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Start Reading Now!

June 12th, 2008 (10:03 pm)

current mood: tired

Read any good books lately? If you're looking for suggestions and are local, join my Book Club, which meets in Alexandria, Virginia, and is open to new members. My friends (and friends of friends) are welcome. And you don't have to be a regular attendee; it's OK to come just for the books that interest you the most. We read fiction and nonfiction, depending on what members of the group suggest. Meetings are the second Tuesday of each month, at 8 p.m. If you're interested, contact me and I'll give you details about the location.

So the next time we'll be getting together is Tuesday, July 8. The book is The Jane Austen Book Club, by Karen Joy Fowler. It's almost a month away, so you've got plenty of time to read it. Below are descriptions of that book and of all upcoming books. Descriptions are adapted from Amazon.com.

The Jane Austen Book ClubJULY 8, 2008 
The Jane Austen Book Club
By Karen Joy Fowler
Fowler's fifth novel features sly wit and quirky characters - and is book-club-ready, complete with mock-serious "questions for discussion" posed by the characters themselves. Those characters are five women and a man who meet each month to discuss the novels of Jane Austen. As they debate the plots, we see that Austen’s books mean something different to each club member.

The Tin DrumAUG. 12, 2008
The Tin Drum
By Gunter Grass
On his third birthday, dressed in a striped pullover and clutching his new tin drum, Oskar makes a decision: He will remain a small child forever. And he does. He moves from one picaresque adventure to the next, until he is convicted of murder and confined to a mental hospital. First published in 1959, the book is filled with savage comedy and magic realism. Its depiction of the Nazis created a furor in Germany. The classic, award-winning novel has been called “one of the enduring literary works of the 20th century.”
OutlanderSEP. 9, 2008 
By Diana Gabaldon
In 1945, English nurse Claire and husband Frank vacation in the Scottish Highlands. There, in an ancient henge, Claire is transported to 1743, where she falls in love with a gallant, merry  soldier named Jamie. The characters are realistic and likeable, and their romance is enlivened by swashbuckling adventures and the vividly described Scottish setting.  When Claire finds a chance to return to 1945, she must choose between memories of Frank and her happy, uncomplicated existence with Jamie. Don’t be put off by the thickness of this one: you’ll speed through it!

On The RoadOCT. 14, 2008 
On the Road
By Jack Kerouac
Here’s one of those classics many of us never actually read. Few novels have had so profound an impact on our culture. Pulsating with the rhythms of 1950s underground America and the promise of the open road, it has inspired generations of writers, artists, and seekers who say this book set them free. Based on Kerouac's own adventures, it's the story of two friends and their cross-country road trips. Written with a mixture of naïveté and wild abandon and imbued with a love of America, a compassion for humanity, and a sense of language as jazz, On the Road is an American vision of freedom and hope.

The Blind AssassinNOV. 11, 2008 
The Blind Assassin
By Margaret Atwood
This is a tale of two sisters, one of whom dies in the opening pages. The survivor, Iris, initially seems cold-blooded about the death of her sister Laura. But as Atwood's most ambitious work unfolds – a tricky process, with several nested narratives and an entire novel-within-a-novel – we're reminded of just how complicated families can be. The author takes expert measure of our capacity for self-delusion and complicity, but never succumbs to cynicism or contempt for her characters.

A Thousand Splendid SunsDEC. 9, 2008 
A Thousand Splendid Suns
Khaled Hosseini
Hosseini follows up his bestselling The Kite Runner with another searing epic of Afghanistan in turmoil. The story covers three decades of anti-Soviet jihad, civil war, and Taliban tyranny through the lives of two women. Mariam is forced at age 15 to marry brutal 40-year-old Rasheed. When she fails to produce a child, Rasheed takes another wife, 14-year-old Laila, a smart and spirited girl whose only other option is prostitution. Then Mariam and Laila become allies against Rasheed. Hosseini gives a nuanced portrait of a social order where women are agonizingly dependent on fathers, husbands, and sons. His tale is a powerful portrait of Afghanistan, but also a lyrical evocation of hope and resilience.

Before I DieJAN. 12, 2009
Before I Die
By Jenny Downham
Teenage Tessa has just months to live. Fighting back against hospital visits, tests, and drugs with excruciating side-effects, she compiles her To Do Before I Die list, shedding the constraints of "normal" life to seek out new experiences to make her feel alive while her body fails. Tessa's emotions and her relationships are painfully crystallized in the weeks before her time runs out. It may sound depressing, but you'll finish the book feeling thrillingly alive.


Posted by: the artist formerly known as kytyn (melydia)
Posted at: June 13th, 2008 04:50 am (UTC)

I have a copy of The Jane Austen Book Club on my TBR pile, and I read The Tin Drum a ways back. I can't make any promises since it's in the middle of the week, but I'll see what I can do. Good luck getting members!

Posted by: the artist formerly known as kytyn (melydia)
Posted at: June 13th, 2008 02:04 pm (UTC)

P.S. - If you haven't done so already, feel free to put your book group meetings on the BC_DC calendar.

Posted by: petrini1 (petrini1)
Posted at: June 13th, 2008 08:54 pm (UTC)

Thanks for the suggestion! I don't know why I didn't think of it. I just added it.

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