM
Neato. Gonna get it on my kindle and have a crack at it during my lunch times at work. If I can.

07-26-2017, 08:15 PM
I've ordered a second-hand copy from Amazon for 1.03. Should be here by the end of the month. It'll give me time to finish my current book :D

07-26-2017, 08:38 PM
there's always...*cough*...torrents....

07-26-2017, 08:41 PM
Nah, I can only read books in paper form.

Old Skool :cool:

07-28-2017, 12:23 AM
So, I won't discuss the actual content of the book yet because, well, it's not even August yet, but I did feel like I should say this:

I was really on the fence about even trying to read this one. It's so far removed from what I tend to like, I was pretty sure I'd hate it and saw little point in trying it. I mentioned this in the discord chat as well (which might have come off as complaining about the book choice for the month? If so, unintentional. :p)

But I gave it a shot anyway, because why not, and as I sit here, 60% through the book (what can I say, it's relatively short compared to what I'm used to, I'm a quick reader), it's obvious I was wrong, so I just felt like admitting that.

07-28-2017, 12:30 AM
I'm glad you're enjoying it! It's honestly the book that got me hooked on memoirs, but it's been yeeears since I read it, so it will be pretty fresh for me as well.

08-02-2017, 06:52 PM
It is August 2nd. How are we all getting on with the book?

Mine arrived today and we s currently sat at MissH's mums house. Hopefully kick it off tomorrow.

08-02-2017, 06:56 PM
I have some free time this weekend. I'll read it then.

08-03-2017, 09:31 PM
>some time
>finishes book

08-03-2017, 09:47 PM
Just picked up my copy from the library today!

08-03-2017, 10:40 PM
False alarm. My book has not arrived :(

08-03-2017, 11:34 PM
I enjoyed my time with this book! I liked how as she grew, the author grew into realising her life wasn't quite as sunny as she thought it was as a kid. The slow but steady realisation that her parents weren't all that she thought they were.

08-04-2017, 01:13 PM
I thought it was particularly unusual that I couldn't hate the parents despite the fact they screwed up so much and did some awful things. You can tell they love their kids and want what's best for them, they're just so flawed and don't really know what's actually best for their kids sometimes (most of the time?)

The two parts that probably got to me the most was 1) when her dad asks her what she wants and she wants him to stop drinking and 2) when Lori quietly breaks down after they find out the money they saved up for New York is gone.
Glad all the kids seem to have made it out okay, even Maureen who near the end went off the deep end but the end of the book seems to indicate she's doing okay now.

08-04-2017, 05:32 PM
I thought it was particularly unusual that I couldn't hate the parents despite the fact they screwed up so much and did some awful things. You can tell they love their kids and want what's best for them, they're just so flawed and don't really know what's actually best for their kids sometimes (most of the time?)

Yeah, I felt that too. Although, there were points I was thoroughly infuriated with the way they acted. Such as when the dad took her to the bar, or when the mum said she didn't believe in glasses (although that was possibly a money thing more than anything else).

But overall I held no resentment towards them, which is surprising because by all means they were really not good parents.

08-06-2017, 05:30 PM
Why do I bother? Book still hasn't arrived...

08-07-2017, 07:16 PM
Seven days into August, how are we all doing?

As for me, my copy hasn't arrived yet but it'll be here this week, and it is the next book on my queue. Glad to see you all discussing it! Makes me excited to see what I'm missing out on.

08-07-2017, 07:43 PM
STILL waiting on it :(

08-07-2017, 10:03 PM
I think we should decide on September's book soon so we can all get it in time for the start of the month.

08-07-2017, 10:22 PM
Haha, yeah, that might be a plan.

08-07-2017, 10:41 PM
Who's going to pick the next one? :D

08-10-2017, 03:08 PM
My book has finally arrived! Whoo hoo! Has everyone finished this now or what? Stay tuned for my thoughts. I'll put them in spoiler tags just in case.

Also, I'm going to recommend The Man on Platform Five by Robert Llewellyn for September. It should appeal to all you nerds :D

08-10-2017, 03:23 PM
I didn't realize this was becoming a movie! :o

08-10-2017, 03:49 PM
Yes, which is probably why you struggled to get a copy from your library!

08-10-2017, 03:58 PM
Only two more people ahead of me on that library copy so I think i may actually get it in time!

08-10-2017, 04:00 PM
Not if they read at my pace.

08-10-2017, 04:14 PM
It only allows an allotted days as it's an ebook check out so luckily even if they do read slow, it still gets taken from them muahha

08-10-2017, 04:46 PM
And it's only like 230 pages.

08-17-2017, 01:22 PM
Got my copy yesterday! Started reading it today. About 100 pages in.

Goodness me, someone call social services or something. My opinion of them may improve over the rest of the book but currently I have a low opinion of the mother and an even lower opinion of the father. The kids though are pretty fun and toughing it out but damn.

08-17-2017, 01:24 PM
Also, I honestly haven't thought about how people would like to decide who chooses the next month's book. I'm happy to go last in a rotation, but any thoughts on this are very welcome.

Obviously, Jinx has gone first, so whatever way we decide to do it, Jinx is first in the ordering.

08-17-2017, 01:43 PM
Could just do it randomly; assign everyone a number and let a random number generator do the job. Probably the most fair method of picking an order (if people think that matters in a book club :p)

For what it's worth, I'd prefer not to be the one to pick the September one. I have a book in mind but it's longer than the suggestions I've seen so far, plus no idea if it's commonly available at libraries. Given those two factors, I'd rather give people a bigger heads-up than two weeks for my suggestion :p

08-17-2017, 02:39 PM
I almost have the book! One person ahead of me at the library! I would like us to figure out our next one though in case I have to put another hold on it and wait.

I actually have the kingkiller book one, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, on my shelf gathering dust cause I haven't bothered reading it yet for some unknown reason. I know we were just mentioning it in the Game of Thrones thread. It is a little bit of a longer fantasy. That could be a suggestion? I have a few on my shelf I haven't read yet. I tend to buy books to read and then buy more books and never get to the previous ones. I also have The Magicians by Lev Grossman too. Just got that series. (The show is fun)

08-17-2017, 05:12 PM
I don't care if I never choose the book because I join these things to find things to read, I don't know what books exist tbh.

08-17-2017, 07:34 PM
I have the book!

08-18-2017, 06:37 PM
I think everyone being assigned a number works and doing it RNG seems best. I'll go ahead and do an RNG for it and get back to you guys.

Book update: Nearly finished! Final 40 pages. We're getting to the end now.

08-21-2017, 02:20 PM
Oh! I just got it from the library. In the nick of time!

08-21-2017, 02:30 PM
Aaaaaaaand finished! What a read. I'll post my review and rating on the 25th August, which is also the time where full unmarked discussion can take place.

But yeah, I really enjoyed it. Don't worry Freya you've still got a few days to read, and it isn't a really long read either. Only took me three or four reading sessions.

I've looked at what everyone else has put down behind spoilers now, and I've got to agree. If anything I came in too hot on the parents at first, but having read the whole thing they cut earnestly tragic figures: flawed individuals trying to do what's right, but often coming up short. They've still done some pretty awful things, though.

Also, I kinda pegged Maureen as the child who would become the least well adjusted, but I'm glad there's signs that she's doing better in California. She was out of focus for a lot of the book, and I'm glad we got an update on her.

08-21-2017, 07:22 PM
I've looked at what everyone else has put down behind spoilers now, and I've got to agree. If anything I came in too hot on the parents at first, but having read the whole thing they cut earnestly tragic figures: flawed individuals trying to do what's right, but often coming up short. They've still done some pretty awful things, though.

Totally agree, at first I was so angry at the parents but my feelings mellowed out as the book went on as we got to know these people better.

08-21-2017, 07:48 PM
Oh, and I've also randomised the order of people for selecting a book. This is based on the list of sign-ups I got in the sign-ups thread, so here's what I got from Random.org:

1. Jinx
2. Bubba
3. Mr. Carnelian
4. Shauna
5. Karifean
6. WarZidane
7. Freya
8. Bri
9. Formalhaut

So yes, according to this, Bubba *is* the next person to choose a book. My thoughts are, if someone is inactive/doesn't want to pick/has no idea what to pick we can just move on to the next person on the list, and so on. This is just a guide, we can be as flexible as we want with this but I do think some modicum of structure would be good, just so we know where everyone is.

I'll update the opening post of all subsequent (including this one) with this list so we always know where we're at.

08-21-2017, 07:51 PM
It's a tough read for me. Really good, but difficult. My parents weren't like THAT, but I grew up in a household that was often abusive and had two parents with untreated mental illness. So I relate to it in some ways. We also grew up in a shit poor town like Welch, so I completely get the lifestyle she describes.

Rex, I think specifically, was written in such a way that you couldn't outright hate him. It's clear that Jeannette really loved him. Their final scene together had me crying on the R train.

The thing I find most upsetting is how little Maureen was cared for, though. Especially by the other three kids; they all bonded together and Maureen was just forgotten. It's obvious she was born several years after the others. I'm glad she got away, though, and I'm glad she pretty much cut all contact with her family.

Regarding the movie: I haven't seen it yet, but apparently the directors got paintings Rosemary actually painted, so all the art in the movie is really hers! I just think that detail is really neat, and it's also nice to Rosemary (who is still living) who apparently really struggled when the book came out.

08-22-2017, 04:00 PM
I'm halfway through it now and This depressing as fuck. What the hell

08-23-2017, 11:51 PM
Getting through this slowly and it's pretty grim.... not the kind of book I would usually go for. That's what these clubs are all about though! Thanks for the recommendation, Jinx :D

I think my recommendation will be a welcome change of pace for the group. The book I have chosen for September is...

The Man on Platform Five by Robert Llewelyn.


Its been out for years so should be cheap to buy/accessible from your library. It will appeal to both nerds and romantics. If you are both of these then even better :)

Mr. Carnelian
08-24-2017, 03:41 PM
Looks like fun! Sorry I haven't been active up until now, but looking forward to reading your choice and sharing my opinions. :)

08-24-2017, 06:00 PM
Dang, this book isn't easy to find. xD

08-24-2017, 06:22 PM
It is not available on Kindle. WELP.

Not even any means to acquire it otherwise.

08-24-2017, 07:09 PM
Haha, well if people are struggling I can recommend another one :lol:

08-24-2017, 07:29 PM
I mean, I can get it for a penny on Amazon, so I'm not fussed.

08-24-2017, 07:41 PM
My library has a copy, so I can order that in.

I'll make September's thread after the 25th. Just one day left. Tomorrow, I'll post my review of it then alongside more full thoughts.

08-25-2017, 07:31 PM
Right it's the 25th! Unmarked spoilers from here on out.

I think my favourite characters were the children. I loved their 'take no crap' attitude to the many awful situations that befell them during the course of the memoir. Probably my favourite moment involving Brian was when he and Jeannette took on the neighbourhood bullies with an improvised catapult. That bit was fun.

But at other times it was a tough read. Particularly involving the dad's alcoholism. My own mother wasn't nearly as bad as all that, but she had her moments when she'd just get absolutely smashed, and it genuinely scared me. Honestly the kids coped with the whole situation a whole lot better than I could.

Also, I suspect the dad comes off initially worse in most people's estimations but the mother was, I think, nearly or just as bad. She was sitting on land that could've been used to support her family, and she didn't. Having said all that though, both parents came across very sympathetically for me. That final sequence in New York was pretty sad, with the father dying.

I kinda called Maureen going off the rails at some point, mainly because she was conspicuously out of focus for a lot of the memoir. I'm glad she seemed to be doing okay in California.

08-25-2017, 08:30 PM
I'm still about halfway done. The book was depressing me and I am totes not in a good headspace to read more depressing things.

These parents and adults and other children even are all so horrible. The poor kids having to deal with that is just fucking sad.

08-25-2017, 09:05 PM
Yeah, it's pretty bleak. Well written though.

I fly to France tomorrow and always do loads of reading when I'm away. Be done in a few days.

08-28-2017, 12:04 PM
I feel strangely ambivalent to both the mother and father. In some ways, they have excellent qualities and have both come out with some amazing quotes. Things that I would be proud to have said as a father myself.

On the the other hand though, they are quite possibly the worst parents you can imagine. There is no excuse for letting a three-year-old do the cooking, drown an entire bag of cats, allow your daughter to be thrown out of a moving car and not even notice.

08-29-2017, 08:04 PM
I finished sooo...

Ahh no this was a smurfing depressing book and I do strongly dislike the parents. Selfish. Ridiculously selfish. Their children had to suffer and it was never their fault in their eyes.

Yes I dislike them. No I don't have empathy for them. They were bad people. When the grandma tried to assault the grandson, they told them to get over it. When the Uncle did it to the main character, mother didn't do anything about it. Then the dad basically throws his daughter to the wolves and she nearly got assaulted there too.

smurf those people. Glad the kids got out but holy smurf.

Let's not have a depressing book again. Specially when i'm also super smurfing depressed. Not a good combo.

It was well written though. I just hated that all they went through with such horrible parents.

08-29-2017, 09:21 PM
RE: Rose Mary's land

It would have only helped for a time. I dunno if you've been poor. And I mean REALLY poor, not just "poor" by modern standards. There's a mentality you see when you grow up that way, from poor people. When they come into money, they use it on frivolous fun shit. Never something they need. It's basically, they know they'll be living hand-to-mouth regardless. Might as well have something nice, eh? Your circumstances aren't going to change, the only difference is you'll be covered for a month or two less than if you had saved it for necessities.

So I don't think Rose Mary selling her land and using it would have really benefited them in a meaningful way. Especially based on habits they had as a kid. They would have bought a new house or car or clothes, maybe. They would have been fed for awhile, sure. But they would have spent it all on stuff they didn't need, and they would have been dirt poor again eventually. Maybe not for a few months, but it would have happened.

And I understand I say this with scorn, and I'm not apologizing for that. I had parents who did that. OH FINALLY GOT SOME MONEY, instead of paying bills or buying your child more than one pair of pants, let's get a gaming system. OH GOT SOME MONEY, instead of paying off the bills you illegally took out in your child's name and tanking her credit, let's get iPads.

It's not that I think poor people don't deserve nice things or that I think they're poor because they make bad choices. But if you grow up in and around poverty, you begin to see a different way of thinking about survival and money.