Feb 25, 2013
This week: Gatherings of book lovers, choosing books for
your reading groups, Peter Clines' Ex-Heroes and Karen Russell's
Vampires in the Lemon Grove.
Create your own Booktopia!
A few weeks ago we received a voicemail from some friends who
had met at Booktopia Oxford last year. They were calling from
Jackson, Mississippi, home of their "Unofficial Booktopia"
gathering. We were jealous, but thrilled that we helped to create
new friendships, and thrilled that they had planned this
get-together, complete with read-along (A
Good Hard Look by Ann Napolitano, a novel about
Flannery O'Connor). Thanks, ladies, for thinking of us during your
We want to encourage all of you to use our Goodreads group to
connect with other BOTNS readers and listeners in your area. We
currently have several
local threads, including people from Boston, Seattle/Tacoma,
Portland, Chicago, Lower Mainland BC, Atlanta, Dallas and
Philadelphia. If your city is not there, feel free to start a post.
We recommend a first meeting in conjunction with an author event at
a local bookstore, or other literary gathering.
Choosing books for your book club (06:46)
A few weeks ago I spoke on a panel at The
Big Book Club Getaway. My topic was "How to choose good books
for your book club." Since I had done a lot of prep and had pages
of notes, I thought I'd share some of the ideas here.
1. Know your book club. What do you *really* discuss? Is it the
book itself -- the writing, structure, use of language, stye? Or do
you discuss the material around the book? For instance, much of my
book group's discussion about Abraham Verghese's Cutting
for Stone was about the food and history of
Ethiopia beyond the details that the author included in the
2. Visit Bookstores and Libraries
Check the displays, but it's better to have a conversation, if
you ask the right questions.
What books had mixed reviews? These can often be the best ones
What books most surprised readers? The Book
Thief by Marcus Zusak
and Wonder by RJ Palacio are good
examples of this, as are "genre-crossers"
like Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
and The Sparrow by Mary Doria
Which have ambiguous endings? Gone
Girl by Gillian Flynn is an excellent example of a
book with an ambiguous ending.
3. Award winners
The Alex Awards
-- adult books that are also
great for teens. These books usually contain great life lessons
that make for great book club discussions.
Two books we can't wait for you to read (25:03)
Peter Clines was acquired for Crown by the editor that brought
by Ernest Cline. It was originally
published by a small press and has now been rereleased by Crown.
The story is basically, as Michael describes, superheroes vs.
zombies in Los Angeles. It's a fun, very well-written read that
crosses genres and will appeal to readers who aren't normally drawn
to zombies or superhero novels. Trust Michael: read this.
Vampires in the Lemon Grove
Russell is just out in hardcover, and I'm so excited. It's a story
collection, so perfect for Project
, but it will appeal even to people who don't
normally love short stories. These stories defy
categorization: they touch on magical realism, fantasy, or
surrealism, but the events in these stories seem completely
plausible in Russell's hands. There are eight stories in the
collection, and the stories work together and separately.