Being stuck inside does not mean our weekly book club chats need to stop. We’ll just learn to be creative under these new social distancing constraints. Set up a virtual chat, grab your e-reader and a glass of wine because the book club show must go on! Download one of these book club picks for this spring to get the conversation started.
Remote Reading: 10 Book Club Books We’re Discussing Virtually This Spring
This instant bestseller by superstar author Jennifer Weiner is a must read for your book club. Mrs. Everything chronicles the life of sisters Jo and Bethie Kaufman from the girls’ childhood in the 1950’s to present. In their early lives, the girls both have their roles to play; Bethie is pretty and feminine. Jo is a rebellious tomboy. But the truth, and their futures, are much more complicated. In Mrs. Everything, you’ll go on the journey of a lifetime through incredible historical events, seen through the eyes of two sisters who are just trying to be themselves in a world that wants them to be something else.
In this instant New York Times bestseller and “multigenerational narrative that’s nothing short of brilliant” (People), two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present are explored as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world from #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner.
Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.
Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.
But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?
In “her most sprawling and intensely personal novel to date” (Entertainment Weekly), Jennifer Weiner tells a “simply unputdownable” (Good Housekeeping) story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?
Mary Beth Keane’s stunning novel details the lives of two rookie cops, Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, and the events that tie their two families together for generations. The two men coincidentally become neighbors when they buy houses next door to each other in the suburbs, but a hope of friendship between the two couples is quickly shattered. But even family hostilities can’t stop the friendship, and later romance, between the Stanhopes’ son and the Gleesons’ youngest daughter; not even when an act of violence drives thee Stanhopes away, seemingly for good. Ask Again, Yes is a beautiful story of love and redemption, and is an absolute can’t miss.
Acclaimed writer Mary Laura Philpott’s collection of essays is funny, smart, and remarkably relatable. Once she had all the things she thought were supposed to make her happy - kids, spouse, job, house- Philpott found herself increasingly dissatisfied. While she contemplated the merits of living in staying the course versus changing up her whole life, Philpott began wondering if there was another option. In her poignant and encouraging collection of essays, Philpott addresses the many things that plague our adulthoods and how to change, find peace, and create opportunities in the middle of a life that can sometimes feel like it’s already been mapped out.
A charmingly relatable and wise memoir-in-essays by acclaimed writer and bookseller Mary Laura Philpott, “the modern day reincarnation of…Nora Ephron, Erma Bombeck, Jean Kerr, and Laurie Colwin—all rolled into one” (The Washington Post), about what happened after she checked off all the boxes on a successful life’s to-do list and realized she might need to reinvent the list—and herself.
Mary Laura Philpott thought she’d cracked the code: Always be right, and you’ll always be happy.
But once she’d completed her life’s to-do list (job, spouse, house, babies—check!), she found that instead of feeling content and successful, she felt anxious. Lost. Stuck in a daily grind of overflowing calendars, grueling small talk, and sprawling traffic. She’d done everything “right” but still felt all wrong. What’s the worse failure, she wondered: smiling and staying the course, or blowing it all up and running away? And are those the only options?
Taking on the conflicting pressures of modern adulthood, Philpott provides a “frank and funny look at what happens when, in the midst of a tidy life, there occur impossible-to-ignore tugs toward creativity, meaning, and the possibility of something more” (Southern Living). She offers up her own stories to show that identity crises don’t happen just once or only at midlife and reassures us that small, recurring personal re-inventions are both normal and necessary. Most of all, in this “warm embrace of a life lived imperfectly” (Esquire), Philpott shows that when you stop feeling satisfied with your life, you don’t have to burn it all down. You can call upon your many selves to figure out who you are, who you’re not, and where you belong. Who among us isn’t trying to do that?
“Be forewarned that you’ll laugh out loud and cry, probably in the same essay. Philpott has a wonderful way of finding humor, even in darker moments. This is a book you’ll want to buy for yourself and every other woman you know” (Real Simple).
Roxy is a young woman who seems relatable- she is an inconsistent vegan, an artist with a heart of gold, and like the rest of us, she’s trying to find herself in a big world. But Roxy has a unique problem; her ex-boyfriend, Everett, is currently staying in her spare bedroom. In an attempt to make sense of her issues with Everett, ranging from her broken heart to his missed rent (again) Roxy begins to write him letters. As time goes on, the letters become less about Everett and more about Roxy’s desire to take control of her life- and to save her beloved city of Austin from the many corporate big box stores appearing all over town. Along with her two best friends, Roxy begins a campaign to save her town, and her love life. This fun and hilarious book follows a bright and spunky protagonist, and is the perfect spring read.
Meet Roxy. She’s a sometimes vegan, always broke artist with a heart the size of Texas and an ex living in her spare bedroom. Her life is messy, but with the help of a few good friends and by the grace of the goddess Venus she’ll discover that good sex, true love, and her life’s purpose are all closer than she realizes.
Bridget Jones penned a diary; Roxy writes letters. Specifically: she writes letters to her hapless, rent-avoidant ex-boyfriend—and current roommate—Everett. This charming and funny twenty-something is under-employed (and under-romanced), and she’s decidedly fed up with the indignities she endures as a deli maid at Whole Foods (the original), and the dismaying speed at which her beloved Austin is becoming corporatized. When a new Lululemon pops up at the intersection of Sixth and Lamar where the old Waterloo Video used to be, Roxy can stay silent no longer.
As her letters to Everett become less about overdue rent and more about the state of her life, Roxy realizes she’s ready to be the heroine of her own story. She decides to team up with her two best friends to save Austin—and rescue Roxy’s love life—in whatever way they can. But can this spunky, unforgettable millennial keep Austin weird, avoid arrest, and find romance—and even creative inspiration—in the process?
Saeed Jones’s award-winning memoir chronicles his life growing up in the south as he comes of age as a young, gay black man. Jones fights to find a place for himself in all parts of his life; with family, his country, and his own vision for his future. Told in vignettes about family, friends, and relationships, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning and vulnerable memoir that pieces together a life, a person, a story, and a larger picture of race and sexuality in our country. The memoir is beautifully written, haunting, and will stay with you long after you finish reading.
WINNER OF THE 2019 KIRKUS PRIZE IN NONFICTION
WINNER OF THE 2020 STONEWALL BOOK AWARD-ISRAEL FISHMAN NONFICTION AWARD
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES’S 100 NOTABLE BOOKS OF 2019
One of the best books of the year as selected by The Washington Post; NPR; Time; The New Yorker; O, The Oprah Magazine; Harper’s Bazaar; Elle; Kirkus Reviews; Publishers Weekly; BuzzFeed; Goodreads; School Library Journal; and many more.
“A moving, bracingly honest memoir that reads like fevered poetry.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Jones’s voice and sensibility are so distinct that he turns one of the oldest of literary genres inside out and upside down.” —NPR’S Fresh Air
“People don’t just happen,” writes Saeed Jones. “We sacrifice former versions of ourselves. We sacrifice the people who dared to raise us. The ‘I’ it seems doesn’t exist until we are able to say, ‘I am no longer yours.’”
Haunted and haunting, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning coming-of-age memoir. Jones tells the story of a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears. Through a series of vignettes that chart a course across the American landscape, Jones draws readers into his boyhood and adolescence—into tumultuous relationships with his family, into passing flings with lovers, friends, and strangers. Each piece builds into a larger examination of race and queerness, power and vulnerability, love and grief: a portrait of what we all do for one another—and to one another—as we fight to become ourselves.
An award-winning poet, Jones has developed a style that’s as beautiful as it is powerful—a voice that’s by turns a river, a blues, and a nightscape set ablaze. How We Fight for Our Lives is a one-of-a-kind memoir and a book that cements Saeed Jones as an essential writer for our time.
Prolific novelist William Kent Kruger’s latest book follows four orphans on the run over the course of a single defining summer. In Minnesota in 1932, orphan Odie O’Banion leads a group of children who have run away from the horrible Lincoln School, a place where Native American are forcibly sent to be educated, after Odie gets in trouble with the school super. As the orphans make their way down the Mississippi, they meet all types of people in a country marked by The Great Depression, from traveling preachers to displaced families. The story is grounded in a beautiful and uniquely American landscape, This Tender Land is the moving story of our country and our insatiable desire to find a home.
Rowan Caine seems to have found the perfect situation; a live-in nannying post with a great salary in a beautiful manor in the Scottish Highlands. But this idyllic dream quickly turns to a nightmare. The “modern” house, filled with incomprehensible technologies, constantly malfunctions in alarming ways, and the perfect children Rowan met during her interview have become wild and violent. And all the bizarre events end with a child dead and Rowan accused of murder. Told through letters Rowan exchanges with her lawyer from prison, Rowan’s desperate quest to prove her innocence makes for a spellbinding and suspenseful tale, that will have you wondering about the real culprit to the very last page.
Renown fiction writer Kali Fajardo-Antine’s breathtaking short story collection revolves around Latinas of Indigenous descent living in the American West. The magnetic characters, who are mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, and more, navigate their lives through their identities and their lived experiences, and evaluate how these lives are tied to the land they inhabit. The stories are about everything from friendship to sex work to land disputes and are unwavering in their devotion to the complexity of the characters’ lives and dedication to uncovering the truths their lives reveal.
Ana Falcón, her husband Lucho, and their two children have fled Peru for New York City in the 1990’s. While they try to make a life, Ana and her family are still indebted to a loan shark, have insecure housing with Lucho’s less than welcoming cousin, and Ana is dealing with unwelcome advances from the loan shark’s husband. While Lucho dreams of going back to Peru, Ana is forced tot make decisions that impact her whole family and their lives. She has to decide how far she is willing to go for their survival, and what it means to risk staying in New York or risk returning to Peru. A moving and intriguing book about a woman’s choices and sacrifices, AFFAIRS OF THE FALCÓNS asks essential questions about the nature of family and the immigrant experience.
This instant bestseller takes place in a performing arts school in the 1980’s, where students participate in a highly competitive program where they are immersed in art, music, acting, and more. Two freshmen, Sarah and David, fall head over heels in love with each other, undeterred by things that affect the outside world like parents, current events, or socioeconomic status. But when events spiral out of control years later, David and Sarah have to make sense of their relationship and their world. All this happens while the reader experiences a story that’s not quite true, not quite false, until what’s real is finally revealed. This fascinating story about truth and consequences promises to be a page-turning, compelling read.
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