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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