I am a part of a book club with 10 or so other friends, and 2014 was our second year together.
At the beginning of each year we all nominate 4 books, we each get one shoe-in (although everyone has absolute veto power), then we discuss and vote on the rest. Each month a different member is the host; they feed us and we drink and have lively conversations.
I spent 4 years reading almost nothing but classics, with a special affinity for Russian literature. This group has made me read books I never would otherwise and I love that!
My thoughts, in the order in which we read them:
“Pale Fire” by Vladimir Nabakov — N/A — I did not make it very far into this book. It felt a little tedious at the time, though I’d love to still read it one of these days.
“The Interestings” by Meg Wolitzer — ★☆☆☆☆ — This book was anything but interesting. It partly hinges on the idea that one of the main characters is “the funny one” but she is not, which makes the rest of it kind of fall apart.
“A Super Sad True Love Story” by Gary Shteyngart — ★★★☆☆ — I kept waiting for this book to get super sad, and it never really does. But in the meantime, it’s an amusing and interesting idea of the future, including the over-saturation of technology and obsession with beauty and youth.
“Oryx and Crake” by Margaret Atwood — ★★★★☆ — I loved this book. It’s the first of the MaddAddam trilogy, which I quickly read all of. It’s an interesting and strangely beautiful idea of the future including the propagation of diseases to assist natural selection.
“Salt: A World History” by Mark Kurlansky — ★☆☆☆☆ — This book was so boring. It seems like it wouldn’t be so difficult to write about history in a compelling way (Jared Diamond and Erik Larson do it very well!) but this book definitely did not.
“The Lowland” by Jhumpa Lahiri — N/A — I didn’t read this book; it was just one of those months. But it’s still waiting for me on my bedside table!
“Who Fears Death” by Nnedi Okorafor — ★★★★★ — This was my second favorite book of the year. I didn’t finish it in time for that month’s meeting, so parts of the ending were spoiled for me but I plowed through it soon afterwards and loved it.
“The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P” by Adele Waldman — ★★★☆☆ — This book was entertaining but didn’t have a lot of depth. Well, it delved into the mind of a man in his playboy prime but in a way that, as a girl, was very disheartening.
“The Witches of Eastwick” by John Updike — ★★☆☆☆ — I didn’t totally finish this book because I got so bored, but made it far enough through to judge it.
“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor — N/A — I didn’t read this either, even though it was a short story and would have taken no time at all. I bought it in an anthology with all of her short stories and I hope to read them soon.
“Battling Boy” by Paul Pope — ★★☆☆☆ — We have read graphic novels in December for the last two years. I find myself reading through them so quickly that I hardly pay attention to the illustration, which is the best part of the book.
“Burial Rites” by Hannah Kent — ★★★★★ — This was my favorite book of the year, hands down. Though it’s a fairly bleak story set in northern Iceland in the 1820s, Hannah’s writing style is so smooth and lyrical, it was hard to put it down. I have had a fascination with Iceland for a long time and I very much want to visit.
We are starting off this year with another Margaret Atwood novel called “The Handmaid’s Tale.” At our next meeting we will be deciding on books for the rest of the year and welcoming a couple new members. Do you have any recommendations?
I love keeping track of books on Goodreads. Find me there and be my friend!