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The organizer for our AWC book group sent out an email yesterday asking everyone to send in their recommendations for next year's book list. We all nominate 3-5 books and then, after we get the whole list, we vote on which ones we want to read, and the top 8-9 chosen are the next batch we read.

We still have three books left in the current list, so I actually think this is a little premature, but our organizer wanted to get the voting done before Christmas so people could include the winners on their wish lists. We are reading Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck in November, Orange is the New Black in the beginning of January, and Gone, Girl in mid-February. Maybe instead of 8-9 books, we should only choose 6, otherwise we'll be well into 2016 before it's time to vote again.

We meet every 6 weeks approximately, with sometimes a bit of a longer stretch in the summer and during the Christmas holidays. I've been a member of the book group since the AWC started... nearly 17 years. If the AWC didn't exist, I'd probably have to start it, just so I could have an English-speaking, English-book-reading book group. Many of the people who consistently come to book group consider it the best evening of the's grown quite a bit, but nearly everyone in it is someone I consider my kind of people. Nobody wants to miss book group, even if they haven't read the book.

We keep a list (I keep the list, actually, much to your surprise, I'm sure) on the website of all the books we've read. The first twenty or so books on the list don't have the month we read them listed, but I'm pretty sure it would have been in 1998, as the club began in November 1997 and book group was one of the first activities to be organized. The first book we read was Typical American by Gish Jen. I don't remember it at all, and wonder if I was actually participating in that first meeting. According to the website, we've read 133 books.

The vast majority are, of course, fiction, but we've read a lot of non-fiction, autobiographies, memoirs, and classics as well. There are a handful of books on the list that I didn't read, on purpose, because I didn't like the subject and didn't want it in my head. There are a lot of Oprah books on the list and best sellers... many of which I only read because of book group...I would never have picked them up otherwise.

We've had a couple of theme nights. One for classic fairy tales, where we shared our childhood favorites and talked about why they remain so popular. One theme night was on Women & Oppression and we had 3 books to choose from. One recent one was an author theme: we all read books by Geraldine Brooks and discussed them. It required a bit more work but was a fascinating discussion even though all of us managed to read different books! There were a few books over the years that EVERYONE disliked and have become inside jokes among the members of the group. Used copies of them pop up every now and then in our annual media sale and we all laugh and try to convince unsuspecting non-book-club members to buy them.

I just sent in my list of 5 nominations, after spending over an hour perusing my books-to-buy list and Amazon. None of them are books I've read and all of them are books I want to read. I struggled a bit, because I thought maybe I should put some classics on that I haven't read and feel like I should, but I finally gave up and put books on that I just really, really want to read. The last time we did this, the list to vote on was 31 books long and it was REALLY hard.

And inevitably, I'm disappointed, because books that I don't want to read are ALWAYS voted in. But also, inevitably, some of them end up being worth it.

Anyway, these are my 5 nominations:
The Dead Fathers Club by Matt Haig
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Before Ever After: A Novel by Samantha Sotto
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
The Bees by Laline Paull

What 5 books would you recommend?
mood: calm
music: Nina Gordon—Tonight and the Rest of My Life

From Megsie

OH! Stiff is on my list and I haven't read Bel Canto either, and I have a copy in MY CAR right now! Weird. I would recommend The Other Wes Moore. I am forcing my students to read it right now, and they seeeeeeeemmmmm to be loving it, or they want me to like them. Who knows? I loved it. I can't wait to check back here! Yay! Books!

Re: From Megsie

I've read two of Mary Roach's books so far and she's fantastic. Now I'm off to look up The Other Wes Moore!

Re: From Megsie

oooh! The Other Wes Moore looks fascinating. I just sent it as another nomination (if she'll let me have 6!)

Edited at 2014-10-15 06:47 pm (UTC)

Re: From Megsie

Oh! I hope you guys like it!

I love that the words I have to type to prove I am human (below) are "you rock!" Perfect!

The Mary Roach book is extremely interesting, although perhaps not for anyone who is squeamish. I've got a copy in my permanent collection.

I have read her books Gulp and Spook... she's EXCELLENT.

I've read Bel Canto and The Bees. The last one I really, really liked, even though I was reluctant to read it as it's more of a "Liz book" than something I'd choose. If it gets chosen, I'm sure it will spark a lively discussion.

I haven't read the other three. I'm sort of intrigued by the Mary Roach, but seeing Carolyn said it wasn't for the squeamish, I might pass. The others I will check out.

I'd love to be part of a Book Club (as long as it wasn't anything like that damn "Jane Austen Book Club" - I'd have to kill everyone, in that case.) but alas there is nothing like that anywhere near here. Still, I read like a fiend and enjoy what I read, though the chance to hear other points of view would be great. And to eat cake of course :-)

Hmmm.. books to add. These are a few that I want to read and which might be suitable for group discussion:

Honor and Polygamy by Omar Farhad
The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee
How To Be Both by Ali Smith
The Great Glass Sea by Josh Weil
The Lobster Kings by Alexi Zentner

Did you like Bel Canto? I put The Bees on the list because of your recommendation.

Also, don't be put off by "squeamish"... Roach is an EXCELLENT, hilariously funny writer. Trust me.

Now I have to go look up all the books you recommended!!

I was a bit split about Bel Canto. I found it a bit hard to get into, but after a hundred pages or so when the Stockholm Syndrome started to appear it became quite gripping as you watched connections being formed and them building a brand new kind of life together. You know that it can't last, but you wish it could. The writing was beautiful and I loved the idea of people setting aside their differences and seeing each other's humanity.

If you had six picks, then so can I!

I'll add A girl is a half-formed thing by Eimear McBride.

How to Be Both looks right up my alley :)


Bel Canto is WONDERFUL!!!! You must read it!


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