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Just like last year, I mentioned that over the weekend we got the list of recommended books for the next batch of Bookworm picks to choose from. Last time it was 31 books long, this year, it was THIRTY-SIX.

I had originally sent in 5 recommendations (same as last year) but then Megsie recommended a book to me that I thought sounded perfect for book group, so I sent it in as well.

Our organizer requested that we choose nine books and send in our picks by November 15. Never one to procrastinate when it comes to lists or books or voting, I sent mine in the next day, but because I wanted to vote for my own six recommendations, that meant I could only choose THREE other books from the list of thirty left over. It was even harder because, for once, there were very few books on the list that I have already read. That is not usually the case.

Our AWC year runs from September 1 to August 31st and we are already out of sync with it as it's now November and we still have 3 books left from the last batch, which will take us into February. Because we meet every 6 or so weeks, with a longer break in the summer, that means that we won't be finished with the NEW batch of books until well into 2016! Yoicks!

Anyway, here's the list, in case you're interested or looking for something to read!
Key: blue=recommended/voted for by me. green=voted for by me. yellow=already read

1. Love Life, by Ray Kluun
2. The Dead Fathers Club by Matt Haig
3. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
4. Before Ever After: A Novel by Samantha Sotto
5. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
6. The Bees by Laline Paull

7. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
8. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
9. The Circle by Dave Eggers
10. The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore
11. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
12. The Mockingbird Next Door by Marja Mills
13. Box Girl: My part time job as an art installation by Lillibet Snellings
14. The Last Summer of the Camperdowns, by Elizabeth Kelly
15. Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs
16. Mothers and Sons Stories by Com Toibin
17. The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
18. The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch
19. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver
20. Mademoiselle de Maupin by Théophile Gautier
21. NW by Zadie Smith
22. Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman
23. Americanah by Chiamanda Ngozi Adichie
24. The Life of a Banana by PP Wong
25. Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned" by Lena Dunham
26. Vivienne Westwood by Vivienne Westwood and Ian Kelly
27. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
28. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
29. The Fault in our Stars by John Green
30. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
31. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
32. The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane
33. The Unamericans by Molly Antopol
34. To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris
35. All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu
36. England and Other Stories by Graham Swift

Lots of good stuff to choose from, for sure! But I will bet you five bucks that The Fault in Our Stars gets voted in.
mood: relaxed
music: Kate Havnevik—Halo


Lots of great ideas, there. I should bookmark this post for when grad school is done next month -- then I can go back to being a reading fiend!

I can't imagine ever NOT being a reading fiend!

Sadly, grad school pretty much cancels out reading for fun... :-(

From Megsie

My students really loved The Other Wes Moore, as do I obviously. It is a quick read, but SO much to think about. I also have The Glass Castle as a "book club" book for my students. The students in that group are LOVING it, and I did too. I literally looked up The Rosie Project TODAY. There was a slip of paper on my desk with just the title and when a student came to my office hour today he asked me, "What is this?" and I had no idea. It sounds good, and I may have to add it to my ever growing pile.

My next theme that I will begin working on for this new class that I am teaching will be "Americana." I already have one class text chosen. It was written by a history professor, and it is called Our Declaration. I need at least one other class text and FIVE book club books for this theme. So. There is one thing on my list! But, I thought I could check out Americanah by Chiamanda Ngozi Adichie or maybe The Unamericans by Molly Antopol? Even Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman might fit?

Any suggestions from the expert?

Re: From Megsie

Americana? OY, that's a hard one. Does it matter from what era? And is more of a FEELING you are after?

The Unamericans is a collection of short stories.

The blurb for Americanah is: a story of love and race centered around a young man and woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home.

The blurb for Pigeon English is: exposes the hidden, violent, underbelly of urban poor and immigrant communities

Here's some that might work:
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
What's So Great About America by Dinesh D'Souza
The Bondwoman's Narrative by Hannah Crafts, Henry Louis Gates
The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson
American Pastoral by Philip Roth (disclaimer: I disliked this book)
Typical American by Gish Jen
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury (!)
The Living by Annie Dillard
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Re: From Megsie

Wowza!!! This is a great list! I am really not sure of the focus yet. I am still trying to get a hold of the current theme that I am teaching! I know that I would want it to be uplifting in the end...inspiring. But in the middle? I think it does good to be honest. Look at the dirt underneath so you have some bearing of how you need to work to get through the muck. THANK YOU for the list! I will put them into my future planning pile. And if you ever run across anything and think of me...let me know!

My goal is to have 4 themes that I can rotate each semester, that way I won't get bored, and the students who make the unfortunate decision to take MY course again will at the very least get a different set of books to read!


I'd be interested in what you thought about The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt if you get to read it. I so looked forward to reading it and did so over the summer. I won't say what I thought, but the fate of that Ken Follett book springs to mind.

The Glass Castle I loved as I did Americanah, The Rosie Project, Bel Canto, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The Bees and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

Mothers and Sons is also great. In fact anything by Com Toibin gets my vote. I'm intrigued by the title of The Life of a Banana, but then I'm shallow and easily amused.

The others I'll have to check out.

Hrm... now you've got me worried, though I loved Pillars of the Earth, so there's that. I like The Secret History, but not The Little Friend, so we'll see.

I've had The Glass Castle on my wish list for quite some time.

Ha, ha, we'll have to agree to disagree about Pillars of the Earth.

I loved The Secret History with its use of the Dionysian ritual theme as a vehicle for murder. I found it dazzlingly original, haunting, exciting, well paced, intricate, atmospheric and profoundly frightening. Although I think that Vargas Llosa wrote on much the same theme with more visceral impact in Death in the Andes. I never understood Little Friend, hated it and if anyone can explain it to me I would be grateful.

I looked forward to the new book, partly because of Carel Fabritius wonderful picture. I have never seen the actual painting of The Goldfinch, only reproductions, but how could anyone fail to be fascinated, saddened and charmed by such an image?

Anyway, as I began the book, I was expecting something like Carlos Ruiz Zafón's Shadow of the Wind (which I did enjoy, even though it was a tad too Dan Brown for my liking) and the beginning was fabulous. I whizzed through the first couple of hundred pages, barely stopping to put it down. Then we came to Vegas...

But even in the parts I liked, I thought the book needed serious editing. This seems to be a growing trend and to be honest I am beginning to resent the "bigger than the New York phone book" trend of recent novels. Why? Very few seem to have exercised the restraint, skill and craft of many shorter works.

But this may also be a book we agree to disagree about. Time will tell.

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