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Dystopian Poll

Hi, readers!

Please find below the poll for our upcoming genre: dystopia. All books are over 100,000 words, so they will be read over the course of a month rather than two weeks. I’m open to genre and book recommendations for when we finish dystopia. I thought a zombie one could be pretty fun, but let me know if you have alternative thoughts!

Happy reading!

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

103,000 words

Two teens must learn the “art of killing” in this Printz Honor–winning book, the first in a chilling new series from Neal Shusterman, author of the New York Times bestselling Unwind dystology.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery: humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now Scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Scythe is the first novel of a thrilling new series by National Book Award–winning author Neal Shusterman in which Citra and Rowan learn that a perfect world comes only with a heavy price.

The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin

130,000 words

Three-time Hugo Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author N.K. Jemisin crafts her most incredible novel yet, a “glorious” story of culture, identity, magic, and myths in contemporary New York City.

In Manhattan, a young grad student gets off the train and realizes he doesn’t remember who he is, where he’s from, or even his own name. But he can sense the beating heart of the city, see its history, and feel its power.

In the Bronx, a Lenape gallery director discovers strange graffiti scattered throughout the city, so beautiful and powerful it’s as if the paint is literally calling to her.

In Brooklyn, a politician and mother finds she can hear the songs of her city, pulsing to the beat of her Louboutin heels.

And they’re not the only ones.

Every great city has a soul. Some are ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York? She’s got six.

Followers by Megan Angelo

117,000 words

An electrifying story of two ambitious friends and the dark choices they make to become internet famous.

Orla Cadden is a budding novelist stuck in a dead-end job, writing clickbait about movie-star hookups and influencer yoga moves. Then Orla meets Floss—a striving, wannabe A-lister—who comes up with a plan for launching them both into the high-profile lives they dream about. So what if Orla and Floss’s methods are a little shady—and sometimes people get hurt? Their legions of followers can’t be wrong.

Thirty-five years later, in a closed California village where government-appointed celebrities live every moment of the day on camera, a woman named Marlow discovers a shattering secret about her past. Despite her massive popularity—twelve million loyal followers—Marlow dreams of fleeing the corporate sponsors who would do anything to keep her on-screen. When she learns that her whole family history is based on a lie, Marlow finally summons the courage to run in search of the truth, no matter the risks.

Followers traces the paths of Orla, Floss and Marlow as they wind through time toward each other, and toward a cataclysmic event that sends America into lasting upheaval. At turns wry and tender, bleak and hopeful, this darkly funny story reminds us that even if we obsess over famous people we’ll never meet, what we really crave is genuine human connection.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

103,000 words

In 2025, with the world descending into madness and anarchy, one woman begins a fateful journey toward a better future.

Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, disease, war, and chronic water shortages. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyperempathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others.

When fire destroys their compound, Lauren’s family is killed and she is forced out into a world that is fraught with danger. With a handful of other refugees, Lauren must make her way north to safety, along the way conceiving a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind.

Vote Here!

What Shall We Read Next?

  • The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin (42%, 5 Votes)
  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler (25%, 3 Votes)
  • Scythe by Neal Shusterman (17%, 2 Votes)
  • Followers by Megan Angelo (17%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 12

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A Few Important Updates

Hi, readers!

I have just a couple of quick updates for you all.

Firstly, we are now introducing Social Saturdays! On weekends where there isn’t an official book club meeting, you are free to join a Zoom call to hang out if you wish. This is for free form conversation, though you of course may use it to discuss books. These will take place on alternating Saturdays at 6pm PST/9pm EDT. The same link as for the official meetings will be used, and as always, do not feel pressured to show up. It is purely casual for anyone who wants it.

We are also introducing a recommendation window! After the book conversation on meeting days has faded out to general conversation, we will have a window where you are free to recommend anything you’ve read lately or would like others to check out. These will not be official book club reads, just something fun for members to look into if interested. I ask for spoilers not to be present during this window, no matter how many people have already read it. Save it for the social day! 😊

Many of you have asked if we can push meeting times back to 6pm PST/9 pm EDT. We will begin this schedule for next meeting (March 27) unless it is not going to work for enough of you. Please message me if this won’t work with your schedule.

Lastly, remember to submit book recommendations for our upcoming genre (dystopia) or any genre in general if you have ideas. The dystopia poll will be up this weekend.

Thank you for all of your suggestions, thoughts, and assistance while we figure out everything. Each of the above points were recommended by several of you, and I’m grateful for your active participation in where this club is going. Reach out if you have any questions or concerns.

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We Are Zooming Away from Discord!

Hello my Rather be Readers!

We are switching away from Discord! All future meetings will be over Zoom, and a big thank you to those who have helped me test it out to ensure it meets our needs. Days and times remain the same: Saturdays at 10 pm Eastern.

Announcements will be sent via (free for you) text message and Telegram. Currently, only North Americans may opt into texts, but we will continue searching for an alternative. If you are not in North America or want Telegram announcements as well as or in place of texts, you may join the channel.

I’m also offering a social Telegram group if anyone is interested. If anything important is discussed in it, that information will be put into the announcements channel. Nobody has to join/participate in it if they aren’t up for it.

This is all pretty new, so I hope you will have patients with me while I navigate it and iron out any wrinkles that might come up.

Please find our new join page here, where you may opt in to what modes you would like.

Thank you all!

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Is It Almost March Already? And Other Actual Book Related Things

Hi readers!

 

Sorry for not updating the blog for the last while! We’ve been trying to sort out better structure for our book selections, and in case you weren’t around for the results, they are as follows:

 

When I put together the polls, wordcount will be listed. If a book is under 100,000 words, we will read the whole thing in two weeks. If the book is over 100,000, we will meet twice as we have for many in the past.

 

The submission poll has a space for you to identify how many weeks a book should be read, so if you can find the wordcount and put that info it, that’d be great. If not, I don’t mind finding it myself. 😊

 

Other than that, it would be very helpful to me if you could send me a message or post in the Discord channel what genre(s) you’d like to see next. I don’t mind selecting one, but I want you to have the chance to read the genres you’d like. Doing this in writing is a quicker and more efficient process than doing it during the meetings, so please send any suggestions my way! Even if you don’t care what we read, that is still valuable information that I’d appreciate.

 

Our genre for next session(s) is nonfiction. I’ve tried to find a variety of books, since I don’t have any of the genre in the submissions. I recognize that there is a wide variety of nonfiction styles, so if you are hoping for a different type, let me know and I’ll consider it for our next meetings.

 

Without further rambling…

 

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks

 

76,000 words

 

If a man has lost a leg or an eye, he knows he has lost a leg or an eye; but if he has lost a self—himself—he cannot know it, because he is no longer there to know it. Dr. Oliver Sacks recounts the stories of patients struggling to adapt to often bizarre worlds of neurological disorder. Here are people who can no longer recognize everyday objects or those they love; who are stricken with violent tics or shout involuntary obscenities; who have been dismissed as autistic or retarded, yet are gifted with uncanny artistic or mathematical talents. If inconceivably strange, these brilliant tales illuminate what it means to be human.

 

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

 

190,000 words

 

In the highly anticipated Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities—and also the faults and biases—of fast thinking, and reveals the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and behavior. The impact of loss aversion and overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the challenges of properly framing risks at work and at home, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning the next vacation—each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems work together to shape our judgments and decisions.

 

Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives—and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Thinking, Fast and Slow will transform the way you think about thinking.

 

Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane

 

136,000 words

 

In Underland, Robert Macfarlane delivers an epic exploration of the Earth’s underworlds as they exist in myth, literature, memory, and the land itself. Traveling through the dizzying expanse of geologic time—from prehistoric art in Norwegian sea caves, to the blue depths of the Greenland ice cap, to a deep-sunk “hiding place” where nuclear waste will be stored for 100,000 years to come—Underland takes us on an extraordinary journey into our relationship with darkness, burial, and what lies beneath the surface of both place and mind.

 

 

Global in its geography and written with great lyricism, Underland speaks powerfully to our present moment. At once ancient and urgent, this is a book that will change the way you see the world.

 

(Quiet) by Susan Cain

 

114,000 words

 

The book that started the Quiet Revolution

 

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society.

 

In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.

 

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

 

45,000 words

 

I read this book four or five years ago and absolutely loved it. I think it  might be too short and perhaps too sad for the club at this time, but I strongly encourage any of you to read it. I’ll include it in the poll just in case. 🙂

 

For readers of Atul Gawande, Andrew Solomon, and Anne Lamott, a profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question ‘What makes a life worth living?’

 

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.

 

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

 

Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.'” When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.

 

Choose Here

 

What shall we read next? (pick two)

  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (35%, 6 Votes)
  • Quiet by Susan Cain (29%, 5 Votes)
  • Underland by Robert Macfarlane (24%, 4 Votes)
  • The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks (6%, 1 Votes)
  • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (6%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 9

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Contemporary Fiction Poll

Hi, readers!

 

I’ve been pretty busy with school and life in general, so I apologize for the delay in opening this poll. I will leave it open until Sunday night to give everyone a chance to vote. You can also vote for two books, because we have more than usual.

 

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

 

96,000 words

 

A poignant, charming novel about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined.

 

Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix up their own marriage. There’s a wealthy banker who has been too busy making money to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world.

 

Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises, these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in a motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.

 

Humorous, compassionate, and wise, Anxious People is an ingeniously constructed story about the enduring power of friendship, forgiveness, and hope—the things that save us, even in the most anxious of times.

 

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

 

100,000 words

 

No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine

 

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding unnecessary human contact, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

 

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen, the three rescue one another from the lives of isolation that they had been living. Ultimately, it is Raymond’s big heart that will help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one. If she does, she’ll learn that she, too, is capable of finding friendship—and even love—after all.

 

Smart, warm, uplifting, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .

 

the only way to survive is to open your heart.

 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

 

63,000 words

 

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

 

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.

 

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

 

75,000 words

 

An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

 

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

 

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

 

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.

 

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

 

201,000 words

 

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last – inexorably – into evil.

 

Vote Here!

 

Please select two books.

 

What Shall We Read Next?

  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (33%, 8 Votes)
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (21%, 5 Votes)
  • Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (17%, 4 Votes)
  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (17%, 4 Votes)
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt (13%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 12

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Memoir Selection and Future Information

Hi, readers!

 

I really need to create better titles for these blog posts, but considering the files in my documents folder named “untitled”, “untitled2”, and “new untitled thing”, it’s just not going to happen.

 

Anyway, thank you to those who attended our last meeting. The thriller genre is one with which I am very familiar, and I enjoyed exploring it with you. We were originally planned to read a second thriller since the first was so short, but a couple of you expressed an interest in a lighter read.

 

We have our next meeting on January 30, and, unless anyone is opposed to it, I think we can read one of our selections fully by then.

 

While our genre is memoir/biography, I received two types of submissions: lighthearted, short ones and heavier, longer ones. I decided that we can do one of the former now and revisit one of the latter afterword, because both types are absolutely worth reading.

 

Thank you to those who submitted books; it’s incredibly helpful to have input from you!

 

Some Important Notes

 

  • The book submissions form now has a place to say whether you think a book can be read in 2 or 4 weeks. I will put the information with the summary so that everyone can vote accordingly. This does mean that I may need to do some future planning and have books prepared for the next session’s poll, so I encourage you to submit books you’d like to read no matter what genre they are.
  • There is no longer a book submissions Discord channel. Please put all submissions in the Google form! It is much easier for me to keep track this way.
  • Over the next few days, please think about the club and what you would like to see happen its future. I am going to create a survey to get your thoughts and opinions, so this is your chance to tell me what you love and hate.
  • One of our members, Nick, is starting a writing club! You can find the Discord server here.
  • I originally was going to include Hyperbole and a Half in our poll, but it’s extremely short so replaced it with another book. I did accidentally read about half of it, and I highly recommend it. It’s hilarious and relatable.

 

Book Summaries

 

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

 

(71,000 words)

 

Hemingway’s memories of his life as an unknown writer living in Paris in the twenties are deeply personal, warmly affectionate, and full of wit. Looking back not only at his own much younger self, but also at the other writers who shared Paris with him – James Joyce, Wyndham Lewis, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald – he recalls the time when, poor, happy, and writing in cafes, he discovered his vocation. Written during the last years of Hemingway’s life, his memoir is a lively and powerful reflection of his genius that scintillates with the romance of the city.

 

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

 

(76,000 words)

 

In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book, Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book full of words to live by.

 

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

 

(88,000 words)

 

In Furiously Happy, a humor memoir tinged with just enough tragedy and pathos to make it worthwhile, Jenny Lawson examines her own experience with severe depression and a host of other conditions, and explains how it has led her to live life to the fullest:

 

“I’ve often thought that people with severe depression have developed such a well for experiencing extreme emotion that they might be able to experience extreme joy in a way that ‘normal people’ also might never understand. And that’s what Furiously Happy is all about.”

 

Jenny’s readings are standing room only, with fans lining up to have Jenny sign their bottles of Xanax or Prozac as often as they are to have her sign their books. Furiously Happy appeals to Jenny’s core fan base but also transcends it. There are so many people out there struggling with depression and mental illness, either themselves or someone in their family—and in Furiously Happy they will find a member of their tribe offering up an uplifting message (via a taxidermied roadkill raccoon). Let’s Pretend This Never Happened ostensibly was about embracing your own weirdness, but deep down it was about family. Furiously Happy is about depression and mental illness, but deep down it’s about joy—and who doesn’t want a bit more of that?

 

The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek

 

(51,000 words)

 

Longtime Jeopardy! host and television icon Alex Trebek reflects on his life and career.

 

Since debuting as the host of Jeopardy! in 1984, Alex Trebek has been something like a family member to millions of television viewers, bringing entertainment and education into their homes five nights a week. Last year, he made the stunning announcement that he had been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. What followed was an incredible outpouring of love and kindness. Social media was flooded with messages of support, and the Jeopardy! studio received boxes of cards and letters offering guidance, encouragement, and prayers.

 

For over three decades, Trebek had resisted countless appeals to write a book about his life. Yet he was moved so much by all the goodwill, he felt compelled to finally share his story. “I want people to know a little more about the person they have been cheering on for the past year,” he writes in The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life.

 

The book combines illuminating personal anecdotes with Trebek’s thoughts on a range of topics, including marriage, parenthood, education, success, spirituality, and philanthropy. Trebek also addresses the questions he gets asked most often by Jeopardy! fans, such as what prompted him to shave his signature mustache, his insights on legendary players like Ken Jennings and James Holzhauer, and his opinion of Will Ferrell’s Saturday Night Live impersonation. The book uses a novel structure inspired by Jeopardy!, with each chapter title in the form of a question, and features dozens of never-before-seen photos that candidly capture Trebek over the years.

 

Book Poll

 

What shall we read next?

  • Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson (45%, 5 Votes)
  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler (36%, 4 Votes)
  • The Answer Is... by Alex Trebek (18%, 2 Votes)
  • A Movable Feast by Earnest Hemmingway (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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A New Year and a New Book!

Hi readers, and happy 2020-is-almost-over!

 

Whether you have had the best year, the worst year, or somewhere in between, I am infinitely grateful for you and hope that this club has brought you some happiness. It certainly has for me.

 

I know several of us took the last one or two meetings off in favor of spending time with family or focusing on some lighter reads, but I would like to give a big shout-out to those who read and discussed Surface Detail. It was, by far, the longest and most in depth conversation a book has garnered so far. It was a pleasure to observe the passion and curiosity that went into the discussion. Thank you!

 

I’d like to take this opportunity to reiterate one of the most important parts of the club: nobody is ever under any obligation to read or discuss a book if they are not prepared to do so. You may take as much time off at any point that you need, and you will be welcomed back happily if and when you decide to return. Book clubs have always been a bit iffy for me and many others, because they don’t always read books in which we might have an interest. To put yourself through reading something you don’t want to be reading seems like a big shame to me, considering the goal of the club is to have fun, partake in good conversation, and enjoy learning. If you are not vibing with a book, don’t read it if you’d prefer not to. Reading should not be a chore.

 

Upcoming Information

 

Our first book of 2021 will be a psychological thriller. Please note that many books within this genre contain potentially uncomfortable or distressing content. I have only read one of our selection, so I cannot speak to what the others involve. Please take care of yourself first and foremost, and don’t read if a book seems to cause you unwanted feelings.

 

You will have until the end of January 2nd to vote, and we will have our first meeting on January 16th. You will, as always, find summaries and links below, with the poll at the end.

 

I Know Where She Is by S.B. Caves

 

She will do whatever it takes to bring her daughter home.

 

Ten years ago Francine’s world was destroyed when her daughter was taken. Now, on the anniversary of the abduction, Francine receives an anonymous note containing just five words: I KNOW WHERE SHE IS.

 

What Francine learns next will horrify her.

 

She will discover danger in the most unexpected places.

 

She will do things she never imagined.

 

And she will stop at nothing to uncover the truth.

 

An explosive thriller perfect for fans of Karin Slaughter and Linwood Barclay.

 

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

 

Anna Fox lives alone, a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

 

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother and their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

 

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

 

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager 

 

What was it like? Living in that house.

 

Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.

 

Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.

 

In the latest thriller from New York Times bestseller Riley Sager, a woman returns to the house made famous by her father’s bestselling horror memoir. Is the place really haunted by evil forces, as her father claimed? Or are there more earthbound—and dangerous—secrets hidden within its walls?

 

 

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

 

On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the stunning and mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing very intimate details about themselves. Ted talks about his marriage that’s going stale and his wife Miranda, who he’s sure is cheating on him. Ted and his wife were a mismatch from the start—he the rich businessman, she the artistic free spirit—a contrast that once inflamed their passion, but has now become a cliché.

 

But their game turns a little darker when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she’s done. Lily, without missing a beat, says calmly, “I’d like to help.” After all, some people are the kind worth killing, like a lying, stinking, cheating spouse. . . .

 

Back in Boston, Ted and Lily’s twisted bond grows stronger as they begin to plot Miranda’s demise. But there are a few things about Lily’s past that she hasn’t shared with Ted, namely her experience in the art and craft of murder, a journey that began in her very precocious youth.

 

Suddenly these co-conspirators are embroiled in a chilling game of cat-and-mouse, one they both cannot survive . . . with a shrewd and very determined detective on their tail.

 

January’s Poll

 

Please vote for the book which you would most like to read.

 

What Shall We Read For January?

  • The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson (36%, 5 Votes)
  • I Know Where She Is by S.B. Caves (29%, 4 Votes)
  • The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (29%, 4 Votes)
  • Home Before Dark by Riley Sager (7%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 14

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December’s Poll and Genre selection for the Future

Hello, readers!

 

I don’t know about you all, but this is my favorite time of year. The weather is finally cooler, the rain is coming far more often, and it’s the perfect time to curl up and read with a good book.

 

Except I was totally one of the only people who didn’t even finish the first half of the book for our last meeting. My bad!

 

Anyway, I don’t have much to say this time around. Please vote below for our December book. We’ve got a variety of options which span the sci-fi genre in a few directions. Since it’s such a vast genre, we can do two months (either in a row or split, depending on what you’d prefer) so that we can cover more.

 

Since it’s harder for us to pin down, I’ve I’ve also put up a poll for genres. You can vote for up to three of them, and we will go from there. You will find book summaries and both polls below.

 

Surface Detail (Culture #9) by Iain M. Banks

 

These don’t need to be read in order.

 

It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters. It begins with a murder. It will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself. Lededje Y’breq is one of the Intagliated, her marked body bearing witness to a family shame, her life belonging to a man whose lust for power is without limit. Prepared to risk everything for her freedom, her release, when it comes, is at a price. To put things right she will need the help of the Culture. Benevolent, enlightened and almost infinitely resourceful though it may be, the Culture can only do so much for any individual.

 

With the assistance of one of its most powerful – and arguably deranged – warships, Lededje finds herself heading into a combat zone not even sure which side the Culture is really on.

 

A brutal, far-reaching war is already raging within the digital realms that store the souls of the dead and it’s about to erupt into reality. It started in the realm of the Real & that is where it will end. It will touch countless lives and affect entire civilizations, but at the center of it all is a young woman whose need for revenge masks another motive altogether.

 

A Fire Upon the Deep (Zones of Thought #1) by Vernor Vinge

 

Thousands of years hence, many races inhabit a universe where a mind’s potential is determined by its location in space, from superintelligent entities in the Transcend, to the limited minds of the Unthinking Depths, where only simple creatures and technology can function. Nobody knows what strange force partitioned space into these “regions of thought,” but when the warring Straumli realm use an ancient Transcendent artifact as a weapon, they unwittingly unleash an awesome power that destroys thousands of worlds and enslaves all natural and artificial intelligence.

 

Fleeing the threat, a family of scientists, including two children, are taken captive by the Tines, an alien race with a harsh medieval culture, and used as pawns in a ruthless power struggle. A rescue mission, not entirely composed of humans, must rescue the children-and a secret that may save the rest of interstellar civilization.

 

Red Rising (Red Rising Saga #1) by Pierce Brown

 

“I live for the dream that my children will be born free,” she says. “That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”

 

“I live for you,” I say sadly.

 

Eo kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”

 

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

 

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

 

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

 

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

 

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet  by Becky Chambers

 

Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space-and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe-in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star.

 

Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.

 

Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.

 

Book Poll

 

What book shall we read for December?

  • Surface Detail (Culture #9) by Iain M. Banks (31%, 5 Votes)
  • Red Rising (Red Rising Saga #1) by Pierce Brown (25%, 4 Votes)
  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1) by Becky Chambers (25%, 4 Votes)
  • A Fire Upon the Deep (Zones of Thought #1) by Vernor Vinge (19%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 16

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Genre Poll

 

What genres are you interested in reading over the next few months? (Choose 3)

  • Thriller (18%, 8 Votes)
  • Memoir/Biography/Autobiography (13%, 6 Votes)
  • Paranoid Fiction (13%, 6 Votes)
  • Contemporary Fiction (11%, 5 Votes)
  • Nonfiction (11%, 5 Votes)
  • Sci-Fi (11%, 5 Votes)
  • Romance (9%, 4 Votes)
  • Speculative Fiction (9%, 4 Votes)
  • Self Help (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Other Genre (Put it in the book submissions channel) (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Horror (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 15

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Updated Schedule and November Poll

Hi, readers!

 

Tonight, we met for our midway discussion of The Graveyard Book. It has been probably our lightest read yet, which I think has been refreshing for some of us. Short and sweet, this book was a first in terms of forays into Gaiman’s works for a couple of us, while many of you returned happily to his writing. I know that I speak for more than just myself when I say I have discovered an author from whom I want to read more.

 

Important Info for Future Meetings

 

Since we have a few holidays upcoming, and given how short this book is, we will be meeting next Saturday (October 24) instead of our usual two weeks later. After this, our two week schedule will continue, with our first November meeting occurring on November 7th. This allows everyone to have Halloween and Thanksgiving weekends free.

 

I have posted our November poll below. We are doing LitRPG for November and Sci-Fi for December. Please submit any ideas you may have for the latter and submit your vote for next month!

 

Since we have more options than usual, you are able to vote for more than one book.

 

As always, below are the summaries and page counts of each book. Below them will be the poll. The books range in audio book length from 11.5 to 13.5 hours.

 

The Survival Quest (Way of the Shaman #1) by Vasily Mahanenko

 

Barliona: a virtual world jam-packed with monsters, battles-and, predictably, players. Millions of them come to Barliona, looking forward to the things they can’t get in real life: elves and magic, dragons and princesses, and unforgettable combat. The game has become so popular that players now choose to spend months online without returning home. In Barliona, anything goes: You can assault fellow players, level up, become a mythical hero, a wizard, or a legendary thief. The only rule that attempted to regulate the game demanded that no player be allowed to feel actual pain. But there’s an exception to every rule. For a certain bunch of players, Barliona has become their personal hell. They are criminals sent to Barliona to serve their time. They aren’t in it for the dragons’ gold or the abundant loot. All they want is to survive the virtual inferno. They face the ultimate survival quest.

 

Opening Moves (The Gam3 #1) by Cosimo Yap

 

The Earth is changing. The alien invasion brought social upheaval, advanced technology, and an armada of peacekeeping robots. But Alan, a college student pursuing a now-useless degree, cares little about all of this. He has only one thing on his mind: the Game.

 

A fully immersive virtual reality, the Game appears to be a major part of the invading civilization. Alan can’t wait to play, recklessly diving into the digital universe. Soon though, Alan realizes the Game is anything but simple, and the stakes are higher than he ever imagined.

 

Ritualist (The Completionist Chronicles #1) by Dakota Krout

 

A game that puts all others to shame. Magic that has been banned from the world. A man willing to learn no matter the cost.

 

The decision to start a new life is never an easy one, but for Joe the transition was far from figurative. Becoming a permanent addition to a game world, it doesn’t take long to learn that people with his abilities are actively hunted. In fact, if the wrong people gained knowledge of what he was capable of, assassins would appear in droves.

 

In his pursuit of power, Joe fights alongside his team, completes quests, and delves into the mysteries of his class, which he quickly discovers can only be practiced in secret. Ultimately, his goal is to complete every mission, master every ability, and learn all of the world’s secrets.

 

All he has to do is survive long enough to make that happen.

 

AlterWorld (Play to Live #1) by D. Rus

 

A new pandemic – the perma effect – has taken over Earth of the near future. Whenever you play your favorite online game, beware: your mind might merge with the virtual world and dump its comatose host. Woe be to those stuck forever in Tetris! And still they’re the lucky ones compared to those burning alive eternally within the scorched hulls of tank simulators.

 

But some unfortunates – the handicapped and the terminally ill, shell-shocked army vets, wronged crime victims and other society misfits – choose to flee real life willingly, escaping to the limitless world of online sword and sorcery MMORPGs.

 

Once a seasoned gamer and now a terminal cancer patient, Max grasps at this final chance to preserve his life and identity. So he goes for it – goes for the promise of immortality shared with a few trusty friends and the woman he loves. Together they roam the roads of AlterWorld and sample its agony and ecstasy born of absolute freedom.

 

Welcome to Ludus (Delvers LLC #1) byBlaise Corvin

 

Henry and Jason led normal lives in Seattle before they were abducted to another world. Their kidnapper, the vain, self-styled god Dolos refuses to send them back unless they can accomplish an impossible task. Oddly, Dolos doesn’t seem to care if they succeed or not.

 

Luckily, Henry and Jason studied Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) on Earth. Unfortunately, a Japanese American EMT and a geeky IT programmer don’t have many other useful skills on a sword and sorcery world like Ludus.

 

Stranded in the middle of nowhere on an alien world, the friends have no real direction and only a few possessions including magic-granting orbs from an apathetic god. Undaunted, the two begin their insane adventure to return home, but basic survival and eventually paying rent will have to take priority.

 

Vote Here

 

You may vote for 2 books.

 

What shall we read for November?

  • The Survival Quest (Way of the Shaman #1) by Vasily Mahanenko (36%, 10 Votes)
  • Ritualist (The Completionist Chronicles #1) byDakota Krout (25%, 7 Votes)
  • AlterWorld (Play to Live #1) byD. Rus (18%, 5 Votes)
  • Opening Moves (The Gam3 #1) byCosimo Yap (14%, 4 Votes)
  • Welcome to Ludus (Delvers LLC #1) byBlaise Corvin (7%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 15

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October Read Choices

Hi, readers!

Welcome to fall! Is it time to wake Greenday up?
Ha ha I’m so funny.

Anyway, it is just about time for our October book! I have gotten a few suggestions from you and grabbed a couple of my own that looked interesting, so hopefully we have a good selection from which to choose.

I like to chronicle how our books and conversations turn out, but if you are uninterested in reading my thoughts and summations, feel free to skip down a few headings to where you will find summaries and the poll itself.

Sinister Magic

This book, despite it’s surprisingly positive reviews, did not meet a single one of our expectations or hopes.

Following a middle aged(ish) mom who fights supernatural crimes and apprehends magical criminals, I think there was a lot of room for some great plot and characters. I think we conclusively decided that it fell short in just about every single aspect.

There are quite a few books which follow it up, and there was only vague interest in potentially checking them out. The book had high potential and still has plenty of room to grow and expand to fill in the gaps of our disappointment, but we will have to see if that potential is enough to keep anyone’s interest.

The Rook

We are going to be meeting for our final discussion on this book this Saturday at 10:00 EDT.
So far, the consensus has been positive, interested, and hopeful for a good ending. With good prose, interesting characters, subtle but bright humor, it has been a pretty solid read in a lot of ways.

I already know of a couple of you who have finished it and intend on reading the sequel. I hope it meets your expectations!

Summaries for Our October Choices

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

307 pages
Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a perfectly normal boy. Well, he would be perfectly normal if he didn’t live in a graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the world of the dead.

There are dangers and adventures for Bod in the graveyard: the strange and terrible menace of the Sleer; a gravestone entrance to a desert that leads to the city of ghouls; friendship with a witch, and so much more.

But it is in the land of the living that real danger lurks, for it is there that the man Jack lives and he has already killed Bod’s family.

A deliciously dark masterwork by bestselling author Neil Gaiman, with illustrations by award-winning Dave McKean

The Best of H.P. Lovecraft, by H.P. Lovecraft

406 pages
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”—H.P. Lovecraft

This is the collection that true fans of horror fiction must have: sixteen of H.P. Lovecraft’s most horrifying visions, including:

The Call of Cthulu: The first story in the infamous Cthulhu mythos—a creature spawned in the stars brings a menace of unimaginable evil to threaten all mankind.

The Dunwich Horror: An evil man’s desire to perform an unspeakable ritual leads him in search of the fabled text of The Necronomicon.

The Colour Out of Space: A horror from the skies—far worse than any nuclear fallout—transforms a man into a monster.

The Shadow Over Innsmouth: Rising from the depths of the sea, an unspeakable horror engulfs a quiet New England town.

Plus twelve more terrifying tales!

The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

421 pages
Hannibal Lecter. The ultimate villain of modern fiction. Read the five-million-copy bestseller that scared the world silent. The Silence of the Lambs. A young FBI trainee. An evil genius locked away for unspeakable crimes. A plunge into the darkest chambers of a psychopath’s mind–in the deadly search for a serial killer. – back cover

Intensity by Dean Koontz

436 pages
Past midnight, Chyna Shepard, twenty-six, gazes out a moonlit window, unable to sleep on her first night in the Napa Valley home of her best friend’s family. Instinct proves reliable. A murderous sociopath, Edgler Foreman Vess, has entered the house, intent on killing everyone inside. A self-proclaimed “homicidal adventurer,” Vess lives only to satisfy all appetites as they arise, to immerse himself in sensation, to live without fear, remorse or limits, to live with “intensity.” Chyna is trapped in his deadly orbit.

Chyna is a survivor, toughened by a lifelong struggle for safety and self-respect. Now she will be tested as never before. At first her sole aim is to get out alive–until, by chance, she learns the identity of Vess’s next intended victim, a faraway innocent only she can save. Driven by a newly discovered thirst for meaning beyond mere self-preservation, Chyna musters every inner resource she has to save an endangered girl…as moment by moment, the terrifying threat of Edgler Foreman Vess intensifies.

 

Vote Here!

 

What Shall We Read for October?

  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. (54%, 7 Votes)
  • The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris (31%, 4 Votes)
  • The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre by H.P. Lovecraft (8%, 1 Votes)
  • Intensity by Dean Koontz (8%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 13

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