It’s 2019 and we’re well past the first-month mark. How are your New Year’s resolutions coming along? Did you decide to get involved in a book club?
“I would,” you may reply, “but I don’t like book club books. They’re just too … book clubby.”
I hear you. While I enjoy books that make it into reader circles for discussion — and, let’s face it, many are adapted into movies and TV shows, like these and these — even I would be disheartened if I had to read and discuss those types of books every month. Sometimes, I like to explore books that not everyone else is reading.
With that in mind, Douglas County Libraries has begun to diversify our Book Club Express collection. You may have noticed a title or two that are just a little different from what you expected. After dipping our toes into the water and finding it not painful, we’re going full-out this year. For each “traditional” Book Club Express title, we aim to also add something unexpected, a goal you may remember from my last post on the same topic.
Here’s a preview of some of the Book Club Express items hitting the shelves this quarter.
by John Lewis
It’s a memoir in graphic novel format. Yes, it’s technically aimed at teens, but this series has scored well among adults, from boomers who watched or participated in the civil rights movement to millennial activists who are researching prominent American protest movements.
If you’ve never read a graphic novel, don’t be put off. This story comes in a set of three books in one slipcase. The first book is slim, allowing you to find your footing while learning to read the words and the illustrations simultaneously. Warning: The print in Book One is really small, which could prove to be frustrating. However, the second and third books are lettered better and you’ll have your pacing down by then, so the overall experience should be more enjoyable. Give it a shot — it’s a phenomenal recollection of historical events that are still relevant in today’s political environment.
Farming: A Hand Book
by Wendell Berry
Coming soon! This older book of poetry was written by environmental conservationist/English professor-turned-farmer Wendell Berry. You may ask: Why on earth would anyone read poetry for a book club selection? I ask in response: Why wouldn’t you?
To be honest, I burned myself out on poetry in college. I was working on my degree in English and felt all soul-tortured and angst-ridden so I reveled in poems that expressed the general misery that accompanies life. (Oh, Poe, how deliciously morbid you are!) I wrote scads of terrible poems that I have since disposed of because if I am ever famous, I do not want those to come back and haunt me. So believe me when I say that if I were in a book club and they told me we were reading a book of poems for our next selection, I would make gagging sounds and plan to have an appendectomy that day.
That’s why I chose a slim volume. While it may be more comfortable to shy away from something that seems unpleasant, I encourage you to try it anyway; try something different, something that will make your brain think in ways you’re not so used to thinking. Spring starts at the end of this quarter. As our thoughts turn from holing up in warm rooms under piles of blankets to playing in the mud and watching green things poke up through the earth, celebrate with the reading and discussing of poems that glorify nature and community. Also, this book is 118 pages. It gives you plenty to talk about but won’t bog you down with long passages and endless days of reading.
More Speculative Fiction
Book club books tend toward the literary, examining things like domestic relationships, personal growth, and life in general. However, there are a lot of discussable books out there in genres like science fiction, fantasy, dystopian fiction, and other “let’s pretend the world looks like this” types.
by Josh Malerman
Last year, I added Bird Box, a psychological horror story about a young woman trying to survive disaster by literally not seeing.
by N.K. Jemisin
Also added last year was the Hugo Award winner The Fifth Season, a sci-fi/fantasy(ish) piece set in the far future, wherein two incredible acts of violence set off natural disasters, introducing a season of death, as well as a quest for vengeance and maybe redemption.
The Sudden Appearance of Hope
by Claire North
This year, The Sudden Appearance of Hope will make its debut as a Book Club Express kit. I hope you take the time to read it when it becomes available because there’s so much to talk about in this genre-blending novel about a woman in the corporate-controlled, self-involved near future who cannot be remembered.
Do any of these pique your interest? If so, add them to your group’s reading list or join a book club and suggest checking them out, or start your own reading group! The American Library Association put together this quick start guide for doing just that.
Want to see what else we have available as a Book Club Express kit? Find out here!