Chapter 34 - Everything I Never Told You
The best things about book clubs are that they take you out of your reading comfort zone and you get to talk about books. Usually, if the book club is good, the discussions that come out of the book make the reader think a bit about the characters, the storyline, and what the author was trying to convey. If you are in a book club I know you don't always love the books the club decides on. More often than not, the discussion was what counted in the end.
I am very lucky in that I take part in two good book clubs, one at Bookends and the other is the Myrtle Beach book club. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to HAVE to read a book during the month especially if I'm not particularly taken with the concept of the book. For me this would fall in the realm of Science Fiction primarily, although there have been many of those I've enjoyed. My own personal rule is to read the book and to finish it even if I don't love it. Also, I never go to the book club meeting not having read the book.
Anyway here are some great book club books which generated terrific discussion. I can't say I loved them all but I'm glad I read them.
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga - This was a 2008 Man Booker prize winner and has recently been released as a movie. Balram Halwai is a poor Indian villager whose ambition has him becoming an entrepreneur. Balram finds out that the premier of China is to be visiting India and over a series of seven nights he writes to him to tell him the story of how he became an entrepreneur. This book club discussion included caste, honesty, what people have to do to survive and the author's method of storytelling.
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury - This book was a Myrtle Beach book club selection and started as a series of short stories but was compiled into a book in 1950. It chronicles the exploration and settlement of Mars. Bradbury's futuristic look relies on the past to imagine what these actions could look like. Themes we discussed were colonization, racism, home sickness, and prejudice.
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold - Susie Salmon is 14 when she was murdered. From her view in heaven she watches her family grieve and her murderer attempt to cover his tracks. While the story is a horrendous one, there is still joy and hope within it. Discussions included the afterlife, how a family deals with a trauma such as that, and what is justice.
Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan - This was a Bookends book club book. Every summer the Kellehers go to their summer home in Maine. It is a place of memories, heartache, and secrets. Alice, the matriarch, is a fierce woman, not sure she ever should have had children to begin with. Maggie, her granddaughter is 32 and pregnant and, single. Kathleen, Maggie's mother, has vowed never to set foot in the cottage again and Ann Marie, Alice's daughter-in-law takes out her frustrations by designing and building doll houses.
The discussions around this book were about family, mother/daughter relations, secrets, regrets, and how a life can be changed by a single event.
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance - Vance's memoir is a sociological study of the culture of the white working class family. After his grandparents moved from Kentucky to Ohio to move away from their families and worked their way into a middle class life they never fully escape the alcoholism, abuse, and poverty so interwoven into their culture. Discussions here were around generational poverty, money, economic inequality, and how to instill personal agency into a society.
Have you read any book club books that you can recommend?