Dec 08

Alternative book clubs, an “elevator pitch” to describe books we like, and new books about knights and gut microbes.


I was intrigued by this story, “The Rise of the Alternative Book Club,” including a “walking book club,” so I thought I’d share it with you. In the past we’ve talked about knitting book clubs and other interesting iterations of book discussion groups. Are you part of a reading group with a unique twist? Let us know in the comments.


audiobooksAudiobook of the week (03:31)

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl, narrated by Simon Vance, is my pick for this week’s Audiobook of the Week.

Special thanks to for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand. allows you to listen to over 60,000 audiobooks, instantly, wherever you are, and the first one is free. Download or stream any book directly to your Apple or Android device. Sign up for a free 30-day trial and free audiobook download by going to


Why we like the books we do (09:50)

We received an email from Elaine in Maine, which reads in part: “What I rely on to pick books I might read are the short reviews, interviews and podcasts.  I try to pick fascinating characters likable or not, intriguing story plots.  In non-fiction prefer biographies over memoirs,  exploration of places and events.” This got us thinking: can we sum up our reading preferences as succinctly and directly as Elaine has? Please join us as Michael and I explore and try to express why we like the books we do. We don’t talk a lot about specific titles, but we do mention a few:

Stitches by David Small

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli

Judge This by Chip Kidd

Books by Wally Lamb. I don’t know Wally Lamb was the example that jumped into my mind when we were discussing blurbs, but I do enjoy his books.

We completely failed to come up with a two-sentence “elevator pitch” about what we like to read, and we admire Elaine greatly for being able to pinpoint her preferences so well. What about you? Can you boil down your reading preferences into two sentences that will help others recommend books to you? Share them here, if you like. I’d love to read them.


Two books we can’t wait for you to read (31:13)


Rules for a Knight   Follow Your Gut

My recommendation this week is Rules for a Knight by Ethan Hawke (yes, that one). Written in the form of a letter to his children by a Medieval knight who is going off to war, it’s a wonderful book of parables and life lessons. This is perfect for ages 10 through adult, or you can have fun reading it to a younger child. I really love the design of the book and the way that it feels in the hand.

Michael recommends Follow Your Gut: The Enormous Impact of Tiny Microbes by Rob Knight with Brendan Buhler, which is an accessible look at the importance of the microbes in our system, and how they impact things like antibiotics, probiotics, and antibacterial soap. It’s entertaining and informative that makes a very complicated topic very easy to understand.


  • Tpotlady

    Re: alternative book group. I belong to a book group called Books & Bagels which meets every Saturday morning at our library. Although this group is open to anyone in our community, there have been, over the last four years, a contingent of about ten or so people who come every week without fail. We’ve laughingly admitted to each other that we are absolutely addicted and would sadly miss our “fix” if we didn’t have this group. When we meet, we discuss whatever book each of us happens to be reading at the time. Each person is supposed to gets about five minutes to present his/herbook but very often a book becomes the jumping off point for discussion on topics such as art, religion, politics, music, education etc and that five minute time limit goes out the window, much to our delight. Since our members’ reading tastes are so varied, we get recommendations on a wide variety of books and we’ve all expanded our reading, sometimes to books we might not have tried had we not heard about them at Books & Bagels. The bagels along with fruit, tea, & coffee are provided by our Friends of the Library.

    • Sounds wonderful, and how lucky you are to have such a great Friends of the Library group!

  • Pat Seager

    I’m a quilter and recently saw an article about quilts depicting doors. what does this have to do with alternative book clubs? One quilt was a whimsical look at Wonderland through an open door and was the result of a book/quilt club. members read and make a quilt based on that book – Alice in Wonderland in this case. Fun idea!

  • A Davis

    I needed 3 sentences for my elevator pitch. Here goes: Book blurb adjectives that get my heart to beating are “witty, humorous, funny, wry.” I’m not a genre Nazi, and I enjoy reading about relationships: family, friends, love interests, etc. Characters and plot don’t have to be completely realistic, but MUST ring true.

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