9/1/13 – THE BOOKS I MISSED READING LAST YEAR
I’ve been so submerged in the process of writing a new novel that I’ve missed pretty much every one of my monthly book club meetings over the past year—and, alas, many of the books that went with them. When I finally came up for air, I found myself gasping for fresh reading material, and I figured the ladies of my longstanding book club could rescue me.
I figured correctly.
The club not only came back with some terrific book recommendations, but also a slew of responses about reading, our book club, and books clubs in general. The depth and generosity of response didn’t surprise me. I’m unfailingly awed by the wide-ranging and original insights that come out of this group in spite of (or perhaps because of?) the quantity of Chardonnay consumed in an average gathering.
This group of women has read and discussed nearly 200 books together since its founding. Over the years they have also watched each other’s babies grow into teenagers and teenagers grow into adults; helped each other celebrate births, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and marriages; supported each other’s business ventures, fundraising appeals, and assorted quixotic missions; and, at the drop of an email, provided countless home-cooked meals, rides, emergency happy hours, and other forms of TLC for medical procedures, surgeries, illnesses, divorces, job losses, deaths, and other life crises big and small.
So I wasn’t surprised by the quality and quantity of the responses. However, the responses went so above and beyond what I can include in a single blog that I’ll have to feature them in installments. For now, here are some of the club’s most popular reads, plus some favorites from year’s past (a few of which I was actually around to read—whew!):
My Book Club’s Favorite Books 2012-13
Oldies but Goodies
- Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Luis Zafón
- Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- Room by Emma Donoghue
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
- Sarah’s Key by Tatiani de Rosnay
- Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
- The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
- The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
- Wild Swans by Jung Chung
- Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
- The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
- I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
- Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
- The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
- Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
- Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
There were also some individual favorites. Kasia singled out Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the club’s most recent book, while Dee said she particularly enjoyed Kathryn Stockett‘s The Help for its non-fiction-like ability to teach her something. Patience particularly liked Tom Perrotta‘s novel The Leftovers, not only because of the quality of its prose but also because the plot gave the group “a lot to consider.” I can confirm this because this was one of the few book club selections this year that I actually managed to read and discuss.
I’ll report back soon with this group’s thoughts on what makes a good book club read (as opposed to a good read in general) and what makes a good book club. In the meantime, I’ve got some catch-up reading to do.